Reading Marx in the Information Age: A Media and Communication Studies Perspective on Capital Volume 1

Fuchs, Christian. 2016. Reading Marx in the Information Age: A Media and Communication Studies Perspective on Capital Volume 1. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9781138948563 (paperback), ISBN 9781138948556 (hardback). 416 pages.

German translation: Fuchs, Christian. 2017. Marx lesen im Informationszeitalter. Eine medien- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Perspektive auf >Das Kapital. Band 1<. Münster: Unrast. ISBN 978-3-89771-227-0. 562 Seiten.

Related article:
Fuchs, Christian. 2017. Marx’s Capital in the Information Age. Capital & Class 41 (1): 51–67.  PDF
The article argues that we need a Marxist theory of communication and that dominant Marxist approaches lack an adequate understanding of and engagement with communication.

Review published in Marx & Philosophy Review of Book

Publisher’s book page

Renowned Marxist scholar and critical media theorist Christian Fuchs provides a thorough, chapter-by-chapter introduction to Capital Volume 1 that assists readers in making sense of Karl Marx’s most important and groundbreaking work in the information age, exploring Marx’s key concepts through the lens of media and communication studies via contemporary phenomena like the Internet, digital labour, social media, the media industries, and digital class struggles. Through a range of international, current-day examples, Fuchs emphasises the continued importance of Marx and his work in a time when transnational media companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook play an increasingly important role in global capitalism. Discussion questions and exercises at the end of each chapter help readers to further apply Marx’s work to a modern-day context.

“Christian Fuchs has emerged as one of this generation’s most prolific and important scholars in communication and media studies. Reading Marx in the Information Age is chock full of valuable insights and revelations on Karl Marx and communication, by focusing on Volume One of Capital. This book is mandatory reading for all scholars of the political economy of communication, as well as critical media scholars in general.”
—Robert W. McChesney, author of Blowing the Roof Off the 21st Century

The book is especially suited as accompanying literature for existing reading groups, new reading groups and individual readers of Marx’s “Capital”. It provides a general introduction for each chapter as well as connections to media and communications topics. The chapters can be read all together in combination with Marx’s book, but are also written in a way that they can be used in modules and reading groups as companions to single chapters in Marx’s “Capital”. At the end of each chapter, there are multiple exercises that allow readers a practical understanding of Marx.

The German translation will be published in 2017: Fuchs, Christian. 2017 (forthcoming). Marx lesen im Informationszeitalter: Eine medien- und kommunikationswissenschaftliche Perspektive auf „Das Kapital Band 1“. Münster: Unrast Verlag.

If you intend to create a Marx reading group or are in an existing group that intends to use this book and wants to focus on media and communications issues from a Marxian perspective , then I’d be happy to hear from you:

Watch a video interview, produced by Trent Lee, about the book..

Christian Fuchs is Professor at and Director of the University of Westminster’s Communication and Media Research Institute. He is author of Culture and Economy in the Age of Social Media (Routledge, 2015), Social Media: A Critical Introduction (Sage, 2014), OccupyMedia! The Occupy Movement and Social Media in Crisis Capitalism (Zero Books, 2014), Digital Labour and Karl Marx (Routledge, 2014), Foundations of Critical Media and Information Studies (Routledge, 2011), and Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age (Routledge, 2008). He edits the open access journal tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique.

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Table of Contents


Part I: Commodities and Money
1. Prefaces, Postfaces and Chapter 1: The Commodity
2. The Process of Exchange
3. Money, or the Circulation of Commodities

Part II: The Transformation of Money into Capital
4. The General Formula for Capital
5. Contradictions in the General Formula
6. The Sale and Purchase of Labour-Power

Part III: The Production of Absolute Surplus-Value
7. The Labour Process and the Valorization Process
8. Constant Capital and Variable Capital
9. The Rate of Surplus Value
10. The Working Day
11. The Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value

Part IV: The Production of Relative Surplus-Value
12. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value
13. Co-operation
14. The Division of Labour and Manufacture
15. Machinery and Large-Scale Industry

Part V: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value
16. Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value
17. Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-Power and in Surplus-Value
18. Different Formulae for the Rate of Surplus-Value

Part VI: Wages
19. The Transformation of Value (and Respectively the Price) of Labour-Power into Wages
20. Time-Wages
21. Piece-Wages
22. National Differences in Wages

Part VII: The Process of Accumulation of Capital
23. Simple Reproduction
24. The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital
25. The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

Part VIII: So-Called Primitive Accumulation
26. Part VIII: So-Called Primitive Accumulation

27. Appendix: Results of the Immediate Process of Production

28. Conclusion

Appendix 1: Thomas Piketty’s Book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Karl Marx, and the Political Economy of the Internet

Appendix 2: Knowledge, Technology, and the General Intellect in the Grundrisse and its Fragment on Machines


Why Should I read Marx? I’d Rather Go on Facebook and Have Some Fun There . . .

The reader of this book may ask: Why should I read Capital Volume 1? And what has it to do with communications? Marx obviously did not write it on a laptop; he did not have a blog and a Facebook profile and wasn’t on Twitter. Such media have become ubiquitous in our lives; we use them for work, politics, and in everyday life. What many of them share is that they are organised by profit-oriented businesses. They are a manifestation of what Marx termed the “accumulation of capital”. At the same time they enable us to inform ourselves, communicate, and maintain social relations. Information, communication, and sociality is their “use-value”, which is a term that Marx uses for describing how goods satisfy human needs.

Communications companies do not always foreground that they are profit-oriented, but rather often only stress their use-value: Facebook, for example, says that it “helps you connect and share with the people in your life”. Twitter argues it allows you to “connect with your friends—and other fascinating people”. These claims are not untrue, but only one side of the story. Marx would say that they are ideologies that overstate or, as he says,“fetishise” use-value in order to distract attention from exchange-value, from the fact that communications companies are out to make lots of money. Marx still matters because we live in a capitalist communications world and many forms of communications spread ideologies and are organised as for-profit businesses. Capitalism is a somewhat different capitalism today than at the time Marx lived in the 19th century—it is global; finance, technology, transport, consumer culture and advertising plays a larger role, etc. Yet Marx already saw the foundations of all these phenomena and anticipated their future relevance. And he stressed that society is historical: Capitalism develops and obtains new qualities and discontinuities in order to reproduce its underlying foundational structures, the structures of capital accumulation. And Marx cared about ethics and politics: He was convinced that we need alternatives to capitalism because we do not live in the best possible world. So Marx would welcome the social side of contemporary capitalist media, but argue that they should be changed so that we can overcome their capitalist design and usage. And he would have supported struggles for such a different world.

So Marx has a lot of relevance to tell us about contemporary communications. In order to understand laptops, mobile phones, Twitter, Facebook, etc. we need to engage with Marx. He is an essential thinker for understanding the information and Internet age critically. So Marx and Face- book are not opposites. You cannot understand the second without the first and the first gives us a critical perspective on the second.This book is a companion for obtaining such an understanding. It is a step-by-step guide on how to read Capital Volume 1 from a media and communication studies perspective.

Why Read Capital from a Media and Communications Perspective?

Many introductory books to Marx’s Das Kapital, Band 1 (Capital Volume 1) have been written since the first edition was published in 1867. It is up to everyone’s own judgment how feasible and help- ful s/he finds a particular introduction to Marx’s most widely read work. The book at hand has a somewhat different purpose. It is not another general introduction or accompanying guide. Its task is to provide assistance to the reader of Marx’s Capital Volume 1 for asking questions about the role of media, information, communication, the computer, and the Internet in capitalism. It provides an introduction and is an accompanying guide for reading Capital Volume 1 for people interested in media and communication studies. It is a contribution to the foundations of the critique of the political economy of media, information, and communication.

Why is such a book needed? Why should one read Marx’s Capital from the perspective of and with a focus on media and communication? Claims that we live in the information, knowledge, or network economy and society are often overdrawn and advance the view that we live in an economy/society that is completely new and has nothing in common with the 19th-century capitalism that Marx analysed. Such assertions often serve the purpose of communicating that new technologies have in capitalism created great economic opportunities for everyone and that the capitalist mode of production has inherent potentials for democracy, wealth, freedom, and stability. The history of capitalism is, however, a history of war, inequality, control, and crisis. Capitalism’s reality undermines and puts into questions liberal ideology. Information society euphoria is one-dimensional and uncritical. One should be sceptical of it.

It is a wrong reaction to information society euphoria to belittle and ignore the role of information, the media, and communication in capitalism. If one looks at statistics that display the profits, revenues, capital assets, and stock market values of the largest transnational corporations in the world, then one sees that quite a few of them are located in economic sectors and branches such as advertising, broadcasting and cable, communications equipment, computer hardware; culture, entertainment, and leisure; computer services, computer storage devices, electronics, Internet platforms, printing and publishing, semiconductors, software, and telecommunications. The information economy may not be the dominant sector of capitalism; it is, however, just like other capitalist industries, of significance for understanding capitalism. Contemporary capitalism is an informational capitalism just like it is finance capitalism, imperialist capitalism, crisis capitalism, hyper-industrial capitalism (the importance of fossil fuels and the mobility industries), etc. Capitalism is a multidimensional economic and societal formation. Information is one of these dimensions.To study the role and contradictions of information in capitalism is an important undertaking and dimension of a critical theory of society.

Communications phenomena develop quickly. Communicative capitalism stays the same at the most basic level in and through dynamic change and the dialectic of continuity and discontinuity. This book therefore cannot and does not want to give a full account of current developments in communications. As I write this book, some of the significant communications developments taking place are as follows: big data, cloud computing, large-scale government surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, maker culture, mobile advertising, social media, targeted online advertising, the quantified self movement, and the sharing economy. Such phenomena can come and go, whereas capitalism, communications and its contradictions have had a longer history. This book’s aims to give a longer-term perspective so that it can still be read in 30 or 50 years from now. It draws on examples that are thousands of years old just like it gives examples from 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century society.

The chapters in this book also provide exercises that help readers to further engage with Marx’s ideas. They are provided at the end of each chapter. There are two kinds of exercises:

* Group exercises (G) are suited for supporting the discussions of a group engaging in reading Marx’s Capital Volume 1. They are not time-consuming.
* Project exercises (P) are more time-consuming and allow the reader or a group of readers to conduct in-depth analyses of communications phenomena based on Marx’s ideas.



*Why should I read Marx? I rather go on Facebook and have some fun there…
*Why reading Capital from a media and communications perspective?
*Critique of the political economy of the media and communication
*Communications: Marxism’s blindspot
*What are information, media, and communication?
*Reading Marx’s Capital
*The English edition of Marx’s Capital
*The history of how Marx wrote Capital Volume 1
*Capital and Hegel’s dialectical philosophy
*Marx is alive as long as capitalism is alive…

1. Prefaces, Postfaces and Chapter 1: The Commodity
*What is Capital about?
*Dialectical analysis
1.1. The Two Factors of the Commodity: Use-Value and Value (Substance of Value, Magnitude of Value)
*What is Capital about?
*Capital’s famous opening sentence
*The origin of money: Lydia in the 5th century BC
*What is capitalism?
*William Morris: The destructive character of some “use-values”
*Uses and gratification theory: A theory of media’s use-values with limits
*Information as a peculiar use-value
*Information as commodity and exchange-value
*Three political economies of information and the media
*The relationship of use-value, value, and exchange-value
1.2. The Dual Character of the Labour Embodied in Commodities
*Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The dialectic of subject and object
*The world is a dialectical totality
*What is work?
*The difference between work and labour
*The work of producing ideas: A metabolism between man and nature and/or an activity of humans in culture?
*Work’s dialectic of brain and body
*Hegel’s distinction between quality, quantity, quantum
*The dialectic of concrete work and abstract labour
*The dialectic of labour and time
*Marx’s short summary of chapter 1.2
1.3. The Value-Form, or Exchange-Value
*The forms of value
*The four forms of value
*x commodity A = y commodity B – An important formula
*The commodity body as reflection of the commodity value
*Communication as reflection
*The world’s dialectic as a process of reflection
*Labour as the commodity’s and value’s soul
*The equivalent and relative form of value
*Hegel’s dialectic of the One and the Many: Attraction and repulsion
*The attraction and repulsion of commodities
*The general form and money form of value
1.4. The Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret
*Commodity fetishism
*The contradiction of the commodity’s use-value and value
*What is ideology?
*Ideology as a critical concept
*Classical political economy as ideology that postulates commodity fetishism
*Religion as fetishism and ideology
*Commodity fetishism does not exist in all types of society
*Hegel: The dialectic of essence and existence
*The dialectical logic of essence, appearance, and actuality in Marx’s fetishism chapter
Exercises for Chapter 1

2. The Process of Exchange
*Agency and capitalism’s structures
*Entäußerung and Äußerung
*Utterance: Communication as symbolic Äußerung
*One of money’s roles: It is a symbol of a commodity’s price
Exercises for Chapter 2

3. Money, or the Circulation of Commodities
*Money’s first characteristic: Money as a measure of commodities’ economic value
*Money’s second characteristic: Money as a means of circulation
*The dialectic of the commodity and money
*The quantity of circulating money
*Coins, paper money, and the role of the state
*Money’s third characteristics: Money as a means of hording, credit, and world trade
*The Spanish silver dollar, the US dollar, and the Euro as forms of world money
*Tony Smith’s dialectical interpretation of chapter 3
*Money’s dialectic
*Ferruccio Rossi-Landi’s analogy between communication and exchange-value/money
*Why humans are no computers
*Linguistic products as commodities
Exercises for Chapter 3

4. The General Formula for Capital
*Did Marx use the term “capitalism”?
*The difficulty of translating Marx
*An example translation and its problems
*Another example translation
*Capital’s preconditions
*The circuit of capital: The dialectic of the circulation of commodities, money, and capital
*What is capital? What is a capitalist?
*Surplus-value: A key category
*Capital as a dialectic of money and commodities
Exercises for Chapter 4
5. Contradictions in the General Formula
*Simple commodity production
*Production and exchange
*Circulation labour
*Baran and Sweezy on advertising
*Ernest Mandel on advertising
*Dallas W. Smythe on advertising
*Raymond Williams’ Cultural MaterialismExercises for Chapter 5

6. The Sale and Purchase of Labour-Power
*Labour-power, work capacity
*Wage-workers and slaves
*Private property as unfreedom in capitalism
*Private property in liberal ideology
*Freedom, equality, property, and Bentham
*Marx on freedom
*The value of labour-power
*Housework and reproductive work
*Slavery in capitalism
*Wages: The price of labour-power
*Wage struggles and unpaid audience labour
*Outsourcing and transnational corporations
*Crowdsourcing as online outsourcing
*The hidden abode of productionExercises for Chapter 6


7. The Labour Process and the Valorization Process
7.1. The Work Process [in the English original: The Labour Process]*What is work?
*The role of the body and the mind in work
*Writing and mining: The role of the brain and the body
*Nature and culture
*Human creativity: Why human work is different from spiders and bees’ activities
*The work process’ dialectic of subject and object
*The productive forces
*Three modes of organisation of the productive forces
*Information as production process
*Productive consumption and the media
*The implications of Alvin Toffler’s conservative notion of prosumption
*Workers’ alienation
*Alienation in the 1844 Economic-Philosophic Manuscripts’
*Slavery and alienation: The movie Django Unchained
*Louis Althusser’s opposition to Marx’s concept of alienation
*Marx on alienation in chapter 23
*The Althusserian way of playing tricks on Marx
*Alienation and advertising
*Alienation and social media
7.2. The Valorization Process
*Marx’s examples for the valorisation process
*Surplus-value: A key category
*Aspects of the valorisation process
Exercises for Chapter 7

8. Constant Capital and Variable Capital
*The preservation and creation of value
*Marx and the materiality of information
*Information: A peculiar good
*The definition of constant and variable capital
*The dialectic of constant and variable capital
Exercises for Chapter 8

9. The Rate of Surplus Value
9.1. The Degree of Exploitation of Labour-Power
*Profit as the monetary expression of surplus-value
*Necessary labour-time, necessary labour, surplus labour, surplus labour-time
*The rate of surplus-value: The degree of exploitation
*What is exploitation and what’s wrong with it? Is Marx an ethical thinker or is ethics always a form of class morality?
*Marx’s critique of Kantian ethics
*Marx’s categorical imperative: Ethics as the politics of class struggles against class society
9.2. The Representation of the Value of the Product by Corresponding Proportional Parts of the Product
*The measurement of weight and money in 19th century Britain
*An example: The US information economy
*Marx’s critique of bourgeois economists’ concepts of value
9.3. Senior’s “Last Hour”
*Who was Nassau William Senior?
*Senior’s “last hour” argument
*The problems of Senior’s approach
*Marx’s criticism of Senior’s “last hour” argument
9.4. The Surplus Product
*The surplus product
*The three dimensions of surplus
*The process of capital accumulation
Exercises for Chapter 9

10. The Working Day
10.1. The Limits of the Working Day
*The lengthening of the working day: An example
*Absolute surplus-value production
10.2. The Voracious Appetite for Surplus Labour. Manufacturer and Boyar.
*Historical forms of the appropriation of surplus labour
*Modes of production: The Grundrisse and the German Ideology
*A typology of modes of production
*Slavery as mode of production in the media and culture industry
*Factory inspectors’ reports as empirical data
*Corporate watchdogs: Contemporary factory inspectors
10.3. Branches of English Industry without Legal Limits to Exploitation
*Exploitation without limits
*Unregulated labour in the Internet economy
*Child labour
*Walt Disney and child labour: Toy labour stories of horror
*Precarious labour under neoliberalism
*Internships as exploitation
10.4. Day-Work and Night-Work. The Shift-System
*Shift-work in the global software industry: The case of India
10.5. The Struggle for a Normal Working Day. Laws for the Compulsory Extension of the Working Day, from the Middle of the Fourteenth to the End of the Seventeenth Century
*Flight from the land
*Flight from the land in Chinese capitalism
*Struggles about the length of the working day
*The Nazis’ labour and extermination camps: Capitalism’s negative factories
*Capitalist companies’ exploitation of forced labour in Nazi Germany: The example of the communications company Telefunken
* “We were forced labourers. We were slave labourers. And we became the assembly workers”
* “Once they also wanted to shoot me, because of nothing”…
*The new categorical imperative
10.6. The Struggle for a Normal Working Day. Laws for the Compulsory Limitation of Working Hours. The English Factory Legislation of 1833-64
*The British Factory Acts
*Robert Owen and the struggle for the 8 hours working day
*Average working hours
10.7. The Struggle for a Normal Working Day. Impact of the English Factory *Legislation on Other Countries.
Exercises for Chapter 1
11. The Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value
*The Mass of Surplus-Value
*The First Law
*The Second Law
*The Third Law
*The dialectical transition from quantity to quality
*The transition from quantity to quality in society
*What is a manager?
*The capitalist contradiction between technology and labour
*Stalinist dialectics: The ideological misuse of dialectical philosophy in the Soviet Union
*Chapter 11’s main result
Exercises for Chapter 11

12. The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value
*Relative surplus-value
The increase of labour productivity*The relation of value and productivity: Extra surplus-value, extra-profit
*An example for the effects of higher productivity in one company than in others
*World systems theory: Uneven development in global capitalism
*Global productivity differences and unequal development
*An example for unequal development
*Kondratieff cycles: Long wave theory
*Joseph Schumpeter’s crisis theory
*Neo-Schumpeterian crisis theory
*Global economic crises
*The instability of neoliberal capitalism
*The failures of long wave theory
*Technology in regulation theory
*Technology in capitalism
*The role of technology in the rate of profit
*Absolute and relative surplus-value production
Exercises for Chapter 12
13. Co-operation
*Co-operation’s synergies
*Co-operation and the computer
*Humans as social animals, media as social media
*The human species-being
*Capitalist supervision, control, and surveillance
*Surveillance studies
*Michel Foucault on surveillance
*Capitalist and bureaucratic surveillance
*Surveillance in the labour process and in capitalist accumulation
*The dialectic of the One and the Many as the dialectic of the single worker and many workers in the co-operation process
Exercises for Chapter 13
14. The Division of Labour and Manufacture
14.1. The Division of Labour and Manufacture
*Origins of the manufacture
14.2. The Specialized Worker and His Tools
*The collective worker (Gesamtarbeiter)
14.3. The Two Fundamental Forms of Manufacture – Heterogeneous and Organic
*The heterogeneous and the homogeneous manufacture
*The work of independent craftspersons
*Labour in the heterogeneous and the organic manufacture
14.4. The Division of Labour in Manufacture, and the Division of Labour in Society
*Capitalism and the division of labour
*Adam Smith on the division of labour
*The fetishism of Adam Smith’s concept of the division of labour
*Marx on the division of labour in earlier works
*The global division of labour
*The new international division of labour
*Quentin Tarantino’s movie Kill Bill and the international division of cultural labour
*The international division of digital labour
*The division of labour’s organisational levels
*The division of labour in companies and society at large
*Mario Tronti: The social factory
*Antonio Negri: The social worker
*Digital labour and the social worker
*The division of labour’s impact on humans
*The dialectic of the alienation of the collective worker and the individual worker in capitalism
*The abolishment of the division of labour in communism: Well-rounded individuals
14.5. The Capitalist Character of Manufacture
*The capitalist manufacture
*The division between manual and mental labour
*Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri on information work
Exercises for Chapter 14

15. Machinery and Large-Scale Industry
*The logical and the historical reading of Capital
15.1. The Development of Machinery
*What is machinery?
*Two types of machines*The impacts of the machine system on the economy and the role of communications
* Means of communication
*The computer: A means for the production, circulation, and consumption of information
*Communism and technology
15.2. The Value Transferred by the Machinery to the Product
*Technology as fixed constant capital
*Machinery and the transfer of value
*Technology and the substitution of human labour
*Scientific and technological progress
*The knowledge commons
*Universal work
15.3. The Most Immediate Effects of Machine Production on the Worker
*Child labour
*The physical and moral deterioration of machines
*Symbolic depreciation, cultural signification and distinction
*The prolongation of the working day
*Hegel’s dialectic of quantity
*The dialectic of absolute and relative surplus-value production
15.4. The Factory
*The inversion of means and ends and of subject and object
*Technology in the context of labour’s exploitation as instrument for accumulation
*Factory and office labour
15.5. The Struggle Between Worker and Machine
*Machine breaking
*The Luddite movement
*Edward P. Thompson’s analysis of the Luddite movement
*Thompson’s interpretation of Luddism as a radical working class movement
*Peter Linebaugh and Eric Hobsbawm on the Luddite movement
*The age of the Internet: 21st century Luddism?
*Why not to quit the Internet
15.6. The Compensation Theory, With Regard to the Workers Displaced by *Machinery
*Say’s law
*Say on demand and supply
*Marx’s criticism of Say’s law
*Technology’s dialectic of essence and existence
*Bourgeois ideology: Technology as a fetishism
*The impacts of new technologies: The example of digitisation
*Technology and un/employment
*Imperialism and communication technologies
*Technology and economic crises
*Ernest Mandel on the contradictory role of new technologies in economic growth and crises
*Technology and the rate of profit
*Capitalist technologies’ potentials for the attraction and repulsion of workers15.8. The Revolutionary Impact of Large-Scale Industry on Manufacture, Handicrafts and Domestic Industry
*Means of communication, the annihilation of space by time, and the acceleration of capitalist accumulation
*The example of Amazon
15.9. The Health and Education Clauses of the Factory Acts. The General Extension of Factory Legislation in England
*Capitalism and education
*Education in a communist society
*The antagonism between productive forces and the relations of production*Information technology and the antagonism between productive forces and the relations of production
15.10. Large-Scale Industry and Agriculture
*Modern technology and agriculture
15.11. How Not To Theorise Technology: Andrew Feenberg’s Dualist Theory of Technology
*“Critical theory of technology”: Operational autonomy and technical codes
*From Marxism to “radical critique”
*The design critique of technology
*The trouble with Feenberg’s theory
*The fetishism of chance and openness
*Technological bias
*Feenberg’s dualist theory of technology
*Facebook and Feenberg’s dualism of technology
*Online education and Feenberg’s dualism of technology
*The state: The weak and blind spot of Feenberg’s theory
*Herbert Marcuse: Organised spontaneity
15.12. Conclusion
*Technology’s impacts on the whole capital accumulation cycle M – C .. P – C’ – M’ and class relations
*Technology’s impact on M-C (purchase of labour-power and the means of production)
*Technology’s impact on P (commodity production)
*Technology’s impact on C’-M’ (commodity sale)
*The productive forces
*Do we live in an information society?
*The general intellect
*The antagonistic character of modern science and technology
*Radovan Richta: The scientific-technological revolution
Exercises for Chapter 15


16. Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value
*Absolute and relative surplus-value
*The formal and real subsumption of labour under capital
*Nature and the productive forces
*Three levels of productive labour
*Productive labour and the collective labourer (Gesamtarbeiter)
*The collective labourer and the Grundrisse
*Marxist Feminism, reproductive labour, and productive labour
*The role of reproductive labour: An example*Unpaid information labour and productive labour: Dallas Smythe’s approach
*Criticisms of Smythe
*Corporate Internet platforms
*The difference between audience labour in commercial broadcasting and digital labour on commercial Internet platforms
*The patriarchal character of the Soviet system
*Un/productive labour and power
Exercises for Chapter 16

17. Changes of Magnitude in the Price of Labour-Power and in Surplus-Value
*Changes of surplus-value and variable capital
*The rate of profit
*The organic composition of capital and the rate of surplus-value: Two contradictory forces that influence the rate of profit
*Calculation of the rate of profit, the organic composition, and the rate of surplus-value based on existing macro-economic data
*An example calculation: The development of the rate of profit, the organic composition, and the rate of surplus-value in the UK economy
*A second example calculation: The development of the UK computer industry in the years 1992-2004
*A third example calculation: The development of the US computer industry
*The dot-com crisis in the Internet economy
*What is financialisation?
*Fictitious capital and crises
*Productivity increases under the condition of asymmetric power
Exercises for Chapter 17

18. Different Formulae for the Rate of Surplus-Value

*Classical political economy’s formula for the rate of surplus-value
*Marx’s formula for the rate of surplus-value
*Value at the level of labour-time and prices
*An example calculation: The classical and the Marxian rate of surplus-value
*Exploitation and alienation
*Facebook and the rate of surplus-valueExercises for Chapter 18


19. The Transformation of Value (and Respectively the Price) of Labour-Power into Wages
*“The value and price of labour”
*What is a wage?
*The value and price of labour-power
*Class struggle, the price of labour-power, and the socio-political concept of the wage
*The value of labour-power
Exercises for Chapter 19
20. Time-Wages
*What is a time-wage?
*The average wage
*The software industry: A labour aristocracy with huge amounts of overtime
Exercises for Chapter 20

21. Piece-Wages
*What is a piece-wage?
*The piece-wage and the rate of surplus-value
*Online freelancing: A 21st century piece-wage system
*Performance-based payment in call centres
*Günter Wallraff as undercover call centre worker
Exercises for Chapter 21

22. National Differences in Wages
*Universal labour
*Samir Amin: The law of worldwide value
*Global differences in productivity
*Data on total factor productivity
Exercises for Chapter 22

The capital accumulation process as a whole

23. Simple Reproduction
*Production and reproduction
*Simple reproduction
*Primitive accumulation
*The reproduction of alienation
*Individual and productive consumption
*The dimensions of reproduction in capitalism
Exercises for Chapter 23
24. The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital
*The accumulation of capital
*Visualisation of the cycle of capital accumulation
*Three results of the transformation of money into capital
*Profit’s different parts
*The accumulation imperative
*Four factors that influence capital accumulation
Exercises for Chapter 24

25. The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

*The technical and the organic composition of capital
*Calculating the organic composition of capital: An example
*Two distinct cases of how the organic composition can develop: Case 1
*Two distinct cases of how the organic composition can develop: Case 2
*The dialectic of the repulsion and attraction of capitals
*The tendency for unemployment
*Floating, latent, and stagnant surplus population
*The general law of capitalist accumulation
*Technology and the general law of capitalist accumulation
*Why the general law of capitalist accumulation is not a theory of immiseration and breakdown
*Poverty: The dialectic of ownership and non-ownership*The role of the rate of surplus-value and the organic composition in the rate of profit*Technology and the rate of profit
*The development of the rate of profit, the organic composition, and the rate of surplus-value in the USA and the EU
*The development of the wage share in the USA and the EU*The development of the unemployment rate in the USA and the EU
*The precariat
*Ya basta!
Exercises for Chapter 25


26. Part VIII: So-Called Primitive Accumulation
*How does Marx conceptualise primitive accumulation?
*Double-free labour
*From feudalism to capitalism: Blood and fire
*Enclosures of the land
*Law-and-order politics and right-wing ideology
*Right-wing ideology on reality TV: Benefits Street
*Capitalism and the modern state
*The state as a power bloc
*Colonies and primitive accumulation
*Primitive accumulation: The British rule of India
*Methods of primitive accumulation
*Rosa Luxemburg: Original and ongoing primitive accumulation
*Patriarchy, milieus of primitive accumulation, and inner colonies of capitalism
*David Harvey: The new imperialism and primitive accumulation
*Four strategies of accumulation by dispossession
*Primitive accumulation in the media, communications and culture industry
*The commodification of the commons: A process of ongoing primitive accumulation
*The historical tendency of capitalist accumulation
*Capital concentration
*The liberal and the Marxist critique of capital concentration
*Apologetic-normative theories of media competition and a critical-empirical theories of media concentration
*Media concentration: The advertising-circulation-spiral
*Why is corporate media concentration a problem?
*Measuring concentration: The C4 index and the Herfindahl-Hirschman index
*Media concentration: An example calculation
*Socialisation and the foundations of a communist economy: The antagonism between productive forces and relations of production
*The historical tendency of capitalist accumulation: Did Marx formulate a breakdown law of capitalism? No!
*Vera Zasulich’s letter to Marx: The historical tendency of capitalist accumulation and Russia
*Marx’s answer to Vera Zasulich’s letter
*The dialectical articulation of modes of production
*The dialectics of structure and agency, necessity and freedom, object and subject
Exercises for Chapters 26-33

27. Appendix: Results of the Immediate Process of Production
* What are the Results of the Immediate Process of Production?
*Continuous and discrete commodities
27.1. Ideology and Fetishism
*Examples that illustrate commodity fetishism
*Capital as fetish in classical political economy
*Labour fetishism
*Essential and historic categories
27.2. The Formal and Real Subsumption of Labour under Capital
*The formal subsumption of labour under capital
*The real subsumption of labour under capital
27.3. Productive Labour
*The concept of productive labour in the Results
*The collective worker (Gesamtarbeiter)
*Paid and unpaid labour
*Two forms of knowledge work
27.4. Trade Unions
*What is a trade union?
*Atypical and freelance labour and the unions
Exercises for Chapter 27

28. Conclusion
*Marx’s achievements
*Marx is alive after his death
*Marx and the media
*The media and the commodity form
*The media industries
*The media and ideologies
*Alternative media
*The multi-level political economy of the media
*Capital matters today

APPENDIX 1: Thomas Piketty’s Book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, Karl Marx, and the Political Economy of the Internet
1. Three Kinds of Reactions to Thomas Piketty’s Book
*The adulation of Piketty
*The neoliberal critique of Piketty
*Marxist critiques of Piketty
2. Piketty and Marx
*The general law of capitalist accumulation
*Sources of contemporary inequality
*The tendency of the profit rate to fall
*Dogmatism, orthodoxy, and sectarianism
*The Marxian rate of profit
*The contradiction between the rate of surplus-value and the organic composition of capital
*Class struggles
*Marxist theories of crisis
*Marx is a communist soldier, not an apocalyptic rider
*The inequality of capital ownership: The concentration and centralisation of capital.
3. Capitalism and the Internet
*Thomas Piketty and the Internet
*The political economy of the Internet
*Capital taxation and the ICT industry
*The welfare state
*A global progressive tax on capital and income
*Alternative media, alternative Internet
*The participatory media fee
*Capital taxation and the Left
*Marx and Engels: Communism and progressive taxation
*Rosa Luxemburg and Thomas Piketty
Exercises for Appendix 1APPENDIX 2: Knowledge, Technology, and the General Intellect in the Grundrisse and its Fragment on Machines 1. Introduction *Media companies *The Grundrisse 2. Advertising, Circulation and Productive Labour in the Age of Social Media *Dallas Smythe on advertising *Marx on productive labour in the Grundrisse *Transport costs *Ideological transport and the media *The transport of commodities 3. Machinery and the General Intellect in the Fragment on Machines *What is the Fragment on Machines? *Knowledge and general work *Marx anticipated the emergence of an information economy *Radovan Richta: The scientific-technological revolution *The antagonism between productive forces and relations of production in the Fragment *The antagonism between necessary labour and surplus labour *Technology, time, capitalism, communism *The general intellect 4. The Connection of the Fragment to other Sections in the Grundrisse 5. Cultural and Digital Labour in the Context of the Marxist Debate on the Fragment and the General Intellect *Immaterial labour *a) The concept of immaterial labour and its implications *b) The critique of the notion of immateriality: Materialism and idealism *c) Technology and human practice *d) Elite and immiserated workers *e) The law of value 6. Conclusion Exercises for Appendix 2