Marx and the Moral Depreciation of Technology.

Forskningsoutput: Kapitel i bok/rapport/Conference proceedingKapitel samlingsverk


For Marx, technologies are either tools or machines and both are physical things. He was interested in the study of their intrinsic labor value in the capitalist production process. He recognizes that the life of a machine depends first on two physical factors: 1) erosion by use and 2) corrosion by abandonment: However, Marx recognizes also a third “moral” factor that depreciates the productivity of a machine. “[…] in addition to the material deterioration, a machine also undergoes what we may call a moral depreciation. It loses exchange-value, either by machines of the same sort being produced cheaper than it, or by better machines entering into competition with it.” We discover in Marx account of the theory of labor some inconsequence; Marx acknowledges the transference of physical energy and matter from the technological device to the product, which is clearly wrong. From the point of view of the 21th Century, is easy to conclude that the problem with Marx’ view is that it is too narrow and that the only essential depreciation of value which is interesting for a theory of labor value is that of “moral depreciation”. Consider for instance the technology of a computer program; because it is not a physical thing, it will not erode or corrode; at the other hand, it would be its “moral life” the only intrinsic factor that decides its value. Considering only the moral depreciation of value, the productiveness of e.g. a computer program, depends on the time it is irreplaceable. In my terms, during that time it is a “whole technology” otherwise it would be a “broken technology”. To have full value, the computer program must be unique in the market. In other words, the condensed work power that it contents, depreciates as soon as a contender program works better (meaning “better” that it does the same work in a shorter time). Because we know that physical energy cannot be transmitted into the product, the question is if it is some transference of value, and in that case, which kind of value is it and how is it transferred. My conclusion is that the intrinsic labor value of any device (commodity) is the information which it is an expression of.


  • Fernando Flores
Enheter & grupper

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Idé- och lärdomshistoria


Titel på värdpublikation[Host publication title missing]
StatusPublished - 2013
Peer review utfördNej