In The Communist Manifesto, page 331 of the 2002/2014 Penguin Edition, Marx and Engels write;

"The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endangering the existence of bourgeois property."

Is/are there significant example(s) in history of the productive forces becoming too powerful for the conditions of bourgeois property? I am particularly interested in those examples which may have occurred after the death of the authors.

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    Every successful socialist revolution was an example, on the Marxist interpretation, Russian one, Chinese one, ones in the former Warsaw block. Of course, the Marxist interpretation is very much disputable. – Conifold Nov 19 '19 at 0:24
  • sounds like a homework question. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 19 '19 at 4:45
  • It's not a homework question. I'm struggling to understand the concept a bit, and am trying to find concrete economic examples of this phenomenon. For example, would stock market crashes, like 2008, or the Great Depression count? Or does it necessarily have to lead to revolution? – october Nov 19 '19 at 22:07
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    It is very difficult to get a revolution. If you keep studying Marxism you will see this problem discussed. You can listen to the YouTube videos of Richard D. Wolff for more modern examples of what you are speaking of. Michael Harrington wrote an interesting book some years ago. “The Twilight of Capitalism”. The paperback used bad glue so you will be lucky if you can still find it in a library but the book is valuable for its assessment of Marx as an economist. – Gordon Nov 20 '19 at 14:11
  • You may be able to find Harrington’s book in hardback in some libraries. – Gordon Nov 20 '19 at 14:14

The productive forces are not their legal / juridical representation.

A factory is not the shares in the holding company that claims to own that factory.

The productive forces are the objects of production and those social techniques unconnected to the specific relations of production: relations of property. For example, time and motion study is connected to sweating labour: it is a relation of production. Sorting mail faster by using shelving and ordered numbering doesn’t impose property relations. Both are forces of production, but time and motion is also a relation of production.

The forces of production in capitalism are amplified to a level of superfluity where one hour of labour can, by mechanisation and technique, satisfy tens, hundreds, thousands, billions (think software) hours of human subsistence. Capitalism relies on market scarcity to maintain price and price of labour as property relations. Under the stress of the superfluity of commodities these implode.

In concrete terms capitalism networks labour and increases its scope of command over the non thinking world. Labour is collectivised by the wage and factory producing networked collective subjects. In the London riots think about how rioters used blackberries with free or cheap messaging to organise mass theft. In Italy in the 1960s think about how the factory and supermarket concentrated workers and commodities. The concentrated workers raided and took the concentrated commodities for use.

These are historical examples, and non revolutionary, of how the expansion of productive forces (useful things and ways) have exceeded the productive relations (property law.)

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According to Aime Cesaire the catastrophe that engulfed the Europe and then the world in two world wars were more or less the outcome of the productive forces unleashed by raw capitalism. These two events, by any measure, 'did not further the conditions of the development of bourgeois property.'

That this is generally not recognised is due to the dynamics of capitalism itself. It takes the credit for everything, but catastrophes are generally somebody else's fault. Preferably those without voice or representation, or know how to use their voices and their representation. This is a piece with the dicta of capitalism - buy low and sell high.

Notably, Judge Jackson in the Nuremberg trials had already decided that they would not let capitalism off the hook in Nazi Germany when that decision was countermanded by the then government of the USA who were gearing up for a worldwide war on communism and were afraid of anything that might bring capitalism into disrepute. It seems they would rather bring justice into disrepute...

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