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The ‘Fragment on Machines’ and the Grundrisse: The Workerist Reading in Question

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Chapter Summary

Marx's piece on machines was enthusiastically received by Italian Marxists, who discovered in its pages the possibility of a new reading of Marx: the 'Fragment on Machines' was seen by them as containing that surplus of subjectivity by which the established interpretations of the Italian Communist Party's Stalinist orthodoxy could be subverted. Workerism criticised and distanced itself from the millenarian objectivism proper to theories of capitalism's imminent 'collapse', but it remained imbued with elements of a philosophy of history. The Grundrisse tells us that the conditions of 'equilibrium' stand in a necessary relationship to the proportion between necessary and additional labour that is, to the rate of surplus-value as it is determined within the immediate production-process. The introduction of machines and the 'general intellect' are important elements within Marx's theoretical analysis of the specifically capitalist mode of production.

Keywords: additional labour; fragment on machines; Grundrisse; Italian Marxists; Marx's theoretical analysis; workerism; workerist reading



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