[Summary of last post-skip to next paragraph if already read]
In the previous post we discussed the beginning of Marx's ideas that workers were alienated from the products that they produced due to the changes that occurred in the way things were mass produced during the industrial revolution. We gave the example of a craftsmen who made wooden barrels. We explained that he oversaw the production of his products from start to finish. But after this shift in methods of production, barrels may have been made in a factory, and the workers just found themselves as just one more anonymous cog in a barrel making machine.
The effects of this shift in production upon individual worker identity is kind of amazing. Before the move to industrial practices, people were able to base their personal identity on their status as a craftsman in the community. Joseph is the cobbler, Henry is the potter, George is the blacksmith, and on and on. Even though they may not have had the most glamorous jobs, they had an important function in the life of the community. If you needed shoes, you had to go to the cobbler, if you needed a bowl, you had to go to the potter, and on from there.
Whereas after this shift to industrial production, your identity became one of anonymity. In the same way standardized parts became part of the success of the assembly line technology, workers became standardized parts of the factory. The work was changed into simpler smaller tasks repeated ad ifinitum. Instead of working half the day on one barrel, you simply cut the staves for a hundred barrels while your partner next to you started the process of shaping them, and on down the line.
In part III we will explore the mindset that this has created in the hearts of workers.
Click here to read part III
Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.
By Rage Against The Machine