File Notes on Christian Marazzi’s ‘The Violence of Financial Capitalism’

On Marazzi, after reading his little Semiotext(e) booklet: The Violence of Financial Capitalism, where, among many interesting assertions, he says:

“The thesis that is being put forth here is that financialization is not an unproductive/parasitic deviation of growing quotas of surplus-value and collective saving, but rather the form of capital accumulation symmetrical with new processes of value production” (Marazzi 2011:48)

Here he has in mind the extraction of value in the sphere of circulation, in reproduction and distribution – ‘a phenomenon, let it be noted, well known to women for a long time’ (p48-9) – but also including crowd-sourcing and facebook, flickr, google etc., as ways to ‘harness and valourize user browsing’ and ‘extract surplus value from common actions like linking to a site, flagging a blog post, modifying software, and so forth’ (Marazzi following Terranova and O’Reilly, in Marazzi 2011:51-2)

“The first important consequence of the new proceses of capitalist valourization is the following: the quantity of surplus-value created by new apparatuses of extraction is enormous. It is based on the compression of direct and indirect wages (retirement, social security cushions, earnings from individual and collective savings), on the reduction of socially necessary labour with flexible network company systems (precarization, intermittent employment), and on the creation of a vaster pool of free labour (the “free labour” in the spere of consumption, circulation and reproduction, with a more intensified cognitive labour). The quantity of surplus-value, i.e., of unpaid labour, is at the root of the increase in the profits not reinvested in the production sphere, profits whose increase does not, as a consequence, generate the growth of stable employment, let alone wage increases” (Marazzi 2011:52-3)

It should come as no surprise that Marxists are also concerned with consumption, and this is of course necessary for the valourization of appropriated surplus value, but what then of the relative importance, in post-post-Fordist financialized globality, of the distinction Marx makes between division 1 and division 2 – consumption by the workers for reproduction of their labour power (food, clothing, education, sex) and consumption in the labour process (of materials, energy, machines, ideas [can ideas be consumed?])?
Isn’t financialization and circulation underscored still by the universal equivalent, a mode of calculation and measurement of unlike things through the like code of money, however abstracted in credit? For example, would the crisis of sub-prime mortgages suggest that it is not new tools of valourization of surplus-value so much as that the credit card economy which now supports valourization in division 1 in the developed world may turn out to also be as fragile as the banking credit system that supported division 2 before and through, to an extent that remains to be tested, the recent crisis?
What attention to this distinction between division 1 and 2 might question is whether the harnessing of social labour, free labour, crowd sourcing, open source, is really that different than the fluctuations of demand harnessed through shopping? Is it that this contribution is now just better tracked within a digital economy of scale, just as just-in-time production in the Toyota model was a stagnation inducing set up for manufacturing? If the crisis is that this tracking and contribution does not valourize capital for reinvestment in production, but rather only in development of new enclosures (web 2.0, Facebook platforms, google as enclosures and nations without allegiance – the pirate metaphor so beloved of netizens), is it indicative of where to fight that this enclosure has further abandoned any obligations or constraints to provide for education, health, cultural or social cohesion of its constituency beyond registration or i.P address? That is, the struggle is not with sociality 2.0, but rather the vapourization of social ties at the very moment of their fetish characterization via ‘friending’ on facebook, the you in you tube, and the vacuous instamatic photo-realist representations of flickr?
and these questions after the Marazzi talk at Queen Mary and discussion with The Paper crew:
When you speak of ‘the main functions of fixed capital, of the machine’ as having been ‘transposed into the body of labour power’ what does this mean for the place of Marx’s notion of the collective labour and the forms of the reserve army of labour (floating, latent, stagnant) as well as the reproduction of skilled labour, which Marx notes, is carefully protected be capital even in times of crisis? Do these categories still have any purchase in the context of financialization? Are they distributed differently, but still operative – eg collective labourer includes many ancillary non-productive labour functions.
Would consideration of the categories of Reserve army of labour as applicable to the global economy viewed from India or China not dwarf the relevance of free labour through internships or open source?
When you talk of bankruptcy as a strategy, do you mean to reclaim a kind of negative commons – along with this would disasters and the dysfunctions of climate, be also commons? What are the implications of this for nature?/our nature?
What are the forms of organization and kinds of struggle that would be adequate to win against this financialization, this measurement in crisis and crisis of measurement? Isn’t the commons too big a grab bag to even pint out that it cannot be named even as we codify and constitute it though naming.
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