Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Means of Production

What is the "means of production" other than those means by which goods are produced?  Can any goods be produced without any labor inputs?  Even a machine which automates some of the production processes, requires labor inputs to produce the machine, to maintain and repair the machine, as well as labor inputs to feed the machine raw-materials (those materials themselves requiring labor-inputs).

I therefore conclude that labor is a necessary condition for production to take place; which is to say, without labor, no production is possible.

If no production is possible without labor, then labor is the primary means of production; it is the mode by which production is possible.

For labor to take place, a mind or consciousness must direct the body to act in meaningful and purposeful ways; therefore without mind/consciousness, no labor is possible and therefore the mind/consciousness is likewise, the means of labor.

The mind directs labor in purposeful action, in order to satisfy human-needs, either for one's self or for the needs of others in gift or exchange for the products of labor of others.

Therefore, each individual, possessing a mind and a body by implication of their mind directing their action in labor to satisfy needs, possesses in themselves the [primary] means of production.  Through these means, they may fashion labor-saving devices in order to increase either their production or their recreation; these additional but secondary or tertiary means of production may become increasingly complex but they all fundamentally proceed from the individual's control or possession of their own body by their consciousness.

Therefore, all persons by their minds' control of their bodies, possessed to the exclusion of others, the means of production.


  1. Huzzah! A response! :-)

  2. Thank you for your reasoned response and kind words. This thought occurred to me a few weeks ago and certainly requires further development but I find this line of reasoning interesting, as I know of no other who has pursued this direction of reasoning.

    I would be in agreement that some kinds of production are possible without any tools at all (such as foraging, primitive agriculture). I would also be in agreement that various tools may open up additional production possibilities, as well as increasing the efficiency of labor.

    I would suggest that all tools are produced ultimately by labor (even if a tool is used to make a tool, ultimately something must be fashioned with labor to begin the process), making the labor itself, primary to the tool which fashions it. In this way, tools are a derivative of, or secondary to, the labor which must ultimately fashion them, as the tools themselves are not possible without the labor inputs some ultimate generation/beginning of labor.

    If I wished to make a knife and had no tools, I could in an hour (probably what an expert could do in a few minutes) fashion a knife by flaking stone (of course additional labor would be required in finding appropriate stone materials and a piece of antler could certainly aid the process). If a source of copper and tin can be found, bronze tools may be fashioned with primitive materials (clay, charcoal) and metal knives may be fashioned this way. I have seen reclaimed metal may be re-fashioned in the field of primitive-living/survival instruction courses (nails into primitive drills, sheet metal into arrow heads, etc)... These examples are given to illustrate the point, that though I may not have the knowledge/understanding to fashion the tools that I would need for particular production possibilities, this does not follow that it is impossible for me to fashion them myself. I have seen forges capable of forming all manner of hand-tools, using fire-bricks, some metal tubing, a leather bellows, a propane tank and some accoutrements (leather apron, metal hammer, metal tongs, leather gloves) {but with a trompe and charcoal, the bellows and propane could be dispensed with}.

    If the ultimate generation of all tools, may be traced back to some kind of labor input, without which the tools could not be generated, then I regard it as reasonable to conclude that labor is both a necessary and sufficient condition for production possibilities; what prevents us from realizing these production possibilities is over-specialization, or said another way, an insufficiency of understanding (mind/consciousness) to direct our labor into these production possibilities.

    I do not intend to imply that the person inheriting life with few material possessions has all of the same potential for production as someone inheriting great capital resources; nor do I intend to imply that poverty is the direct/necessary result of a lack of understanding, though certainly greater understanding rarely harms matters.

    What I am suggesting is that every tool/machine/factory has an ultimate cause in the labor inputs, and those labor inputs all had an ultimate cause of the minds directing that labor. If I can identify anything meaningful referent of the term, "means of production", it must primarily refer to labor itself, and only secondarily to the tools ultimately fashioned by labor inputs and employed by labor.

    "Means" implies Ends, and only a mind can have ends and to select means to accomplish those ends. Tools have no minds, they are only means to the ends that a mind has selected; therefore I contend that labor is the primary/ultimate means of production.