Big Science, the Fragmenting of Work & the Left’s Curious Notion of Progress

Mitchel Cohen
Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The year 2004 marked the 30th anniversary of the publication of Harry Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital. Braverman’s book was and remains a seminal work analyzing from an independent Marxist perspective the fragmentation of the production process in modern capitalist society, its many effects on the workforce and the shaping of resistance movements.

I’ve been working on a series of essays that develop a Green critique of science and technology in which I extend Marx’s analysis, but remain very critical of the typical Marxist views about what constitutes “Progress,” “development,” “efficiency,” “scientific production,” and “the Good Life.” Instead of putting forth a vision of a new society based on an entirely different organization of production (i.e., no assembly-line, no factories, etc.), that version of Marxism has led adherents to support the strategy of one arm of the ruling class whose implementation of its “developmental” schema is largely responsible for the ecological disasters facing us today.

In this work, and in appreciation of Harry Braverman’s insights, I hope to journey into unexpected but productive directions that would help inform a Green as well as an emancipatory anarcho-Marxist perspective.