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Encyclopedia > Mode of production

In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning 'the way of producing') is a specific combination of: Marxs view of history, which came to be called the materialist interpretation of history (and which was developed further as the philosophy of dialectical materialism) is certainly influenced by Hegels claim that reality (and history) should be viewed dialectically, through a clash of opposing forces. ... Marxism is the social theory and political practice based on the works of Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, along with Friedrich Engels. ... Historical materialism (or what Marx himself called the materialist conception of history - materialistische Geschichtsauffassung) is a social theory and an approach to the study of history and sociology, normally considered as the intellectual basis of Marxism. ...

  • productive forces: these include human labor-power, tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land
  • social and technical relations of production: these include the property, power and control relations governing society's productive assets, often codified in law, cooperative work relations and forms of association, relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations between social classes.

Marx regarded productive ability and participating in social relations as two essential characteristics of human beings. Thus he writes for example that "Productive forces and social relations - both of which are different sides of the development of the social individual - appear to capital only as a means, and only means to produce on its limited basis. In fact, however, these are the material conditions to blow this basis sky-high." (Marx, Grundrisse. Frankfurt: EVA, p. 593) Productive forces, productive powers or forces of production [in German, Produktivkräfte] is a central concept in Marxism and historical materialism. ... According to Karl Marx, there is a clear distinction between labor and labor-power in economics. ... Relations of production (German: Produktionsverhaltnisse) is a concept frequently used by Karl Marx in his theory of historical materialism and in Das Kapital. ... Although Harvard University has featured a Department of Social Relations (in which Talcott Parsons played a prominent role), and although the term social relations is frequently used in social sciences, there is no commonly agreed meaning for this concept (see also the entry social). ...

Contents


Significance of concept

According to Marx, the combination of forces and relations of production means that the way people relate to the physical world and the way people relate to each other socially are bound up together in specific and necessary ways. People must consume to survive, but to consume they must produce, and in producing they necessarily enter into relations which exist independently of their will.


For Marx, the whole 'secret' of why/how a social order exists and the causes of social change must be discovered in the specific mode of production that a society has. He further argued that the mode of production substantively shaped the nature of the mode of distribution, the mode of circulation and the mode of consumption, all of which together constitute the economic sphere. To understand the way wealth was distributed and consumed, it was necessary to understand the conditions under which it was produced.


A mode of production is historically distinctive for Marx, because it constitutes an 'organic totality' (or self-reproducing whole) which is capable of constantly re-creating its own initial conditions, and thus perpetuate itself in a more or less stable way for centuries, or even millennia. By performing social surplus labour in a specific system of property relations, the laboring classes constantly reproduce the foundations of the social order. Surplus labour is a concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. ... In Marxian economics, economic reproduction refers to recurrent (or cyclical) processes by which the initial conditions necessary for economic activity to occur are constantly re-created. ...


When however new productive forces or new social relations develop that conflict with the existing mode of production, this mode of production will either evolve without losing its basic structure, or else begin to break down. This then gives rise to a transitional era of social instability and social conflict, until a new social order is finally consolidated, with a new mode of production.


The modes of production in history

In a broad outline, Marx recognized seven distinct epochs of human history, each corresponding to a particular mode of production:

  1. Primitive communism. Human society organised in traditional tribe structures, typified by shared production and consumption of the entire social product. As no permanent surplus product is produced, there is also no possibility of a ruling class coming into existence. As this mode of production lacks differentiation into classes, it is said to be classless. Paleolithic and neolithic tools, pre- and early-agricultural production, and rigorous ritualised social control are the typifying productive forces of this mode of production.
  2. The asiatic mode of production. This is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, initially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater "Asia"). The asiatic mode of production is said to be the initial form of class society, where a small group extracts social surplus through violence aimed at settled or unsettled band communities within a domain. Exploited labour is extracted as forced corvee labour during a slack period of the year (allowing for monumental construction such as the pyramids, ziggurats, ancient Indian communal baths or the Chinese Great Wall). Exploited labour is also extracted in the form of goods directly seized from the exploited communities. The primary property form of this mode is the direct religious possession of communities (villages, bands, hamlets) and all those within them. The ruling class of this society is generally a semi-theocratic aristocracy which claims to be the incarnation of gods on earth. The forces of production associated with this society include basic agricultural techniques, massive construction and storage of goods for social benefit (grainaries).
  3. The slave mode of production. It is similar to the asiatic mode, but differentiated in that the form of property is the direct possession of individual human beings. Additionally, the ruling class usually avoids the more outlandish claims of being the direct incarnation of a god, and prefers to be the decendents of gods, or seeks other justifications for its rule. Ancient Greek and Roman societies are the most typical examples of this mode. The forces of production associated with this mode include advanced (two field) agriculture, the extensive use of animals in agriculture, and advanced trade networks.
  4. The feudal mode of production. It is usually typified by high feudalism in Western Europe. The primary form of property is the possession of land in reciprocal contract relations: the possession of human beings as peasants or serfs is dependent upon their being entailed upon the land. Exploitation occurs through reciprocated contract (though ultimately resting on the threat of forced extractions). The ruling class is usually a nobility or aristocracy. The primary forces of production include highly complex agriculture (two, three field, lucerne fallowing and manuring) with the addition of non-human and non-animal power devices (clockwork, wind-mills) and the intensification of specialisation in the crafts--craftsmen exclusively producing one specialised class of product.
  5. The capitalist mode of production. It is usually associated with modern industrial societies. The primary form of property is the possession of objects and services through state guaranteed contract. The primary form of exploitation is wage labour (see Das Kapital, wage slavery and exploitation). The ruling class is the bourgeoisie, which exploits the proletariat. Capitalism may produce one class (bourgeoisie) who possess the means of production for the whole of society and another class who possess only their own labor power, which they must sell in order to survive. The key forces of production include the factory system, mechanised powered production, Taylorism, robotisation, bureaucracy and the modern state.
  6. The socialist mode of production. Since this mode of production has not yet come into effect, its exact nature remains debatable. Some theorists argue that prefiguring forms of socialism can be seen in voluntary workers' cooperatives, strike committees, labour unions, soviets and revolutions. The socialist mode of production is meant to be a society based on workers' control of all production, with a property form equating consumption with productive labour. The key forces of production are similar to those in capitalism, but changed in their nature due to workers' control and collective management. Additionally, the merging of mental and manual labour is meant to increase the level of productivity and quality of the productive forces. The primary ruling class of this mode is meant to be the working class. The primary form of exploitation is meant to be self-exploitation - in other words, the exploitation of some people by others (the "exploitation of man by man") is meant to be abolished.
  7. The communist mode of production. Since it refers to the far future, it is a highly debated theoretical construct. Some theorists argue that prefiguring forms of communism can be seen in communes and other collective living experiments. Communism is meant to be a classless society, with the management of things replacing the management of people. Particular productive forces are not described, but are assumed to be more or less within the reach of any contemporary capitalist society. Despite the imminent potential of communism, some economic theorists have hypothesised that communism is more than a thousand years away from full implementation.

An example of a mode of production which is lying dormant alongside capitalism, is the prefiguring form of socialism indicated by the free software movement. The enhanced productivity of the productive force of the internet for software programming and white collar work is combined with the relation of production indicated in the property form of the GNU GPL or GNU FDL, to produce a highly valuable form of economic production outside of the direct control of capitalism. Primitive communism, according to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, is the original society of humanity. ... Viewed historically or developmentally, a tribe consists of a social formation existing before the development of, or outside of, states. ... Surplus product (German: Mehrprodukt) is a concept explicitly theorised by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. ... In Marxian political economics, the ruling class refers to that segment or class of society that has the most economic and political power. ... Geometric shape created by connecting a polygonal base to an apex An n-sided pyramid is a polyhedron formed by connecting an n-sided polygonal base and a point, called the apex, by n triangular faces (n≥3). ... Dur-Untash, or Choqa zanbil, built in 13th century BC by Untash Napirisha, is one of the worlds best preserved ziggurats. ... Great Wall can refer to several things: Great Wall of China Great Wall of Galaxies, part of the Coma Cluster This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... Feudalism comes from the Late Latin word feudum, itself borrowed from a Germanic root *fehu, a commonly used term in the Middle Ages which means fief, or land held under certain obligations by feodati. ... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the Windows of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... The Ancient Greek term aristocracy meant a system of government with rule by the best. This is the first definition given in most dictionaries. ... The capitalist mode of production is a concept in Karl Marx’s critique of political economy. ... Das Kapital (Capital) is a very large treatise of political economy written by Karl Marx in German. ... Wage slavery is a condition in which a person is legally (de jure) voluntarily employed but practically (de facto) a slave. ... This article discusses the economic concept of exploitation. ... Bourgeoisie (RP [], GA []) in modern use refers to the wealthy or propertied social class in a capitalist society. ... The proletariat (from Latin proles, offspring) is a term used to identify a lower social class; a member of such a class is proletarian. ... Taylorism or Scientific management is the name of the approach to management and Industrial/Organizational Psychology initiated by Frederick Winslow Taylor in his 1911 monograph The Principles of Scientific Management. ... Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science. ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ... A union (labor union in American English; trade union, sometimes trades union, in British English; either labour union or trade union in Canadian English) is a legal entity consisting of employees or workers having a common interest, such as all the assembly workers for one employer, or all the workers... A soviet (Russian: сове́т) originally was a workers local council in late Imperial Russia. ... The term working class is used to denote a social class. ... Communism refers to a theoretical system of social organization and a political movement based on common ownership of the means of production. ... A commune is a system of social and economic organization which involves the common ownership of resources and/or shared obligations. ... This page is a candidate to be moved to Wiktionary. ... Imminence is the state of coming near or being about to occur. ... The Free Software Movement began in 1983 when Richard Stallman announced the GNU project. ... Productive forces is a term within Marxism indicating the combination of the means of production with human labour power. ... Computer programming (often simply programming) is the craft of implementing one or more interrelated abstract algorithms using a particular programming language to produce a concrete computer program. ... White-collar workers perform tasks which are less laborious yet often more highly paid than blue-collar workers, who do manual work. ... Relations of production is a term within Marxism referring to all of the human interactions governing the productive process. ...


Articulation of modes of production

In any specific society or country, different modes of production might emerge and exist alongside each other, linked together economically. To these different modes correspond different social classes and strata in the population. So, for example, urban capitalist industry might co-exist with rural peasant production for subsistence and simple exchange and tribal hunting and gathering. Old and new modes of production might combine to form a hybrid economy. A social class is, at its most basic, a group of people that have similar social status. ...


However, Marx's view was that the expansion of capitalist markets tended to dissolve and displace older ways of producing over time. A capitalist society was a society in which the capitalist mode of production had become the dominant one. The culture, laws and customs of that society might however preserve - for better or worse - many traditions of the preceding modes of production. Thus, although two countries might both be capitalist, being economically based mainly on private enterprise for profit and wage labor, these capitalisms might be very different in social character and functioning, reflecting very different cultures, religions, social rules and histories. The capitalist mode of production is a concept in Karl Marx’s critique of political economy. ...


Elaborating on this idea, Leon Trotsky famously described the economic development of the world as a process of uneven and combined development of different co-existing societies and modes of production which all influence each other. This means that historical changes which took centuries to occur in one country might be truncated, abbreviated or telescoped in another. Thus, for example, Trotsky observes in the opening chapter of his history of the Russian Revolution of 1917 that "Savages throw away their bows and arrows for rifles all at once, without travelling the road which lay between these two weapons in the past. The European colonists in America did not begin history all over again from the beginning", etc. Thus, old and new techniques and cultures might combine in novel and unique admixtures, which cannot be understood other than by tracing out the history of their emergence. Leon Trotsky â–¶(?) (Russian: Лев Давидович Троцкий; also transliterated Leo, Lev, Trotskii, Trotski, Trotskij and Trotzky ) (November 26 (O.S.) = November 7 (N.S.), 1879 – August 21, 1940), born Lev Davidovich Bronstein (Лев ДавидовÐ... The Revolution *The first was that of the February Revolution of 1917, which displaced the autocracy of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, the last effective czar of Russia, and sought to establish in its place a liberal republic. ...


See also

Anarchism derives from the Greek αναρχία (without archons (rulers)). Thus anarchism, in its most general meaning, is the belief that rulership is unnecessary and should be abolished. ... The noosphere can be seen as the sphere of human thought being derived from the Greek νους (nous) meaning mind in the style of atmosphere and biosphere. Just as the biosphere is composed of all the organisms on Earth and their interactions, the noosphere is composed of all the interacting minds... Free software, as defined by the Free Software Foundation, is software which can be used, copied, studied, modified and redistributed without restriction. ... The capitalist mode of production is a concept in Karl Marx’s critique of political economy. ...

References

  • George Novack, Understanding History: Marxist Essays
  • Charles Woolfson, The Labour Theory of Culture.
  • Ernest Mandel, Marxist Economic Theory.
  • G.E.M. De Ste Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests.
  • Chris Harman, A People's History of the World
  • Perry Anderson, Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism
  • Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State
  • Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View.
  • Fritjof Tichelman, The Social Evolution of Indonesia: The Asiatic Mode of Production and its Legacy.
  • Lawrence Krader, The Asiatic Mode of Production; Sources, Development and Critique in the Writings of Karl Marx.
  • W.M.J. van Binsbergen & P.L. Geschiere, ed., Old Modes of Production and Capitalist Encroachment.
  • Harold Wolpe, ed. The articulation of modes of production.
  • Michael Perelman, Steal This Idea: Intellectual Property Rights and the Corporate Confiscation of Creativity.

External link

  • Howard Rheingold : Smart mobs : the next social revolution (2001)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Encyclopedia: Mode of production (2896 words)
The socialist mode of production is meant to be a society based on workers' control of all production, with a property form equating consumption with productive labour.
An example of a mode of production which is lying dormant alongside capitalism, is the prefiguring form of socialism indicated by the free software movement.
The enhanced productivity of the productive force of the internet for software programming and white collar work is combined with the relation of production indicated in the property form of the GNU GPL or GNU FDL, to produce a highly valuable form of economic production outside of the direct control of capitalism.
Mode of production - definition of Mode of production in Encyclopedia (937 words)
The asiatic mode of production: is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, intially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthworks construction in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater "Asia").
The socialist mode of prodcution is meant to be a society based on workers' control of all production, with a property form equating consumption with productive labour.
The enhanced productivity of the productive force of the internet for software programming and white collar work is combined with the relation of production indicated in the property form of the GNU GPL or GNU FDL combine to produce a highly valuable form of economic production outside of the direct control of capitalism.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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