We had to cover so much last night in class that we were only able to glance at several key theorists and theories. I did want to add several additional thoughts about Marx. Marx saw himself as developing a theory of scientific socialism (as opposed to the utopian socialism of people like Owen and Fourier) in which he uncovered the “laws” of capitalist development (how and why it came to be as it was in the first half of the nineteenth century in Western Europe and the U.S.). It’s important to remember that Charles Darwin’s Origins of Species was published in 1859 and had a major influence on Marx as he was developing Capital. Marx believed that Darwin had given the world a scientific methodology that could be applied successfully to the ebbs and flows (the evolution, if you will) of human history. Marx understood himself to be a historical materialist (as opposed to having a spiritualist or abstract notion of the world and how it operated) who rooted his analysis of capitalism in a concrete understanding of what happened in the past. While Marx’s theories were predictive of subsequent capitalist developments that was not his primary intention when he set out to write Capital. Rather, he decided to try to uncover the underlying materialist framework that drove historical developments forward in each epoch and to apply those insights to the new moment in human history introduced by the new system of industrial capitalism.
I’m reading a friend’s book, Adjusted Margin: Xerography, Art, and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century that would add well to Marx’s discussion of machines and (often feminized) labor and continue it into the 20th century.