The ‘General Intellect’ in the Grundrisse and Beyond

in Historical Materialism
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Abstract

In recent publications Paolo Virno and Carlo Vercellone have called attention to Marx’s category of the general intellect in the Grundrisse, and to the unprecedented role its diffusion plays in contemporary capitalism. According to Virno, the flourishing of the general intellect, which Marx thought could only take place within communism, characterises post-Fordist capitalism. Vercellone adds that Marx’s account of the real subsumption of living labour under capital is obsolete in contemporary cognitive capitalism. Both authors regard Marx’s value theory as historically obsolete. I argue that these views rest on a confusion of value and wealth, a neglect of Marx’s account of the role of ‘free gifts’ to capital, an underestimation of the role of the general intellect in the period prior to the rise of post-Fordism/cognitive capitalism, and an underestimation of the restrictions on the diffusion of the general intellect in contemporary capitalism.

The ‘General Intellect’ in the Grundrisse and Beyond

in Historical Materialism

Sections

References

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VercelloneCarlo ‘From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism’ Historical Materialism 2007 15 1 13 36

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ZittrainJonathan The Future of the Intellect – and How to Stop It 2008 New Haven Yale University Press

1.

Marx 1987p. 92; block words originally in English.

2.

Dyer-Witheford 1999Chapters 4 and 9; Turchetto 2008; Toscano 2007. In the Marx Engels Collected Works the editors assign a different title to this section: ‘[Fixed Capital and the Development of the Productive Forces of Society]’.

4.

Marx 1987p. 87.

6.

Marx 1987p. 83.

12.

Vercellone 2007p. 28.

13.

Vercellone 2007p. 26.

14.

Vercellone 2007p. 25.

15.

Virno 2007p. 6.

16.

Vercellone 2007p. 21.

17.

Vercellone 2007p. 15.

18.

Vercellone 2007p. 20.

19.

Vercellone 2007p. 24.

20.

Vercellone 2007p. 18. ‘Mass education and the development of a diffuse intellectuality make the educational system a central site for the crisis of the Fordist wage relation’ (Vercellone 2007 p. 27).

21.

Vercellone 2007p. 33.

22.

Vercellone 2007p. 27.

24.

Virno 2007p. 8.

25.

Virno 2007p. 5.

26.

Virno 2007p. 4.

27.

Vercellone 2007p. 14.

28.

Vercellone 2007p. 16.

29.

Vercellone 2007p. 24.

30.

Virno 2007p. 3.

31.

Vercellone 2007p. 30.

32.

Virno 2007p. 4.

33.

Vercellone 2007p. 31.

34.

Vercellone 2007p. 31; Virno 2007 p. 5.

36.

Vercellone 2007p. 31.

38.

Vercellone 2007p. 35.

39.

Virno 2007p. 8.

40.

Vercellone 2007p. 30.

41.

Virno 2007p. 4.

42.

Marx 1986pp. 522 527 531; see also Camfield 2007 p. 46.

44.

Marx 1986p. 94.

46.

Marx 1987p. 90.

49.

Marx 1986p. 420. Or in one of the Grundrisse’s most striking formulations: ‘[Each individual] carries his social power as also his connection with society in his pocket’ (Marx 1986 p. 94).

51.

Marx 1986p. 84.

52.

Marx 1986p. 233.

53.

Marx 1986p. 383.

55.

Virno 2007p. 6.

56.

Marx 1976p. 502.

57.

Marx 1976p. 505; emphasis added.

58.

Marx 1986p. 465.

60.

Vercellone 2007p. 17.

61.

Vercellone 2007p. 19.

62.

Zittrain 2008p. 85.

63.

Zittrain 2008p. 89.

64.

Virno 2007p. 8.

65.

Virno 2007p. 4.

71.

Huws 2003; Huws (ed.) 2007; Huws (ed.) 2008.

73.

Head 2003pp. 72–3.

74.

Marx 1987p. 83.

75.

Virno 2007p. 4.

77.

Marx 1986pp. 390–1.

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