Social Scientist. v 5, no. 51 (Oct 1976) p. 47.

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Marxian Political Economy


THE TRANSITION from the dominance of absolute surplus-value production to relative surplus-value production begins with simple cooperation in the factory. It progresses further and more rapidly with the •development of manufacture and the extensive and intensive division of labour that accompanies it. However, despite its contribution to increased productivity., manufacture as such suffers from certain shortcomings which make them a constraint on the further and expanded production of relative surplus value. As we saw in the last article, the most important shortcoming was the continued and critical dependence of manufacture on handicraft skill. This implied a narrow technical basis and severely limited the possibility of a systematic and scientific analysis of the individual labour process. The obstacles thus presented to the further development of the productivity of labour, and thus to relative surplus-value production, were historically overcome in the most advanced capitalist country of Marx's time, Britain, by the emergence of what he calls ^machinery and modern industry".

The essence of this transformation consists in freeing the productive process from the restraints of human strength and scarce handicraft skills. With- Marx, we may analyze the machine in general as consisting of three parts: the motor mechanism (the ^rive5), the transmitting

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