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The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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My paper “The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value”, co-authored with Rodrigo Teixeira, was published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics. Here you can find the abstract and the link to the paper.

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The Autonomisation of Abstract Wealth: New Insights on the Labour Theory of Value

We theorise the forms of value in the Marxist system in a way that challenges the dominant tradition. The standard procedure has been to read Marx’s Capital as an analysis that begins at a high level of abstraction and moves towards more concrete concepts. Our alternative approach posits that the forms of value in the Marxist system evolve from more concrete towards more abstract forms of wealth that increasingly separate from and obscure labour exploitation. Our procedure therefore replaces the dominant interpretation of ‘successive approximations’ employed by most scholars. We develop a broader account of Marx’s project alongside textual evidence retrieved from many of his writings. We also provide a new way to incorporate the monetary, financial and rentier forms of wealth into Marx’s labour value theory. The proposed alternative approach can potentially open a research agenda on the contemporaneous dynamics of abstract and concrete forms of wealth in advanced capitalism.

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Key words: Marx, Capital, Abstract wealth, Autonomization, Labor theory of value
JEL classifications: B51, B14, B24

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Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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My paper “Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework” was published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics via advance access. Here you can find the paper, the appendix to the paper, and also all the data series that I computed for this piece of work.

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Unproductive Accumulation in the United States: A New Analytical Framework

In this paper I offer an innovative analysis of unproductive accumulation in the United States economy from 1947 to 2011. I develop a new theoretical and empirical framework to analyze the accumulation of capital in its productive and unproductive forms. I also develop a methodology to compute Marxist categories predicated on the idea that the production of knowledge and information is an unproductive activity that relies on the creation of knowledge-rents. In particular, I provide new empirical estimates to uncover the shifting balance between productive and unproductive forms of accumulation. The accumulation pattern observed during the 1947-1979 phase that prioritized productive accumulation gave way after the 1980s to a contrasting pattern prioritizing unproductive accumulation. Unproductive activity has been growing at a fast pace in terms of incomes, fixed assets, and employment. Among all forms of unproductive activity, my approach places special attention on how the production of knowledge and information has constituted a rising share of total unproductive income and capital stock. Additionally, productive stagnation and rapid unproductive accumulation have been related to greater exploitation of productive workers and to widening income inequality.

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Key-words: Unproductive Activity, Capital Accumulation, Exploitation, Inequality, Stagnation

JEL Codes: B51; E01; O34

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Unproductive Accumulation in the USA: Lecture Slides

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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On March 21st 2018 I gave a lecture titled “Unproductive Accumulation in the USA” at King’s College London (KCL). This lecture was part of the Seminars in Contemporary Marxist Theory that takes place monthly at KCL.

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The slides of my lecture can be found here:

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https://marx21.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/tomasrotta-unproductive-accumulation-in-the-usa-21march2018.pdf

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More information on KCL’s Seminars in Contemporary Marxist Theory here:

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https://www.kcl.ac.uk/marxist-theory-seminar/cmt.aspx

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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information: Lecture Slides

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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On May 17th 2018 I gave a lecture on “The Commodification of Knowledge and Information” at the University of Greenwich in London. This lecture was part of the “Lecture Series in Selected Topics in Post-Keynesian, Institutionalist, Feminist and Marxian political economy” organized by the Greenwich Political Economy Research Center (GPERC).
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The slides of my lecture can be found here:
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https://marx21.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/tomasrotta-the-commodification-of-knowledge-and-information-17may2018.pdf
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More information on our Lecture Series can be found here:
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http://www.gre.ac.uk/business/research/centres/gperc/news/events/lecture-series
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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information: New Working Paper Version

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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The the new version of my GPERC working paper with Rodrigo Teixeira is now online.

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The Commodification of Knowledge and Information

In this chapter we present an analysis of the commodification of knowledge and information in contemporary capitalism. We provide a consistent account of how information as a commodity effects the workings of both capitalism and of Marxist theory. The first part of the chapter critically revisits Marx’s own writings on the commodification of knowledge and how the immaterial labor hypothesis initially interpreted these writings. Based on the new categories knowledge-commodity and knowledge-rent, we then present our own approach in response to the challenges raised by the immaterial labor hypothesis. Lastly, we analyze the more recent contributions on the commodification of knowledge and information within the Marxist literature. The current debate on the value of knowledge has been divided between two camps: the reproduction cost approach, and the average cost approach. At the end of the chapter we present empirical estimates of the magnitudes of knowledge-rents.

Key-words: knowledge-commodities, knowledge-rents, value theory, Marx, immaterial labor

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You Pay to Work, and Why it Matters

23 May, 2018 Leave a comment

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Workers pay to work. Even though we receive wages and benefits, many of us have to pay to work. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have a job in the first place. If we didn’t, companies wouldn’t accumulate any profit. Profits are actually derived from what we as workers pay to work.  This was one of Marx’s greatest discoveries about capitalism.

Marx himself never used the term ‘pay to work’. Instead, he used the term exploitation. Today, unfortunately, exploitation has acquired a meaning that is not in accordance with Marx’s theory of class struggle. Generally we use exploitation to refer to poor working conditions, but Marx was clear that exploitation should not be defined in these terms. For Marx, exploitation exists whenever those who produce wealth do not appropriate it.  You and your coworkers produce together all the wealth for the company but you only get back a fraction of this wealth when you receive your wage. The other share that you created but for which you receive no compensation is what you pay to work.

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Sob Vinte Centavos

12 September, 2013 Leave a comment

Sob Vinte Centavos retrata de forma crítica as manifestações ocorridas em junho de 2013 em São Paulo que culminaram com a revogação do aumento de vinte centavos da tarifa de ônibus. O  documentário conta com entrevistas de diversos manifestantes, membros do Movimento Passe Livre (MPL), Lúcio Gregori (ex-secretário de transportes de São Paulo), Marilena Chauí (filósofa e professora da USP), Marcelo Feller (jurista), e diversas outras pessoas.  Disponível na íntegra com legendas em inglês e espanhol, Sob Vinte Centavos foi produzido de maneira totalmente independente por Gustavo Canzian e Marco Guasti, membros do Movimento Urbano de Diálogo Audiovisual (MUDA).

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