Six theses on waste, value, and commons

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The origins of capitalist value theory lie in transformations of property through enclosure of 'commons-as-waste' and practices of 'commoning' that supported these. These processes, repeated with difference, remain with us. Capitalist value production becomes a structure of necessity in societies that are profit seeking rather than needs oriented; the history of capitalist value is one of the unrelenting attempts to subordinate needs-oriented forms of value production to its accumulative logic. In the process, it continuously casts certain people, places, and conducts as wasteful, superfluous, or residual. In short, capitalist value constantly battles to assert its normative superiority over and autonomy from other forms of value production that interweaves with it. Waste, immanent to capital's becoming-being, poses a jeopardy to capital accumulation: it is, on the one hand, capitalist value-in-waiting and on the other hand, it is an omnipresent logic of dissipation that evades or exceeds capital's dialectic, threatening its legitimacy and existence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-783
Number of pages11
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • capital
  • commons
  • dialectic
  • labor
  • value
  • waste

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