‘A to Z’ of Marxism and ‘Fate’ of capitalism (3)

(This article is posted by: Shreepal Singh)

We first take the Marxist concept of “Mode of production” for consideration. What is the meaning of mode of production?

Mode is the type, kind or style of production.

Production is the production of commodities.

There are many types, kinds, styles or modes of production, which are qualitatively different from one another. It is the prominence of a particular type, kind, style or mode that makes it different from another one.

In the capitalist society, the mode of production is ‘manufacturing of commodity through machines in industrial establishment’.

In this mode of production, the means of production are: machines (which are the product of science and technology); human beings who work on those machines as laborers; raw materials, which could be processed by those machines into the finished products or commodities; land whereupon the machines and manufacturing establishment are set up; and, other resources required to accomplish the production of commodity, like water, coal, electricity, oil etc.).

In this mode of production, the production forces are:  human beings who labor on those machines as workers; human beings who own those machines and manage that workers labor on machines so that commodities are manufactured.

This mode of production is found in capitalist society.

This mode of production is/was also found in the so-called socialist society. (In the social evolution, the first stage is socialism and the second, or final, stage is communism. In none of the socialist countries, socialism could be transformed into communism; and, before socialism could be transformed into communism, socialism itself disintegrated.)

There have been many other modes of production in the past.

Before the advent of capitalism, there was agricultural mode of production in feudalism.

In agricultural mode of production, predominantly ‘the commodities are produced through agriculture’.

In the feudalist society, or in the agricultural mode of production, the means of production are: land, on which tilling could be done; oxen or horses, which could be used to carry on the agricultural activities; crop seeds, water, manure, sickle, plough (which are the products of science and technology) are other parts on the list of means of production following the ‘agricultural mode of production’.

In the feudalist society, or in the agricultural mode of production, the production forces are: human beings who work on the plough, oxen/horses, sickle etc. to till the land; human beings who own the land (on which the agriculture is done) and manage the workings of those who till on that land.

In an earlier period of human history, there was still another mode of production. It was the economic system where ‘the production of commodities was accomplished by slaved-human beings’. The prevalence of this mode of production depended on the ‘efficacy or utility’ of slaved-humans, which differed from place to place. It was not common and uniform as was, later on, the agricultural mode.

In the ‘slaved-humans’ mode, the means of production are/were: slaved-humans; chains to confine the slaves; land or artisan shop, where the slave could work; other required concomitants like, tools, raw materials, which could be worked upon by the slaves, confining enclosures etc.

In the ‘slaved-humans’ mode, the production forces were: humans who worked as slaves; humans who owned those slaves and managed that they worked on the tools etc. to produce commodities.

Before the ‘slave-humans’ mode, there was an earlier mode of production. It was in the tribal societies. These societies were of the primitive people. These humans were those who had just emerged out of the animals’ way of life. They were not animals, they were humans. The only thing that differentiated them from animals, was that they `produced commodities’, which was unlike animals. In all other respects, these early humans were just like animals: they lived in caves and hunted their prey for food, like animals. But these early humans had learnt to fashion ‘tools’ (chiseled-stone spears, knives, scrapers etc.) to ‘produce’ commodities (hunted-flesh, honey etc.), which was unlike animals. This was their mode of production. This society is termed by Marx ‘primitive communist’ (primitive collective living) society. We leave this primitive human society, for the time being, at that and proceed further to note a few things here.

We find that in all these societies, with differing ‘modes of production’, uniformly there were ‘two classes’ of people, which formed in each of these particular cases ‘the forces of production’. But there is an exception to this general rule of ‘two classes’ in the case of the ‘primitive earliest human society’.

We find that there is a co-relation of time with the duration that a society following ‘a particular mode of production’ lasted.

The earliest primitive society had lasted, perhaps, tens of thousands of years (if not millions of years).

The ‘slave-humans’ mode of production was, by and large, unviable and an aberration in an otherwise smooth development of science and technology, and the refinement of the tools of production. This kind of society did not last for sufficiently long time.

The ‘agricultural mode of production’ had a very long of run in its existence; even today, in a few countries this mode of production is still being dominantly followed (such countries are called ‘undeveloped’ ones today). But, taking every aspect into account, the ‘agricultural mode of production’ did not last longer in comparison to the ‘primitive mode of production’.

The ‘capitalist mode of production’ has the shortest span of its existence. This mode is still prevalent and seems to last for some more time. Taking all these things into account, the capitalist mode of production is the shortest in its duration. It started with the ‘Industrial Revolution’, which took place a hundred and few more score of years.

This shows that there is a geometrical progression in the development of science and technology, and therefore, in the rate of change from one ‘mode of production’ to another ‘mode of production’.


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