New Criticals

A factory full of machines working in unison is co-operation, not unlike that which takes place between laborers brought together under the capitalist on a factory floor. The collection of machines “in an organized system…where one machine is constantly kept employed by another” establishes a fixed relation “between their number, their size, and their speed,” resulting in a “collective working machine, [an] articulated system composed of various kinds of a single machine, and of group of single machines, [becoming] all the more perfect the more the process as a whole becomes a continuous one.” [6] This continuity is perfected the more the passage of raw material is uninterrupted, by way of machinery, from beginning to end.

In other words, the mechanization of the production process reaches optimization when the human role is most minimal. The industrial worker should initiate and conclude the process, but the stages of production in between – namely the most laborious steps, the hard work – should be handled by the machine; the less human intervention in the systematic functioning of the machinery, the better. A well-oiled machine and a well-articulated machine network will run smoothly. This is not to say that humans can, or even should be, replaced – they remain the catalysts and controllers. [7] Once a machine or system of machines “executes [movements to elaborate raw material or accomplish a particular task], without man’s help…and needs only supplementary assistance from the worker, we have an automatic system of machinery, capable of constant improvement in its details.” [8] Any 19th century factory worth its salt would serve as an example of seamlessly integrated automatic production. Perfection is in the details.