Marx was s right about machines and humans, force and society, nature and culture, communism and identity, the fate of democracy, the position of healthcare... All the contours of modernity are there is Das Captial. The trouble was that Marx envisaged that these parts could only be created through one specific historical process, and failed to see that there might be many other routes to get here - for this one must surely blame Hegel.
Our problem is then we are at Marx's communist state (or have all the ingredient for it) but without any hope of actually ever reaching it.
Or perhaps the problem is that capitalism has one thing really going for it. It uses the one passion which is capable of annexing a system and making it appear to be all about itself. That is greed is always there, always available and always able to annex or pull thoughts towards itself. We are caught them in the capitalism system because at one point or in one level a passion of greed can be generated powerful enough to annex all the disperate (and actually distinct) motive of capitalism and articulate them or claim to articulate them within a single desire (we are all greedy). It power is not then one of explication. It explains nothing. nor is it the single system which coordinated other as it does not really coordinate anything. It is merely a name for a devouring passion which is adequate to contain everything (in some sense).
That is one can if one really want to call everything greed. Dickens and Marx would rather one did not and could point to a thousand times one does not act this way, but that is no matter. One always can.
Self consciousness then sucks.
It becomes merely point at which a single passion can contain all the rest, and can be understood as such. it does not explain anything. But is sterile. It does not really even contain everything, as such that is as a powerful force. the action themselves were not greedy as such (or where not just about greed) and yet greed will claim them none the less, and be right to do so.
The problem then is how to find the equivalent force in the mind to such a greed. How then can one find a passion which can at a pinch contain or endeavour or annex all the others?
Or perhaps the real problem here is how can one avoid this passion not being fear? For greed is at least better than particular passion!
Or perhaps the problem is that desire its will shift its nature. Desire will itself be translated into a force. It becomes impersonal to the human desiring, and does so in two ways.
On the one hand the desire will echo across the machine or web, hooking up other individuals and creating other circumstances. The manifestation of the desires, of the flicker of a glance will then echo into other flickers and be partially articulated by them collective curiosity will have its on physical presence, as will whittering. It will be their embodied in the world, a terrible impersonal, mundane idiotic thing. Desire then stops being only a thing n the human brain, it become articulated in the world, it becomes akin to a physical force. A mind which uses a rigmarole of machine and human to articulate itself. Humans become then a mere cell in a wider collective series of feelings.
These feelings will then as a physical force look to a power. Or better they will be viable ( as a physical force is ) to be plugged into machines and so become powerful. They will therefore really matter as such.
On the other hand, individual humans and there action as people (and there embodiment as government) are likely to slip out of view. They matte hardly at all. They matter not even to the government. All after all the governing classes need is to preach to the desires and cobble together a loose coalition of desire once every four years or so and so be elected. The actual individual humans as humans thereby create for themselves and in their freedom a new way to be powerless.
This might not matter (marx did suggests that communist man is all things at different times,a and perhaps this ism what he meant). And yet the trouble is that in the Marxian system there at least existed a something, a communism, a self-consciousness perhaps or echoing of consciousness that this was what was happening,and an understanding which define the collective mind the sharing of the conscious (as if the whole was an individual) which could capture the process. But there is no real need for this holding function Dickens suggests. If government is merely yet another desire, how will this idea of an idea in all minds form? Where can it hold from? if will merely slip into a desire for itself. It will then becomes a part of the system of shards. That shard (call it identity or bureaucracy or global consciousness) which allows for all the others and yet is a merely a part in the system.
Communism would then falter as its definition would merely be caught in the system. or to put it differently communisms has a change if it is the paradigm within which the shattering of human perception into thought is enacted self consciously and in the name of revolution. But its self consciousness follows on then it will merley be born devoured within the system it means to critique: this is Dickens notes the normal way and has been since the days of Spinoza and Leibniz) which self consciousness if understood.
What made Marx then think it can be so different this time?
The answer of course must be Hegel... that is the idea that history or across history a people or collective mind learns and learns for all of time. The realisation then that the mind is making its own world or the communist that they were the agents for a desire ought be enough to contain a system for all of time. Dickens however doubts this. The point is rather that every generation will need to learn for itself. Self consciousnes said then not carried forward tot he next generation. The problem is them that it becomes (like feminism or perhaps ecology) a player in a system it was once designed to contain. Real politik then needs to live with this fact. That is with the fact that whatever 'communist' systems we devise will ultimately fall into the system that analyse.
At which point Dickens has hit the real problem in Marx.
His great theory is undoubtedly the theory of the machine: a theory that takes a human and break them into parts, thereby converting humanity understood as the worker into the machine.
Great dickens thought. That is clear enough.
however why stop here?
Why only have machines and worker: humanity and machines?
Surely the real problem with every such system comes when humanity breaks not its action but its desires into machines.
That is they plug as consumers or novel readers their feelings into a whirlygig or apparatus the collapses what they are across a kalidescope of inter related feelings.
This kalediscope of course max called ideology. This is all very well, thinks Dickens, but it rather downplays the power of this element. Ideology is not simple as simple as such an opiate, or at least it is not when in a machine. There the echoes and wispher and images of the machine of collective warping quasi-technological imagination is enough to breed a monster.
A monster where thoughts and feelings slip into other people. They become even those one have never met ciphers or wraps for feelings. The images one has of then (real or imagined) promote desire.
More than that a competent machine if it is large enough will take the echoing other thoughts that make a mind; You know all the I wonder what happened to them or to that or I wonder what and where there are w and animate them. One thereby becomes caught up in ones own past or other pasts in many many strands of identity, any differentating desires which pull one everywhere and make holding anything down.
These desires might do things. Across our hopes is animated together we might make a thing. And yet That thing need not be good or revelant or anythin much. It might be a fantasy or merely a marketing opportunity.
machines are macabre things; One the one hand Max is very clear all machine reanimate dead labour. The power of nature then sweeps up old ideas and work done in building the machine and makes it live again. The dead worker, the social man who constructed the machine or all the humans who made it (by palling, by designing the tools etc) life again in the machines force. electricity re-animates labour.
On the other hand a machine is a natural vortex. It is the point at which nature breaks into society. That is the point where the forces of nature are in their boundless power transfigured into society and made to resonate across the social. The world activities of tool and handicraft are then swept up into the machine, and becomes caught up in animating natural forces.
likewise the demands goes out or at least the possibility that humans respond: that is hat humans loose any humanity and become as natural force in the system.What they are to the machine, they need to be 24-7 ( A very Marxist idea). A machine knows and cares not for tim, and it would if it could demand that workers care not for it to.
Here of course the second thread of capitalist machine kicks in. The capitalists machine is a machine for creating value and money for the capitalist . Machines might then in themselves distill natural force, but they do in the name of making money. Every force is the priced in capitalism. O better it s open to a price. But here there is a tension for the price of using nature is a price that is very different to the price for using workers. Workers must be kept alive (and cannot therefore be worked to death, or at least not before they have reproduced and trained their replacements). The same cannot be said for machines.A machine needs to be worked as hard as possible and as intensively as possible so that it repays as soon as possible the huge cost of building it.
That is the costs of the conjuring up of forces of nature by the capitalist, ensures that he must use those forces to the maximum of their power as soon as possible. The logic is therefore that he treats or tries to treat as much as possible his workers as if they too were a natural force. Or better as is how they did in the machines were a force that can as forces of nature be called upon on tap. On turns of the workers and they do whatever they do right away, and for as long as possible. Work is then turned into an unskilled task, and everyone must do. Everyone is caught up in its resonance and bound to it. Everyone is a part of the machine.
The trimuph of capitalism then lies in the fact that nature is transfigured into society via the machine(the window on the natural). Going the opposite way society is transfigured into something akin to a natural law. The law o profit which gathers all endeavours up an articulates them one onto the other, so that they form one great wave, which then rips across the wold, is the order of the day to the capitalism. Everything needs to go some where else (value profit); everything needs to expand and change. Soceity is bound by the iron rules of this change beyond everyone moment or element or person in it. it is the iron law as of growth.
The worker is then the individual caught n the middle of these transfiguration: They are the element upon which the weight of the transfiguration fill. They transfigure the natural order by becoming themselves as if they were in the grip of a force of nature, with all the profound discomfort and horror that brings. While at the same time they embody the unit which the capitalist drives forward in their schemes, the until they reckon on and count on in their alchemy that is the unit which can itself be change (make to worker harder, longer more intensively etc) so that profits follow.
The worker is then both the point at which natural forces tumble into the world, but also the world of work itself becomes akin to natural force. That is the point society is carried over into a certain set of iron rules, and the point at which force from beyond becomes a part in society. it is the double fact, the world of nature and the world of man that grows untrammeled that gives Marx hope. if only the worker can step back, and took a their position, if only the can understand their role in the system, and see this double alchemy (and not merely be swept along in the profit of it all), then they have great power.
Maybe he wonders perpetually they have the power to echo human society into other laws f growth (thoughts), and so free it form money. Maybe they have the power to make those open natural forces work for humanity in other ways, that this profit.
Well maybe.. The problem of course is that captialism would alwways rather not know
One the one hand one has a system that pulverizes all individuality. An individual and their acs of perception, there ability to notice or to pull a lever is then caught within an entire process. The human is lost, in the system that require the brain and its eye to act and act and act and ac again and again and in the same way.
humanity is then merely another regulator, and other cogs another process:It is important as it is cheap. This process then having no end. That is the machines as they use the powers of nature for production, as they turn nature into a prodictive force pulervize humanity within something greater, and will ontinue to do so in differing ways as ones abilty to us nature differently increases.
To be a human will increasingly to become spread across many different things or pot or elements. One repeats this the action and again and agian in many different ways, and without any control Humanity is perpetually exploded into their own ever exploding machines; it is merely the echo of the echo.
At the same time regulation conjures up a state that wants to own all these differences and force them this way or that. A state therefore wants to be yet another force in the process, which wraps up production and drives it on way and not the other.It wants then to be akin to steam - a driving element or at least a point which warps the system elsewhere.
In effect the bureaucracy forget as sure as nature does the workers. They are then merely the elements regulated as they are the agents in a production, A series of figures to be worried at in either case: It is this element,t he minds of the people caught in the machines, Marx wants to remind us of. We wants to free this power of conception lost within the prison of limited perception; and if one can he thinks one has a world to gain...
The problem real problem of all capitalism is hat one always has to regulate it. Capitalism is the system that will make very act of slavery appear necessary.
Take child labour: of course it is wrong we might say, but to regulate it is to supress the poor.
Take green policies, of course the plant ought not to suffer, but we cannot hurt the poor.
Take healthcare; of course it is good bit...
Everything good is then opened on a complexity which always drags it elsewhere, and makes it (from another angle) appear bad or excessive l.
The power of capitalism is the power of this relavity. That is, it enslaves the world be injecting a little bit of supposed freedom into the world (there are poor families that need the money from child who works 14 hours a day), and so justify a whole policy of oppression.
F0r Marx with justification is then hollow. it is a mere apology.
And yet for us? it is clearly more complex. The problem and the joy of capitalism is that it endlessly constructs extra consequences. It manufactures ways and oddities that people adopt a system or behave differently in it. It creates a system rich enough for many many world to function in it (plastic bags are useful even is they do not degrade). It therefore force a system on the world where there are no simple solution. And yet and this is the nightmare of Marx, this system then creates oddities and horrors within it. Child labour is abhorrent, but so is flooding Bangledesh or destroying the rain forests... That is the nightmare that all this good all these nice little outcomes, mixed this all this horrors are in fact together creating a greater horror an abyss to which the entire whole of running. Or better that the worry is always that one of the bad element in the system (as population) i starting to spread across the whole. The dynamic of the unforseen is then ripping across what we are, spread out, and disrupting, destroying.
The worry is then that the unregulated is very likely to destroy and not constructively. it might simply destroy.
The ability of the system therefore to manufacture nice little goods within the whole is dear bought.
The problem is though Marx (who knows his Dickens) how to regulate this act, without blinding oneself in that other horror of circumlocution?
That is how to stop the system disrupting itself and ultimately destroying all it creates , while all the while keep it productive?
This is the challenge of the modern revolutionary,- they challenge to find a poetry for such a change a challenge we have yet to fully understand...