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Karl Marx on-The Economic Role of Science_Anno Rosenberg.

Karl Marx on-The Economic Role of Science_Anno Rosenberg.

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Published by Anupam Gurung

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Anupam Gurung on Sep 14, 2010
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Nathan Rosenberg
Karl Marx on the Economic Roleof Science
The Journal of Political Economy
Volume 82, Issue 4July-Aug. 1974713-728.
It is not the articlesmade, but how theyare made, and bywhat instruments,that enables us todistinguishdifferenteconomical epochs.[Marx 1906, p.200]
: titles and index added
This paper examines Marx‟s treatment of rising
resource productivity and technological change undercapitalism. Little
attention has been given to Marx‟s
view of the role which science plays in theseprocesses. It is obvious that Marx (and Engels)attach the greatest importance to the development of modern science, but the way in which scientificprogress meshes with the rest of the Marxian systemhas not been fully understood. The paper analyzes
Marx‟s treatment of the factors which account for the
growth of scientific knowledge as well as capitalist
society‟s changing capacity to incorporate this
knowledge into the productive process.
The purpose of this paper is to examine certain
aspects of Marx‟s treatment of rising resource
productivity and technological change under capitalism.
Many of the most interesting aspects of Marx‟s treatment
of technological change have been ignored, perhapsbecause of the strong polemical orientation which readersfrom all shades of the political spectrum seem to bring totheir reading of Marx. As a result, much has been writtenabout the impact of the machine upon the worker and hisfamily, the phenomenon of alienation, the relationshipbetween technological change, real wages, employment,etc. At the same time, a great deal of what Marx had tosay concerning some 300 years of European capitalistdevelopment has received relatively little attention. Thisapplies to his views dealing with the complexinterrelations between science, technology, and economicdevelopment.It is a well-known feature of the Marxian analysisof capitalism that Marx views the system as bringingabout unprecedented increases in* University of WisconsinThe author is grateful to Professors Stanley Engermanand Eugene Smolensky for critical comments on anearlier draft.713
human productivity and in man‟s mastery over nature.
Marx and Engels told their readers, in
The Communist  Manifesto,
that “the bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce
one hundred years, has created more massive and morecolossal productive forces than have all preceding
generations together. Subjection of Nature‟s forces to
man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry andagriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electrictelegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation,canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground - what earlier century had even a presentimentthat such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social
labour?” (Marx and Engels 1951, 1: 37). No single
question, therefore, would seem to be more important tothe whole Marxian analysis of capitalist developmentthan the question: Why is capitalism such an immenselyproductive system by comparison with all earlier forms of economic organization? The question, obviously, has
 been put before, and certain portions of Marx‟s answer 
are in fact abundantly plain. In particular, the social andeconomic structure of capitalism is one which createsenormous incentives for the generation of technologicalchange. Marx and Engels insist that the bourgeoisie isunique as a ruling class because, unlike all earlier rulingclasses whose economic interests were indissolublylinked to the maintenance of the status quo, the veryessence of bourgeois rule is technological dynamism.Capitalism generates unique incentives for theintroduction of new, cost-reducing technologies.The question which I am particularly interested inexamining is the role which is played, within the Marxian

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