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Critical post-Soviet Marxist reflections

The starting-point for the book is its chapter on methodology. Found here are not only critiques of conventional Soviet Marxism-Leninism and post-modernism, but also a new rethinking of the classic dialectic. For the most part, however, the book focuses on revealing the new quality now assumed by commodities, money, and capital within the global economy. The market has become not only global, but a totalitarian force that is not a ‘socially neutral mechanism of coordination’. It is now a product of the hegemony of corporate capital, featuring the growth of new types of commodity: information, simulacra, and so forth. The book demonstrates the new qualities acquired by value, use value, price, and commodity fetishism within this new market, while exploring the contradictions of non-limited resources (such as knowledge) and the commodity form of their existence.

Money is now a virtual product of fictitious financial capital, possessing a new nature, contradictions, and functions. This analysis of the new nature of money helps to reveal the essence of so-called financialisation.

Capital has become the result of a complex system of exploitation. In the twenty-first-century context this exploitation includes the ‘classic’ extraction of surplus value from industrial workers combined with internal corporate redistribution of income by ‘insiders’; international exploitation; and the exploitation of creative labour through the expropriation of intellectual rent.

Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov

(including part of the ‘salary payments’ of higher staff and ‘professionals’) to the advantage of the perverse sector. This redistribution proceeds via two main channels: the investment of the accumulated funds of firms in the perverse sector (to cite just one example, before the world crisis, corporations in the non-financial sector in the US received as much as half of their profits from investments in financial speculation), and the directing into the same sector of personal savings derived from surplus value and intellectual rent

in Twenty-first-century capital
Stages of development
Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov

In this chapter the authors identify the historical place and character of what they term the ‘modern market economy’ as the space-time of the ‘sunset’ of the system of capitalist production relations. This allows them to define the nature of ‘late capitalism’ as a space-time negation of capitalist production relations within the framework of this system, and to provide a theoretically and historically grounded periodisation of this era. Within the evolution of late capitalism, the following main stages are distinguished. First is (1) the ‘undermining’ of the basics of capitalism, under the sway of monopoly capitalism (imperialism). During this period (2) humanity has experienced the decades of the mid-twentieth century (characterised by fascism and social-reformism), and (3) the era of neoliberal revenge, globalisation and financialisation. Before us now is (4) the period of the increasing development of forms of negative transformation in the direction of conservatism, involving the retreat of classic capitalist exploitation in response to the mass use of ‘human’ and ‘social’ capital and the extraction of intellectual rents as capital exploits the cultural wealth of humanity.

The authors systematise the changes in the system of social productive forces that result in the material and technical determination of the production relations of ‘late capitalism’. The basis of these transformations is seen to consist in the development of the creative content of labour. These provisions furnish the basis for exploring new forms of goods, money, and exploitation, and for systematising the global problems of humankind.

in Twenty-first-century capital
Abstract only
Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov

’ of the relationship of usury and merchant capital that prevailed in the period of the initial accumulation of capital, can in sum be described theoretically as a period of ‘accumulation through deprivation’. Before us now is (4) the increasing development of forms of negative withdrawal of classic capitalist exploitation in the process of the mass use of ‘human’ and ‘social’ capital and assignments of intellectual rent due to the exploitation by capital of all the cultural wealth of humanity. At the centre of our study we

in Twenty-first-century capital
Networks and simulacra
Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov

neoclassical economics terms the ‘value of non-material assets’. The only problems here result from the ‘nuance’ represented by capitalisation of the intellectual rent appropriated by the given capital. We will discuss this fully in Chapter 8 . Here we will confine ourselves to saying that notionally, this should be deducted from the value of the non-material assets, in order to take at least indirect account of the impact of local corporate influence on the market. As noted earlier, however, this property of prices is not only characteristic of simulacra: it is common to

in Twenty-first-century capital