Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary Essay

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Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary Essay

In his discussion about machines and their role in the day to day industrial world, Karl Marx looks at the various aspects of machinery. These include its development, its worth in terms of the product made, its impact on workers, the rising conflicts between workers and machines, industrial changes brought about by machinery and its overall impact in the various sectors.Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary Essay

Through his view on the role of machines, Marx creates the concept that machinery increases work instead of reducing it.

At the beginning of the chapter, Karl Marx quotes John Stuart Mill’s view that questions whether the development of machinery has helped ease the everyday toil of man. Karl Marx regards this as not being the main reason why machinery was invented.

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He explains this in a capitalistic view. Marx instead views machinery in the capitalistic community as that which helps in enhancing surplus production and ensuring the attainment of maximum value. He speaks of machines as those that help in performing the roles that would have instead been performed by human beings (Marx, 1906).

Marx describes machinery as that made up of three parts which include the motor and transmitting mechanisms as well as the tool. The motor, according to the author, allows movement to take place while the transmitting mechanism helps in the regulation of movement.Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary Essay

The two mechanisms are, therefore, charged with the main role of ensuring that the machine is in motion, and that it is working. The tool is described as that which marked the beginning of the industrial revolution in the eighteenth century. Marx attributes the invention of machinery to the development of various sectors which in turn led to the growth of many related spheres.


This brought the need for large enterprises and industries to develop machinery that matches with the increased growth in the various spheres. Karl Marx describes machines as those that have evolved from simple tools meant to replace various tasks, to systems that are complex and that do not require any human energy to operate them (Marx, 1906).

Karl Marx further continues to differentiate between many machines of one kind working together, and what he refers to as a ‘complex system of machinery’. On one hand, only one machine is used to come up with a product. The machine in this case performs all the necessary processes during the creation of the finished product.Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary EssayThe complex system on the other hand, involves the creation of a product through various operations performed by different machines that are all connected to each other. The raw materials are in this case passed from one machine to the other, and through a number of processes to come up with the final product.

The machinery system is in most cases automated meaning that it does not require the assistance of man to move or function (Marx, 1906).

According to Marx, machines are a replacement of human labour, hence, through their introduction; many workers are rendered jobless while others are assigned the role of machine operators.

The machines are seen as those that take over jobs that were previously performed by human beings. Here, the major role that is played by the worker is wholly replaced by machines. This system of replacement according to Marx has resulted into major changes in the process of work.


Marx K. (1906). Machinery and Modern Industry: Section 1. The Development of Machinery. In F. Engels (Eds.), Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (pp. 405-422). New York: Modern Library.Machinery and Modern Industry: Summary Essay


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