Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy

The above is the title of Dave Elder-Vass’ new book. Excerpts can be found at his blog, Materially Social. The following is from Chapter 10:

“As we have seen, alternative appropriative practices can themselves be entangled in capitalist forms, and ultimately the viability of alternative forms will depend not only on growing them within our existing economy but also on finding ways to criticise and curtail the role of capitalist appropriative practices. Capitalism, despite being only part of our contemporary economy, is still capable of generating massive harms – notably extreme exploitation, alienation, inequality, massive distortions in the use of resources, environmental damage and support for oppressive political regimes. It is still backed by enormous political and discursive power, and it constantly tends to subvert alternatives to its thirst for profit.

“Once we recognise that capitalism itself is diverse, however, we may find that there are some forms of it, suitably regulated, that make a positive contribution overall to our well-being. Given this possibility, we can no longer simply dismiss all capitalism on the grounds of Marx’s spurious theory of exploitation. Instead of applying the formulaic dogma of Marx’s labour theory of value, we need to evaluate forms of capitalism by identifying their real tendencies and assessing their actual effects against explicitly stated and justified ethical standards. When we do so I believe we will find, for example, that forms of capitalism that rest on the provision of free content by users are considerably less harmful than those that rest on the extraction of minerals by slave labourers in Africa (Fuchs, 2014, pp. 172–81) and those that rest on the creation of unstable financial assets. These forms can be separated. They are not all parts of one monolith, and they should be treated differently: lightly regulated, heavily regulated or abolished entirely depending upon their impact on human flourishing.”

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About theurj

Also known as theurj. I've contributed some essays to Integral World and co-founded Open Integral blog, now defunct. I continue to participate in Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum.
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