The Internet has given a new shape to modern capitalism. These new features have drawn the attention of numerous studies and have become the focus of highly topical and controversial questions. However, as a rule, the literature has not taken as its starting point the development of a Marxist epistemology. The reason for this is that this is perhaps the most underdeveloped area of Marxism, arguably the consequence of the failure to derive a Marxist theory of knowledge from Marx’s value theory. In this lecture, I will first conceptualise mental versus objective labour processes and reject the notion of the non-materiality of knowledge. Then, I will build on this conceptualisation and deal with three interrelated questions, namely whether mental labour can be productive of value and surplus value and whether the distinctions between productive and unproductive labour, on one side, and, on the other, between production and consumption retain their validity in mental production. Finally, I will explore the class nature of knowledge with particular reference to the Internet. The analysis of the Internet is a case study designed to test and validate Marx’s value theory and theory of knowledge in contemporary capitalism.
Guglielmo Carchedi is Professor Emeritus of the University of Amsterdam and Associate Professor at York University. He has written extensively in the field of economics, sociology and epistemology. He is the author of many books and articles, some of which can be found at his webpage: www.marx2010.weebly.com