New Criticals

As we near the end of this inquiry, one critical component has been the filling-in of the relationship between the factory and the network, and to this end, Marx’s collected notebooks, published as the Grundrisse, are invaluable. Marx refers to machines as "fixed-capital" because of the requisite, non-circulating investment contained within the machine. It's also a helpful term for conceptualizing the scale of industrial machinery – it was quite literally "fixed" to the ground, immobile. Not so much today.

The means of labor are historically distinct in the procession of capitalism. So long as they remain directly involved in the realization of capital, they retain their essential character, undergoing what Marx calls “merely formal modifications” along the way. The machine represents an abstraction of the means of labor dictated by the logic of capital, supplanting both an individual worker’s means of labor and a previously more sovereign way of working. What of the means of labor now? [1]