From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 08:53:19 EST
Hi All, The following passages from Plekhanov's *The Development of the Monist View of History* (Chapter V) reminded me of our debates on Marx's conception of labour. I wish you all some enjoybale days with your families and friends and a happy new year. Dogan "Franklin called man “a tool-making animal.” The use and production of tools in fact does constitute the distinguishing feature of man. Darwin contests the opinion that only man is capable of the use of tools, and gives many examples which show that in an embryonic form their use is characteristic for many mammals. And he naturally is quite right from his point of view, i.e., in the sense that in that notorious “human nature” there is not a single feature which is not to be found in some other variety of animal, and that therefore there is absolutely no foundation for considering man to be some special being and separating him off into a special “kingdom.” But it must not be forgotten that quantitative differences pass into qualitative. What exists as an embryo in one species of animal can become the distinguishing feature of another species of animal. This particularly applies to the use of tools. An elephant breaks off branches and uses them to brush away flies. This is interesting and instructive. But in the history of the evolution of the species “ elephant” the use of branches in the fight against flies probably played no essential part; elephants did not become elephants because their more or less elephant-like ancestors brushed off flies with branches. It is quite otherwise with man. __ (http://www.marx.org/archive/plekhanov/1895/monist/ch05.htm#n8) The whole existence of the Australian savage depends on his boomerang, just as the whole existence of modern Britain depends on her machines. Take away from the Australian his boomerang, make him a tiller of the soil, and he of necessity will change all his mode of life, all his habits, all his manner of thinking, all his “nature.” We have said: make him a tiller of the soil. From the example of agriculture it can clearly be seen that the process of the productive action of man on nature presupposes not only the implements of labour. The implements of labour constitute only part of the means necessary for production. Therefore it will be more exact to speak, not of the development of the implements of labour, but more generally of the development of the means of production, the productive forces – although it is quite certain that the most important part in this development belongs, or at least belonged tip to the present day (until important chemical industries appeared) precisely to the implements of labour. In the implements of labour man acquires new organs, as it were, which change his anatomical structure. From the time that he rose to the level of using them, he has given quite a new aspect to the history of his development. Previously, as with all the other animals, it amounted to changes in his natural organs. Since that time it has become first of all the history of the perfecting of his artificial organs, the growth of his productive forces. Man – the tool-making animal – is at the same time a social animal, originating in ancestors who for many generations lived in more or less large herds. For us it is not important at this point why our ancestors began to live in herds-the zoologists have to ascertain, and are ascertaining, this-but from the point of view of the philosophy of history it is extremely important to note that from the time the artificial organs of man began to play a decisive part in his existence, his social life itself began to change, in accordance with the course of development of his productive forces. “In production, men not only act on nature but also on one another. They produce only by co-operating in a certain way and mutually exchanging their activities. In order to produce, they enter into definite connections and relations with one another and only within these social connections and relations does their action on nature, does production, take place.” __ (http://www.marx.org/archive/plekhanov/1895/monist/ch05.htm#n9) The artificial organs, the implements of labour, thus turn out to be organs not so much of individual as of social man. That is why every essential change in them brings about changes in the social structure. “These social relations into which the producers. enter with one another, the conditions under which they ex-change their activities and participate in the whole act of production, will naturally vary according to the character of the means of production. With the invention of a new instrument of warfare, fire-arms, the whole internal organization of the army necessarily changed; the relationships within which individuals can constitute an army and act as an army were transformed and the relations of different armies to one another also changed. Thus the social relations within which individuals produce, the social relations of production, change, are transformed, with the change and development of the material means of production, the productive forces. The relations of production in their totality constitute what are called the social relations, society, and, specifically, a society at a definite stage of historical development, a society with a peculiar, distinctive character. Ancient society, feudal society, bourgeois society are such totalities of production relations, each of which at the same time denotes a special stage of development, in the history of mankind.” __ (http://www.marx.org/archive/plekhanov/1895/monist/ch05.htm#n10) It is hardly necessary to add that the earlier stages of human development represent also no less distinct totalities of production relations. It is equally unnecessary to repeat that, at these earlier stages too, the state of the productive forces had a decisive influence on the social relations of men."
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