The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre based in Sociology and run jointly with the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University, London

From a Radical Philosophy Dossier on Property, Power, Law, drawn from the Powers and Limits of Property workshop:

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Patent as credit: When intellectual property becomes speculative

Hyo Yoon Kang

Intellectual properties, the various kinds of which are known as patents, copyright and trademarks, could be regarded as central techniques of accumulation in contemporary capitalism, if immaterial knowledge is indeed what now crucially drives accumulation in a ‘knowledge economy’ or ‘creative industries’. [1] In such a process of value generation and accumulation, it is precisely the law of intellectual property that allows certain kinds of knowledge to be repackaged and transformed into units of appropriation, transfer and commodification. But how exactly does this process occur?

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Disaggregating primitive accumulation

Robert Nichols

For nearly 150 years now, critical theorists of various stripes have attempted to explicate, correct and complement Marx’s discussion of the ‘so-called’ primitive accumulation of capital provided in Part Eight of the first volume of Capital. This is perhaps especially true of Marxism in the English-speaking world. Whereas French and German traditions have tended to focus more on the formal categories of Capital,anglophone debates have attended more closely to Marx’s historical-descriptive account, perhaps due to the privileged role that England plays in the historical drama staging the bourgeois revolt against feudalism, the early emergence of capitalist relations and subsequent industrial revolution. The enclosures of the English commons and transformation of the rural peasantry into an industrial workforce serve, after all, as the primary empirical referents from which Marx derives his conceptual tools. From Paul Sweezy and Maurice Dobb in the 1950s, to Christopher Hill, C.B. Macpherson and E.P. Thompson in the 1960s, to Perry Anderson and Robert Brenner in the 1970s, these ‘transition debates’ have focused on the accuracy and adequacy of Marx’s history of early modern England.

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Race, real estate and real abstraction

Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano

The crises and mutations of contemporary capitalism have rendered palpable Marx’s observation according to which in bourgeois modernity human beings are ‘ruled by abstractions’. The processes of financialization animating the dynamics of the 2007–8 crisis involved the violent irruption into the everyday lives of millions of a panoply of ominous acronyms (ABSs, CDOs, SIVs, HFT, and so on), indices of highly mathematized strategies of profit extraction whose mechanics were often opaque to their own beneficiaries. At the same time, this process of financialization was articulated to the most seemingly ‘concrete’, ‘tangible’ and thus desirable use and exchange value available to the citizens of so-called advanced liberal democracies: the home. This is a site, a social relation, that as Ferreira da Silva and Chakravartty have noted encompasses the ‘juridical, political and economic’, thus serving as a lived material synthesis of the three main axes of modern thought.

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