Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

Yet there was a contradiction lurking here. If no one worker could claim sole credit for a product, the owner of the factory could still claim sole ownership of everything the workers made together. Wealth was being created socially, on a new model — but still owned privately, on the old model.

The contradiction became even sharper when zooming out to consider the wider economy. As many workers as it took to run a Manchester mill, it took even more workers to make that work possible, from the machinists who manufactured and maintained the power looms and the other machines to the slaves in the American South who picked the cotton that kept those machines fed. The collective labor inside the mill was sustained by many concentric circles of collective labor outside of it.

The pre-capitalist economy looked like a cluster of islands — an archipelago. It involved a collection of small producers relatively isolated from one another and producing mostly for personal use. (Marx memorably compared the French peasantry to a sack of potatoes.) By contrast, the capitalist economy looked like a network. The network of capital concentrated masses of people into larger nodes of production and linked them through countless threads of interdependence. Yet the wealth that this network generated didn’t flow to the many workers who collectively created that wealth. It flowed to the few who owned the network: the capitalists.

Before capitalism, when production happened on a more personal basis, such an arrangement might’ve made sense. If the economy was a cluster of islands, it followed that each island would own what it made. But capitalism, by revolutionizing production, introduced a contradiction: wealth was now made as a network, but still owned as an archipelago. Capitalists like Engels’ father became rich. The workers of Manchester earned starvation wages, and lived in cholera-infested slums.


—p.88 From Manchester to Barcelona (83) by Ben Tarnoff 4 years, 1 month ago