Unibg International -Archive : Reading the Grundrisse
Unibg International

Department of Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods

Reading the Grundrisse

Area bacheca: 820&

j) Tony Smith (Iowa State University, USA)
The Role of the General Intellect in Marx's Grundrisse and Beyond

For a number of years Marxian theorists in Italy and France have drawn attention to the importance of the section of the Grundrisse titled "Fragment on Machines", the sole place in Marx's corpus where the term "general intellect" is used. The journal Historical Materialism has made some of their writings available to English-speakers who do not know Italian or French (a provincial audience to which the author unfortunately belongs).

This paper will discuss questions raised in recently translated papers by Paolo Virno and Albero Toscano: To what extent does this text from the Grundrisse present an account of capitalist development diverging from the views Marx presented elsewhere? Does the increasing importance of the "general intellect" in capitalism make value theory less central to the comprehension of capitalism? Is there a sense in which post-Fordism institutionalizes the general intellect? Did Marx in fact hold that the general intellect fully coincides with the scientific power objectified in machinery / fixed capital? Should the increasing importance of "diffuse intellectuality" be conceptualized as a sublation of real subsumption, and a transition to a new historical period in which forms of formal subsumption dominate? What are the direct practical consequences of the rise of "mass intellectuality"? More specifically, is the "cognitariat" becoming more autonomous from capital? And, finally, what are the long-term political possibilities opened up by role of the general intellect in contemporary society?