chapter  4
Dialectical Engines
Pages 31

Nick Mamatas’s “Arbeitskraft” depicts Friedrich Engels’s attempt to repurpose Babbage’s Difference Engine into a Dialectical Engine that computationally writes the fth volume of Karl Marx’s Capital. Drawing upon a corpus including Marx’s correspondence with Engels along with Marx’s other writings, the Dialectical Engine creates stylistic predictions of what Marx would have written had he lived to complete the fth volume. The text of Capital Volume 5 includes a description of a socialist world where the “technological prowess” of the bourgeoisie is turned against them in the form of steam-workers who no longer need food, shelter, or any other commodities. The minds of the working class would be “stitched up,” or fed into the dialectical engine. Engels continues his description of the text from the Dialectical Engine, “[w]ithout a proletariat to exploit — the class as a whole having taken leave of the realm of esh and blood to reconstitute itself as information within the singular Dialectical Engine Omega — the bourgeoisie would fall into ruin and helplessness, leaving the working class whole and unmolested in perpetuity.” The Dialectical Engine even predicts that the collective mind of the working class will launch into space “to explore the rmament and other worlds that may orbit other stars” (115).