Walter Benjamin’s “The Author As Producer”

There have been many arguments made about the politics of authorship. Yet few of those situated it as long ago as Walter Benjamin did, not only in relation to labor, but in terms of the changing economic patterns and technologies that served to redefine both authorship and labor and, for that matter, any distinctions between them. This, in brief, is Benjamin’s singular contribution to a discussion about authorship. Continue reading

Commodification

‘Commodification’ is often used as a short-hand way of defining what capitalism does, but all too often it’s used as a synonym for transaction or exchange. Yet buying and selling are not specific to capitalism and, more importantly, there are consequences in organising a critique of, or opposition to capitalism on the grounds that ‘markets’ are bad.

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The Gift of Surplus Labour

[Excerpted from Contract & Contagion, pp.163-64]

The conservative critique of capitalism is preoccupied […] with taking capitalism to task for setting up crises of its own realisation, as in the expansion of debts that cannot – or will not – be repaid. It is concerned not with the question of moving beyond the interrelated dynamics of expansion and crisis, but of restoring the very foundations of capitalism in the retrieval of the conditions of gratuitous labour. Continue reading