Intellectual Property (Marx from the Margins: A collective Project from A -Z)

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Marx has never, to the best of my knowledge, dealt directly with intellectual property, which is the relations and dynamics of ownership established through copyright, patent and trademark law. Rather, he focused on science, in particular on what we would call today “research and development” (R&D), which is those elements of techno-scientific innovation most directly related to the production process. He understood science as a social phenomenon organized under capitalism as wage labor, like most other activities in the production process. This, to some degree, reflects the historical circumstances of the mid 19th century. The distinction between basic and applied science was not yet fully developed, and the copyright industries were economically relatively insignificant and trademarks barely established.

Still, within a broadly Marxist viewpoint, three main perspectives can be mobilized to help understand the current role that intellectual property plays, both in the expansion of capitalism as well as in challenges to it: accumulation by dispossession, alienated labor, and general intellect.

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Source: Krisis: JOURNAL for contemporary philosophy. Issue 2, 2018 p.83-85