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Marx’s ‘Fragment on Machines’, a section of the Grundrisse, is a crucial text for the analysis and definition of the Postfordist mode of production.

Marx defends what can hardly be called a ‘Marxian’ thesis. He claims that, due to its autonomy from it, abstract knowledge – primarily yet not only of a scientific nature - is in the process of becoming no less than the main force of production and will soon relegate the repetitious labour of the assembly line to the fringes. This is the knowledge objectified in fixed capital and embedded in the automated system of machinery

‘The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it’.

the main lacerating contradiction outlined here is that between productive processes that now directly and exclusively rely on science and a unit of measure of wealth that still coincides with the quantity of labour embodied in the product. According to Marx, the development of this contradiction leads to the ‘breakdown of production based on exchange value’

the disproportion between the role of the knowledge objectified in machines and the decreasing relevance of labour time

It seems that according to Marx, the general intellect – i.e. knowledge as the main productive force – fully coincides with fixed capital – i.e. the ‘scientific power’ objectified in the system of machinery. If so, then Marx thus neglects the way in which the general intellect manifests itself as living labour. “Know-how”, knowledge, skills, are just as important as the machinery.

The ‘general intellect’ includes formal and informal knowledge, imagination, ethical tendencies, games, etc. 

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