From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism, in Historical Materialism

Abstract : Since the crisis of Fordism, capitalism has been characterised by the ever more central role of
knowledge and the rise of the cognitive dimensions of labour. This is not to say that the centrality
of knowledge to capitalism is new per se. Rather, the question we must ask is to what extent we can
speak of a new role for knowledge and, more importantly, its relationship with transformations in
the capital/labour relation. From this perspective, the paper highlights the continuing validity of
Marx's analysis of the knowledge/power relation in the development of the division of labour. More
precisely, we are concerned with the theoretical and heuristic value of the concepts of formal
subsumption, real subsumption and general intellect for any interpretation of the present change of
the capital/labour relation in cognitive capitalism. In this way, we show the originality of the general
intellect hypothesis as a sublation of real subsumption. Finally, the article summarises key
contradictions and new forms of antagonism in cognitive capitalism.
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Carlo Vercellone. From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism, in Historical Materialism. Historical Materialism, Brill Academic Publishers, 2007, 15 (1), pp.13-36. ⟨10.1163/156920607X171681⟩. ⟨halshs-00263661⟩

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