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Publication - Dr Harry Pitts

    Labour-time in the Dot.Com bubble: Marxist approaches


    Pitts, FH, 2013, ‘Labour-time in the Dot.Com bubble: Marxist approaches’. Fast Capitalism, vol 10.


    Looking at the Dot.Com boom and bust witnessed in the United States between 1995 and 2003, this paper will give an interpretation of Marx’s mature economic theory with a particular emphasis upon the role of labour-time in his wider theory of capitalist production and breakdown, situating this conceptual apparatus in the context of radically different conditions of work and capitalist production. This will be done by building up an analysis of the position of labour-time in the creation of absolute and relative surplus-value and the determination of the make-up of the organic composition of capital with specific reference to the circumstances which saw a financial bubble develop around the so-called New Economy of fledgling tech, telecommunications, ICT and internet start-ups in the US during the late nineties and early noughties. Utilising quantitative and qualitative data including government statistics and ethnographic accounts to illustrate the operation of Marxian analytical categories, the paper will assess the usefulness of Marx’s conceptualization of labour-time and crisis to an analysis of the US economy over the period described, and gauge to what extent it requires recalibration to adequately grasp the changes in the organization of capitalist production identified in the research. Whilst much of the evidence provided will reveal that Marx’s theorization is still of considerable exactitude and relevance to contemporary capitalism, there nonetheless remain certain aspects of the New Economy that his economic work are at a loss to comprehend. On the one hand, the Marxist tradition is still a valuable framework through which to view the global economy. Yet, on the other, contemporary capitalism possesses many qualities that require that tradition to be updated in order to help us understand and interpret changes in the way in which wealth is generated. Chief among these is the increasingly immeasurable nature of labour-time in the context of primarily intangible and immaterial processes of production. It is argued that autonomist Marxism presents a strong example of the way in which Marx's original categorizations can be reconfigured to form a theoretical perspective adequate to these new circumstances, which can be combined critically and fruitfully with the earlier theoretical paradigm to illuminate contemporary conditions of labour and capitalism.

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