The More-Than-Human Life of Capitalism: Assemblages, Affects and the Neoliberal Black Hole

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Abstract

This paper applies a more-than-human, relational, new materialist ontology to ask the Deleuzian question: what does capitalism actually do? The transactions identified in Marx’s Capital are re-analysed as more-than-human assemblages, constituted by affective flows involving both human and non-human matter. The paper then identifies further more-than-human affects that produce the fluctuations in prices and quantities of goods sold, described in classical economics as the ‘laws of supply and demand’. Analysis reveals these affects to be associated with the affective and relational capacities of commodities. The consequences of this more-than-human ontology of capitalism are explored by means of a short case study of the digital economy. This demonstrates how more-than-human affects are responsible for many of the negative consequences of a capitalist economy, including uncertainty, waste and social inequalities. The paper suggests that capitalism is progressively becoming a ‘black hole’ from which neither workers nor capitalist enterprises can escape, and draws conclusions that diverge radically from both neoliberal and Marxist analyses of capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number632
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Sciences
Volume12
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023

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