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Chapter 2. "The Production Process and It's Social Form" - Synopsis

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Chapter 2. "The Production Process and It's Social Form" - Synopsis

There is a close connection between the process of production and it's social form.

“The correspondence between the material process of production, on the one hand, and the production relations among the individuals who participate in it, on the other, is achieved differently in different social formations. In a society with a regulated economy, for example in a socialist economy, production relations among individual members of society are established consciously in order to guarantee a regular course of production.”

Within a commodity producing enterprise production relations are organised in advance for the purpose of the production of things, and not by means of things.

“In the commodity economy, the commodity producer is connected only with the indetermined market, which he enters through a discrete sequence of individual transactions that temporarily link him with determined commodity producers.”

The market organises production relations in the following manner:

  1. Social relations take the form of private transactions and are established depending on the advantages for the individual participants.

  2. Fleeting exchange and impermanent connections form the basis for the continuity of the social process of production.

  3. Relations amongst people are established through the equalization of transfers amongst things.

“Social-economic (relations among people) and material-objective (movement of things within the process of production) aspects are indissolubly united in the process of exchange. In the commodity-capitalist society these two aspects are not organized in advance and are not adjusted to each other.”

The material process of production, on one hand, and the system of production relations among individual, private economic units, on the other, are not adjusted to each other in advance. They must be adjusted at each stage, at each of the single transactions into which economic life is formally broken up. If this does not take place, they will inevitably diverge, and a gap will develop within the process of social reproduction. In the commodity economy such a divergence is always possible. Either production relations which do not stand for real movements of products in the process of production are developed (speculation), or production relations indispensable for the normal performance of the production process are absent (sales crisis). In normal times such a divergence does not break out of certain limits, but in times of crisis it becomes catastrophic.”

In a feudal society permanent production relations exist between the serf and the landlord. The serf directly owns his means of production and control of his labour. The landlord owns the land and through the use of common law extracts surplus product from the serf.

In a capitalist society production relations are not established on the basis of permanent personal relations between determined persons. Relations between capitalist, landowner and labour are determined through purchase and sale.

The capitalist exists “only as the personification of the conditions of labor in contrast to labor, and not as political or theocratic rulers as under earlier modes of production” Marx – Capital Vol. III.

“The capitalist's status in production is determined by his ownership of capital, of means of production, of things, and the same is true of the wage laborer as the owner of labor power, and the landlord as owner of the land.”

“This tight connection of production relations among people with the movement of things in the process of material production leads to the "reification" of production relations among people.”

[Note: Unattributed quotes are directly taken from the text]