Capital Study Series: Session 7


  • Capital, Chapter 15 – Machinery and Modern Industry


Optional Reading:

  • David Harvey, A Companion to Marx”s Capital, Chapters 7-8

Study Questions:

The questions below are borrowed from the Marxists Internet Archive and

  1. How does a machine add value to a product?
  2. What is the significance of the rapid obsolescence of modern computerized equipment?
  3. What converts a system of machinery into an “automaton”? Why does Marx call it “a mechanical monster” with “demonic power”?
  4. Marx says in footnote 23, page 508, that “science, generally speaking, costs the capitalists nothing.” Is this still true? Why ? Why not?
  5. What is the “economic paradox” associated with labor saving technological change?
  6. How does machinery lead to deskilling and new hierarchies, new class compositions?
  7. How do workers use strikes to differentiate themselves from the machines to which they are tied?
  8. How does machinery constitute “the most powerful weapon for suppressing strikes”?
  9. How does machinery prompt new surges of imperialism? And how does this result in a “new and international division of labor”?
  10. What determines success in the competition among capitalists for market shares?