Aleksander Buzgalin
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Andrey Kolganov
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Capital of the twenty-first century
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This chapter proposes a historical-genetic system, ascending from the abstract to the concrete, specific and conditioned by socio-spatial contradictions, of the forms and methods of exploitation of the worker by capital that are inherent in the global economy of the twenty-first century. From slave-like forms of personal dependence, the development of this system proceeds via the ‘classical’ forms of capitalist exploitation of the industrial worker, to the use of methods of generating and assigning monopolistic profits (as well as imperialist profits, based on the exploitation of the periphery), giving rise to significant new relationships of the exploitation of creative activity. The authors argue that the exploitation of the creative worker involves not merely the appropriation of surplus-value, but also the appropriation of universal cultural wealth. This result, associated as a rule not with a (creative) worker but with a subject of intellectual property (the corporation), has no value, but has a certain price. This situation allows the owner of a creative corporation to obtain so-called intellectual rent.

On this basis, the authors demonstrate changes in the relationship of formal and real subordination by capital not only of the workforce, but also of the human individual, in particular of her or his free time. This study permits a constructive criticism of the categories of human and social ‘capital’, which in perverse form reflect real changes in the role of human beings and in their social relations within the modern economy.

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Twenty-first-century capital

Critical post-Soviet Marxist reflections


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