Public Policy and the Public Good

By Ethan Fishman | Go to book overview

10
Marx and the Computer

Victor Ferkiss

Karl Marx died in 1887. The first computer was invented, in principle, by the British mathematician and factory owner Charles Babbage in the late nineteenth century, but was never constructed in his lifetime because the technology was not yet available. It was not until after World War II that developments in electronics made the modern computer possible; and not until the 1980s that it began to dominate the industrial world to the extent that it now does. Given these facts, what light could the ideas of Marx possibly shed on the public policy problems generated by the computer?

Actually, an examination of the teachings of Marx and his followers and of the real circumstances of modern society can tell us a great deal about the nature of our current social problems. This is not to assert that contemporary Marxists are correct in their frequent claims that in Marx's writings--correctly and sometimes ingeniously interpreted--can be found the answers to all of our questions about present-day economic structures and future possibilities. But we can learn much about where we are and where we may be going by taking their claims seriously.

To examine the problem of Marx and the computer we must address several related questions. The first question is theoretical. What did Marx actually hold about machinery--and the computer, although it has few if any moving parts, must be considered a machine for our purposes--and its relation to capitalism and the nature of labor? The other questions are empirical and flow logically from the first. Is the computer, as some claim,

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Public Policy and the Public Good
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1: The Rabbi and the Fig Tree: A Lesson for the Supreme Court on Capital Punishment 1
  • References 12
  • 2 - Plato and the Media 15
  • References 27
  • 3 - The Tide Just Keeps Rising: An Aristotelian Perspective on the Crisis in American Education 29
  • References 44
  • 4 - Aquinas, Prudence, and Health Care Policy 47
  • Notes 60
  • Notes 61
  • 5: Martin Luther on Political Leadership 63
  • References 78
  • 6 - A Hobbesian Analysis of the Dangers of Interest-Group Liberalism 81
  • Notes 95
  • 7 - Native Peoples and Lockean Philosophy: Land Claims and Self-Government 97
  • References 109
  • 8: The Republican Tradition and Affirmative Action 111
  • References 125
  • 9 - Surrogate Motherhood: Contract, Gender, and Liberal Politics 127
  • Notes 141
  • References 141
  • 10 - Marx and the Computer 143
  • References 153
  • Selected Bibliography 157
  • Index 161
  • About the Contributors 165
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