The Network’s Blindspot: Exclusion, Exploitation and Marx’s Process-Relational Ontology
AbstractThe ‘network metaphor’ impoverishes our understanding of power. Its binary logic of inclusion/exclusion leaves it blind to relations of exploitation. However, instead of ideological critique – the standard Marxist approach - this paper reconstructs Marx’s theory of exploitation from a common “process-relational ontology” that is shared by both network theorists and Marx. From this shared ontology it becomes possible to demonstrate how Marx’s materialization of process through ‘production’ and his understanding of relations as ‘internal’ and ‘contradictory’ lead him not into an inclusion/exclusion cul-de-sac but rather to a critique of exploitation writ large. This paper concludes by briefly demonstrating how the theory of exploitation that emerges from Marx’s process-relational ontology is ideally suited to understanding and critiquing the intensification and extensification of exploitation under informational capitalism.
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