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Design History Society

Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

Author(s): Steve Edwards
Source: Journal of Design History, Vol. 14, No. 1 (2001), pp. 17-33
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Design History Society
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Journal of Design History Vol. 14 No. 1 ? 2001 The Design History Society. All rights reserved

Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

Steve Edwards

This essay examines Andrew Ure's The Philosophy of Manufactures, published in

1835. Ure's book occupies an important place in debates on the labour process as well as
historical accounts of industrialization and the regulation offactory labour. Through a
detailed reading of the text'sfigurative language it is argued that Ure constructs a capitalist

utopia of the production process without labour. Central to Ure's book is a socialfantasy of
autogenesis-machines that produce without workers. In contrast to Taylorist models that
promote a fusion of worker and apparatus, I argue that Ure efects a radical separation in
which the worker is imagined as the other to the machine. Ure's text is compared to

popular utopian thought and located in contemporary medicalizations of thefactory. This

essay proposes that The Philosophy of Manufactures, and the factory guide books' of
the 1830s more generally, worked to produce a space for technical experts such as Ure in
the emerging middle-class state.

Keywords: autogenesis-capital-fantasy-labour-utopia-Ure, Andrew


labour helped shape the industrial series and its

AUTOMATIC. A term employed to designate such eco-

inverse-the socialist imaginary.

Ure's book was written as an outright defence of
the factory system at a time when it faced intense

nomic arts as are carried on by self-acting machinery. The

word is employed by the physiologist to express involun-

scrutiny. In the face of operatives' claims, moralizing

tary motions.1

criticisms of the factory system and short-term agita-

tion, Ure's book represented a significant attempt to

present the factory as a site of improvement and
progress. He attacked the arguments of both agricultural interests-trade restrictions, Corn Laws, Clas-

In the mid-1830s, a new literary genre emerged as a

series of published texts in which Charles Babbage,

Edward Baines, William Cook Taylor, Andrew Ure
and others set out to describe and define the pro-

sical education-and of radical operatives and their

duction processes of the northern textile mills. These

allies in the demand for the regulation of child labour

works-collectively known as the 'factory guide

books'-constitute standard points of reference in
debates on the labour process. They also occupy a
prominent place in broader historical debates on

argued, it was because they ate too much rich food

and consumed rancid bacon; if there was oppression

and the ten-hours bill (a campaign to limit the

workday to ten hours). If workers were ill, he

in the textile mills it was that perpetrated on child

factory regulation in which manufacturing interests,

labour by the, often drunken, adult workmen. For

Ure the central moving power of the factory meant

emerging intellectual elites, religious and secular

reform bodies, and factory operatives struggled over

the meanings assigned to factory labour.2 This essay

offers a close reading of one of the most important of
these books: Andrew Ure's The Philosophy of Manu-

that the work conducted was light in contrast to lace-

factures, published in 1835 [1].3 Ure's book is shaped

by this intertextual dispute, but I want to focus on it
as a text, and examine the way that its fantasy of

of domestic and agricultural work plays a significant

role in the text, defining the factory as a site of

making, stocking knitting and rural work.4 This

contrast between the textile mill and various forms

progress [2]. Progress, as we know, is a relative


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Steve Edwards

oped through an engagement with Ure's account.8 In

many ways, my essay is concerned as much with Marx

as it is with Ure: I return repeatedly to Capital in an

attempt to unpack the complex and problematic debt

its author owed to the writer of The Philosophy.

Despite this influence, it is probably fair to say that
Ure's work has not received the critical attention that

is beginning to accrue to Babbage's related enterprise-computers are obviously sexier than factories.9

Work and criticism

Robert Hunt's analogy of body and machine, which
heads this essay, has become such a commonplace in
capitalist societies that we hardly notice how strangely

generative this relation now is. Everywhere, from

science fiction to the advertising industry, meanings

flow from this conjuncture. It is revealing, for

instance, that we refer catachrestically to the casing

of-that most symptomatic of modem commodities-the car as its 'body'. Walter Benjamin captured

something of the sheer oddity of this fetishistic

relation when he described the commodity as possessing the 'sex-appeal of the inorganic'. My interest
here is with the way that this body/machine relation
operates in the capitalist imaginary of work. While
social historians and specialists concerned with the

labour process have continued to pay considerable

attention to the world of work, cultural theorists, in

so far as they address the relation of worker and

machine at all, have largely done so through a theory
of Taylorism drawn from the work of the Frankfurt

Fig 1. Tide page of Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures

School and its associated thinkers. The most famous

term and Ure used the supposed lightness of the

reference is to be found in the work of Siegfried

labour involved to argue against any restriction on

the hours of child labour. Often, he suggests, factory
children rest for four minutes at a time, and when

Everyone does his or her task on the conveyor belt, per-

their work is done, they skip happily away from the

forming a partial function without grasping the totality ...

factory.5 It was not for nothing that Marx described

Ure as the 'Pindar of the automatic factory'.6

Taylor system merely pushes to their ultimate conclusion.

Kracauer where he writes of the production process:

It is conceived according to rational principals, which the

The hands in the factory correspond to the legs of the

Tiller Girls. Going beyond manual capacities, psychotechnical aptitude tests attempt to calculate dispositions of the
soul as well.'1

It has been argued that Ure is 'one of the ghostly

figures which flit through the footnotes of Das Kapital,

pleading ineffectually for the factory system and the

rights of capital.'7 The Philosophy of Manufactures,

however, occupies a much more substantial place in
Marx's understanding of capitalism than this would
suggest. Many of the central categories of the great
chapter on 'Machinery and Moder Industry', as well
as important arguments in the Resultate, were devel-

If the point is explicit in Kracauer, where Taylorism spreads beyond the labour process to encompass a

popular dance troupe and the patterns of psychic

adaptation required by moder commodity production, it also looms large over the work of Marcuse,

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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

Fig 2. Orrell's Cotton
Factory, Stockport.

Frontispiece to

Andrew Ure, The

Philosophy of

ORREcLL'S Cotton Factory, Stockport.

Adorno, Horkheimer and their disciples. In the form

akin to a dark inversion of Ernst Bloch's 'wish

of 'technological rationality', 'one-dimensional soci-

day life. In this vision all activities from making cars

images', or Walter Benjamin's 'dialectical images'.14

In his book Ure operates with a model of separation
rather than fusion, presenting the worker not as a
machine but as its other, or antithesis. Central to

to washing-up, or buying birthday presents, appear as

Ure's argument is a figuring of the automatic factory

rationalized and routine, instrumental and supervised.11 In focusing on Taylorism, critical theory
has closed the gap between worker and machine,
making him or her into an integrated part of the
production process. In Taylorized production the
'deskilled' worker is seen as just another cog in the

as a capitalist utopia without workers.

Some authors have recently noted that Ure's book

ety', 'administered society' and so on, Taylorism casts

its shadow on to the most mundane aspects of every-

contains a number of utopian themes, but this observation has played no significant role in our understanding

of industrial production.15 I want to argue that the

utopian dimension in Ure's work contributed signific-

social machine. This concentration of attention on

antly to securing the intellectual hegemony of the

factory in the capitalist imagination. The problem

Taylorism, in which the worker is seen to be

absorbed into the production apparatus, is one

here is that utopias exist in the void of no place,

reason why these thinkers have been so gripped by

the idea that all critical distance has disappeared in
modem capitalism.12 Paradoxically, critical theory

whereas Ure's factory is located in space and time.

By now it has become a commonplace to note that
throughout this period handloom weavers outnum-

has, in this way, played a significant role in articulat-

bered all those who worked in factories weaving

ing a structure of identity thinking around modem

labour relations.'3 The seeming Taylorist fusion of
worker with machine is, however, only one aspect of
the capitalist imaginary of work organization. This
essay returns to Ure in order to examine the emergence of a different capitalist image of the labour
process. The images under discussion in this essay are
not pictures; rather, they are metaphoric condensations of fantasy or ideology. I have in mind something

cotton, silk and wool, and that the large-scale factory,

depending on machinery and steam power, remained

the exception in British industry.16 However much the

textile factory functioned as a symbolic space for

debate, the economy in the 1830s, even in the

Lancashire cotton districts, was dominated by artisanal

forms of production and small workshops.17 During

the 1830s and 1840s, the average size of factories in
engineering and textiles, even in the North West,


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Steve Edwards

time'. Living in Ure's future, his text might illumin-

remained at fewer than one hundred employees.18 The

transformation of the labour process during the Indus-

ate some powerful and imaginary accounts of the

trial Revolution, it is now argued, centred on market

transformations of work. An exclusive concentration

relations much more than on the introduction of

on the Taylorist ideology occludes the extent to

machinery. This does not mean that capital left the

which so many conceptions of work associated with

economy unchanged. Clive Behagg's important work

'post-Fordism'-the computerized production line,

intelligent machines, the paperless office, and so-

on the early nineteenth-century Birmingham trades

factors was decisive in bringing the small masters under

called 'Japanese' labour practices-are themselves

long running fantasies. Attention to Ure's work

the control of the big enterprises.19 Behagg argues that

brings the imaginary of post-modernism into focus.

this process intensified the division of labour and

increasingly reduced the small workshops to satellites

Manufactures as if it were Gibson and Sterling's The

has shown how the control of credit by merchants and

In this way I like to think of The Philosophy of

or adjuncts of large-scale capital. This process of credit

Difference Engine run in a kind of temporal reverse

dependency, combined with the increasing number of


available workers (the result of the growth in the

population, and of the destruction of the 'household
economy' that drew women and children into the

Ure's book can be seen as a fundamental contribution

factory) undermined artisan independence. Ure's

account of the factory, then, indicates the promise of

to discussions on factory regulation and an argument

future capitalist development more than the state of

for the non-interference by the state in free trade. His

production in the 1830s. His argument is probably best

central agenda, though, was to demonstrate that

understood as part description, part abstraction and

part utopian wish-image. Robert Gray suggests that

capital should take full control of the labour process

metaphor for hopes and fears about the pace and

against the resistance of the operatives. In this he

seems to prefigure Taylorism, but his account, in
which the 'refractory hand of labour' hindered the

character of industrial change.20 In this light, Ure's

efficient running of the factory, takes a very different

the factory operated in the debates of the time as a

factory should be viewed as a space of double fantasy

course to 'scientific management'. Ure sees these

positing both an automatic form of production, and

'hands' as inefficient instruments of production:

ones that must be broken, or discarded, and replaced
by machines [3]. Whereas Engels famously suggested

centring the factory as the dominant work form.

If Ure's book reads like a work of science fiction,

that is not to say that it has nothing to teach us about

that workers were reduced to the status of machines

his time-or ours. Frederic Jameson suggests that it is

by the factory system, Ure saw the factory operative

the peculiar characteristic of the genre of science

fiction that it dramatizes the limits of thought.21
Rejecting 'future shock' accounts of science fiction,
he argues that the utopian future has 'turned out to
have been merely the future of one moment of our
own past'. For Jameson, the fetishistic imagination of

as radically distinct to the machine.23

late capitalism has become incapable not only of

envisaging the future but also of perceiving the

Marx suggested that there were two contradictory

accounts of the factory in Ure's book: at points he
depicted the factory as a combined operation of many

orders of workpeople (described by Marx as 'the

collective labourer, or social body of labour'). Here

the automaton was an object and the worker the

subject of the process. But Marx brilliantly grasped

present. It is the nature of science fiction, he suggests,

that Ure also represented the factory as a vast

to demonstrate our incapacity to envisage the future

automaton that was itself the subject of the productive process. Marx argued that while the first account

and thus it allows us to apprehend 'the present as

history'. In this argument, Jameson draws on Herbert

was applicable to any employment of machinery, the

second was a characteristic of capitalism.24 I want to
argue that these two narrative threads are crucial to an

Marcuse's account of the utopian imagination which

he defines as that 'which, setting forth from an

unknown' turns into 'a contemplation of our own
absolute limits'.22 Jameson's point, I think, provides

understanding of Ure's book because their resolution

us with a way of relating Ure's book to our 'now

into the factory. By opting to centre the second

depends on the introduction of a middle-class expert


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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

Fig 3. Slubbing Billy, from
Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of

Fig. 31.-SluWbbug BUy.

account Ure was able to stake his professional claim

bouring mill owners.28 According to Ure, the high

on the factory.

wages of spinners allowed the 'stipendiary committee'

to 'pamper themselves into nervous ailments' on a

The philanthropy of the manufacturers and of

science, Ure argued, was opposed by the very 'objects

of bounty'-the workers-who could not, or would

diet too rich for their comfortable indoor occupation.29 While hand weavers, Ure argued, had been

too scattered to pursue united action (and their

ownership of the apparatus of production had

not, see that the factory system would provide lighter

work, steady labour and regular wages. Workers

ignorant of political economy, he suggested, could

meant that to strike was to hit at their own capital),

the new factory workers were united in the work-

not know the injury that they did to the manufacturer

and to national wealth in refusing the regularity of the

factory, just as even the enlightened middle-class

reader can never fully estimate the consequences of
infringing God's moral law. In an attack on popular
political economy he argued that 'artful demagogues'

place by the manufacturer-and the capital was his.

The danger with the transition to the factory system

was that the action of the operatives now had a

chance of success.30 If this tale sounds like Marx-if

had persuaded workers that their sacrifice of time and

played in reverse-then well it might. The difference

is that the abyss of their respective identifications

skill was not matched by their recompense.25 Instead

separates The Philosophy of Manufactures from Capital.

of bemoaning the prosperity of the employers, Ure

believed, workers should labour with skill and regularity: in this way the best of them could advance
their position. Only hard work, he insisted, could

Ure believed that, despite the unruly behaviour of

these united workmen, capital would find its salvation

in the application of science to the factory. He wrote:

Arkwright alone had the sagacity to discern, and the

permanently improve wages. The spinners were,

boldness to predict in glowing language, how vastly productive human industry would become, when no longer
proportioned in its results to muscular effort, which is by
nature fitful and capricious, but when made to consist in
the task of guiding the work of mechanical fingers and

according to him, particularly 'blinded by prejudice

and passion' into squandering a portion of their wages
'upon the fomenters of misrule-the functionaries of

their unions'.26 The cotton spinners, Ure insisted,

terrified 'the timid or the passive' into their 'vindic-

arms, regularly impelled with great velocity by some

tive union'.7 In the process, they placed the respectable manufacturer in a 'mortifying predicament'.
Harried by the 'vindictive spirit of united workmen',
the master was obliged to pay more than the neigh-

indefatigable physical power.31

Again 'mechanical fingers and arms' substitute for

human 'hands'. The interchangeability of the worker

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Steve Edwards

with his or her hands has played a considerable role in

nated to moral constitution, and both should co-

the capitalist imagination.32 As Engels observed, the

operate to the commercial efficiency'. In a slightly

different version-labour, science, capital-Ure sug-

bourgeoisie saw workers only as hands, often calling

men and women hands to their face.33 In Ure this

gests that three distinct powers correspond to this

synecdochic substitution allows a distancing of mind

and enforces a distinction between mental and

manual labour. The worker exists in his text as a

hand (and, as we shall see, a phallus). It is important,

organic division: labour 'is destined to move', science

'to direct', and capital 'to sustain'.37 This is a significant typology because, as Marx realized, it assigned
middle-class intellectuals such as Ure a key role in the

in this sense, to note that this synecdoche entails a

circuit of capital accumulation.38 The same figuration

process of separation between part and whole, just as

appears in his description of mill architecture, where

much as it makes a connection between them. The

the main shafting and wheel gearing are compared to

main problem according to Ure, however, did not lie

the 'grand nerves and arteries', and the ill-planned

with the invention of machines; rather, it hinged on

works related to 'a man labouring under aneurysmal

and nervous affections'.39 The factory runs smoothly

the question of labour discipline: of using the

machine to control the rhythms and patterns of

because Dr Ure is at hand.

work. Wyatt of Birmingham, for instance, was the

real inventor of the fluted roller (the mechanical

The social machine and the social body

'fingers' often attributed to Arkwright) but, according

Ure studied medicine in Edinburgh and Glasgow,

to Ure, Wyatt was a gentle man not suited to the

factory. The introduction of this mechanical substi-

anatomy prize for his work on hernia).40 He worked

tute for labour required a man with the nerve of

as a military surgeon and practised medicine in

qualifying as an MD in 1801 (winning the University

Napoleon.34 It was the establishment of this factory

Glasgow until 1804 when, at the age of twenty-six,

discipline, Ure argued, that was 'the Herculean

he moved on to the post of Professor of Natural

Philosophy and Chemistry at the University of

enterprise, the noble achievement of Arkwright'.35

Glasgow.4' As Robert Gray has demonstrated, medical men formed a particularly important category of


witness in Sadler's Committee and in the Royal

Commission which investigated the conditions of

If there is a constant figuration of class war in this text

employment in the textile mills.42 All sides in this

dispute used and valued medical expertise.43 Ure's
particular medical training under the Scottish anatomists emphasized the central role of the nervous
system as the unifying system of the body. As Mary
Poovey has observed, the image of the 'social body' as
used by Kay (another Edinburgh medical man) and

there are also other images, less often noticed but no

less insistent. The central theme of Ure's book, in
which worker resistance, based on craft hierarchy and
the property in skill, was broken by the introduction

of machines, is rendered through one such set of

tropes in which the factory is depicted as a body:
The object of manufactures is to modify the productions

others in the 1830s worked-unlike the notion of the

of nature into articles of necessity, convenience or luxury,

'social machine' (which predominates in the work of

by the most economical and unerring means. They have

Babbage)-to justify reforming medical interventions

all three principles of action, or three organic systems: the

into the life of the 'poor'.44 Chadwick's Sanitary

mechanical, the moral and the commercial, which may

not unaptly be compared to the muscular, the nervous,

Report of 1842, for instance, depicted the city as a

and the sanguiferous systems of an animal.36

body requiring medical attention.45 This intervention

In this passage Ure makes the connection between

social classes and parts of a body. And he makes it

which was self-regulating, the 'social body' lacks a

was possible because, unlike the social machine,

unifying sensorium. In so far as it was not selfcontained, an external mind could be brought to

again. These 'three organic systems', he argues,

correspond to three social forces: 'the muscular' to
'the operative'; 'the nervous' to 'the master'; and 'the

bear on this organism. The fundamental move made

by Ure was to graft these two images together. In

doing so, he established the factory as an efficiently
functioning space while at the same time arguing for

sanguiferous' to 'the state'. In these couplets, he

suggests, the mechanical must 'always be subordi22

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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

the role of the scientific specialist as a useful servant of

The threat of de-skiling and the increased capitalist

capital. In a shifting pattern of metaphors, Ure offers

control of the labour process posed a direct threat to

us a vision in which the state/capital occupies the role

working class masculinity-reducing men to the

of the blood-this, I think, is a kind of laissez-faire

circulation that enables the organs of the social body
to function-while science/capital assumes the position of the unifying nervous system. In this account,

status of children.50 As Gray has suggested, according

the factory is given the form of a (presumably human)

gender played a crucial role in the factory debates.

to this argument, it was the property of working class

men, but the persons of women and children, that

should be protected by law. The anxieties around

body; and the manufacturer and his scientific servants

While factory operatives sought to uphold their

are cast in the role of brain and nerves. Labour, in

masculinity by establishing the conditions by which

contrast, is reduced to brute muscular force or seen as

they could support their 'dependants', Ure's text sets

a disease, or infection, that impairs the organism.

about de-manning the factory.

The themes of 'bondage' and backbreaking

In another fantastic image Ure argues:

burden, which are related to this struggle, reverberate

In this extraordinary state of things, when the inventive

head and the sustaining heart of trade were held in bond-

through English radical culture. Think, for instance,

of the enduring idea of the Norman Yoke, or of a

text such as Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound'.51 This
theme was reinforced during the 1830s and 1840s

age by unruly lower members, a destructive spirit began

to display itself among some partisans of the union.46

In all these passages, the 'mechanical' and 'muscular'

restrain 'heart' and 'head', the 'moral' and the
'commercial'. There is a contrast here between

when some campaigners for factory regulation appro-

elevated and base, mental and manual, and sacred

imagery, however, is probably best drawn out in

contrast with a passage from a speech by William
Lovett on machinery made five years before The

priated the rhetoric of anti-slavery, employing slogans

such as 'white slavery' and 'factory slaves'.52 Ure's

and profane-oppositions in which intellectual

aspirations are sacrificed to immediate bodily gratification. In Ure's account these vulgar inversions pose

Philosophy of Manufactures was published:

a real threat to the health of the social body.47 The

Instead of praying them to tax [machinery]-in fact

topology of inversion was undoubtedly a live issue in

instead of praying at all-(applause and laughter)-instead

of praying and bowing and cringing, let us stand erect,
conscious of our own worth and power, and importance
in the society .. . What was tolerated through the blind-

this period: two years before Ure's book appeared,

the Chartist leader Bronterre O'Brian suggested:
a change amounting to a complete subversion of the ex-

ness of our forefathers has been justified by antiquity; and

isting 'order of the world'-is contemplated by the work-

power has usurped the place of liberty. We their sons

have bowed to the yoke, and you have formed our

ing classes. They aspire to be the top instead the bottom

of society-or rather that there should be no bottom or

minds, politically and religiously as you thought proper;

you endeavour to keep us in a state of mental blindness,
but in spite of your efforts to prevent it, our eyes are

top at all.48

O'Brian's last suggestion was the most radical of all,

opened. (Hear and cheers.) In spite of gagging bills-in

but rather than pursue this point I want to ask what

spite of attorneys-general, (hear and tremendous

those 'unruly lower members' stand for in Ure's

imagination. They are, I think, those men who

applause,) we see, we feel, and we are determined to

endure the evils to which we have been subjected no

stand unbent in the face of the 'master's' desire-

longer. (Overwhelming applause.)53

proud of their skill and their ability to protect their

Lovett's speech is dense with the figures of early

nineteenth-century radicalism: it is a narrative of
unfettering, of sight restored and gags removed.
'Liberty' is figured through a recovery of the senses
and untying of the body from imposed bonds. This

dependants. There is an important gendered dimension to this tradition of nineteenth-century craft

labour. Because women were excluded from apprenticeships, skill was perceived as a masculine property
that entitled its owner to respect from the 'master'.49

Crucial to this respect was the independence exercised by artisans (early mule spinners continued to
think of themselves as such) in the labour process.

passage also suggests that the condition of the worker

is typified by a stooped demeanour: 'praying and

bowing and cringing' as well as 'bowed to the

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Steve Edwards

yoke'. This posture gives a vivid image of the worker's subservience even if, for him, the model of that

turer for 'repressing strikes'.62 In fact, Marx argued

worker was the independent artisan rather than the

written as one of 'weapons against the revolts of the

factory labourer. The workers had to cast off this

working-class'.63 The steam engine would be central

burden and 'stand erect' if they were not to be

to this process, since, according to Ure, it made work

that a history of technology since 1830 could be

reduced to 'the mere starveling conductors of the

less 'irksome' than manual labour but it also pre-

splendid machinery of England'.54 It was in this

vented workers from lagging or loitering.64 In Ure,

upright position, he believed, that the worker could

the steam engine and the factory, as much as they

were forces of production, were forms of labour

rediscover his 'worth, power, and importance in

society'. The erect worker, then, was a man who

discipline. This, then, was Ure's fantasy of the

factory, of the machine, of instrumental scienceto subsume labour under the full control of capital.
He wrote of the dressing machine:

would assert his independence and refuse the phallic

dominance of masters and corrupt rulers. For Lovett,

machinery had to be controlled and used in the

interests of all rather than simply rejected. The

It affords an instructive warning to workmen to beware

of strikes, by proving how surely science, at the call of

Tory radical George Burgess held the more straight-

forward view that it was machinery that must be

capital, will defeat every unjustifiable union which

'restrained' if the country were to avoid 'every horror

labourers may form.65

and calamity attending the bursting of all bonds that

hold society together'.55

Ure, by the time he wrote this passage, had long since

In direct contradiction of this radical argument,

given up medical practice for his Glasgow chair, and

Ure asserts that it is the master who is 'held in

then for a career as a consulting analytical chemist. It

bondage' and whose freedom and manhood are

has been suggested that he was probably the first

constrained.56 Any attempt by workers to organize

person in Britain to earn a living as a scientific

in defence of their interests was perceived by him to

consultant. He worked mainly for manufacturers,

constitute an intolerable interference with the free-

charging seven guineas per day plus expenses, and

dom of capital.57 Ure's project was to reverse this

standing proud and to tie down the erect worker. In
order to accomplish this, an apparatus would have to
be constructed that would discipline the male worker's body in order that capital could stand tall and

often appeared as an expert witness in court cases.66

The theme of 'science, at the call of capital' which

appears repeatedly in Ure's work should be seen as part
of the construction of a voice and an eye. It is a theme

that allows Ure to inscribe himself, and others like

pursue its desires.

him, as an expert within the process of accumulation.


worker resistance to capital was one of the ways that

It would, no doubt, be possible to give a Foucauldian

reading of Ure's account of the factory in which the

professional middle class with an opportunity to secure

for themselves a role as functionaries in the new social

disciplinary apparatus of production regiments the

order. At this point it is useful to compare the views of

The claim that scientific expertise could overcome

the debate on the factory provided the developing

body, trains the mind and produces a new restrained

Ure with those of Babbage. Commentators from

working subject.58 Marx presents a more classspecific account, however, in his description of

Marx onwards have distinguished between Babbage's

formal and real subsumption of labour under capital.59

Ure's text played a significant role in the formulation

in automation. Babbage certainly places more emphasis on intelligence than on machines, but in one

of this distinction. It is in this sense that Marx refers to

important respect the views of both authors turn out

concern with the division of labour and Ure's interest

Ure's vast automaton as 'a mechanical monster

to be remarkably similar. Both men represented the

whose body fills whole factories'.60 For Marx, the

intelligence of a specialist as the key to the production

prime mover is not simply an automaton but an

process-it is just that Ure mediates this role via

'autocrat'.61 Machinery not only represented a form

expertise in mechanics. The key difference between

of superior competition to the worker it was 'a

these writers is that Ure believed it was crucial that

power inimical to him', a weapon of the manufac-

machines were not intelligent. The lack of a sensorium


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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

result was the construction of the self-acting mule

'in order to emancipate the trade from galley slavery
and impending ruin'. Mr Roberts turned his 'genius'
to the creation of a 'spinning automaton'. This 'Iron

in machines is a prime reason why the manufacturers

need men like him. As this technical expert accrued

intelligence to himself he stripped it from the labouring community. Simon Schaffer observes that Bab-

Man', as the operatives called it, used 300,000400,000 spindles and was 'a creation designed to

bage claimed that memory and foresight constituted

his authorship of the calculating engines and that they
'embodied his control over the engine while they

restore order among the industrious classes, and to

confirm to Great Britain the empire of art'.71 Ure
believed that this example demonstrated that when
'capital enlists science in her service, the refractory
hand of labour will always be taught docility'.72 By
turning things the right way up, science and techno-

disembodied the skills and camouflaged the work

force on which it depended.'67 Schaffer presents a
powerful argument for this case but 'disembodied' is
very much the wrong metaphor. One important result

of the transformation of the labour process was to

produce the worker as a labouring body-a mindless
pair of hands. Theory and abstraction were frequently

logy restored the rule of the masters, 'of the head over
the inferior members'.73

used to distance professional men from those who

were supposedly debased by manual labour: it separ-

familiar but it is worth noting that every time labour is

The image of social war in Ure might now be

ated anatomists from surgeons, and artists from copy-

disciplined and defeated, displaced or broken, then

ists. Theory also differentiated men like Ure and

abundance flows through these pages. This is to say

that there is a utopia at work here-it is a utopia of

Babbage from mere engineers, however skilled these

might be.68 The absence of theory turned men into

capital, of commodities produced without labour, of

profit without wages, of machines without workers

mere matter. It is at this point that some of the most

enduring ideological conceptions of brute working-

[4]. Ure's text depicts the utopia that capitalism might

class masculinity could emerge.

become if it could only dispense with the unruly

operatives. Desmond Ryan has argued that for Ure
the factory was a 'rational', 'cognitively coherent' and


'self-sufficient' system that was threatened by external

According to Ure, the very word 'union' was enough

forces.74 But Ure's conception goes beyond self-

to terrify the manufacturer and lead him to enlist

science to control labour. Union and strike, Ure

sufficiency: for him factory production was-in that

most socially fantastic of Victorian categories-self-

argued, acted as an 'extraordinary stimulus to

acting. The self-acting machine constituted one of the

mechanical science', for the spectacle of plant left

idle provided an impetus for further technological
innovation. In one important instance, he suggested,
this resulted in the spinning frame. Ure recorded his

ing everything from mules to trowels. In Ure, skill,

that weapon of organized labour, would be replaced

deep figures of the Victorian imagination, encompass-

entirely in the self-acting factory of the future. Some-

pleasure in encountering the machine that set things

times, Ure opted for the maximum programme of a

the right way up again; it was, he stated, 'delightful to

fully automated factory system. The Philosophy opens

see from 800 to 1,000 spindles of polished steel,

advancing and receding in a mathematical line'.

read that manufacture is a word that now signifies the

with a definition of this utopia: on the first page we

With the aid of this machine the manufacturer was

opposite of its original meaning denoting production,

not by men, but by machines:

able to dispense with the unruly spinners and once

more become the master of his mill.69 With the

the most perfect manufacture is that which dispenses

spinning frame one man could manage between

entirely with manual labour. The philosophy of manufac-

1,500 and 2,000 spindles and do the work previously

tures is therefore an exposition of the general principles

performed by two or three spinners. When the mule

on which productive industry should be conducted by

spinners for coarse yars-represented by Ure as a

self-acting machines.75

particularly unruly lot who had 'abused their powers

Some might say that a utopia of capital is an

beyond endurance'-struck, the manufacturers

sought the aid of the machinists Sharp & Co. of
Manchester and their partner Mr Roberts.70 The

impossibility, that this unconscious state is nightmare

rather than dream: that this is 'dystopia' or, at any


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Steve Edwards

Fig 4. Wool Spinning Mule, from Andrew Ure,

The Philosophy of Manufactures

rate, anti-utopia. Nonetheless, we should allow

a moment, and consider a more familiar utopia. This

way we might return to him with a better understanding of abundance and its twin-autogenesis.

capital its own sense of the good life, for a moment

at least.76 Ure's utopian programme for the abolition
of skill-breaking the refractory hand and binding
the unruly member-hinges on a fantasy of abund-

In the fourteenth-century English poem The Land of

Cokaygne-described by the great chronicler of Eng-

ance and the breakout from restrictions. His account

lish utopianism, A. L. Morton, as an 'earthly and earthy

suggests a form of autogenic production that can

dispense with labour because things will make themselves and, in the process, make the manufacturer
rich beyond belief. In this fantasy of autogenesis the
machine sets production free from the hindrance of
labour and, in so doing, unleashes the potential for a
frenzy of consumption [5]. Just imagine the wealth
that could be generated if things could be produced
solely by machines: machines that would never tire,
and would not demand rest or more pay. Imagine the
glittering array of commodities, all the more perfect
because they were untouched by human hands.77 As

paradise'79-we find an extraordinary imagery offood:

According to Morton, this poem was originally written as a satire on the clergy, or on those who wanted

Marcuse suggested, this kind of fantasy, cut off from

something for nothing, but it quickly got out of hand

the reality principle, could continue 'to speak the

language of the pleasure principle, of freedom from
repression, of uninhibited desire and gratification'.78

themes of gluttony were transformed into generative

utopian figures of abundance.81 This theme of self-

In Cokaygne we drink and eat

Freely without care and sweat
The Food is choice and clear the wine,
At Fourses and at supper time,

I say again, and I dare swear,

No land is like it anywhere,
Under heaven no land like this

Of such joy and endless bliss.80

and took on more popular meanings as its negative

Ure shares this picture with utopian thought in

general. The image of things produced without
pause seems to spring direct from the fairy tale

generating abundance runs prominently through liter-

where articles of use are magically generated. The

Philosophy of Manufactures is full of this kind of
wonder, astonishment, and childish delight at the
workings of machines. I will return to the dark side
of this image where a total loss of control reappears
but, before I do, I want to leave Dr Andrew Ure for

tradition catalogued by Mikhail Bakhtin.

ature from the classical world to the Renaissance. It is

to be found in Euripides and Pliny, and in a whole

All in all, the poem presents an image of utopia that
we can recognize: sexual pleasure, plenty of food and
drink waiting to be had, enormous appetites sated on
good things.82 It is, to be sure, rough at the edges, and it

is definitely a popular utopia. In the world of scarcity


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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

Fig 5. The Teagle; The Teagle-horizontal section or plan, from Andrew Ure, The Philosophy of Manufactures


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Steve Edwards

and the staple diet, this is 'such stuff as dreams are made

on'. But there is another theme in this poem for

those social relations and especially those forces of

production-it is only if things produce themselves
that abundance would not require, or signify, back-

abundance does not quite exhaust its meanings.

breaking toil. In contrast to this popular account of

utopia, Ure's capitalist 'Cokaygne' gives us an

That geese fly roasted on the spit,

As God's my witness, to that spot,

account of self-expanding value that runs close to

Crying out, 'Geese, all hot, all hot!'

revelry. Perhaps The Philosophy of Manufactures with its

Every goose in garlic drest,

particular constellation of abundance and autogenesis

Of All food the seemliest.

comes the closest capitalist thought has ever managed

to a fully Dionysian moment.
To fantasize, as Ure does, that abundance and

And the larks that are so couth

Fly right down into man's mouth,

Smothered in stew, and thereupon

Piles of powdered cinnamon.

autogenesis might be bound to each other in the

Every man may drink his fill

service of capital, is to imagine that this utopia would

abolish its other. In binding-or perhaps castrating-

And needn't sweat to pay the bill.83

the 'unruly lower members' he could depict mechan-

It may seem evident to suggest that no one needs to

ization as a supercession of labour. The capitalist

cook the geese and larks, for they are already roasted,

fantasy of autogenesis is, in one important respect,

one of production without recourse to the other. It is

but this is a crucial point for understanding utopian

thought. The utopian imagination is structured-

an asexual fantasy in which a generative and fecund

unsurprisingly-by the process of desire. Whether it

is the basic necessities of food, or more luxurious

self is capable of reproduction from within itself. In

this way a paternal authority seizes capital as a male

items of consumption that are dreamed of, utopian

possession. In so far as women figure in Ure's account

desire acts to suspend loss by stockpiling the images of

of the factory, they do so to displace labour. Labour

endowment. In this respect utopianism runs remark-

for Ure is always male. Working women and

ably parallel to Freud's account of the psychic

machines are interchangeable in his imagination:

mechanisms of fetishism.84 Utopia hinges on the

signs of presence but it connects them, in a chain of
metonymic contiguity, to a determinate absence. In
utopias the enormous surplus works to block out, or
at least suspend, the threat posed to the subject by
lack or absence. Radical or popular forms of utopia,
however, combine abundance with autogenesis: that
is, they figure abundance but without the work or

both displace unruly masculinity, and both serve the

master's desires [6]. Workers, who are subordinate to

machines, can be replaced by women, but they are

also akin to women-they are bodies without a will.
Indeed, it is the masculinity of the worker that often
seems his most threatening characteristic for Ure. It is

difficult, however, to imagine this autogenic reproduction as anything other than monstrous. According

to Slavoj Zizek, Marx, in volume 3 of Capital,

'sweat' needed to produce it.85 In this thoroughly

fantastic construction, something more subversive
than the desire to lay hold of the property of one's
betters-usually written as envy-is at work.86 Envy

but the images from which such a conception might

as a social structure suggests that the individual might

be drawn are certainly present in the text: 'reproduc-

come to occupy a place previously taken by others-

tion' figures frequently, and Marx refers to the 'off-

but, in the process, the wheels carry on turning.87

spring' of capital, while in a brilliant description of

depicted self-expanding value as a 'MotherThing'.88 I have been unable to find this reference,

Plenty for some has to be provided for by the graft of

money as a fetish, he writes 'Capital is now a thing,

others. The popular utopia's mode of address is, in

contrast, 'we'. It will have its time of plenty but, for

but as a thing it is capital. Money is now pregnant'.89

Zizek suggests that this reproduction without the

phallus is a fantasy notion of the mother as a self-

all that, it will not sentence others to produce it. It is

in this sense that popular conceptions of utopia

reproducing monster. Ure's book, however, suggests

require autogenesis: a process of the immediate and

an even more horrendous possibility: that of capital as

continual self-generation whereby things are always

a 'Father-Thing', an exclusively phallic form of

production and reproduction that would exclude
feminized workers. This monstrous, autogenic

to hand but where no one has to 'sweat' to bring

them into being. For in such a world-a world with

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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure









* . .f' KTPO .lZT,

I .?.r.J,me.hSA vr??* f Zilr I~./-#.?r*.r - fl oj=

Fig 6. Power Loom Factory of Thomas Robinson, Esq., Stockport, from Andrew Ure, The Philosophy ofManufactures. Foldout

creation speaks of the 'unhallowed' work conducted

a suitable language to depict the mystifications of

by Frankenstein in the charnel house, and Mary

capitalist social relations where the phantasms of the

bourgeois market return to haunt their creators. This

Shelley's creation haunts Ure's argument.

Adapting Marx's critique of another author, it

seems that Ure was 'simply dazzled by the gargantuan

gothic moment in Marx represents one of the points

at which he broke decisively with Ure's account of

dimensions obtained in a geometric progression'. It

production relations. In the Communist Manifesto, this

was because 'he took no note of the conditions of

repressed gothic moment breaks through the appar-

reproduction and labour' that he could see 'capital as

a self-regulating automaton'.90 Ure's utopia is one
side of a dialectical image in which a benign fetish
works its magic in the interests of the manufacturer.

ent calm of capitalist production, working its fiendish


Moder bourgeois society with its relations of production,

of exchange and property, a society that has conjured up a
gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the

The writers of gothic, uncanny and later science

fiction novels grasped the other, dark side of this
'automatic fetish' where inanimate objects come to

sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of

the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.94

life and run amok.91 E. T. A. Hoffinann, William

Beckford and Mary Shelley all provide us with

For Marx, bourgeois relations of production, just

like earlier ones, bind-or act as 'fetters' on-the

uncanny doubles for autogenic production.92 Marx

draws repeatedly on these gothic characters: spectres,
alchemists, werewolves, vampires, gravediggers are all
familiar from his pages. As one writer has suggested,
these figures are not mere stylistic flourishes embel-

forces of production, but ultimately these forces

cannot be constrained and they 'burst' free: 'Then
begins an era of social revolution'.95 Ure's account of
the self-acting factory bears a close resemblance to the

lishing otherwise sober texts. Rather, the gothic form

tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice-alluded to by Marx

and Engels-but in this account time is frozen in that
split second just before the novice lost control of the
forces he had unleashed. Ure, as we have seen, would

allowed Marx to undermine the bourgeoisie's selfaggrandizing myths and epochal self-confidence.93 It
was in the literature of gothic terror that Marx found

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Steve Edwards


like to free capital by tying down the worker. His

text-if not the factory itself-works to petrify the
destructive dialectic of capitalist production. In this

1 Robert Hunt (ed.), Ure's Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and

Mines: A Clear Exposition of their Principles and Practices, Long-

man, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860, pp. 234-5.

way a fetishistic idee fixe provides a psychic defence

2 Robert Gray, The Factory Question and Industrial England 18301860, Cambridge University Press, 1996 (hereafter The Factory

against the shocks of moder production. As with Bill

Sykes' account of the knife that cut the throat of the

travelling salesman, to recognize the hand behind the

3 Andrew Ure, MD, FRS, The Philosophy of Manufactures: Or,

instrument would have its consequences.96

Exploration of the Scientific, Moral, and Commercial Economy of the

Ure's utopia is one made for capital by the

Factory System of Great Britain, 1835, London.

machine, and, as such, wonder surrounds the new


4 Ibid., p. 328. In response Engels suggested that while the work

might be lighter Ure took no notice of its monotonous nature.

The card-making machine of Mr. Dyer, at Manchester, is

5 Ure, op. cit., p. 301. This was a claim that brought the full

Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England,

Basil Blackwell, 1971, p. 134.

one of the most complete automatons to which manufac-

wrath ofJohn Fielden upon him. See Fielden's The Curse of the
Factory System, A. Cobbett, London, 1836.

tures have given birth. It splits the leather, pierces it,

forms the teeth, and implants them, with precision and

6 Karl Marx, Capital: a Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1,

Lawrence & Wishart, 1954, p. 394; see also Capital, vol. 3,
Lawrence & Wishart, 1959, p. 386.

rapidity. Curious strangers, who are permitted to inspect

it, through the liberality of the proprietor, never fail to

7 W. V. Farrar, 'Andrew Ure, FRS, and The Philosophy of

express astonishment at its operation.97

Manufactures', Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London,

vol. 27, no. 2, February 1973.

There is little wonder that these visitors experienced

8 Marx, 'Machinery and modem industry', Capital, vol. 1,

Lawrence & Wishart; 'Appendix: results of the immediate
process of production', Capital, vol. 1, Penguin, 1976,
pp. 949-1084.

'astonishment' and 'delight' since the worker is absent

from this scene, and the machine appears to accom-

plish these extraordinary feats by itself. For the

external and detached beholder announced by this

9 See Louise Purbrick, 'The dream machine: Charles Babbage

passage the autogenic apparatus enables a pattern of

identification with the process of industrial production. In fixing the patterns of fascination on the self-

and his imaginary computers', Journal of Design History, vol. 6,

no. 1, 1993, pp. 9-23; and Simon Schaffer, 'Babbage's intelligence: calculating engines and the factory system', Critical

Inquiry, vol. 21, Autumn 1994, pp. 203-27. See also the

essays collected in Francis Spufford & Jennifer Uglow (eds.),

acting machine the factory can be presented as a

Cultural Babbage: Technology, Time, and Invention, Faber, 1997. It

is worth adding to this list William Gibson & Bruce Sterling's

steam punk work The Diference Engine, Vista, 1996. This novel
mixes temporal modes and draws the computer into a world of
gothic detail and 'outcast London'. In so doing it illustrates the

benign and progressive space without the beholder

having to reflect on the condition of labour. Ure's
machine establishes a field of invisibility around itself.

heights (or depths) of fantasy involved in the project of machine

Ure's conception of worker and machine remains

prominent in the modern imagination. It might be
suggested, for instance, that while the cyborg conforms to the Taylorist model of fusion of body and
machine, the robot represents a model of separation,


10 Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament, Harvard University

Press, 1995, pp. 78-9.

11 The classic account of Taylorism is to be found in Harry

Braverman, Labour and Monopoly Capitalism: The Degradation
of Work in the Twentieth Century, Monthly Review Press, 1974.
Interesting accounts of Taylorism and culture are to be found in

or substitution, drawn from Ure. I am not suggesting

that Ure's fantasy is any more progressive than

Taylor's-though it does seem that attention to

Allan Sekula, 'Photography between labour and capital', in

Benjamin H. D. Buchloh & Robert Wilkie (eds.), Mining

Photographs and Other Pictures 1948-1968: A Selectionfrom the

Ure's conception of separation makes it more difficult

Negative Archives of Shedden Studio, Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Press

to believe that critical distance has been abolished-

of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the University

College of Cape Breton Press, 1983, pp. 193-268; and Terry

but that both ideologies are operative in our world. A

relative lack of attention to Ure's utopia has meant

Smith, Making the Modem: Industry, Art, and Design in America,

University of Chicago Press, 1993.

that some of the categories needed for thinking about

12 Critical theory both ignores the forms of labour concurrent

with Taylorist production and side-steps the resistance to the
imposition of such forms of 'rationalized' work. For an account
of worker opposition to the Taylor system, see David Montgomery, Workers' Control in America, Cambridge University
Press, 1979.

the tendencies that are now transforming work have

been underdeveloped.
Steve Edwards

The Open University


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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

26 Ibid., p. 280. Not for the first time Engels shadows Ure's

13 In so far as post-structuralism has had anything to say about the

account but with a very different pattern of identification,

presenting textile workers as the most 'unruly' section of the

world of work, it has simply potentiated this analysis. The great

exception is the work of Jacques Ranciere where a concern

working class and the most feared by the middle class. For

with non-identity drives an investigation of workers' archives.

See, for example, his brilliant book, The Nights of Labour: The

Engels these workers formed the 'van of working-class movement'. Engels, op. cit., p. 150.

Worker's Dream in Nineteenth-Century France, Temple University

Press, 1989.

27 Ure, op. cit., p. 282. It is interesting that it is the timid and

passive who have to be intimidated since this casts the recalcitrant worker as independent and 'manly'. It should be apparent

14 Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope, 3 vols., MIT Press, 1995;

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, Belknap/Harvard, 1999.

that Ure has got himself in a knot at this point, since timidity

15 Schaffer describes Ure's factory as a 'potentially utopian site'

free from strife (op. cit., p. 220); Robert Gray refers to Ure's
'technicist utopia' (The Factory Question, p. 133); while Desmond Ryan notes Ure's 'utopian panorama' in 'The Thatcher
Government's attack on higher education in historical perspective', New Left Review, no. 227, January/February 1998,
p. 7.

and passivity would hardly appear as virtues in his text. The

problem is that the independent male worker is unavailable for
this role of put-upon subject. As I will suggest below, problems

around working-class masculinity form one of the central

themes of Ure's book.

28 Ibid., p. 287.

16 See, for example, Richard Price, Labour in British Society: An

Interpretative History, Routledge, 1990, p. 18.

17 It could be argued that Ure's text is, in fact, a heterotopia-an

other place. Heterotopic spaces exist in contrast to other

existing places. The imaginative force of the factory in the
first part of the nineteenth century might be related to its
heterotopic position. Perhaps it is because the factory was such
an exception that it could grip the imagination as a picture of
the future. In suggesting this I do not wish to dispute the
emergence of the factory as a dominant form of work organ-


Ibid., p. 298.


Ibid., pp. 281-2.


Ibid., pp. 14-15.


Babbage, for instance, on the first page of his book, discusses

the application of machinery 'to supersede the skill and power

of the human arm'. Charles Babbage, On the Economy of

Machinery and Manufactures, Charles Knight, 4th enlarged
edn., 1835.

33 Engels, op. cit., p. 312. Though elsewhere in this book Engels

also uses the same violently dismembering synecdoche.

ization; rather, I want to account for the peculiar location of the

factory as discursive centre and economic margin in this period.
For the concept of heterotopia, see Michel Foucault, 'Of other

34 Ure, op. cit., p. 16.

35 Ibid., p. 15.

spaces', Diacritics, vol. 16, no. 1, 1986, pp. 22-7; and Michel

36 Ibid., p. 55.

Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human

Sciences, Tavistock, 1990. Keith Hetherington has applied the
idea of heterotopia to the factory in The Badlands of Modernity:
Heterotopia and Social Ordering, Routledge, 1997. Despite the
argument for treating the early factory as a heterotopic space, I
have elected to describe Ure's account as utopian because of the
themes it shares with this mode of thought.

37 Ibid.

38 Marx, Capital, vol. 3, p. 386. Marx here cites Ure to the effect

that 'it is not the industrial capitalists, but the industrial

managers who are 'the soul of our industrial system'.

39 Ure, op. cit., p. 32.

40 W. S. C. Copeman, 'Andrew Ure, M.D., FRS (1778-1857)',

18 Price, op. cit., p. 17. See also V. A. C. Gattrell, 'Labour power

and the size of firms in Lancashire cotton in the second quarter

Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, vols. 44/8, 1951,

of the nineteenth century', Economic History Review, vol. 30, no.

p. 656.

1, 1977, pp. 95-193.

41 Ibid.

19 Clive Behagg, 'Masters and manufacturers: social values and the

smaller unit of production in Birmingham', in Geoffrey Cross-

42 The Factory Question, p. 73; see also Robert Gray, 'Medical

ick & Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (eds.), Shopkeepers and Master

Artisans in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Methuen, 1984,
pp. 137-54; and Clive Behagg, Politics and Production in the

History, vol. 16, no. 1, 1991, pp. 19-43. In this article Gray

men, industrial labour and the state in Britain, 1830-50', Social

does mention Ure but not as part of the medical knowledge he
is studying.

Early Nineteenth Century, Routledge, 1990.

43 The Factory Question, p. 78.

20 The Factory Question, p. 143.

44 Mary Poovey, Making a Social Body: British Cultural Formation

21 Frederic Jameson, 'Progress versus utopia; or, can we imagine

1830-1864, University of Chicago Press, 1995, pp. 38-9.

the future?', in Brian Wallis (ed.), Art After Modernism: Rethink-

45 Ibid., p. 37. Poovey argues that the 'sanitary idea' established a

ing Representation, New Museum of Contemporary Art/Godiere, 1984, p. 241.

key link between the individual body and the developing forms
of the moder state.

22 Ibid., p. 246.


23 Engels, op. cit., pp. 12-13. Later in this volume Engels argued
that the capitalist had been reduced to 'a mere machine for
making money' by the same process (p. 241).

Ure, op. cit., p. 282.

47 For inversion and 'making low', see Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais

and His World, Indiana University Press, 1984. Ure's attempt to

assert the head over the 'lower bodily regions' fits with
Thompson's fine account of the elite struggle to clean up
customary culture. See: E. P. Thompson, Customs in

24 Marx, Capital, vol. 1, Lawrence & Wishart, pp. 394-6. For a

discussion of Marx on this opposition, see Schaffer, op. cit.,

p. 223.

Common, Penguin, 1993.

48 Cited in E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working

25 Ure, op. cit., p. 278.


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Class, Penguin, 1982, p. 883. This anxiety had clearly been

running for some time, since Thompson cites an Assize judge in

have tried to follow up some of Schaffer's arguments in my

forthcoming essay, 'The accumulation of knowledge or, Wil-

1759 complaining of the ruin of the rule of law when the 'Foot

liam Whewell's eye', in Brian Maidment & Louise Purbrick

aspires to be head'. The particular 'foot' in question was a

combination of Oldham check-weavers (pp. 303-4).

(eds.), 1851: The Catalogues of the Great Exhibition, Manchester

University Press, 2001.
68 For a discussion of the differentiation of anatomists from mere

49 For the idea of a working-class male property in skill, see John

Rule, 'The property in skill in the period of manufacture', in
Patrick Joyce (ed.), The Historical Meanings of Work, Cambridge

surgeons, see Poovey, op. cit., p. 81.

69 Ure, op. cit., p. 365.

University Press, 1987, pp. 99-118; and Keith McClelland,

70 Ibid., p. 366.

'Some thoughts on masculinity and the "representative artisan"

in Britain, 1850-1880', Gender and History, vol. 1, no. 2,

Summer 1989, pp. 164-77.

71 Ibid., pp. 366-8.

72 Ibid., p. 368.

50 The Factory Question, p. 31.

73 Ibid., p. 369.

51 Christopher Hill, 'The Norman Yoke', in Puritanism and Revolu-

74 Ryan, op. cit., p. 11.

tion: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th

Century, Secker and Warburg, pp. 55-122; Percy Bysshe Shelley,

75 Ure, op. cit., p.1

'Prometheus Unbound', The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe

Shelley, Oxford University Press, 1960, pp. 204-73.

76 For the notion of the utopia of capital, see A. L. Morton, The

English Utopia, Lawrence & Wishart, 1952, pp. 122-30, 13042. My other key source for this argument is Adrian Rifkin,
'Success disavowed: the schools of design in mid-nineteenth-

52 The Factory Question, pp. 21-47; see also Catherine Gallagher's

'Workers and slaves: the rhetoric of freedom in the debate over

industrialism', in The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction:

century Britain. (An allegory)', Journal of Design History, vol. 1,

Social Discourse and Narrative Form 1832-1867, University of

Chicago Press, 1985, pp. 3-61.

has been very important for my argument.

no. 2, 1988, pp. 89-102. In particular, Rifkin's second footnote

77 On this theme, see also Babbage's idea of the perfection and

53 William Lovett, The Magazine of Useful Knowledge (1830),

reproduced as 'Radicals debate machinery', in Maxine Berg

similitude of machine-made artefacts. Babbage, op. cit., p. 66.

(ed.), Technology and Toil in Nineteenth Century Britain, CSE

78 Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilisation, Abacus, 1972, p. 109.

Books, 1979, p. 95.

54 William Lovett, Northern Star, 31 March 1838, quoted in
Gareth Stedman Jones, 'Rethinking Chartism', in Languages of

Class: Studies in English Working Class History 1832-1982,

Cambridge University Press, 1983, p. 116.

79 Morton, op. cit., p. 17. Abundance, in fact, occupies a place in

his description of the Land of Cokagyne, see, for instance, the
point about Cokaygne's relation to pre-Christian nature cults
on p. 22. For abundance, see also Norman Bryson, Looking at
the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting, Reaktion

Books, 1990, pp. 96-135.

55 George Burgess, 'Letters on the unrestrained use of moder

machinery' (1831), reprinted in Berg, op. cit., p. 77 (emphasis

80 Anon., The Land of Cokaygne, in Morton, op. cit., p. 280.

81 Morton, op. cit., p. 17.

56 Engels follows the same gendered logic and describes these men
denied manhood as 'eunuchs'. Engels, op. cit., pp. 162-4. Gray

82 Bakhtin, op. cit.

observes W. R. Greg's characteristic liberal move of linking

83 The Land of Cokaygne, reprinted in Morton, op. cit., p. 282.

amelioration to the removal of 'the shackles and drawbacks to

84 Sigmund Freud, 'Fetishism', On Sexuality, Penguin Freud

Library, vol. 7, Penguin, 1977, pp. 345-57. I would like to
thank Caroline Arscott for a very helpful discussion about

which the manufacturer is subjected' (The Factory Question,

p. 100).

57 For another virulent account of the way in which machinery

could supersede skilled male labour and restore the freedom of
capital, see James Nasmyth, 'On machine tools and engineering' (1867-8), reprinted in Berg, op. cit., pp. 155-9.
58 See, for example, Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The

utopia and fetishism.

85 See, for example, the notion of'total automization' in Marcuse's

Eros and Civilisation, op. cit.

86 It is this idleness that Morton finds the most problematic theme

of the poem, concerned, as he is, to assert the honest toil

Birth of the Prison, Penguin, 1979.

mythologies if the British Communist Party. This is to say that

Morton's utopia does not disrupt the image of the 'good

59 Marx, 'Appendix: results of the immediate process of production', Capital, vol. 1, Penguin.

worker' who remains as honest, decent, sober and hard work-

ing as ever. In contrast, we could trace an alternative radical

utopia stemming from Paul Laforgue's Le Droit a la Paresse
(1880), translated as The Right to be Lazy and Other Studies,
Gordon Press, New York, 1973. This classic work asserts the

60 Marx, Capital, vol. 1, Lawrence & Wishart, p. 360.

61 Ibid., p. 396.

62 Ibid., p. 410.

right of the worker to claim the laziness of the bourgeoisie. My

understanding of this text has been substantially enhanced by
Kristin Ross's The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the

63 Ibid., p. 411.
64 Ure, op. cit., p. 339.

Paris Commune, Macmillan, 1988. Laforgue's polemic is im-

65 Ibid, pp. 40-1.

portant for drawing attention to a number of key oppositions

66 Farrar, op. cit., p. 314.

that structure our conception of the worker: 'Labour and

leisure, producer and consumer, worker and bourgeois,
worker and intellectual' (Ross, p. 61). This argument has

67 Schaffer, op. cit., p. 241. Schaffer's essay provides an indispensable series of ideas for thinking about the role technical
experts played in the transformation of the labour process. I

enabled a number of theorists and historians to call into


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Factory and Fantasy in Andrew Ure

occasions. Much depends on how Goethe's 'Lieb' im Leibe' is
translated. For a good discussion, see S. S. Prawer, Karl Marx

question the ideologies of work. In addition to Ross's excellent

book, see Jacques Ranciere, 'Good times or pleasure at the

barricades', in Adrian Rifkin & Roger Thomas (eds.), The

and World Literature, Oxford University Press, 1978, pp. 324-5.

Politics of 'La sociale' at the End of the Second Empire, Routledge &

90 Marx, Capital, vol. 3, Lawrence & Wishart, p. 395. The target

Kegan Paul, 1988, pp. 45-94; Ranciere, The Nights of Labour.

On this idea as a critique of ideologies of the 'good worker', see

of Marx's criticism here is Richard Price.

the introduction to Adrian Rifkin's Street Noises: Parisian

91 The idea of self-expanding value as an 'automatic fetish' is to be

Pleasure, 1900-40, Manchester University Press, 1993; and

Adrian Rifkin, 'Humming and hegemony', Block, no. 12,
1986/7, pp. 45-8. This body of work also calls into question

found in ibid., p. 392. For the application of these ideas to

science fiction, see Andreas Huyssen, 'The vamp and the
machine: Fritz Lang's Metropolis', in After the Great Divide:

one of the more dubious aspects of social history writing-I am

thinking here of the way many historians are drawn into an
anthropological distinction of self and other-of investigating
the lives of workers without paying attention to the transferential imprecation of middle-class intellectuals in this investigation. The danger with those deconstructive accounts based on

Modernism, Mass Culture and Postmodernism, Macmillan, 1986,

pp. 65-81.
92 E. T. A. Hoffmann, 'The Sandman', Tales of Hoffmann, Penguin, 1882, pp. 85-125; William Beckford's Vathek and Mary
Shelley's Frankenstein are both reprinted in Peter Fairclough
(ed.), Three Gothic Novels, Penguin, 1968.

Laforgue, however, is that critique shades into an anarchist

93 Chris Baldick, In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and

Nineteenth-Century Writing, Clarendon Press, 1987, p. 125, See

political programme that asserts 'the right to laziness' over 'the

right to work' as the necessary radical position. It is true that

'the right to work' has its right-wing counterpart in the (moral

also Franco Moretti, 'The dialectic of fear', Signs Taken For

and physical) compulsion to labour-workfare and so on. But

in the late twentieth century, those who assert 'absolute
laziness' are all too likely to find their dreams come true and
turn into nightmares. Idleness, however, clearly contains a
radical and utopian impulse-even if it is one that Morton

Wonders, Verso, 1988, pp. 83-108. The most celebrated text on

gothic figures in Marx is undoubtedlyJacques Derrida's Spectres
of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New

International, Routledge, 1994. Because this text is so far from

anything that might be recognized as Marx, I find it much less

cannot find it within himself to sanction. I think this means

interesting than the works by Baldick and Moretti.

accepting the force of Laforgue's critique while continuing to

see the crucial political objective as 'the right to work'.

94 Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, 'The Communist Manifesto', in

Selected Works in One Volume, Lawrence & Wishart, 1968, p. 40.

87 For an account of the politics of envy, see Carolyn Steedman,

Landscape For a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives, Virago,

95 This trope appears throughout the works of Marx and Engels.

This particular citation is, of course, from Preface to A Con-


tribution to the Critique of Political Economy, ibid., p. 174.

88 Slavoj Zizek, Tarrying With the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the
Critique of Ideology, Duke University Press, 1993, n. 51, p. 246.

96 Marx embellishes Dickens' character from Oliver Twist in

Capital, vol. 1, Lawrence & Wishart, p. 416.

89 Marx, Capital, vol. 3, Lawrence & Wishart, p. 393. In fact, this

97 Ure, op. cit., p. 117.

is a quotation from Faust that Marx used on at least three


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