Fragment on Machines

In these brief remarks I propose a reading of the "Fragment on Machines" in Marx's Grundrisse. This reading recognizes in the "Fragment" the central problematic of the Grundrisse's fundamental analyses of the relation between objectified labor and living labor, the meaning of this relationship within a comprehensive interpretation of the theory and, finally, the meaning of the contradiction within the relation itself which is essential for the comprehension and critique of the entire capitalist mode of production. Here this "Fragment" will be analyzed from the viewpoint of the criticism of fetishism, thus indicating some of the Fragment's ambiguous elements. [Abstract] Pier Aldo Rovatti, "The Critique of Fetishism in Marx's Grundrisse"


"The mature Marx no longer theorized about the integral subjective consumption of alienated social wealth. On the contrary, he structured theoretically the delimitation of constant capital as a second nature and as organic social body… Freedom is not, therefore, the reabsorption of the objective world, but rather the rational control of the protective band… freedom is not constructed at the expense of the objective world." "In fact, communism is not, as has been maintained, the reabsorption within subjectivity of reified objective conditions. Nor, as has also been maintained, is it a displacement of formal elements within a given structure. And finally, it is not merely the critical experience of the limitations and of the irrationalities of bourgeois society. Rather, it is the separation of a sphere of necessity from a sphere of freedom, so that the two resulting separated spheres may become immediately visible to social agents." Nicola Badaloni, Per il Comunismo (Turin, 1972), pp. 169, 175-176. It is indicative that an analysis such as Badaloni's has been presented as the theoretical focus of the recent Convegno Gramsci on Marxism in the sixties. Communism, Badaloni claims, is the rational closing of the gaps formed by the relaxation of the unitary character of capitalist relations. This rationality consists in the separation of necessity and in the autonomization of constant capital for the "humanization" of the band of nature thus isolated: separation and humanization are phases of the same project, and the separation is already the objective character of the transition (cf. pp. 203, 204). Pier Aldo Rovatti, The Critique of Fetishism in Marx's Grundrisse, Telos Fall 1973 1973:56-69


Marx propone di analizzare la società capitalistica non dal punto di vista delle sue apparenze, ma dal punto di vista dei suoi interni rapporti sostanziali ed il risultato di questa analisi è una definizione strutturale e dialettica del valore in rapporto alle sue tre interne componenti, cioè il capitale costante, il capitale variabile ed il plusvalore. (..)Nell’idea di Marx, i concetti strutturali, cioè quelli che ci danno la rappresentazione della società capitalista nelle sue strutture sono anche concetti dialettici che ci danno sia la autocritica della società borghese sia la rappresentazione delle condizioni strutturali del comunismo.3 Quest’ultimo infatti non è, come è stato sostenuto, il riassorbimento entro la soggettività delle reificate condizioni oggettive, non è neppure, come è stato ugualmente sostenuto, uno spostamento degli elementi formali che sono dominanti entro una struttura data e non è infine soltanto l’esperienza critica dei limiti e delle irrazionalità della società borghese. Esso è invece la separazione di una sfera della necessità da una sfera della libertà, tale che le due risultanti sfere separate divengono immediatamente visibili agli agenti sociali, mentre, nell’ambito della vecchia struttura sociale esse possono essere viste solo attraverso la teoria. 4(..) GoogleTranslate

What in the Hell …is the Fragment On Machines?

The Fragment on Machines. Karl Marx – from The Grundrisse (pp. 690-712)

[Fixed Capital and the Development of the Productive Forces of Society]
[Fixes Kapital und Entwicklung der Produktivkräfte der Gesellschaft] MEGA II/1.2 : "Grundrisse", Teil 2, Seite 569
[Fixes Kapital und Entwicklung der Produktivkräfte der Gesellschaft] PDF, p/608; MEW-Band 42

Gerald Raunig, A Few Fragments on Machines

Affective Labor

Badaloni Links: Tosel provides Italian Marxist overview & Badaloni's placement in that spectrum (including his work on Gramsci); Laclau/Mouffe briefly discuss Badaloni's "solution which Labriola should have followed":

PDF from The Development of Marxism: From the End of Marxism-Leninism to a Thousand Marxisms – France-Italy, 1975–2005 (André Tosel, p. 56 | full book: Critical Companion to Contemporary Marxism Historical Materialism 16, Bidet/Kouvelakis, editors)

webcache: Hegemony & Socialist Strategy (Laclau/Mouffe | full book PDF from

PDF from Gramsci and the problem of the revolution (Nicola Badaloni, p. 83)