Science and Capital

Dear Prof. Wolff Despite my socialist worldview, I can't help but think that it is extraction of surplus labour and consequent accumulation that made investment in science possible. While I see that state investment does the job of gathering the resources for this task, I do not envision a mechanism for scientists to organise in a more libertarian, horizontal fashion as is the case of co-ops. Are there any authors on the subject? Is this something you'd think that would always require top-down government control? Would you imagine some sort of middle ground between cooperative labour and state control for situations such as this one?

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To the extent that science entails investments of surplus, there is no problem whatsoever if the surplus to be invested is (1) produced by the collective labor of workers, (2) appropriated and distributed by that same collective, and (3) distributed in part to investments in scientific endeavors. In short, a socialization of the production, appropriation and distribution of the surplus is no barrier to the investment of a portion of that surplus into scientific investigation, etc. The quantity and quality of such investment would of course be different if determined democratically by all the surplus producers rather than by a small number of surplus appropriators as in capitalism.


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  • responded with submitted 2016-11-27 19:13:13 -0500
  • published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2016-11-16 07:56:48 -0500

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