The industrial civilization constitutes a civilization of fire and iron. Industrialism having destroyed agrarian society's cultural structures, imparted a titanic nature to Man's production activities. The Industrial Revolution is symbolized by the image of Prometheus.(Footnote 1)
Critics of industrialism and mechanicism, its foundation, used to dwell on the anti-God nature of this image, which presupposes the creation of a new, technical, world. A difficult cultural crisis was thought to be imminent; such a crisis would be caused by contradictions with Christian values, which Prometheus' spirit was forced to parasitize on and which had to be discarded sooner or later ("God is Dead!"). They also had the premonition that industrialism's Titanic sense would degenerate (or elevate itself - depending on the critic's outlook) to the Cyclopean essence "at the end of History". Force is becoming more and more destructive, as its manifestations become more and more cruel. All these processes are taking place today; in the end they will "shuffle the cards" of industrial policies. (Footnote 2)
What paved the road for the Industrial Revolution and "programmed" its genotype? What are its cultural and philosophical origins? What deep currents are disrupting the flow of rational thoughts of systems engineers who are responsible for "correcting" the industrial infrastructure's structure and dynamics? Two virtually simultaneous revolutions - namely, the Scientific Revolution in the 16-th and 17-th centuries and the Protestant Reformation - can explain the main factors and tendencies.
By forging Man's world outlook, thought and behavior patterns, the Scientific Revolution "molded" a human being, who came to accept the ideology of industrialism, subsequently incorporating it in his cultural norms. The very technology of industrial production was legalized. For their part, machines acquired the status of Mother Nature's natural continuation; at the same time, Nature was seen as an entity built according to the machine's principles. The transformation of an agrarian-civilization resident into an industrial worker could only be accomplished via sweeping changes in his conscience, mentality and behavior.
The organization of work, which constitutes a process requiring strict synchronization, had its own pre-requisites for mastering the new time concept. Unlike the medieval time concept, the new concept was divided into equal and precise sections. Science had accomplished the leap from the "kingdom of approximation to the world of precision", creating an accurate clock in the process (Footnote 3). Incidentally, the clock came to symbolize a perfect machine and serve as metaphor of the mechanistic world outlook. This applies, first and foremost, to Sir Isaac Newton who advanced the concept of God, the Clock-Maker, who winds up the clock itself. Laplace came up with an extremely mechanistic theory, which no longer needed the "God" hypothesis. In the long run, the Newton model of mass dynamics was supplemented by thermodynamics, or the movement of energy. At the same time, the steam engine came to symbolize industrialism's metaphor. The Industrial Revolution served to create the factory as a system of machines. And it was precisely its image, and not that of a single machine, which was applied to the entire Universe, becoming part and parcel of Protestant theology. Consequently, the Universe ceased to be a temple and was transformed into the Creator's "first factory".
The Scientific Revolution also bequeathed a new essential anthropological model upon industrialism. That model, which includes several myths, used to change following the appearance of new, fresher and more convincing myth-making material. Initially (during the triumphant march of a Newtonian mechanistic world outlook), this model was based on the metaphor of a mechanical (not even chemical) atom abiding by Newton's laws. In this way the concept of the individual, which was later developed by an entire generation of philosophers and philosophical scientists, came into being.
Ideologists had advanced specific atomistic concepts that used to lie "dormant" (in the shadows of intellectual history). First of all, they were stated by 17-th century philosopher Pierre Hassendi, regarded as the "great restorer of atomism". This scientific trend was later built upon by naturalists, such as Boyle, Huygens and Newton. In Hassendi's opinion, the atom constitutes a permanent physical body which is "invulnerable to blows and is unable to experience any influence". Atoms are "endowed with energy ensuring their movement or their constant aspiration towards movement".
The perception of society as a world of atoms stems from such scientific rationalism, marked by determinism. In a nutshell, the movement of atomized "human material" can be accurately described by scientific political economy, just as classic thermodynamics can describe the movement of ideal gas' atoms. (Footnote 4) Mankind was thereby freed of the shackles of any conceivable communal relations. As a result, a major pre-requisite for the Western Industrial Revolution, namely the labor market and proletarian's inception, came into being.
G. Markuse writes: "At that time, when science freed nature from hidden goals, depriving matter of all qualities, excluding quantitative ones, society liberated the people from the "natural" hierarchy of personal dependence, bringing them together according to quantitative values, i.e. as abstract-manpower units that can be measured in time units".
The ideological potential of the atomist concept and the ideas of balance and reversibility was rather limited. It could be applied during the period of shock transition from one type of civilization to another. However, people who already boasted a fully-fledged industrial mentality needed more convincing substantiation for the existence of the industrial social order, whereby different individuals find themselves in unequal conditions so quickly and irreversibly, forming certain social strata replete with obviously unequal opportunities.
Their questions were answered by Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory, which attaches great importance to the struggle-for-survival concept (Footnote 5). Successful capitalists (self-made men) became the idols of society: their biographies "confirmed the view of society as a Darwinist machine controlled by the principles of natural selection, adaptation and the struggle for existence." John Davison Rockefeller coined the well-known phrase that the expansion of a major company merely reflects the survival of the fittest. (Footnote 6).
The extremely ideologized US psychology school developed so-called "behavioral sciences" (known as "behaviorism"), which regard Man as some kind of mechanical or cybernetic system making a pre-determined response to the outside environment's incentives. (Footnote 7). Neo-behaviorism, an upgraded version of behaviorism, considers the development of culture geared to forming a socially-acceptable human being (i.e. the way society would like to see him or her). E. Fromm explains the immense popularity of neo-behaviorism all over the Western world in the following way: "A person is more and more subject to manipulation in the cybernetic era. Man's work, consumption and leisure are being manipulated with the help of commercials and ideologies. Skinner calls these "positive incentives". Man loses his active and responsible role in the social process and is transformed into a completely "fine-tuned" entity. He is also taught to learn that any behavior pattern, action, thought or feeling which doesn't fit into the general concept inconvenience him considerably; in fact, he has already become what he is supposed to be."
The lengthy period of biologizing industrialism's anthropological model is not over yet. Debates used to rage over socio-biology not so long ago. As a matter of fact, socio-biology represents an attempt to synthesize all models, including modern genetics, evolutionism, cybernetics and behaviorism.
The man-atom and man-cyborg concept fitted nicely into the factory's determinist structure. However, alienation, which became the Nemesis of industrialism and industrialist policies' stumbling block, had ultimately set in. The factory as a place of work was not the only thing that counted; it exerted an all-out effect on Man's life. When we speak about technology and its dehumanizing role, we usually imply Man's dependence on the new material world, or technosphere. For his part, Jaspers, who used to build on the technology-demonism concept, was talking about something more impressive, or the ideological meaning of this mechanistic world outlook. In his words, society, which performs its activities by imitating the machine, is being transformed into one huge machine. The bureaucracies of Egypt and the Roman empire constitute one approach to the modern state with its ramified civil-officer machinery. Everything geared to performing a particular activity should be built according to machine patterns; in other words, such entities should possess precision and pre-determined actions and should be bound by external regulations, as well ... All things connected with mental emotions and faith are allowed on one condition alone - that such things can help attain the machine's task. Man himself is transformed into some kind of raw material, subject to goal-oriented treatment and processing. Consequently, man, who once used to be the whole's substance and its essence, is now becoming a means instead. The semblance of humanity is something permissible; in fact, such semblance is necessary. It is even declared a top-priority issue. Still such semblance is resolutely infringed, when the ultimate goal so requires. This is the reason why tradition is being destroyed to precisely the same extent, as it emanates absolute requirements. The overwhelming majority of people are likened to grains of sand; therefore such individuals can be used in the best way possible only because they have been deprived of their roots.
Apart from perceptions of the world as a factory, industrialism had to be legalized in another way with the help of the idea of progress, which was also spawned by science and is in fact a religious notion. The idea was conceived and developed by researchers and is based on a new picture of the world and the premise that science views itself as an infinitely developing system of knowledge and a way of remaking the world. Therefore progress became one of the industrial-society ideology's pillars. R. Niesbet writes that not a single idea has been more important, or as important as the idea of progress in Western civilization for nearly 3,000 consecutive years.
Russian philosopher A. Losev shows its direct link with the mythology of social nihilism. In his opinion, the new European theory, dealing with the infinite progress of society and culture, fully conforms to Newton's mechanics. Industrialism bred a means of production marked by a self-supporting ability for growth and expansion for the first time in history. The striving to expand production and raise labor productivity has never been a natural and eternal element of Man's activities. That new quality, which became a vital component of the social order, required an ideological substantiation. This substantiation was provided by the idea of progress, that assumed the power of a natural law. This idea legalized the gap between traditional human relations, including love toward one's forefathers, and ousted such sentiments as solidarity and compassion.
This connection between progress and social nihilism, which breeds waves of anthropological pessimism inside industrial society, tends to create a special cultural background for industrial policies. Suffice it to remember Spengler's 'The Decline of Europe'. Nietzsche, a passionate advocate of the progress idea and nihilist philosopher, conjectured on the substitution of love towards one's near and dear by love towards far-away people. Russian philosopher and researcher into Nietzsche's works, S. Frank, remarked: "Love towards far-away people and the striving to translate this "far-away" notion into life implies the severance of contacts with one's near and dear as an essential pre-condition.
"All "far-away" things require time to accomplish and can therefore happen in the future; consequently the ethics of love toward "far-away" entities constitutes the ethics of progress. In this sense, Nietzsche's moral world outlook is also seen as a progressist's typical outlook. Any aspiration toward progress is based on the rejection of the present-day state of things and complete moral alienation from it. Today's people I used to long for only a short time ago become alien and despised; I am banished from the country of my fathers and mothers."
The evolutionary idea of progress was transformed by bourgeois mentality into a conviction that all things new are a priori better than old things. Consequently, all novelty was transformed into an independent and important parameter and goal. This served to remove many restrictions inside industrial policy tending to impede expanded production. Progress was aimed at reducing a products' life cycle, moving to replace their "generations" more quickly than before. This gave rise to a unique phenomenon - the consumer economy and consumer society, which are reflected by an entirely different industrial policy.
The natural limits of industrial expansion became clear during the past several decades. As a result, the industrial civilization's pivotal idea became an object of contemplation and doubt. Socialist International leader Willi Brandt used to write that the potential, ideal and conditions of what is traditionally known as "progress" have undergone profound changes and are transformed into an object of political differences. Progress in the technical, economic and social areas and social policy proper are opposing and competing one another more and more frequently. (Footnote 8).
Mr. Brandt wrote these lines on the crest of neo-liberalism's last wave, which highlighted the most acute symptoms of industrialism's current crisis. At that time, the West revised a number of aspects of its post-war industrial policy, with the trajectory of the socialist bloc's (the USSR-COMECON entity) industrial policy "criss-crossing the skies", as well. Consequently, this encouraged belated research into the history of political economy, a science which seeks to provide a theoretical insight into the industrial means of production. Political economy was an offspring of the Industrial Revolution; symbolically enough, Adam Smith and James Watt worked at one and the same university.
We should recall the basic landmarks of political economy's basic model, as the current Russian crisis is marked by a civilization-collision nature: modern and traditional societies confront each other head on. We are not talking about palliative changes in industrial policy; we mean here the replacement of industry's political-economy model, including changes in production goals, specific criteria aimed at optimizing the technosphere's structure, social restrictions in the organization of factory labor, etc.
From the very outset, political economy asserted itself as part of natural science, a sphere of cognition, which was completely free of moral restrictions and moral values. Since the times of Ricardo and Adam Smith, political economy began to study economic phenomena outside the moral context, including the premise that science had abstracted itself from the following question: Is capital obtained in a fair or unfair manner? (Footnote 9). At the same time, political economy is not an experimental science; it is based on certain postulates and models. It is crystal clear, however, that this field of knowledge was closely linked to ideology; incidentally, all prominent economists also used to be major ideologists. This means that some of the initial postulates and models are being concealed. Indeed, we have forgotten some initial postulates serving as the foundation for the industrial civilization's main economic models in no time at all. At present any sober-minded person should demystify such models and analyze their sources. In fact, he or she should regard this as an extremely important task. We should move towards the very foundations of the specific assertions they are based on and we are becoming accustomed to as a result of the ideological brainwashing at school and in the mass media. Consequently, it will dawn on us that many things we consider natural are based on some axiom sets, that don't constitute any empirical facts or divine revelations.
Aristotle formulated the basic notions serving to highlight economic issues in his book "Politics". One such notion, "the economy" denotes "home economics", the organization of life at home, material supply to homes and towns, which is not necessarily connected with the movement of money or prices. Chrematistics is another mode of production and commercial activities. These are two inherently different types of activity. The economy denotes production and commerce with the aim of satisfying specific requirements, while chrematistics seeks to accumulate wealth, regarding this as its ultimate goal. M. Weber has this to say about Protestant ethics, which spawned the capitalist spirit: "This ethic's summum bonum (supreme benefit) lies in profiteering, first and foremost, in ever greater profiteering; such ethics completely discard the pleasures lavished by money; this profiteering is conceived as an end in itself to such an extent that it is transformed into something transcendental and irrational in terms of an individual's "happiness" or "good". From now on, an acquisition doesn't serve as a means of satisfying man's material requirements; on the contrary, all human existence is now directed at acquisition, a factor that becomes the goal of his life. This seemingly senseless turn (from the point of view of direct perception) in what we call the "natural" state of things, is an essential keynote of capitalism to precisely the same degree as it is alien to people unaffected by its influence."
When Ricardo and Smith, who had already mastered the Scientific Revolution's achievements and lived through the Protestant Reformation, laid the foundations of political economy, they developed it as a chrematistics science from the very outset. Such science deals with a particular economy geared to producing wealth. Political economy and chrematistics are synonymous notions in Western languages. (Footnote 10).
Europe's Protestant Reformation presented political economy with plenty of spiritual and intellectual material. The great transformation of man and society was complete. Accumulation had received religious substantiation and the elevated status of "profession" for the first time in history. As a matter of fact, the word "profession" was previously linked with priest-hood and service to God. Consequently the businessman came to symbolize a prestigious profession (on a par with the priest).
But, most importantly, Protestantism changed the anthropological model itself. This meant that the Reformation discarded the idea of the collective salvation of human souls. Until then, all life was illuminated by one great hope that the soul can be saved and that such salvation can be achieved collectively (when human relations are something righteous). Protestantism did away with that. From now on, people had to save themselves on their own: free enterprise and all honest labor raised the chances of one's salvation. As a result, industry was presented with an entirely new type of worker. Weber, who had studied the specific professional bourgeois ethos, used to claim that the bourgeois businessman possessed God's grace and blessing and therefore could and was even duty-bound to comply with his business interests. Moreover, religious asceticism furnished him with sober, conscientious and extremely hard-working personnel, who regarded their activities as a life goal pleasing to God.
Martin Luther and Jean Calvin revolutionized the concepts of the state and freedom. Their actions served to alter opinion on such notions as discipline and subordination to officials. Until that time, the state was built according to hierarchical patterns; such hierarchy was even substantiated, acquiring prestige and authority through divine revelations. Each state had its own monarch, who was anointed by the Almighty, with all subjects playing the part of the monarch's children (to some extent). The state was also distinguished by paternalism.
For his part, Luther was the first person to legalize and substantiate the emergence of a class state, with the rich serving as representatives of the supreme force. In a word, the wealthy rather than the monarch act as God's representatives. The rich thereby acquired power directed against the poor.
Dwelling further on this idea, Adam Smith defined the protection of private property as the state's main role. According to Smith, large and sprawling property could only be acquired by establishing a civil government. In real life, the government protects the rich against the poor, protects all property owners against those, who don't own any property whatsoever (in as much as it is established to protect property).
Consequently, industrialism, replete with its essential components, such as civic society, factory production and market economics, bred the particular type of state, referred to as the Leviathan by Hobbes. Only such a powerful, impartial and authoritative guardian could impart a legal nature to competition, the war of everyone against everyone else.
Arnold Toynbee stressed: "in the long run, in the Western world a totalitarian type of state appeared, combining the Western genius of organization and mechanization with that devilish capacity of enslaving souls, which the tyrants of all times and nations could envy ... Revived worship of the Leviathan became a religion, with every Western resident contributing to the process."
The man-atom notion and his relationship with society and the state was elaborated on the philosophical plane by Hobbes and Locke. The two philosophers enriched political economy with a new notion of private property as a natural right. That profound feeling of property was bred by the initial sensation of the individual's indivisibility and his conversion into a special and autonomous world; that feeling of property was applied to his own body, first and foremost. One can therefore safely say that the body and personality were alienated from each other, with the body turning into property all the same. The mentality of Russians, who have so far failed to experience such a transformation, seems to ignore this problem; at the same time, Westerners continually discuss this matter. This fundamental issue is posed within the framework of all aspects of social life (including politics). People are saying that their bodies are their property; therefore they can use them as they see fit, and it's nobody else's business. The gay-rights and euthanasia discussions are a case in point.
E. Fromm viewed the rational Western man as a new type of human being, calling him Homo Cyberneticus. "Homo Cyberneticus reaches such an extreme degree of alienation that he perceives his body as an instrument of success alone. His body should look young and healthy; and he regards it with the utmost narcissism as the most valuable property on the personalities market."
The human personality was divided into one's ego and the "my body" concept back in the 17-th century. For his part, Illic traces that process through its semantic reflection in European languages. (Footnote 11). This division, reflecting a projection of Descartes' spirit-body division, served as a particular case of idealism introduced into the industrial human being's world outlook (nature-man, language-morality, civilization-savagery, etc.). It also substantiated potential free contract and equivalent exchange on the labor market, as well as the possibility of linking capital with the labor proper (the salient feature of factories).
Each free individual has this private property, or his own body. In this sense, all individuals are equal. As he owns his body (until then his body had belonged to the family, community or ethnic group), he can now cede it to others on a contractual basis (as his manpower). Up-to-date economic and social theories still proceed from the quasi-natural essence of acting individuals; this is influenced by Hayeck's and Popper's "methodological individualism". Any collective and systems phenomenon is reduced to the rational actions of individuals. Sociology's mechanistic determinism conforms to the pre-determined factory world. Social macro-phenomena are reduced to the individuals' statistical parameters. This forms the political economy's axiomatic foundation. Consequently the Homo Economicus (Economic Man) myth came into being and was strengthened in all conceivable ways. According to its provisions, Homo Economicus created market economics. This anthropological model legalized the destruction of any type of traditional society, as well as the establishment of a highly specific economic order, whereby the manpower becomes a commodity, with each individual acting as a trader.
Locke built on the theory of civic (civil and civilized) society, regarding property as its axis. People who recognize private property, but own nothing apart from their bodies, still live in a state closely resembling the natural habitat. People who own some property and acquire manpower on a contractual basis are united in a civic society, or Republic of Owners. In other words, the civic society consisted of owners alone. They join forces to defend themselves against non-owners living in a natural state and inclined to wage a war of everyone against everyone (going against the rules). (Footnote 12). Therefore the proletarians, who accepted the postulates of private property, came to constitute a certain "shell" surrounding civic society's nucleus. At the same time, American and African tribes, which were living as solidary communities and didn't accept the body-ownership idea, continued to live in a state of savagery. Consequently, a three-tier entity emerged (civic society-nature-savagery).
Adam Smith included all this cultural material in his political-economy model. Newton's concept of the Universe served as his model's "load-bearing structure". Smith simply projected the Newtonian world model as a machine onto the sphere of production and distribution activities. This was organically perceived by Western culture, all the more so as mechanicism constitutes its foundation. Everything, Man included, was regarded as a machine. Newton's mechanics, replete with all its postulates and "tolerances", was projected on the political economy, which studied the movement of goods, money and the labor proper (instead of the movement of masses).
The economy was represented by a machine operating in accordance with natural and objective laws (the very introduction of the "objective law" notion turned out to be a new phenomenon, all the more so as previously the "world harmony" idea dominated the scene). It was asserted that economic relations were rather simple and could be expressed in the language of mathematics; scientists claimed that the economic machine was simple and easy to understand. For his part, Smith borrowed the principle of balance and stability from the Newtonian mechanistic model; this principle became the main dogma of political economy.
Moreover, Adam Smith, who was following in Newton's footsteps, had to introduce some supernatural force into his model; such a force was expected to balance the model accordingly, because market economics themselves could not ensure this equilibrium. In a nutshell, Smith's idea of such a supernatural force boiled down to the market's invisible hand, which is an equivalent of God, the Clock-Maker. To tell the truth, political economy had claimed to be a science capable of balancing the three sub-systems interacting with the nucleus (i.e. Locke's civic society), so that the entire system could function as a balanced entity. In real life, the entire political economy of industrialism (beginning with Adam Smith) meticulously refrains from examining the obvious sources of imbalance, as well as specific mechanisms for stopping all sorts of fluctuations and returning the system to a state of equilibrium. Homeostasis, or balance, is maintained inside the system's nucleus alone; such a nucleus can incorporate only a small part of mankind. This factor is behind industrialism's present-day crisis.
At this point we cannot examine other cultural trends which also played a major role in the assertion of political economy, including the seemingly "outsider" science of alchemy. However, alchemy figured prominently in Western European culture, constituting that blend of mystery, craftsmanship, poetry and philosophy, which helped create the unique Western cult of gold and coins. This served as a pre-requisite for what we now call monetarism, which is regarded as some kind of economic theory. In actual fact, monetarism is a philosophical treatise, created by Western Europe's greatest minds - from Copernicus and Newton to Hobbes, Montesqieux and Hume. Virtually all the great researchers of the Scientific Revolution invested great effort and passion into monetarist concepts. For example Hobbes was extremely enthusiastic about Harvey's discovery of blood circulation, because it presented him with a graphic and "natural" metaphor - all money flows along the venous fiscal system to the state-Leviathan's heart. Here they obtain their "vitality"; in fact, their issue and circulation are allowed; as a result, money saturates society's organism via the arterial contour. Money came to be regarded as the West's most important feature, representing people, phenomena and public institutions, as well. (Footnote 13).
Naturally enough, Western public thought had some dissidents of its own, who opposed the Scientific Revolution from the very outset. Some important cultural, philosophical and scientific trends rejected the Newtonian model's mechanicism and the potential application of its provisions to society. Economists themselves were divided into instrumentalists and realists. The instrumentalists are better known, as they developed certain theories setting forth "the economy's objective laws", which were consequently imbued with the status of scientific theories. They applied mechanistic science's methodological approaches in the course of their work. This applies above all to reductionism. To cut a long story short, reductionism reduces a complicated system, or object, to a more simple model, which can be manipulated with the utmost ease. Such a model was stripped of all apparently inessential components, conditions and factors to become an abstract model instead. Science refers to such a process as the experiment's artificial and controlled environment; for his part, the economist prefers to deal with all sorts of calculations and statistical descriptions.
In the meantime, the realists tended to reject reductionism, trying to describe reality to the greatest possible extent. In their opinion, the economy was devoid of any laws, marked by tendencies alone. They preferred the following metaphor - the science of mechanics features the law of gravitation; according to that law, a body falls down vertically (for instance a falling apple is subordinate to the law of gravitation). However, a dry leaf behaves in a somewhat different manner - it seems to fall along a complex trajectory; in some cases, the wind may carry the leaf far away. The economy is also distinguished by similar tendencies, such as the falling leaf; it doesn't have any laws, such as the falling apple. (Footnote 14). However, techno-morphic thinking triumphed during the period of industrialism's successes, pushing the realists into the background. Nevertheless their presence always indicated the existence of an alternative paradigm to political economy.
The overall scientific picture changed continually. A major step away from Newton's mechanicism, which perceived the world as a movement of masses (operating with two main categories, mass and force) was made throughout the 19-th century. The notion of "energy" was subsequently included into the process of studying the world around us. The science of thermodynamics came into being, with energy and work (instead of mass and force) becoming the two universal categories. This was seen as a major change; irreversibility and non-linear relations thereby became major components of the entire world model. For his part, Sadi Carnot, who came up with the ideal steam engine theory, managed to accomplish some spectacular cultural changes. Karl Marx mastered this transformation of the world's image, applying it to his political economy in the process.
In fact, Marx introduced the reproduction cycle into the main political-economy model; that cycle resembles Carnot's ideal steam-engine cycle. As a result, the political-economy model became more adequate: this science now studied the entire economic cycle (instead of the simple act of equivalent exchange, as had been the case previously). This cycle can become ideal in some conditions. (Carnot had set forth the conditions for attaining ideal efficiency; the maximum profit rate serves as an equivalent notion within the framework of the reproduction cycle). Most importantly, thermodynamic studies (balanced thermodynamics, to be more precise) showed only too clearly that it was impossible to perform useful work (after the completion of an ideal cycle) as such work was used to return the engine to its initial state. As a result, energy had to be derived from fuel, which accumulates natural sunlight, in order to perform useful work. In other words, fuel served as a special type of commodity containing elements amassed by Mother Nature, which made it possible to obtain work.
Marx introduced his own analogy, the reproduction cycle, with equivalent exchange taking place at every stage of the process. It transpired that an entirely different and unique commodity, namely the manpower, had to take part in the cycle, thereby making it possible to obtain surplus value. The employer had to pay a specific price for the labor, equivalent to the cost of its reproduction. The labor proper constituted precisely such a "natural" commodity, making it possible to perform useful work. In this way thermodynamic categories were introduced into the political economy. In the long run, some researchers made separate, albeit futile, attempts to build upon a special branch of energy, or "environmental", political economy (starting with Podolinsky, Vernadsky, Popper-Linkeus, Hedds, etc.) (Footnote 15).
In essence, an unconscious leap to non-homeostatic thermodynamics was made during the transfer from Carnot's cycle to the reproduction cycle. Such a leap skipped an entire scientific epoch. Unlike fuel, which accumulates chemical energy (which, in its turn, could take part in the steam engine's work as a result of greater entropy alone), the manpower constitutes a living phenomenon, which is an extremely unstable process linked with local entropy declines. The factory, which combines fuel (energy storage battery) with a living system of workers (the storage battery of negative entropy) and technology (which accumulates information), signified a qualitative shift inside the noosphere, thereby completely changing the picture of the Universe.
Marx made another important step forward by combining the political-economy model with the evolution concept. Darwin's "Origin of Species" was published at a time when Marx had nearly completed "Das Kapital". The founder of scientific Communism appreciated Darwin's theory as an essential natural-science substantiation of his entire concept and immediately included the evolution theory in the political-economy model in the form of an intensive-reproduction cycle. According to Marx, systems evolve at each spiral of that cycle. (Footnote 16).
Marx thereby introduced the notion of technical progress as an internal factor of the political-economy reproduction cycle within the framework of industry. This may seem rather trivial today; however, the introduction of the evolutionary concept in the political-economy model marked a great leap forwards. It can now be asserted that Marx dovetailed the political-economy model with the contemporary picture of the Universe, with 19-th century science experiencing some profound changes as well.
Marx had surged ahead of his time. "Das Kapital" features one highly important chapter dealing with cooperation, which completely does away with the main political-economy model's mechanicism. Moreover, this chapter has managed to overcome Eurocentrism, despite the strong influence of that ideology on Marxism. On the whole, Marx proceeds from the abstract reductionist model of relations between the worker and capitalist as an act of the manpower“s purchase and sale; however, this chapter shows clearly that economic operations are conducted by worker collectives, instead of "atoms" and individuals. The unification of workers into a common team produces an immense cooperation effect, as well as a surplus labor power, which is appropriated by the capitalist free of charge (as a tribute for his organizational aptitudes). In short, Marx introduced systems notions, that didn't fit into the mechanistic model in political economy.
We will now move forward several stages and investigate the modernization of political economy during the "Keynes revolution" (when another major step was taken away from mechanicism). Keynes considerably outpaced the Western intellectual tradition and didn't project mechanic metaphors onto the economy. Most importantly, he didn't apply the atom metaphor to Man. Keynes may well have been influenced by his Russian ballerina wife. He sided with the so-called realists (rather than the instrumentalists). He regarded the world as it was, without shying away from its complexities or resorting to reductionism (i.e. the reduction of specific phenomena to simplified abstractions, such as the man-atom and the individual). Keynes was convinced that the atomistic concept could not be applied to the economy, which is marked by "organic communities", that don't fit into the principles of determinism and reductionism used by engineers.
The industrial economy evolved into an extremely huge entity throughout the first three decades of the 20-th century. As a result, the market's "invisible hand" was no longer able to return the economy to a state of homeostasis even on the scale of industrialized Western nations. Philosopher Habermas explains: "Capitalism's real development had, obviously, begun to contradict the capitalist idea of a bourgeois society free from subordination and had thereby neutralized the government. The fundamental ideology of equitable exchange, which had been theoretically exposed by Marx, had crumbled in real life. The form of capital's use through private property can only be supported by corrections by the state, which conducts a social and economic policy aimed at stabilizing the economic cycle."
The role played by the Western economy's "planned" components becomes particularly obvious at a time of crisis. Classic economists who support the free-market idea, as well as neo-liberals, think that any crisis can be overcome by cutting back on state expenses (balancing the budget) and workers' incomes (reducing real wages and permitting unemployment). Keynes disagreed, saying that idle factories and hands attested to the entire classic political economy's erroneous nature. The sub-optimization of separate enterprises (judging by local efficiency and profitability criteria) made it well-nigh possible to harmonize the entire system, serving to disbalance it after the attainment of a certain critical instability level. As a result, they had to optimize major entities taken in their dynamics.
Keynes' calculations revealed that the crisis must be overcome via massive state investment (in conditions of a greater budget deficit), including 100% employment, which was seen as the ultimate goal. This could be attained by borrowing from the future (during production). He suggested that this be done via massive state-sponsored housing-construction programs. This was precisely what Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to do to weather the Great Depression (despite resistance from experts and the private sector). He succeeded in boosting budget appropriations by 70%. As a result, unemployment was slashed from 26% in 1933 to 14% throughout 1937. Roosevelt then tried to balance the budget, which resulted in the fastest recession in US economic history. Unemployment jumped to 19% in just 12 months, with private investment plunging 50%.
For his part, Keynes made this grim prediction in 1940: "It looks as if, the political environment prevents the capitalist economy from organizing state expenditures on the required scale and conducting an experiment proving that my calculations are correct. This will become possible in wartime." Keynes was right. The Second World War turned into a laboratory experiment proving the correctness of his concept. However, industry started building tanks and airfields (instead of homes and apartment houses). However, any economic survey finds this rather irrelevant. The US budget deficit soared from $4 billion to an impressive $57 billion, with unemployment falling from 19% to 1.2%. Production grew by 70%, private sector production - by 100%. It was at this point that the US and German economies picked up pace. The experiment proved an unqualified success.
The difficult period of post-war industrial restructuring ended in the late 1950s, when economists reverted to the mechanistic political-economy model once again. At that time, the "conservative wave" swept theoreticians of neo-liberalism and monetarism to the fore. The Keynes model and welfare state were being subjected to increasingly greater pressure. Culture was more and more dominated by private individualism. A principal contradiction between the political-economy model's main trajectory and tendencies pertaining to the changing scientific picture of the Universe began to become manifest for the first time in the history of political economy. This gave rise to some painful phenomena, which considerably affected the development of industrialism's cultural crisis. The "Phillips' curves" episode sheds some light on the history of that "mechanistic Renaissance" on the political-economy scene.
A London electrician, named Phillips, became interested in economics and built an analogue machine. The contraption featured three transparent tanks ("production", "reserves" and "consumer demand") linked by tubes. He sought to find ways of stabilizing the "economy" and controlling inflation. Phillips worked in the best traditions of mechanistic thinking, subsequently finding out that such a system could be stabilized by reducing consumer demand. How can this be accomplished? The state should abolish its social guarantees and discard the concept of universal employment (through unemployment and the fear of losing one's job). Politicians seemed to like his idea; however, the first state minister who suggested that the 100% employment principle be discarded in 1957 had to resign. Economists kept claiming that inflation was caused by higher production costs, in the first place (rather than by the people's surplus well-being). However, the government was tempted by the simplicity of Phillips' approach, requesting that his conclusions be "proved" by statistics.
According to Phillips, he worked round the clock resorting to quite a few simplified models (his critics prefer to discuss "rigged" models) to prove that higher unemployment resulted in lower inflation.
These statistics were needed by the British parliament; still debates on the issue would have lasted for quite a while. In the meantime Phillips secured a good position for himself in Australia and wanted to go there as soon as possible. The electrician decided it was better to make some simpler calculations rather than spend a long time waiting for results. Later on, Phillips added modestly that his results were pre-programmed by his supervisor, Professor A. Brown, although the latter denied this assertion.
Phillips' work constitutes a vivid example of how mathematics are used to impart a semblance of well-substantiated proof to a preset conclusion, involving certain political interests. If one looks at real-time unemployment and inflation statistics, represented by dots on the diagram, one gets the impression that Phillips could have connected them with all kinds of curves. The man's conclusion was purely political - in view of preset labor-productivity growth rates, we can only cut back on inflation by increasing unemployment. (Footnote 17). Phillips' errors and frame-ups have been studied in great detail. "The History and Methodology of Econometrics", which was published in Oxford in 1989, devotes an entire chapter to this issue. It concludes "Phillips' curves were a smash success with political circles. They displayed a constant inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment, serving to confirm the widespread opinion that inflation was mostly caused by excessive demand alone ... Those curves provided the economy with a stabilization law, which lacked, however, any superior analytical method or economic theory. This conclusion remains unchanged after more than 20 years of subsequent research."
This reversion to the classic liberal political-economy model signaled the beginning of the industrial civilization's current acute crisis. How can this be explained?
The West found itself at a cross-roads, choosing the road of political-economy fundamentalism (instead of the road of post-industrialism and restoration of solidary human ties on a new basis). What was the meaning of the intersection's "road signs"? The intersection had confronted civilization with a principal, and even metaphysical, choice.
The first option served to overcome industrialism, thereby making it possible to carry out a profound cultural transformation, which would have resulted in a new Reformation. By doing away with the anthropological model, the West could thereby admit that Man was not an atom, and accept that he was a component part of those solidary ties' large-size "molecules". The West was also expected to discard the societal model, constituting an arena for everyone's war against everyone. It would also have scrapped the social-Darwinist concept deeply rooted in industrial culture, moving over from the metaphor and rituals of struggle to the metaphor and rituals of mutual assistance. (Van Hayeck regarded this as the "road to slavery"). This option also advocated a rejection of economic determinism and an acknowledgment that the world was a complex entity, regulated by non-linear relations. The West would also have moved away from instrumentalism and all claims that political economy was a natural science. It was also imperative to overcome the very division of knowledge and morality, which served as the main credo of European science throughout the New Age. Finally, the Western civilization was expected to overcome the postulates, determining the Promethean nature of the industrial culture; first of all, it was necessary to reassess the categories of progress and liberty and restore their dialectics with the responsibility category.
Today we have ample proof of the fact that the parties concerned were well aware of this option's essence. Venanta Koshi, honorary president of the international federation of philosophical societies, noted:
"Let us try and single out several lines of human thought woven into the fabric of modern Western civilization. I think that all these difficulties, which are so painfully felt by us today, stem to a considerable extent from some principles and postulates of conscience, which molded Western European culture throughout the 16-th and 17-th centuries. I don't share the primitive idea that all non-European things are distinguished by innocence and congenital nobility. I simply want to stress that Western culture has some characteristic traits and specifics, whose unique combination has deadlocked its development; we can only extricate ourselves from the impasse by comprehending the depth of the abyss where we find ourselves today. In addition, we have to contemplate a set of top-priority measures, if we want mankind to have a future ...
"After making this brief, but important, introduction, we now have to make a concise study of Western culture's salient features, which are to my mind responsible for the current global situation. I have the courage to name four principles, including one which seems something extremely positive, if taken separately:
1. The notions of "I" and "Myself" are seen as the main component of philosophical thought.
2. The science of the New Age expresses the link between knowledge and mastery over Nature.
3. Production and economic efficiency have been turned into the main value.
4. Conscience and interest are transcending cultural and regional borders."
In essence, this formula aims to overcome industrialism. Naturally enough. it heralded the end of Western Eurocentrism“s meta-ideology. These socio-economic consequences led to many spin-offs. However, the Western intellectual and cultural elite is not yet ready for such a turn. On the contrary, it has opted for the "Back to Basics" principle, reverting to the main myths of Eurocentrism and making some of them quite grotesque.
The dispute between the late Olaf Palme and Friedrich von Hayeck has acquired particular importance today. Speaking in Hamburg in 1984, the brilliant theoretician of market economics pointed out that the existence of a liberal society implied that the people must liberate themselves from some natural instincts, mainly, the solidarity and compassion instinct. By openly admitting that he implied natural and inborn instincts, the philosopher thereby unveiled a sweeping modern-industrialist project, which aims to turn Man into a new biological species.
Nietzsche dreamed of creating an "Ubermensch" who would live outside good and evil; now they are trying to implement his dreams at the end of the 20-th century. (Footnote 18).
The return to liberalism signified the imposition of ideological taboos on that specific trend in the development of the political-economy model, which intended to include one absolute category (the spending of energy) together with traditional economic categories (cost, price and profit) in the aforementioned model. However, the latter constitute relative categories affected by temporary socio-political factors, such as the price of Arab oil. (Footnote 19).
The first attempts in this field upset customary criteria and efficiency-assessment methods. (Footnote 20).
In response, the best minds of industrial society (including RAND Corp.) developed a methodology of systems analysis proceeding from the notion of the resources' "pragmatic" cost, i.e. the value that every particular resource has "here and today". This marked a complete break with Keynes' concept, all the more so as the latter had paid attention to "interaction with the future" during his optimization studies. Such "interaction" ostensibly deals with future generations, which are so far unable to participate in market exchanges, elections or opinion polls.
Therefore researchers failed to take the giant step forward, preferring to move back instead. This is a pity, because such a step was prompted by the entire development of the political economy.
The main drawback of the basic political-economy model was consolidated, despite the fact that it came to be seen as something intolerable in the middle of the 20-th century. That drawback went as follows - the aforementioned model didn't study the interaction between the industrial economy, environment and the future. Such an attitude was backed by philosophical considerations rooted in the Scientific Revolution and Reformation. These two history-making events placed Man above the world, presenting him as a free personality called upon to cognize Nature, subordinate and exploit it. (Footnote 21). However, there existed another objective circumstance, making it possible to confine political economy within a purely mechanistic framework. In short, the world was very large, and its resources seemed unlimited; consequently, these factors could be perceived as something constant and permanent.
Marx introduced simple and enlarged reproduction cycles into political economy, basing his findings on Carnot's thermodynamic concepts. Carnot himself had idealized his balanced steam engine, tending to disregard its furnace completely. However, the furnace constitutes the engine's inalienable part responsible for spending non-renewable resources and creating all sorts of pollutants.
It became well-nigh impossible to exclude the "furnace" from the political-economy model in mid 20-th century. However, neo-liberalism had decided to take such a step, using powerful ideological and political pressure to compensate for the growing contradiction. The oil-related 1991 Gulf War is an outstanding example of such policies.
As a result, the development of political economy, which serves as the industrial policy's major scientific and cultural foundation, was nipped in the bud. In actual fact, the political economy is now being unobtrusively withdrawn from university curricula and replaced by econometrics and business organization. The global reality - natural and not social - and certain criteria used to assess the efficiency of that chrematistics nucleus, which maintains a relative balance (the so-called "First World"), are now contradicting each other. This discrepancy has become quite glaring.
Neo-liberalism's political economy staunchly ignores even these specific sources of imbalance (such as pollution) vented into the buffer zone (the atmosphere, ocean and Third World), whose negative value can still be assessed with the help of chrematistics' terminology. (Footnote 22).
Such calculations tend to shatter the myth about a balanced market-style economy. The protracted Amazon debate sheds some light on the issue. Western public opinion is extremely concerned over the felling of tropical jungles in the Amazon River basin. Westerners are sure that Brazil is killing Planet Earth's lungs; and this is turning into some kind of obsession. Why? Well, the First World's one billion cars require oxygen generated by the Brazil jungle; oxygen, as well as oil, serve as the essential combustion component inside Promethean "furnaces".
Consequently Western nations have posed the question of paying for that Brazil oxygen. The United States, for one, made a rather generous gesture in 1989. It suggested writing off $4 billion from Brazil's $115-billion external debt (provided that its lumberjack outfits lay down their axes). Still this is a pitifully inadequate sum. In real life, humanity derives impressive benefits from Amazon forests, which act as an ecological stabilizer and source of immense biological diversity (the gene fund reserve). In market prices, regional assets in this category are rated at approximately $50 billion per year (for a 30-year term ). This sum exceeds Brazil's external debt 12 times over. Preliminary calculations show that the aforementioned benefits total an impressive $160 billion. (sic!).
Neo-liberalism's economists stop acting as unbiased researchers, when their opponents resort to market language. In this case, they start using all sorts of ideological and ethical terminology.
This led to the coining of the following famous aphorism: "Why should I sacrifice my well-being for the sake of future generations? Have they sacrificed anything for my own sake?" This completes industrialism's anthropological model, when direct hereditary ties between entire generations of men-atoms are disrupted. Such ties were maintained in the past via the transfer of economic resources to one's children provided that they would hand them on to the posterity (and not in accordance with the equivalent-exchange practice). In other words, individualism had at least required the preservation of an "economic genetic link" ensuring the individual's reproduction. The present-day crisis induces radical neo-liberals to substantiate a gap in this field. Industrialism's advocates are talking about the end of history at the turn of the 20-th century; their conclusion is full of anthropological pessimism.
The decadent social philosophy of the classic political economy's final spiral has served to predetermine the destructive nature of a modernization project aiming to overhaul the entire Russian economic system. Such a project boils down to Fromm-style necromancy. It required a profound disintegration of the vast nation's entire economy, research establishment and social sphere.
All these tasks have already been accomplished. However, they were not justified by the initially declared goals -society's democratization and creation of certain conditions making it possible to create a liberalized and open economy. (Footnote 23). This devastation can't be attributed to the geopolitical interests pursued by the USSR's adversaries during the Cold War. The Russian reforms mark a colossal experiment that speaks volumes about the underlying motives of late industrialism, that has now confronted head on the approaching "third wave" of civilization.
1 This article is published in "Industrial Policy of Russia and The Problems of Industrialism". Moscow: "AO ICC RIA", 1994. P. 10-26.
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2 The author wishes to thank Tamerlan Aizatulin, Darja Kara-Murza and Ivan Tugarinov for valuable counsel and information. Return to text
3 The creation of a time-piece needed by researchers signaled the emergence of a machine-building sector, that was used to make industrial machine-tools; this sector began to utilize precision gears for the first time. Precision screws invented some time earlier were used by researchers to focus their microscopes. Return to text
4 Solidary social structures marked by non-linear and "irrational" self-organization processes are unpredictable in many respects. The pace of Russia's liberal reforms serves as dramatic proof of this postulate. Return to text
5 This concept, borrowed from a science studying Mother Nature's objective laws, exerted a far more powerful legalizing impact than Malthusianism with its obvious ideological bias. This theory is well-substantiated, convincing and complete (albeit seemingly); therefore it becomes quite understandable why industrialism's competing and even hostile ideologies decided to borrow social Darwinism (despite the fact that it was rejected by traditional societies and traditional sub-cultures). Return to text
6 According to Darwinism's historian R. Grasa, social-Darwinism became part and parcel of Western civilization's cultural luggage, "gaining a wide audience at the turn of the twentieth century because of its claim to biologically substantiate social sciences and above all because of its role in the substantiation of economic liberalism and primitive industrial capitalism." Return to text
7 Behaviorism's myths were extremely important for the creation of an "organized man" (or man with pre-determined behavior), who represents an essential feature of today's factories. Behaviorism, which boils down to a mechanistic concept of man as an incentive-governed machine, is quite popular with industrialism's ideology. K. Lorentz attributes this success to a tendency "towards techno-morphic thinking mastered by mankind owing to achievements in obtaining insights into the non-organic world, which do not demand that we heed the systems' complex structures and qualities ... Behaviorism brings this to extreme consequences. The lust for power is another motivation; one becomes convinced that man can be manipulated by means of training: such a conviction is based on the aspiration to attain this goal. Return to text
8 As a social-democrat, Willi Brandt emphasizes that the idea of expansion and progress has come to contradict social policy. Things are even more complicated in real life. The inalienably linked institutions of this civilization (market economics, "atomized" democracy and rational science) require constant expansion into other cultures (deep inside Man as well). Traditional societies seem to collapse under the European civilization's blows during the colonial period. But now it has transpired that such a process is much more protracted and painful. The continuation of a policy aimed at grinding and dissolving backward cultures is becoming a formidable task, indeed, and is fraught with the danger of global upheavals. Return to text
9 This constitutes a revolutionary change, compared to traditional society, where universal ethical values possess a normative nature with respect to all spheres (F. von Hayeck claimed that this tendency paved the road to slavery). Return to text
10 This alone served to create a hidden contradiction inside the entire system of definitions of the Soviet industrial policy as, in principle, political economy doesn't study the economy, or precisely the type of production which existed in the USSR; nor does it claim a right to do so. Consequently the notion of "socialism's political economy" also makes no sense. Return to text
11 Illic points out that the "my body" notion was used in the West only until the 1980s; at present they prefer to talk about "my system", perceiving the body as some kind of fixed asset or machine-tool. Return to text
12 According to the Hobbes-Locke model, the non-owner threat is constant and justified; each person has a natural and legal right to wage war. Hobbes' Leviathan states explicitly that nobody can feel safe with the current level of power attained by him, without constantly controlling, be it by force or deception, all the people he can control, until he is convinced that there is no other force sufficiently powerful to harm him. This can be attributed to the fact that all people struggle for power. Return to text
13 A prominent European philosopher of the 17-th century pointed out that gold and silver were the cleanest substances of our blood, serving as the marrow of our strength and the most essential instruments of human activity and our existence. Return to text
14 This analogy of realist scientists anticipated non-mechanistic concepts of the late 20-th century (including specific ideas on non-homeostasis processes, fluctuations and instability). Return to text
15 We are not discussing the specific trends of economic thought, which developed outside the postulates of industrialism in our work. This concerns, first and foremost, the school of Russian agrarian economist, A. Chayanov, who had, in essence, laid the foundations for the so-called non-chrematistics political economy by proceeding from different postulates conforming to the peasantry's political economy. Chayanov himself compared the move with Lobachevsky's feat. (Lobachevsky is credited with creating the non-Euclidean geometry). Return to text
16 Incidentally, technology gave birth to evolutionary ideas (instead of biology). This is reflected in the history of steam engines. Experts studied various inventions and modifications in 70 models of Newcomen's steam engine, thereby managing to increase its efficiency more than 100%. Return to text
17 Yegor Gaidar borrowed that conclusion to offer some kind of theoretical substantiation for his stabilization program on Russian territory. However, Gaidar's IMF advisers were well aware that Phillips' curves couldn't be applied in real life, and that inflation had increased on a par with unemployment throughout the crisis-stricken 1980s. Such a phenomenon is called stagflation. All these developments were not applied to Russia's economy, simply because this country should first build capitalism. Return to text
18 This also serves to mobilize modern society's latent racism. A small race of people, that succeeds in doing away with some instincts and cultural taboos, would constitute the so-called "golden billion". That "billion" will enjoy every right to subordinate all "Untermenschen". The instinctive murder ban (on fellow humans) will also be automatically eliminated, because those belonging to other species will no longer be seen as humans. This is one of the simplest anti-crisis options. Return to text
19 The principal discrepancy between the value of a ton of oil for mankind and its market value (calculated in accordance with the particular amount of money needed to bribe or intimidate Arab sheikhs) constitutes a vivid example of commodity fetishism that conceals similar discrepancies. Return to text
20 The industrial world's spendthrift economy has turned out to be inadmissibly energy-intensive. This sometimes served to distort the original meaning of economic activities. In the beginning, agriculture aimed to convert solar energy into food (with the help of green leaves). At the same time, America's famed industrial farming establishment ("soil-based factory"), which is being offered as some kind of exemplary entity to the entire world, spends ten calories of fossil fuel on every food calorie. In other words, the supreme industrial civilization has bred an interesting agricultural method converting mineral fuel, or non- renewable resources (instead of solar energy), into foodstuffs. Return to text
21 The specifics of industrialism's "freedom formula" are, first of all, connected with that mechanistic picture of the Universe and determinism, which creates the illusion that Man can predict accurately the consequences of his actions. This removes the metaphysical component from the responsibility issue, substituting it with the rational-calculation task. A pre-determined and quantitatively described system is devoid of any sanctity. As one philosopher noted, all things that can have a price can't be holy. Determinism still remains the main pillar of Westerner mentality, despite impressive scientific progress at the end of the 20-th century ("God doesn't play dice"). Return to text
22 In principle, market mechanisms reject any exchange of values between present and future generations, which are unable to hit the market and therefore don't possess any buyer properties whatsoever. Consequently, they can't guarantee any equivalent exchange. Therefore, any such act tends to immediately upset the homeostasis principle, which is seen as political economy's main dogma. Return to text
23 Here we are talking about the perestroika project, whose main provisions are contained in the articles and speeches of reformist leaders (from Mikhail Gorbachev to Gavriil Popov). Return to text
c 1994, S.G.Kara-Murza