Monday, March 3, 2014

One Last Thought on Innovation... a.k.a. The Work We Do

One Last Thought on Innovation... a.k.a. The Work We Do

I had this on my mind tonight and thought I'd get out a quick blog post about it before taking my mind off-duty:

There could be one way to read McCloskey as a re-imagining of a pseudo-Marxist labor theory of value, and that is by shifting or expanding the idea of "human labor power" to include "innovation," or "innovative labor power."

This still clearly glosses over the "less/non-innovative" workers, and it muddles up Marx, of course (hence the "pseudo"). But would academicians argue that what they do isn't innovation, that it isn't work, or that they don't benefit from the surplus value added (by them) to their materials? I think Marx makes teachers into wage laborers, but... Just like patent laws commodify new technologies, copyright laws commodify new ideas. The slogan "Publish [new ideas] or perish" could be inscribed on a capitalist banner. And, of course, there's the "commodity fetishization" attached to emergent, subversive ideas.

Would this add a layer of meaning to Gramsci's conception of the traditional, hegemony-expanding intellectual or irony to the idea that it could be otherwise?

Side note: In the nineteenth century, there were "mind workers," which, I believe, would include innovative capitalists. In Ford Madox Brown's Work, two "mind workers" stand in reflection at the right. True, they don't look extremely productive here, and Carlyle seems a bit smirky; but there it is. It seems like there's a possibility for (justifying exploitation through?) this conflation of the worker and the innovative capitalist...

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