Title page for ETD etd-04152009-165600

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Ku, Ryanson Alessandro
Author's Email Address rku1@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-04152009-165600
Title The Spontaneous Generation of Excess and its Capitalist Capture
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Philosophy & Religious Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Greg Schufreider Committee Chair
Greg Stone Committee Member
John Protevi Committee Member
  • Harvey
  • primitive accumulation
  • ideology
  • fetishism
  • historicism
  • abstract machine
  • capitalism
  • nature
  • capital
  • Gramsci
  • surplus value
  • exploitation
  • capture
  • labor
  • Ricardo
  • Marx
  • Deleuze
  • political economy
  • complexity theory
  • economics
  • Social
  • Protevi
  • Negri
  • valorization
  • Althusser
  • assemblage
  • difference
  • rhizome
  • alienation
Date of Defense 2009-04-03
Availability unrestricted
This thesis evaluates the economic and Marxist claims on excess. As its official science, economics takes the capitalist economy as a given and explains excess as savings on costs resulting from the strategic planning of capitalist agents, whose point of view, in studying economic phenomena, economics takes. Marx, in a historicist move, argues that capitalism is but one political economy among many, where the facts assumed by economics, such as savings, are, far from given, attributable to a particular systemic formation (a political event) of social relations and materials into an economy. This systemic social formation that comes to be called capitalism, Marx argues, involves at its core the exploitation of labor, in which capitalists expropriate the surplus value that laborers produce, appropriate it as their profits, which is then accumulated as additional capital.

While this thesis takes the view that something similar to what Marx refers to as exploitation takes place in the capitalist social formation, I argue that a further standpoint beyond historicism is called for to account for the contribution, in addition to that of labor (whose point of view Marx takes), of other elements to the system. Deleuze’s metaphysics provides this standpoint by describing the abstract process that underlies all political economies, namely the assemblage of different elements into a unified, consistent, and productive whole that is the social formation. Thereby exploitation is revealed as a concrete actualization of the virtual process that Deleuze calls capture, an actualization specific to capitalism.

More importantly, capitalist capture is revealed to presuppose a spontaneous generation of excess. As such, exploitation does not exhaust all the productive capacities of the system and is but one potential source of values among others. As Deleuze is quick to point out, however, all the (economic) potentials presupposed to be spontaneously generated are inseparable from the (political) process of capture that subordinates values to the dominant element in the system (e.g. to capital). Marx thus has some warrant to assert that exploitation is fundamental not only to the workings of the capitalist system but, more importantly, to the production of excess.

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