Foundations of a Marxist Theory of the Political Economy of Information

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* Essay: Foundations of a Marxist Theory of the Political Economy of Information: Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property, and the Production of Relative Surplus Value and the Extraction of Rent-Tribute. By Jakob Rigi. TripleC, 2014



"The aim of this article is to sketch a preliminary outline of a Marxist theory of the political economy of information. It defines information as a symbolic form that can be digitally copied. This definition is purely formal and disregards epistemological, ideological, and functional aspects. The article argues that the value of information defined in this sense tends to zero and therefore the price of information is rent. However, information plays a central role in the production of relative surplus value on the one hand, and the distribution of the total social surplus value in forms of surplus profits and rents, on the other. Thus, the hegemony of information technologies in contemporary productive forces has not made Marx’s theory of value irrelevant. On the contrary, the political economy of information can only be understood in the light of this theory. The article demonstrates that the capitalist production and distribution of surplus value at the global level forms the foundation of the political economy of information."


Jakob Rigi:

" I made the concept of information worker in order to deal with Negri`s concept of immaterial labour. I think Negri concept of immaterial labour includes both cognitive labour and affective labour. (I am completing an article critiquing him.) From the point of view of production of value they are completely different labours. If you are nurse and give an injection to a patient, you have to spend new energy for producing the affect again. But if you produce a concept you do not need to spend new energy to reproduce it. The reproduction of the same affect require the expenditure of new energy but the reproduction of a concept does not need this. This distinction is simple , but its implication for the law of value are enormous. The affective labour if exchanged with capital produces value and surplus value but the producer of concept does not do this, becauase the value of concept tends to zero. The price of an affect reflects the value which is incorporated in the affect, the price of concept on the other hand is rent." (Networked Labour mailing list, December 2014)