Productive forces of production are a social theoretical category that defines the living conditions of an entire population in a concrete historic moment, in relation to the material possibilities that are available. These possibilities depend on the level of scientific and technical development, i.e. the productivity (performance of labor). Therefore, the identification of the productive forces of production as productivity is completely erroneous, given that productivity is only a necessary condition for the development of productive forces but not a sufficient condition to reach the forces of production—.
Capitalism made possible an enormous development of the forces of production in its first historic period through primitive accumulation- ascendent capitalism- materialized in industrialization, urbanization, the great modes of transportation, and the creation of the working class. Of course, it was not nor could it had been an idyllic development nor could it had been so in the case of a classist society (it was based on the exploitation of labour and colonial pillaging, and the genocide of the indigenous populations of Africa, the Americas, etc.).
In capitalism’s highest and last historic stage- imperialism- since the start of the twentieth-century, there are more and more tensions related to the productive forces of production, as shown by crises and wars, until the point at which there are no new systematic developments of the forces of production under capitalism, but rather on the contrary, there is a growing systematization of capitalism’s destruction (particularly captured, in addition to wars and crises, in the devalorization of labour-power; also in the destruction of the natural environment).
The development of the productive forces of production is, in short, the control of nature by humanity materialized in the sustained betterment of the living conditions of the entire population. Therefore, the discourse around development and underdevelopment is about the development or lack of development of the productive forces of production.