Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Means and Ends

I'm about fifty pages from the end of David F. Noble's Forces of Production (Knopf, 1984), and I keep finding great stuff to quote.  Like this:
It is a common confusion, especially on the part of those trained in or unduly influenced by formal economics (liberal and Marxist alike), that capitalism is a system of profit-motivated, efficient production.  This is not true, nor has it ever been.  If the drive to maximize profits, through private ownership and control over the process of production, has served historically as the primary means of capitalist development, it has never been the end of that development.  The goal has always been domination (and the power and privileges that go with it) and the preservation of domination.  There is little historical evidence to support the view that, in the final analysis, capitalists play by the rules of the economic game imagined by theorists.  There is ample evidence to suggest, on the other hand, that when the goals of profit-making and efficient production fail to coincide with the requirements of continued domination, capital will resort to more ancient means: legal, political, and, if need be, military.  Always, behind all the careful accounting, lies the threat of force [321].