Chapter one, introduction
The theories of revolutions in the development of society’s productive forces.
According to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the most mobile, active and determining role in the development of society is played by its productive forces.
Society’s productive forces play the same role in the development of production relations, and by means of them also in the development of other social relations, as the natural conditions or the environment play in the development of biological organisms or in the development of flora and fauna. Productive forces are “the environment” for production relations, changes in which inevitably result in changes of the latter. In some cases production relations alter, remaining within the framework of one and the same socio-economic structure, in other cases one specific form of production relations is replaced by another form - a social revolution takes place.
When production relations are in conformity with the level and nature of the society’s productive forces, the society is prospering and progressing and the rate of economic growth is high. When productive forces outstrip the existing production relations, that have already become narrow for them and, in consequence of it, enter into ever growing contradiction with them, the society gradually turns from prosperity to stagnation, from high to low rate of growth of social production. Obsolete production relations impede the development of productive forces more and more. This contradiction between society’s new productive forces and its old production relations eventually develops into conflict and is being settled in the course of a social revolution, which eliminates production relations that hamper the development of productive forces, replaces them with new, progressive production relations, which give a wide scope for the further development of the society’s productive forces. “At a certain stage of development, the society’s material and productive forces enter into contradiction with existing production relations or – that is just a legal expression of the latter – with relations of ownership, inside which they developed until that time. These relations turn from the forms of development of productive forces into their fetters. Then the epoch of social revolution comes” (Marx, Engels vol. 13, p. 7)
It shows what an important and decisive role is played by productive forces in the development of society, first of all by production equipment, which being a component of productive forces plays such an important role in their development as production relations do in the development of social relations, a component of which they are. “The difference between economic epochs is not in the things produced, but in the ways and means of labour by which they are produced. Means of labour are not just a criterion of the development of human labour, they are an index of those social relations, under which the labour takes place.” (Marx, Engels vol. 22, p. 191)
But if productive forces and especially production equipment as the totality of instruments of production play such an important role in the development of society, then both their study and the research of objective laws of their development should be especially careful. The scientists instead do not give due attention to the objective laws of the development of productive forces.
Before the modern scientific and technological revolution it was impossible to reveal all the objective laws of the development of productive forces, but in the course of it, the revelation of these objective laws becomes not only possibility, but social necessity as well. “Objective logic of the scientific and technological progress could not be revealed, for example, during the period of spreading the machine tools or steam engines. Technology had to reach a high standard, which made possible to reveal the objective laws of its development. It is proceeding from the analysis of automatic machines that Marx develops the theoretical principles of scientific and technological progress.
Modern scientific and technological revolution, the core of which is automation, uncovers the inner logic of technological expansion and makes it entirely accessible to the researchers” (1 – 15).
How do the society’s productive forces develop? Does it happen in such a way that with the development of productive forces only quantitative changes take place, which in the process of their evolutionary development cause qualitative, revolutionary changes in the development of productive relations and, by means of them, also in the development of other social relations? But how can such objective phenomena in the development of society as the industrial revolution, which took place in Europe and North America from XVIII to XIX centuries, and the scientific and technological revolution, which nowadays takes place in most countries of the world, both socialist and bourgeois, developed and developing, large and small, be explained?
Do the society’s productive forces develop in such a way that the periods of evolution in the development of productive forces periodically change into revolutionary periods, i.e. such qualitative changes in the development of productive forces that the whole technical, technological and structural-branch foundations of the society radically change? How many and what revolutions have then taken place in the development of productive forces during the history of society and what is their essence?
The periodization of the history of technics is of great interest for us thereupon. How many periods can or, rather, should the history of technological expansion be divided into? And what are qualitative differences between technics of different periods?
The majority of Soviet authors of transactions on the history of technics take the periodization of the development of social relations as the basis of the periodization of the history of technics. L.D. Bel’kind, I.Y. Konfederatov and Y.A. Shneiberg write in their “The History of technics”: “Periodization of the history of technics on the whole coincides with periodization of history of the development of human society, which is based on the change of socio-economic formations. That is why it is expedient to discuss technological expansion in accordance with the established periodization of society” (2 –13).
P.S. Kudryavtsev and I.Y. Konfederatov in “The History of physics and technics” suggest the same periodization. They divide the history of technics into the following periods: “… technics of the primitive society, technics of the slave-holding society, technics of the feudal society, technics of the period of origin and consolidation of capitalism and imperialism, technics in the time of socialism” (3 – 9).
The authors of these transactions do not write about the very qualitative difference between technics of the periods indicated by them. They cannot do it since the basis of periodization of technological expansion for them is not the process of technological expansion in itself, but the periodization according to socio-economic structures, which should be explained as well, that is to say they see not the initial but the derivative as the basis of periodization of technics, they interchange cause and effect.
The authors of corporate “The History of technics” A.A. Zvorynin, N.I. Os’mova, V.I. Chernyshev and S.V. Shukhardin accept a bit different periodization of the history of technics. They point at “…the following stages of technological expansion:
G.N. Volkov writes about this periodization, criticizing it quite fairly: “…since the development of productive forces, as well as technics, is the decisive factor in one or another social structure and also in the development of society, it is natural first to clear up the inner logic of the development of productive forces, the inner logic of technological expansion and not to determine this logic with the help of phenomena which require analysis of the peculiarities of technological progress for their own explanation.
- The origin and expansion of simple instruments of labour under conditions of primitive communal mode of production.
- The development and expansion of complex instruments of labour under conditions of slave-holding mode of production.
- The expansion of complex instruments of labour, operated by man, under conditions of feudal mode of production.
- The origin of prerequisites for the creation of machine technics (machinery) under conditions of manufactory period.
- The expansion of machine tools on the basis of steam engine during the period of victory and establishment of capitalism in advanced countries.
- The development of machines on the basis of electric drive during the period of monopoly capital.
- Transition to automatic system of machines during the period after the Great October Socialist Revolution” (4 – 11).
The authors of “The History of technics” unfortunately have not taken this view into consideration. They try to find the “own” period of technological expansion for each formation.
The authors write about technics of feudalism as about complex instruments operated by man in contrast to complex instruments of slave-holding society… The authors, apparently to satisfy their preconceived scheme and having failed to find essential distinctions between instruments of labour, did not go beyond verbal difference… But only one variant is possible: either there is a proper logic of technological expansion and periodization should then proceed from this logic, or technological expansion is entirely determined by production relations and then it is necessary to accept “periodization according to socio-economic formations as the basis of the history of technics” (5 – 37, 38).
In fact, the authors of “The History of technics” write about simple instruments of labour in primitive communal society in contrast to complex instruments of labour of slave-holding and feudal society. Hence, if we follow their point of view, then a bow with an arrow, a drilling machine, a potter’s wheel with a foot drive (fly-wheel) and a fire drill with bow-shaped drive, which were widely used in primitive communal society, are simple and not mechanical instruments of labour. Or, as G. Volkov pointed, the authors of “The History of technics” distinguish complex instruments of labour of feudal society from complex instruments of labour of slave-holding society by the fact that the former are man-operated. Two questions arise here. First, what is the qualitative difference herein if, as the authors think, both are complex instruments of labour and both are man-operated? Second, in East Asian, ancient and medieval societies, the source of motion for the majority of instruments of labour in the key branch of social production – agriculture was draught force (muscular energy) of animals, not the force of man.
The point of view, according to which periodization of the development of productive forces as well as technological expansion coincides with periodization of the society’s development, i.e. in accordance with the change of socio-economic formations, was developed most completely and consistently by the group of authors of the book “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” (6).
We shall dwell upon this theory of the development of the society’s productive forces in some more detail.
Depending on the necessity of accomplishing of some or other tasks people in the process of their activity impart different forms to technics (man-made means of activity, which are created and used to generate, transmit and convert energy, to affect the objects of work during the creation of material and cultural welfare, to gather, to store, to process and to transfer information, to study the laws and phenomena of nature and society, to travel and to govern the society, to wage war and to defend, for service and life as well). Technics may be in form of instruments of labour (tooling), machines, automatic machines, devices. It can also be in machineless form (p. 10).
Each socio-economic structure (or, rather, each of its phases) is conformed by a certain historically developed mode of technics, which embraces main forms of man-made technical means, forms of energy that are used and the technological mode of production, which is understood as the totality of three factors: organization of use of technical means, technical mode of joining producers with technical means and a division of labour (p. 11).
During certain historical periods, revolutionary shifts in technical mode of social production – technical revolutions - take place, which result in the creation of new, higher mode of technics, which is characteristic of a new social mode of production, for the final victory of which “the production revolution” that is a result and at the same time a sequel to the technological revolution is required as well (p. 17).
If, according to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, a certain technological mode of production is a constituent (“is embraced”), together with the main forms of technical means and forms of energy, of a corresponding mode of technics, then, during the change from one mode of technics to another, i.e. during technological revolution, one (old) technological mode of production should automatically change into another (new). However, further we will see something different and contradictory to the aforesaid.
During certain historical periods, society’s productive forces experience technical revolution, the essence of which is the appearance and introduction of inventions causing revolution in means of labour, forms of energy, production techniques and general material conditions of manufacturing process. Technical revolution is a process of creation and introduction of technical means, “which prepare (!) the transition to a new technological mode of production” (p. 27).
Technical revolution under appropriate (new) production relations causes the production revolution, i.e. a process, under which a new technological mode of production is created on the basis of new technical means, which is characterized by a new division of labour, new position of producers and new social relations in production (!), new social structure of the society (p. 27).
So, according to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, when one technological mode changes into another (production revolution), the replacement of old production relations with the new (“new social relations in production”) takes place as well. But this principle contradicts the doctrine of the founders of Marxism-Leninism according to which the replacement of certain production relations with the other, new, takes place during the social revolution. If the authors spoke not about “the new social relations in production”, but about consolidation, final victory or alteration of the present production relations, there would be no contradiction. However, the authors of this theory speak differently on this subject further.
“If social revolution results in the establishment of new production relations, the liberation of productive forces, then technical revolution transforms means of production, and production revolution, grown from it, leads to total victory, domination of the new mode of production” (p. 27).
Technical revolution is a precursor of production revolution; the latter cannot begin without preliminary implementation of the former. Production revolution is a gradual process, the beginning of which can be hardly dated precisely. There cannot be a sharp distinction between technical and production revolutions, the production revolution seems to grow smoothly from the technical one and does not begin when the latter ends (p. 27).
Implementation of technical and, growing from it, production revolution takes place in each socio-economic structure, that is why in the development of society and its productive forces the authors of this theory discover five technical and five production revolutions. Since the number of technical revolutions is five, the number of modes of technics, which are divided by technological revolutions, is six, and since the number of production revolutions is five as well, the number of technological modes of production, which are divided by production revolutions, is also six.
Now we shall proceed to studying these revolutions (technical and production) taken separately, according to socio-economic structures.
The process of the formation of human society ended about 40 – 30 thousand years ago. The use of fire and making of crude, not grinded and simple stone tools resulted by that time in the creation of the first mode of technics. Technological mode of production consisted in gathering natural food products, collective hunting and making instruments of labour and weapons from stone. In the process of production, only a natural division of labour (according to sex and age) was used.
“In order that a primitive communal mode of production would become the prevailing one, a radical change in the mode of technics was required. Such a change took place owing to the invention of bow and arrows, and then to mastering of drilling, grinding, sawing that made the creation of a stone axe and a stone mattock with helves possible. It was the first technical revolution, which resulted in the creation of a new mode of technics. It took place during the period from about 13 to 4 thousand years BC” (p. 29).
Here we see a new contradiction. As it was mentioned above, the production revolution finally establishes the existing mode of production. Now we see that this role has passed on to technical revolution.
According to the authors’ theory, the first technical revolution went through two stages. The first stage was bound up with the invention and use of bow and arrows, which became a decisive weapon for man and made it possible to pass on from hunting by big collectives to hunting by small groups, which resulted in increase of the amount of food being obtained. The second stage of technical revolution was bound up with making stone axe at first without lugs, and then with lugs and helve. The inventions of revolutionizing nature, which made it possible to create complex compound instruments of labour, were drilling, grinding, sawing; drilling was the most important at that stage, and due to it an axe with a helve became the most important and effective instrument of labour. The invention and use of stone mattock with handle, which made the cultivation of the soil and the increase of labour productivity in agriculture possible, was also very important (p. 30).
“Though the first stage of technological revolution took place in Mesolithic period (13 – 7 thousand years BC) and the second - in the Neolithic one (7 – 4 thousand years BC), i.e. several thousand years elapsed between these periods, they are two stages of one and the same process – the creation of mode of technics of primitive communal mode of production” (pp. 30 –31).
The first technical revolution was followed by fundamental change in the material production as
a whole – the first large-scale social division of labour took place: the first to emerge were shepherd tribes, then agriculture became an independent branch of production. As a result of it, the material and technical basis of primitive-communal system was formed. These changes were the first industrial revolution, which led to the worldwide domination of primitive communal mode of production (p. 30).
So, the first technical revolution was required for the “primitive-communal mode of production to become prevailing”, the first production revolution in its turn results “in the worldwide domination of primitive communal mode”, the essence of the first production revolution is the first large-scale social division of labour – the emergence of shepherd tribes and the creation of agriculture as an independent branch of production. Thus, the first production revolution comes to the division of labour only, though first it was claimed that the production revolution replaces one technological mode of production with another one, which is understood as the totality of three factors: organization of use of technical means, technical mode of joining producers with technical means and division of labour (pp. 11, 26, 27).
In primitive-communal society, various new technical means continue to be created, a great number of them being the elements of the new (third) mode of technics, which is typical to slave-holding mode of production, revolutionize productive forces. Pottery, weaving, smelting and processing of metal belong to such inventions and technical means. Taming and then breeding the animals, which not only yielded milk, meat, pelts, fur and other products, but gradually became a draught power, are typical of this period. People learned to use new kind of energy – the force of animals (p. 31).
It might seem that this process is indeed (to some extent) the content of the second revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces, but, according to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, revolutions in the development of productive forces should take place only after social revolutions. That is why they name this process neither a revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces nor even its beginning, they call it just the origin of the elements of new mode of technics in the depths of old society. The revolution (second) in the development of the society’s productive forces begins only several thousand years later.
According to this theory, for the slave-holding mode of production, which won by that time in many countries, to become dominant on a world-historical scale, new technical revolution and new production revolution should take place, which should create new mode of technics, material and technical basis and technological mode of production.
The second technical revolution consisted in mastering the methods of smelting and production of iron instruments of labour, in particular puddling process of iron smelting and methods of obtaining of hard iron (welding, hardening and carbonization). The second technical revolution, which began about 1000 – 500 years BC, led to the fundamental change of technics in all fields of material production. Iron plough, forge bellows, hand mills and other instruments of labour were widely used (pp. 32 – 33).
The second production revolution led to the second large-scale social division of labour – the separation of craft from agriculture and the change of place of producer in production, it made slave labour the main in social production. Gradual development of technical revolution into the production one resulted in the creation of the developed slave-holding countries of Greece and Rome (V – III centuries BC). The craft separated itself from agriculture, the place of producers in production changed: if the craft before was a subsidiary occupation of the farmers and cattle-breeders, then, under advanced slave-holding system, pottery, weaving, smelting, mining and other crafts became the main occupation of some groups of people. The development of craft led to the creation of cities (pp. 32 – 33).
In slave-holding society, the elements of new (fourth) mode of technics, which subsequently developed and began to determine the character of feudal society’s productive forces, began to emerge. Water-drawing wheels and water-mills, i.e. the first machines, which used the new form of energy – water force, belonged to these elements (p. 38).
“Since XI century, new towns, which became the centres of craft, commodity production and trade sprang up in Western Europe. It was the time of European countries’ transition from early feudal society to the second, highest stage of feudal mode of production, when feudalism became dominant on a world-historical scale. The third technical revolution was required for the feudal mode of production to win finally. Handicraft should obtain a mode of technics typical of it, a definite technological mode of production, which was expressed in shop organization of handicraft.
Shop handicraft was based on the use of mills – water-wheels, which put in motion not only flour-grinding millstones, but different mechanisms (saws, blowers, etc.) as well. In addition to water-mill, clock was of great importance for the establishment of shop handicraft. The development of clock wheel and spring mechanisms formed the basis for the creation of various mechanisms, which were widely adopted in manufacture (e.g. speed indicator, ratchets, tooth engagements, etc.).
Though water-mill, as it has already been mentioned, was known already in Rome, it was widely adopted in production only at the end of X – the first half of XII century. As a result, the use of new forms of energy – water and wind forces, that enabled the substitution of human power functions in a number of branches of industry, became possible. It is in this period, that the third technical revolution takes place” (pp. 35 – 36).
So, the essence of the third technical revolution was “wide use of water-wheel (hydraulic engine) and water-mill for grain-grinding and some other purposes. But, first, water mill and windmill belong to machinery. Their appearance and expansion in XI – XII centuries did not mean implementation and hence the end of technical revolution, for one can speak about the implementation of the revolution in the development of productive forces only when a new form of technics holds the dominant position in technical mode of social production. Since in XI – XII centuries the key branch in social production was agriculture, in which the absolute majority of the population was concentrated and there was no use of machinery, there is no reason to speak about the implementation and especially about the end of technical revolution in this period. The appearance and the beginning of a large-scale expansion of machinery in XI – XII centuries meant the origin of the third revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces, which was implemented over a period of XI – XIX centuries, the culmination point of which was technological overturn in industry (industrial overturn) in XVIII – XIX centuries. Water-mill and windmill of X – XII centuries were the first specimens (if the appearance of a water-mill in Rome, which was not widely used there, is not taken into account) of machines, which held the dominant position in technics in the course of industrial overturn of XVIII – XIX centuries. Second, the proportion of water-wheel, windmill, pumps, blowers, etc., was rather small in comparison with all technics of this period of the society’s development (X – XII centuries) and could not determine its technical basis. What were then the devices that determined the technical basis of medieval society of X – XII centuries? Obviously, one must search for them in the key branch of social production. And the key branch of social production in that period was agriculture, not handicraft (shop craft), which was a minor, subsidiary branch of social production at that time. In agriculture, the main devices were wooden plough, plough, harrow, cart and other mechanical means, which were operated by muscular power of animals (bulls, horses, etc.) and which determined the technical basis of medieval society. But these devices were invented and applied in social production on a large scale not in the Middle Ages, but a long time before. They began to be widely used during the second revolution (agrarian-technical, as we call it below stating our point of view) in the development of productive forces, which took place before the appearance of class society.
According to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, the third technical revolution gradually develops into the third production revolution, which took place in Western Europe late in XII – in the middle of XIV centuries and the essence of which is transition from home craft to shop craft (p. 36).
“For its time, shop production organization created favourable conditions for the development of productive forces, promoted the introduction of technological innovations and the improvement of craft skills. But shop artisan (craft) production was manual” (p. 36).
The authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” have just claimed, that “shop artisan production was based on the use of mills – water-wheels, which operated not only flour-grinding millstones, but different mechanisms (saws, blowers, etc.) as well” (p. 36). Now they assert the opposite, i.e. that “shop artisan production was manual.”
The origin and development of shop artisan production was of prime importance for the history of society - essential changes, which altered the place of man in the process of labour, took place: free labour instead of serf labour, the separation of craft from agriculture, transition to commodity production, the division of labour between shops, due to which technical professions were created and isolated themselves. Though inside craft workshop there was almost no division of labour, the kinds of work performed were, to some extent, determined by shop hierarchy: foreman – journeymen – apprentices (i.e. the origin of “manufactory”, operational division of labour took place) (pp. 36 – 37).
In feudal society, new technical means appeared, which were the elements of the new (fifth) mode of technics, revolutionized the mode of production, since they stimulated and prepared a new division of labour, new production techniques. Remarkable inventions, which prepared new mode of technics, were book-printing, fire artillery (gunpowder), compass, automatic clock; the largest progress in metallurgy was the invention of two-stage mode of making iron using charcoal: furnace production (smelting of cast iron and bloomery process of cast iron into iron) (p. 37).
If in artisan production the worker himself by means of simple instruments directly operated the subject of labour, in manufacturing the hand of the worker was replaced with machine tool. Mechanically operating bodies of the machine began to fulfil the function of man’s hand. Such a fundamental change in production took place as a result of the fourth technical revolution, the initial stage of which was the invention and a widespread adoption of machine tools in textile manufacture, the second stage was the invention and use of universal steam engine and the third – the invention and adoption of machine tools in mechanical engineering (mainly support lathe) (pp. 39, 42, 43,45).
According to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, during the implementation of the third technical revolution, which took place in X – XII centuries, the transition from manual instruments of labour to machines (water-wheel, windmill, which operated flour-grinding millstones, pumps, saws, blowers, etc.) took place. Now we see that, in the course of the following, fourth technical revolution the same thing takes place, i.e. the transition from manual instruments to machines again. But the matter is that there is no significant difference between these revolutions.
The fourth technical revolution develops into the fourth production revolution, the essence of which lies in the radical change of material mode of production and corresponding social changes. The old production was manufactory, the new one – machine factory, so the industrial overturn of XVIII – XIX centuries was a revolutionary transition from manufactory to machine manufacturing. In this connection, the social structure of the society changed, the class of the proletariat was formed, prevailing production relations altered, capitalism as a socio-economic formation reached its full development and became dominant on a world-historical scale.
The main content of the industrial (production) revolution is the change of technological mode of production; since at the end of XVIII – XIX centuries a drastic breaking of all social relations began mainly in industry, this process was called industrial revolution, which is a particular case of production revolution (pp. 25 – 26).
Thus, the essence of the fourth production (industrial) revolution lies in the change of technological mode of production, namely the transition from the old production – manufactory to the new one – machine manufacturing. But during the implementation of the third production revolution the transition from home craft to shop artisan production took place. Apparently, between the third and the fourth production revolutions, if one follows the logic of the authors of this theory, should be one more production revolution, during the implementation of which, the transition from shop artisan production (old production) to manufactory one (new production) takes place.
For the corroboration of their theory, the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” often quote the classics of Marxism-Leninism. But, unlike them, the founders of Marxism-Leninism have never divided the revolutions in the development of productive forces into two types: technological and production. Lenin, for example, identified industrial revolution of XVIII – XIX centuries with technological revolution in industry, that is quite clear from the following words of his (as well as many others): “The transition from manufactory to factory marks a full technical overturn, which overthrows a manual skill of a master acquired over the centuries” (Lenin, vol. 3, p. 455).
So, the division of this revolution as well as other revolutions in the development of productive forces into two independent revolutions – technical and production – contradicts the views of the founders of Marxism-Leninism and, as we think, is artificial and does not reflect real development of the society’s productive forces and their objective laws.
Developing the point of view about the presence in the development of each socio-economic formation of “its own” technological and productional revolutions, the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” apply it to modern society as well. But modern revolution in the development of productive forces – the scientific and technological revolution - does not fit into the authors’ scheme to an extent that they have to put up with a number of peculiarities of this revolution.
The first peculiarity lies in the fact that the fifth technical revolution, unlike the previous ones, is not just technical, but scientific and technological. “The essential distinction of the processes, which take place nowadays, lies exactly in the fact that the role and place of science in modern society has changed. It radically affected the technical revolution as well, which became now the scientific and technological revolution that was not the case in the previous historical periods. That is why modern scientific and technological revolution is the first scientific and technological revolution experienced by the society” (pp. 75 – 76).
The second peculiarity lies in the fact that if the first technical revolutions as a rule were carried out within the framework of socio-economic structures, which conformed to them, the scientific and technological revolution can take place both in socialist and bourgeois societies. The violation of the objective law is also revealed in the course of the fifth production revolution, which is a continuation of the scientific and technological revolution. If earlier, according to the theory of the authors, first a social revolution took place, then, after a rather considerable period of time – technological, and then a production revolution, which grew from it, here the situation is different. In some countries (socialist) these three revolutions take place according to the old scheme: social – scientific and technological – production revolution, in the other (capitalist) these revolutions take place according to the other scheme: scientific and technological – social – production revolution.
“The scientific and technological revolution as a consequence of the development of productive forces does not require for its beginning a compulsory substitution of old production relations. That is why it takes place not only in socialist, but in the developed capitalist countries as well, and what is more, it cannot but take place in capitalist countries” (p. 166).
If the fifth technical (scientific and technological) revolution can be carried out either prior to social revolution (socialist) or after it, why not to suppose that other technical revolutions can also be carried out before social revolutions conforming to them, or at least originate in the depths of the old society.
The authors of this theory explain these (and other) peculiarities of the scientific and technological revolution by the fact that “technical revolutions in slave-owning, feudal and capitalist societies prepared a technical mode of production, based on exploitation of man by man. The modern scientific and technological revolution prepares, in its turn, a technical mode of production of classless society” (p.167). But this explanation of the peculiarities stated is absolutely unconvincing. In fact, if modern scientific and technological revolution is not just technical, but scientific and technological unlike the previous four technical revolutions (for some reason, the authors write only about three technical revolutions here, having forgotten about the first one probably because it prepared a technical mode of production of classless society as well as scientific and technological revolution and that is why it does not keep within their scheme), it occurs because it prepares a technical mode of production of classless society. If scientific and technological revolution embraces all the sectors of the national economy and if scientific and technological revolution can be carried out in both capitalist and socialist countries, etc., the authors’ explanation of it is that it prepares a technical mode of classless society.
What is then the essence of the fifth technical revolution?
The elements of the new (sixth) mode of technics arise in the depths of the old, capitalist society. The basis of the new mode of technics is a wide use of electricity, the revolutionizing role of which lies “first, in the fact that it is possible to use energy at a great distance from the source of its generation (as well as the location of fuel resources) and it results in efficient location of industry; second, electricity increases productivity and general culture of labour; third, its usage makes possible the provision of flow-line production and its continuity, the introduction of automatic machines. In conclusion, and that is probably the main point – electricity lies in the basis of electrical engineering, i.e. such a branch of machinery, which makes possible the creation of devices, which do not require workers for its operation” (p. 69).
In addition to electricity, a great number of other elements of the new mode of technics appeared: sound recording, electronic tubes, photoelectric cells, synthetic materials, metallurgy of less-common metals, etc. But the scientific and technological revolution begins only in the middle of the XX century.
“Being based on automation, which is actually the result of historical development of machine tools, which assumed technological functions of man, the modern scientific and technological revolution is determined by a fundamentally new trend – automation of logical, mental processes, which are provided by the use of control (cybernetic) machines. To such an extent as machine tools were the starting point of technical revolution of late XVIII – the beginning of XIX centuries, control machines became the starting point of the modern scientific and technological revolution. A new convolution in the development of the process of transfer of production functions performed by man to technical means begins, when not technological but logical and supervisory control functions stand as these functions” (The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution. Ì., 1970, p. 113).
The modern scientific and technological revolution as well as the other technological revolutions should develop into the new, fifth production revolution. But the new production revolution cannot begin immediately with the appearance of its devices: electronics, cybernetics, automation, chemicalization of production, etc. For the transition to complex all-round automation first of all the experience of use of transfer lines, adding machines and other automatic machines is required, and for this some time is needed, during which the modern scientific and technological revolution takes place (M., 1967, p. 166).
The scientific and technological revolution (in socialist countries) grows and combines with production revolution. The transition to the all-round computer-aided manufacturing, that will characterize the technological level of communist mode of production, is carried out from automatic manufacturing processes, by means of automatic workshops and plants. The change of the nature of producer’s labour will take place; an operator of machine manufacturing will become a harmoniously developed free toiler (pp. 168 – 169).
All this is right, but it is applied to the scientific and technological, not to the so-called production revolution for which there is simply no place in modern society.
The new technological mode of production cannot be created under capitalism, which cannot reject the division of labour of machine-manufacturing mode of production, the system of machine tools, subordination of man to machine, because such categories obligatory for capitalism as labour force, its cost, surplus value, rate of profit, competition between workers, stimulation of labour, etc. are bound up with this production. The main obstacle to the development of scientific and technological revolution into a production one under capitalism is the way of distribution of material values (p. 172).
To be more accurate, it should be said here that owing to the stated reasons capitalist society should be inevitably transformed into the socialist one by means of social revolution, after the implementation of which the completion of scientific and technological revolution will take place. The division of modern revolution in the development of productive forces as well as other revolutions into two independent revolutions – technical and production ones – is of no avail.
So, we considered the theory of the development of productive forces stated by the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”. What are its merits and demerits?
The demerits of this theory are the following:
The merit of this theory is that the authors, along with evolutionary development of productive forces, elaborated the theory about periodical revolutions in their development, which have a natural mutual relationship with the development of production relations.
A different periodization of the development of productive forces, including machinery, is proposed by G. Volkov in the book “The epoch of robots or the epoch of man?” (5). If Bel’kind and others divide the history of technics into five periods putting the periodization of the history of technics in dependence on the periodization of the society according to socio-economic structures; if Zvorynin and others divide the history of technics into seven periods and if the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” divide the history of technics and productive forces on the whole into six periods, which are divided by five technological and five production revolutions, then Volkov divides the history of the development of productive forces, including technics, into three periods only, which are divided by two revolutions and both these revolutions consist of two independent revolutions, the first is called by Volkov a technical revolution, the second – an industrial revolution, so, according to the Volkov’s theory of the development of productive forces in the development of productive forces two technical and two industrial revolutions take place.
- The authors put the periodization of the development of productive forces – including technics – in dependence on the periodization of the society according to socio-economic structures; in each of them, they find their “own” technical and production revolutions.
- The authors divide each of the revolutions in the development of productive forces into two independent revolutions: technical and production ones that contradicts historical reality.
- The authors connect all the revolutions in the development of productive forces with the development of one branch (mainly) – industry: handicraft, manufactory, machine manufacturing, all-round automated.
- During the construction of the scheme of implementation of the revolutions, the authors proceed not from objective historical facts, but from analogy with industrial revolution of XVIII – XIX centuries.
He writes about the development of technics: “In technics, as in social life, the radical changes, revolutionary breaking of the old technical form and the creation of the fundamentally new one took place.
The revolutions in technics in general are rather frequent phenomena. They took place with any more or less great invention, which has a technical application… At the same time, there happen such technical revolutions, that are not just the change in one or another technical branches, sections, etc., but cause the revolution in the whole engineering system, mark a fundamentally new epoch in the development of technics, a new historical stage.
As a result of one of them, the means of labour developed from craft instrument into machine. Now we are the witnesses of the birth of a new historical stage in the development of technics, which is characterized by the conversion of machine into automatic machine. The instrument of manual labour, machine, automatic machine – they are the most important stages in the development of technics” (pp. 26 – 27).
So, all technical means are divided into three forms: the instruments of manual labour, machines and automatic machines. All technical means can be reduced to these three forms. But let’s take as an example a plough, which is operated by oxen or by horse. What form of technics should we relate it to? To the manual instruments of labour? But plough is driven not by man’s hands, but by oxen or some other animals. A ploughman follows a plough, holds it and controls oxen and a plough. Perhaps the plough should be related to mechanical machinery? But then the beginning of the second “historical stage in the development of technics” should be moved from XVIII century, as Volkov refers it to, to the depths of the past. On the basis of what objective criterion can different stages in the development of machinery be distinguished?
“Objective criterion, which makes possible to draw the bounds of automation as a new historical stage in the development of machinery, the same way as in case of definition of machine stage (or a stage of mechanization), can be understood from dialectics of thing and personal elements. If mechanization begins with the transfer of the main physical labour function to machinery, then automation takes place from the moment when the main “mental” functions of engineering process are embodied in machinery. It becomes possible when follow-up devices, controllers, programming cybernetic control devices appear in production. But it is quite obvious that not each transfer of labour function from man to technics can be an objective criterion of historical stages in its development. The transfer of the function of the source of motion (moving force) to steam engine resulted only in further technical development and improvement of the very machines, which replaced the function of artisan – handling task tools. During the transition to automation the situation is still more complicated, since here a number of different labour functions is embodied in machinery: monitoring, supervision, production process control, engineering system turning on and off, setting-up and repair, programming, etc.
A criterion of historical stages in the development of machinery is not just a transfer of a labour function from man to machinery, but such a transfer, which causes a radical change in technological mode of joining thing and personal elements of the labour process, i.e. in the technological mode of production” (pp. 30 – 31).
Thus, the transfer of the function of moving force from man to technics cannot be an objective criterion of historical stages in its development. In the example given by Volkov for confirmation of this thesis it seems convincing. But let’s take a plough as an example. What kind of technics should it be related to? To manual? But ploughman does not operate a task tool of the plough (ploughshare, mould-board, skim cutter), i.e. he does not perform the “main physical function”, which is the objective criterion of the historical stages in the development of technics. Assume that the plough belongs to manual machinery regardless of the fact that it is operated not by the man’s hand but by the animal. But what should we say if the same plough (or some other, more powerful, say, with five ploughshares) is operated during the ploughing of the field not by horses but by tractor? Will the plough then belong to manual technics again? But if so than all ploughs (plough trailers), by which the fields are cultivated nowadays with the help of power tractors, are instruments of manual labour. Moreover, the plough will remain the instrument of manual labour even after the automation of tillage.
This is obviously not the case - the plough cannot be related to the instruments of manual labour as it follows from Volkov’s theory. But can we relate a plough to mechanical machinery? And if we can, is it always so? If we can relate any plough to mechanical machinery, then, apparently, a wooden plough (and a harrow) can be related to machines as well, that primitive wooden plough, which was widespread about 6 – 5 thousand years ago. Evidently, it cannot be done. And it means that plough, wooden plough and harrow, which are operated by draught force of the animals, belong neither to manual nor to mechanical technics. Hence we can draw a conclusion that Volkov’s division of the development of technics into three historical stages – instruments of manual labour, machines and automatic machines – is erroneous.
“A technological mode of joining thing and personal elements of the labour process undergoes in manufactory a change, which is clearly expressed for the first time. In the whole preceding history, the aggregate working mechanism was formed by man and his instruments of labour” (p. 32). It is in the last words of this expression that the root of Volkov’s erroneous thesis lies. From “the whole preceding history” a period of several thousand years, when “the aggregate working mechanism” was formed not by two elements – a man and his instrument, but by three: a man, his instrument and animal, which drives his instrument of labour, can be singled out.
But let’s return to Volkov’s theory. “Thus, proceeding from the criterion, which we accepted, a new historical stage is a period from the origin of the simplest instruments of labour to their conversion into machines” (it is not true as we have just seen). “In the history of advanced countries, this stage embraces primitive communal, slave-holding and feudal systems. All this centuries-old space is characterized by a single “subject” technological mode of production, a working mechanism is of personal-thing type here.”
As we have seen above, “an aggregate working mechanism” in farming with the use of a plough and animals essentially differs from “an aggregate working mechanism” of an artisan with his instrument of labour, that is why if one of them is “personal-thing”, the other should be named in a different way. The situation with a “subject” technological mode of production is the same.
“The labour everywhere (if the first forerunners of machines in the form of water- and windmill, pumps and some other comparatively complex devices, which did not determine at that time the technical basis of the society, are not taken into account) remains manual” (p. 39).
It is not true. If the labour of artisan or farmer, who cultivates the land with a mattock or a spade, can be called manual, then the labour of ploughman, who cultivates the land using a plough (wooden plough) and a horse (oxen), cannot be called manual.
“Transition to the second stage – the stage of mechanization in the development of technics was, as we have seen, prepared by specialization of the instrument in manufactory. “Live mechanism” (worker) of production is a forerunner of machine mechanism here. This second stage begins when the main labour function of “live mechanism” – control of partial instruments – is transferred to machine. The working mechanism turns from personal-thing to thing-personal one. A technological mode of production becomes “object” and the labour for the first time comes out as mechanised work.
Finally, the third historical stage is caused by automation. It means that working mechanism becomes completely technical, a mode of joining of a man and machinery – “free”, and the labour itself – automated” (pp. 39 – 40).
So, according to the Volkov’s theory, in the development of machinery, along with the revolutions, which take place rather often in different sections, branches of production, two revolutions, which cause radical change in the whole technics, replace one form (mode) of technics with the other, take place.
As we have already mentioned above, along with technological revolutions in the development of the society’s productive forces, Volkov admits the existence of industrial revolutions, moreover, the second industrial revolution takes place in the world nowadays. What are these industrial revolutions and what is their essence?
“The same criterion – a revolution in technological mode of joining personal and thing subjects of production – is actual also for the industrial revolution, for it marks by itself the beginning of a new historical stage in technological expansion.
The fact that the industrial revolution means a radical change in interrelation between man and machinery has far-reaching consequences, which are beyond the scope of machinery and even the scope of material production. This fact causes changes in the character of labour (it turns from manual into mechanized work), in social structure of the society (a former artisan and a former peasant turn into machine workers), in correlation between the branches of economy (farming gives up a leading hand to industry), and, finally, in politics, economic sphere (predominance of feudal relations gives place to that of capitalism)”.
“Thus, the industrial revolution is the revolution, which is caused by radical change in technological mode of production, i.e. in the mode of joining man and machinery, and which thereby brings about the changes in the whole production, in economic and social institutions of the society” (pp. 138 – 139).
So, the starting point and criterion for industrial revolutions is the same phenomenon – a revolution in technological mode of joining the thing and personal elements of production. Both industrial and technical (two) revolutions mark by themselves the beginning of new historical stage in technological expansion, they begin when one form of machinery is superseded from social production by another form. Hence, they proceed simultaneously, in parallel, not consecutively as it occurs in the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, where technical revolutions develop into production revolutions, the latter are a kind of sequel of the former. But there is a great difference between technical and industrial revolutions in the Volkov’s theory; they cannot be identified. Technical revolutions are the revolutions in technological expansion, industrial revolutions in their turn are the revolutions in the whole production, in economic and social institutions of the society.
Let’s proceed to consideration of the modern “second industrial revolution”, which, according to the Volkov’s theory, nowadays takes place all over the world (along with the modern scientific and technological revolution).
“The question arises: is it legitimate to speak about the beginning of the second industrial revolution? Yes, we think it is. If the first industrial revolution was caused by the stage of mechanization in technics, then the second industrial revolution is caused by the stage of automation. Automation, as we have seen, in its turn means a new fundamental change in the mode of joining man and machinery in production process.
This change as well as the change, which occurred at the stage of mechanization in its time, determines the changes in the nature of labour, in social structure of the society, in correlation between the branches of national economy, and, finally, in social sphere. The most characteristic features of the second industrial revolution, which begins now, as is clear from preceding statement, lie in the following.
“First, the production of material values has a tendency to develop into a fully computer-aided manufacturing on a scale of the whole society” (production automation, almost all the researchers of scientific and technological revolution agree with that, is one of the most characteristic features of the modern scientific and technological revolution). “Whereas the first industrial revolution meant the appearance of industry, its formation, the second industrial revolution means the completion of the process of the creation of industry”.
“Second, if the first industrial revolution began in some developed European countries and had a local character, then the second industrial revolution tends to spread all over the world”.
“Third, the modern industrial revolution leads to essential structural shifts in the interrelations of different fields of social activity. At the expense of material production, where a need for manpower will keep decreasing, the role of scientific production increases – both in quantitative and qualitative respects. Scientific production tends to take up the dominant position with respect to direct production of material values.
Therefore, science is the helmsman of the modern industrial revolution.
Finally, the fourth, the most essential feature, which characterizes modern industrial revolution, concerns social consequences. It is well known that the first industrial revolution resulted in consolidation of the most developed form of relations of exploitation … the modern industrial revolution, which takes place in countries of the world socialist system, leads to reduction of working hours, improvement of working conditions, change of its nature to a more creative and free one, it leads to elimination of the contrast between city and village, mental and physical labour” (pp. 139 – 141).
“The fundamental difference of this revolution in capitalist countries from its nature in the countries of socialism lies in the fact that under conditions of private property on means of production it leads not to consolidation and development of existing relations but to their breaking” (p. 142).
Thus, the most characteristic features of the second industrial revolution in Volkov’s theory are: automation of all production, transformation of science (scientific production) into the key branch of social production, global nature of this revolution, change of the nature of labour, consolidation of socialist system and undermining and breaking the capitalist system.
But the first four characteristic features, which Volkov ascribes to this so-called second industrial revolution, entirely belong to the scientific and technological revolution. If the scientific and technological revolution is “deprived” of these most characteristic features then it will not remain such. That is why the division of modern revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces into two independent revolutions – technical and industrial (production) ones is inexpedient. Moreover, it is artificial, farfetched and does not reflect the objective development of modern society and its productive forces. At present, only one revolution – the scientific and technological one, not two: technical and industrial (or production revolution), takes place.
“The definition that we gave to industrial revolution makes it possible to draw a clear distinction between it and technical revolution. It means that the terms “technical” (or “scientific and technological”) and “industrial” are not identical even in case, when processes in question go on simultaneously. For example, we speak about the modern scientific and technological revolution when we consider changes in sphere of productive forces, about the second industrial revolution – when we characterize the whole society in respect to these changes” (p. 147).
One of the most radical changes in sphere of the very productive forces nowadays is automation of production. Hence, automation of production belongs to the matter of scientific and technological revolution; Volkov, meanwhile, refers it to the most characteristic features of the second industrial revolution. Volkov’s theory has an explicit contradiction here.
“We speak about modern scientific and technological revolution when different trends of technological and scientific progress are being analysed: peaceful use of nuclear energy, chemicalization, biologization of production. Speaking about industrial revolution of XX century, we mean mainly automation (and its social consequences), which is understood not as just one of possible trends in technological progress, but as a development of general technological structure of production in the future. It is automation, that the changes in the system “man – machinery”, which are the starting point of modern industrial revolution, are mainly connected with” (p. 146).
The last words can be entirely related to the scientific and technological revolution: it is automation that the changes in the society’s productive forces, which are the starting point of modern scientific and technological revolution, are mainly connected with.
Volkov’s theory of the development of the society’s productive forces bears some similarity to the theory of the development of the society’s productive forces of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, but it has a difference as well and the latter is even more significant than similarity.
The similarity lies in the fact that in both theories each revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces consists of two isolated revolutions. In Volkov’s theory they are technical and industrial revolutions. In the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” they are technical and production revolutions.
The difference of these theories lies in the following:
1. Volkov counts only two technical and two industrial revolutions in the development of the society’s productive forces; the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” – five technical and five production revolutions.
2. In Volkov’s theory, technical revolutions develop simultaneously with industrial ones; in the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, technical and production revolutions develop consecutively: the former gradually develop into the latter, production revolutions are a kind of sequel of technical revolutions.
3. According to Volkov’s theory, the modern scientific and technological and the second industrial revolutions are carried out in both socialist and capitalist countries; according to the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, if scientific and technological revolution is carried out both in socialist and capitalist countries, then the fifth production revolution can take place in socialist countries and cannot - in capitalist ones.
Volkov’s theory of the development of the society’s productive forces, as well as the theory of the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution”, together with its merits, has a number of essential drawbacks and erroneous theses.
First, Volkov finds two types of revolutions in the development of productive forces: technical and industrial. In fact, there’s only one type of revolutions in the development of productive forces. If we speak only about revolutions considered in Volkov’s theory, they are industrial-technological and scientific and technological revolutions.
Second, in Volkov’s theory, the revolutions in the development of the society’s productive forces and revolutions in the development of social relations (social revolutions) are not interconnected, so, for example, the social slave-owning revolution has no “its own” revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces unlike bourgeois and socialist social revolution.
Third, Volkov during his study of technics, its forms (and modes) and its historical development did not consider draught technics, i.e. mechanical means, driven by muscular energy of animals.
Fourth, in Volkov’s theory, apart from technical revolutions, which divide the periods of historical development of machinery indicated by him, the presence of technical revolutions of the second, lower grade, different from the first, is admitted. If the first divide the periods of technological expansion, then these “minor” technological revolutions take place in the framework of the periods of technological expansion. “They happen with any more or less outstanding discovery that has technical application” (p. 29). But it is generally accepted to denote different phenomena in different ways not to cause confusion.
Together with the theories of the development of the society’s productive forces of Volkov and the authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” there are other theories, some of them are rather original. The latter include the conception by S. Lilly, which he developed in his book “People, machines and history” (7).
Like Volkov, S. Lilly has two technological revolutions in the theory of the development of the society’s productive forces, but they are absolutely different from Volkov’s technical revolutions. Let’s see what they represent.
“If we consider the history of machinery from the point of view, say, of a guest from some remote planet, which has such a high civilization that he gazes at our aspirations with indifference of a biologist, studying lower forms of life, then it will become clear that the history of mankind has experienced two main technical revolutions.”
In annotation to this phrase, Lilly adds: “But for preceding events that marked the beginning of the whole technological expansion – making instruments of labour and taming of fire – that can be undoubtedly called the greatest technical revolution in the history of mankind.”
Then he continues: “The first revolution started with transition to agriculture, which later on required metals, a plough, a sailing ship and everything else; then it developed into the form of such large-scale works like the erection of irrigation systems and building cities. This revolution ended about 2500 years B.C. The second revolution started unnoticed in the Middle Ages and since then picks up speed and its scope is steadily growing. It seems still to be at the very early stage of its development and has to go much more than it has already passed. The changes that took place between these two revolutions during 3 thousand years will seem quite insignificant to our extraterrestrial historian. He would focus his attention only on these two revolutions” (7 - 408).
Lilly connects these two technical revolutions with two largest transformations of the society. The consequence of the first technical revolution was society’s transition from classless to class system, the consequence of the second technical revolution, which, as the author thinks, is at the initial stage of its development, is reverse transition of the society from class to classless form on a world-historical scale which is at the initial stage of its development as well.
This conception of the development of productive forces, notwithstanding its originality and magnetism, cannot be acceptable for us.
A.Chemaris points at four revolutions in the development of the society’s productive forces.
“One can see several “technological” revolutions in the history of mankind: separation of crop farming from cattle breeding, separation of craft labour, which is free from land property, replacement of manual labour with machine production and its transformation into fully computer-aided and cybernated manufacturing, which has started now” (8 – 40).
For each social revolution, Chemaris apparently “finds” a “technological” revolution that conforms to it. The author of this conception probably connects the first technological revolution (separation of crop farming from cattle breeding) with a social revolution during society’s transition from primitive communal to slave-holding system. The second technological revolution (separation of craft labour, which is free from land property) is connected with a social revolution during society’s transition from slave-holding to feudal system, etc.
However, this interrelation is arbitrary and groundless. The second “technological” revolution seems to be especially poor. And it is clear, as there’s no such in real development of the society. It is quite wrong to call the separation of craft labour, which is free from land property, a revolution in the development of productive forces.
The authors of “The Modern Scientific and Technological Revolution” (9) recognize three technical revolutions in the development of productive forces (technics).
“Consecutive transfer of the main technological functions from man to technical means marks the main technical revolutions connected with the creation of machine tools, engines, automatic machines.
Actually, if we consider human production activity in “pre-machine” period when manual labour prevailed, it can be reduced to three main functions: executive (mainly by means of hands), motive (muscular power), administrative (by means of mental process).
The essence of the development of mechanical machinery is that these functions are consecutively, one by one, transferred from man to machines. The beginning of industrial revolution in XVII century was connected with manufacturing application of different machines, which assumed the executive function. The first machine tool – a weaving loom – was invented in England in 1733. The creation and application of machine tools was the first revolution in mechanical machinery. It made possible a simple mechanization of production. These machines were driven by water, animals and mainly – by man.
A new shift in the progress of mechanical machinery – the second revolution – is connected with the appearance of J. Watt’s steam engine in 1784. Steam engine and then other engines took the second technological function – the motive one – from man. It enabled to develop the complex mechanization of production. In highly mechanized manufacturing process, man retained only an administrative function.
The middle of XX century marked the creation of different types of automatic devices to which man transfers functions of machine and manufacturing process control. It is the third revolution in the development of mechanical machinery” (9 – 19, 20).
According to this point of view, two technical revolutions took place in XVIII century; the third revolution began in the middle of XX century and is going on now. They refer all technics, which existed up to XVIII century to manual instruments including such a mechanical instrument as a plough driven by animals, and we by no means can agree with it. Besides, reducing the essence of the revolution in the development of the society’s productive forces to transfer of “technological” functions from man to technics only is utterly insufficient, indeterminate criterion. This point of view (about three revolutions in technological expansion) is erroneous.
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