New Criticals

During the Industrial Revolution the labor process had three simple elements: “(1) purposeful activity, that is work itself, (2) the object on which that work is performed, and (3) the instruments of that work.” [4] To use a favorite example of Marx, the production of fabric requires this: (1) operating the loom (2) the fabric (3) the loom. This simple example highlights the importance of the technological (the loom) in a production where two of the three components that work on the object change it mechanically. It follows, then, that “it is not what is made but how, and by what instruments of labor, that distinguishes different economic epochs.” [5] Value lies within labor, which lies within the worker, but it is the technology that defines the character of production and distinguishes historical economic eras. The conditions under which labor occurs experientially, are key questions. Answers to those will provide a better picture of the overall character of an economic era than the actual goods.