What are the means of production?

We explain what the means of production are and what types exist. In addition, the capitalist and socialist vision of the means of production.

  1. What are the means of production?

The means of production are economic resources, also called physical capital , which allows to carry out some work of a productive nature, such as the manufacture of an article of consumption , or the provision of a service.

This term involves not only money, but also natural resources (raw material), energy (electricity, usually), transport networks, machinery, tools, factories and everything necessary to keep the production circuit going. It should not be confused with the modes of production , which are the specific ways in which a society organizes its economic activities.

The means of production can be classified according to their participation in the production process, in two types:

  • Means of direct participation . They carry out the production per se, thanks to the efforts of the workers (workers, workers, etc.), the tools and the production material.
  • Means of indirect participation . Those that are not directly linked to production, but that are indispensable for it to be carried out successfully, such as raw and processed material stores, transport networks, general services, etc.
  1. Means of production in Marxism

According to the philosophical and political doctrine created by Carlos Marx, modern society is controlled by that social class that controls and owns the means of production. That would be, according to Marxism , the reason that the bourgeoisie emerged from the Middle Ages to become the new ruling class, taking advantage of the work of the working class (proletariat), dispossessed and whose only offer is its ability to work.

Thus, the transformation of capitalism to communism proposed by Marx would occur once the workers were, precisely, those who controlled the means of production instead of the bourgeoisie that exploited them. This was referred to as the “Dictatorship of the proletariat.”

  1. Means of capitalist production

Means of production
The bourgeoisie can exploit the working class that offers its workforce.

According to Marxist theory, capitalism as a system is based on the appropriation by the bourgeoisie ( private property ) of the means of production : factories, machinery, tools, means of transport and large investment capitals . By owning the job itself, so to speak, they can exploit the working class that offers its workforce .

Said exploitation of man by man consists in the commercialization of the products and services elaborated by the labor force, obtaining benefits that allow not only to keep the machinery going (reinvestment), which includes paying the proletarians a salary per hour worked , but also obtain economic surpluses (surplus value) that serves to maintain your privileged lifestyle.

Thus, according to Marx, capitalism would be a great machinery for the exploitation of the work of others in exchange for a salary (money) that must be used to consume the products and services offered, in turn, by other workers exploited in turn by another segment of the bourgeoisie.

  1. Means of socialist production

In the socialist system, at least theoretically, since it has never been able to make it operate satisfactorily , the means of production are controlled by the workers themselves who carry out the production, without bourgeoisie parasitizing the surplus value generated.

Instead of receiving a salary nothing more, in the socialist system workers receive part of the production achieved , since there are no private owners of the means of production, but belong to everyone. In practice, this means that the means of production are managed by the State and its production aimed at satisfying the specific needs of the population , instead of filling a consumer market for profit.

In this system there would be no surplus value , since surplus production would go to the workers themselves and the need for capital in the organized society could be suppressed.

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