With the rise of modern industry, Marx wrote, the “varied, apparently
unconnected, and petrified forms of the industrial processes now resolved
themselves into so many conscious and systematic applications of natural
science to the attainment of given useful effects.” But, like many
of Marx’s most illuminating observations, this was in his own day more
an anticipatory and prophetic insight than a description of reality.
The age of “conscious and systematic applications of natural science” had
barely announced its arrival when these words were published in 1867.
The last two decades of the nineteenth form a watershed marking so great
a change in the role of science in production that the contrast --despite
similarities which connect both periods of capitalism--can hardly be exaggerated