Machine Production

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Machine Production


a historical stage in the development of social production in which the instruments of labor are machines. Machine production represented the material basis for the development of capitalism. It supplanted small-scale, decentralized handicraft production based on manual operations. A break in social relations occurred on this basis, and capitalism replaced feudalism. Under capitalism large-scale machine production was first established, and on this basis the formation of the capitalist mode of production itself was completed.

The material and economic prerequisites for machine production were established by the manufactories. The division of labor in manufacture, involving the use of specialized instruments of labor and specialization of the workers themselves, opened the way for machines to replace manual implements of labor. Craft manufacture was transformed into the capitalist factory on the base of machine technology. Having arisen on the technical base of manufactures, the development of machine production to some degree brought about a revolution in this base itself, creating a technology appropriate to its own mode of production. “Modern industry,” K. Marx wrote, “had therefore itself to take in hand its characteristic instrument of production, the machine, and to construct machines by machines. It was not till it did this, that it built up for itself a fitting technical foundation, and stood on its own feet” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 396). Large-scale machine production took shape as a result of the industrial revolution, which began in England in the second half of the 18th century and then engulfed the other countries of Western Europe and also Russia and the United States.

Under large-scale machine production the cooperative element of the labor process becomes a necessity dictated by the nature of the means of labor itself. There is a deepening of the division of labor both within each individual enterprise and in society as a whole, and the concentration of means of production and work force increases enormously. Labor to manage and organize production becomes a technical necessity.

The development of machine production accelerated the disintegration and supplanting of precapitalist economic forms, promoted the expansion and establishment of the supremacy of capitalist production relations, and brought about qualitative changes in productive forces, essentially turning them into social productive forces. But by causing colossal growth in social production and raising labor productivity, capitalist production led to an exacerbation of the antagonistic contradictions characteristic of capitalism and particularly of the basic contradiction of capitalism: that between the social nature of production and the private capital form of appropriation. With the development of machine production the scale of capital accumulation increased and the size of the proletariat grew absolutely. At the same time the growth of the organic composition of capital caused a relative reduction in the demand for labor, an enlargement of the army of unemployed, a relative worsening of material condition, and poverty among the working masses.

The most recent stage in the historical development of capitalist machine production is related to the present scientific and technological revolution. The enormous capabilities offered by machine production in its present stage for raising labor productivity and increasing the material wealth of society are in irresolvable contradiction with capitalist production relations. This contradiction manifests itself in the unevenness of technical progress, the growth of militarization of the economy, chronic unemployment, and an inadequate supply of goods for fairly broad strata of the population.

Large-scale machine production, which was created and developed under capitalism and reached its highest level under conditions of state-monopoly capitalism, is the material prerequisite for socialism. Historically, socialism inherits large-scale machine production, destroying its capitalist form and liberating it from the contradictions and disproportions engendered by the private capital form of appropriation of the results of social labor.

After the proletariat has taken political power, socialist production relations are formed on the basis of large-scale machine production. In those countries where machine production is not the universal economic form, a material-technical base appropriate to socialism is created after the proletariat has taken power. In these countries industrialization is an essential condition for the successful construction of socialism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
At the Kanggye General Precision Machine Plant, Kim noted that it was necessary to "turn the plant into a modern plant with completed mechanics of production and thus put it on an advanced level of the world." During his "field guidance" at the Jangjagang Machine Tool Factory, he noted that the factory has turned into a "leading machine production base performing an important role for developing the national economy," the KCNA reported.
Advocates of the movement included artists, architects and designers who were united in the ideals of individual design and craftsmanship rather than mass machine production. They believed in the principle of art for all people, the revival of gothic design and nostalgia for the medieval age.
JCB said the "record-equalling Christmas bonus" comes after the firm's machine production reached a 73-year high in 2018, with 1,500 people recruited this year.
subsidiary and a circular knitting machine production site, the company is to be wound up in the medium term.
Iranian manufacturers produced 116,300 TV sets in the ninth Iranian calendar month (7 percent less month-on-month), while the country's refrigerator and washing machine production amounted to 80,600 and 75,700, registering a monthly fall of 1.7 and increase of 2.4 percent, respectively.
The new space will significantly increase machine production capacity and allow for a more collaborative set-up within the company; uniting logistics, research and development, services and operations, the company said.
Their expectations aim for a growth of machine production by yearly 6.5% while the average of all machine-builders is satisfied with a growth of 3.8% per year until 2018.
MANUFACTURER Ebac will welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent today when he opens their new washing machine production line.
The supply of materials for machine production in Wolfertschwenden will also benefit from the new procedures.
Using the online machine portal, engineers can access machine production speed, downtime, and over 120 key performance indicators from any location.
Scanjet's factory in Sweden will assume manufacturing of Scanvent p/v valves next to its tank cleaning machine production line.