Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 12, No 1 (2016)

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3D Printers, the Third Industrial Revolution and the Demise of Capitalism

Ciaran Tully


Recently some authors have discussed the idea that capitalism is nearing its end and will be replaced by a post-capitalist society through the forces created by new technologies. This paper will specifically address 3D printers, which have the potential to change the way manufacturing occurs. This paper will argue that such deterministic arguments, which mirror ideas present at the beginning of the twentieth century, are incorrect in their predictions that they will overthrow capitalism, and are corrosive to radical political action because of the fatalism they engender. It will argue that these notions do not hold up to scrutiny in purely economic focused terms (in an economic analysis based primarily on the economics of Karl Marx’s Capital), but also are faulty when one acknowledges and analyses the problem from a more complex view of society as argued in Arran Gare’s formulation of Hegel’s three dialectics within society, and Gramsci’s formulation of Ideological Hegemony and the dialectic of consent and domination.

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