1st Edition

Capital Redefined A Commonist Value Theory for Liberating Life

    140 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Capital Redefined presents a unique perspective on the nature of “capital,” departing from the prevailing reductionist accounts. Hosseini and Gills offer an expanded perspective on Marxian value theory by addressing its main limitations and building their own integrative value theory. They argue that the current understanding of “value” must be re-examined and liberated from its subservient ties to capital while acknowledging the ways in which capital appropriates value. This is achieved by differentiating between “fetish value” created by capital and “true value” generated through various commons-based forms of coexistence.

    The authors propose a defetishization of value by rejecting the commonly accepted idea of its objectivity. They introduce their “commonist value theory,” which redefines capital as both the product and process of perverting the fundamental commoning causes of true value into sources of fetish value. Capital is theorized through a “modular” framework, where multiple intersecting processes constitute a comprehensive power structure, a “value regime,” representing an unprecedented degree of the domination of capital over life. Their theory reconciles two apparently incompatible views on the notion of value. One view encompasses all inputs involved in capitalist value production and conflates intrinsic and commodity values. The other warns against this conflation as it treats capital as an entity tightly associated only with commodity production and wage labor.

    The authors believe that establishing alternative forms of value creation based on normative principles of living in commons is crucial as an analytical base for criticizing existing power structures and economic systems. The book offers a theoretical foundation for transforming our life worlds toward “post-capitalist” futures. It appeals to scholars and students in various fields, such as political economy, capitalism, and post-capitalist studies, economic and political sociology, globalization, development studies, social ecology, and ecological philosophy.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.


    1 Introduction: On the Necessity of Liberating Value from Capital

    2 Beyond Capital: Away from Marx with Marx

    3 Toward a Modular Conception of Capital: A Metatheoretical Discussion

    4 The Modular Architecture of Capital

    5 Toward a Commonist (Labor) Theory of Value

    6 Recharting the Debates on Labor Theory of Value in Light of Smart Machines, Affect, and Climate Change



    S. A. Hamed Hosseini is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the College of Human and Social Futures, University of Newcastle (UON), Australia. He is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, founder, and director of UON Alternative Futures Research Network, founder, and editor of “Common Alternatives” initiative (www.thecommonalts.com), co-founder and convenor of Alternative Futures Research Hub (UON’s first community-partnered research hub), and co-founder and co-director of the New Economy Network Australia Research Hub.

    Barry K. Gills is Professor of Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and co-founder and active member of the Extractivisms and Alternatives Initiative (ExAlt) based at the university (www.exalt.fi). He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Globalizations and a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science.

    “In this remarkably ambitious book, Hosseini and Gills set out to reinterpret not only Marx himself but also much of the literature, both critical and complementary, that attempts to make Marxism relevant to the challenges of the 21st century. Their Commonist Value Theory for Liberating Life takes its place as a challenging contribution to our understanding of the most important issues of our time.”

    Leslie SklairEmeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics, UK

    "Capital Redefined takes on the massive task of exposing the ways in which economic capital rules the meaning of something so basic as value. Capital overwhelms our values—and our lives. Hosseini and Gills provide us with a theoretically sophisticated way out of this conceptual and lived mess. Agree or disagree, this book needs to be central to the debate about the future of human productivity."

    Paul JamesProfessor of Globalization and Cultural Diversity, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, Australia, and co-author of Globalization Matters: Engaging the Global in Unsettled Times

    “In their new book, Capital Redefined, Hosseini and Gills courageously challenge prevailing totalizing and reductionist formulations of value. Through the application of a new modular theory, they unveil the intricate dynamics of exploitation in contemporary society. With its open-ended approach, this book serves as an invitation to engage in critical debates that will shape our understanding of value in transformative ways.”

    Ariel Salleh, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Centre for Labour, Sustainability, and Global Production, Queen Mary University of London, UK

    "Capital Redefined offers a penetrating analysis of the intricate relationship between value and capital, rethinking and deftly connecting these complex terms to artificial intelligence, social reproduction, ecological crisis, and ultimately life itself. This book is a timely intervention in theory and praxis, fit for purpose in our deeply troubled times."

    William K. CarrollProfessor of Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada, editor of The Elgar Companion to Antonio Gramsci and Regime of Obstruction, and author of A World to Win and Expose, Oppose, Propose

    “For those seeking to explore the pressing issues and revolutionary potentials of our era, Capital Redefined serves as an indispensable literary companion. With audacity and profound insight, Hosseini and Gills delve into the intricacies of reconstructing the Marxian value theory, unveiling a transformative ‘commonist value theory.’ By distinguishing between the illusory allure of fetish value and the inherent worth of true value, they offer a compelling vision for a global post-capitalist social formation rooted in the commonality of life.”

    Hans A. BaerPrincipal Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne, Australia, and author of Climate Change and Capitalism in Australia: An Eco-Socialist Vision for the Future

    “As the world lurches from one crisis to another on a long-term trajectory of disaster, we find ourselves in need of new ideas that are not just thought-provoking but action-promoting. Hosseini and Gills’ Capital Redefined seeks to meet that need. In six concise chapters they invite us to reimagine theory of value from a commonist perspective in an age of climate and ecological emergency. The book is a welcome first step and should be essential reading in post-capitalist critical theory.”

    Jamie Morgan, Professor of Economics, co-edits Real World Economics Review, and co-author of Post Neo-liberal Economics

    “Many current proposals for emancipatory alternatives center around the notion of commons and experiences of commoning. In their book, "Capital Redefined," Hosseini and Gills present a compelling and consistent argument that places "true value" at the core of the defetishization of capitalism. Their commonist value theory enhances the socio-economic functioning of a more desirable and alternative world. The book will undoubtedly shape the debate about radical political strategies."

    Ulrich Brand, Professor of International Politics, University of Vienna, Austria, and co-author of Imperial Mode of Living. Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism

    "A thought-provoking theoretical exploration that forces us to critically reflect on how we frame our conceptual views and carry out political actions. A tour de force, it provides original and fresh perspectives on how we think, or ought to think, of contemporary global burning issues such as the politics of and the struggles for land and food in the context of production and social reproduction."

    Saturnino M. Borras Jr.co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Land Politics

    “If you want to get serious with the Marxian debates concerning the labor theory of value—and everything that surrounds it—then this book is a must read!”

    Alexander DunlapVisiting Research Fellow, Global Development Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland

    “S. A. Hamed Hosseini and Barry K. Gills in their Capital Redefined have made a significant contribution to the ongoing debate surrounding the political economy of capitalism and the quest for alternative economic principles. In their book, they delve into the limitations of Marxist value theory while exploring its potential in shaping post-capitalist development, expand the focus beyond the production of commodity value to include the realization of a more-than-human (commonist) approach to value-setting, offering insights that contribute to a new political economy and a society prioritizing the well-being of humanity and the environment. This thought-provoking book adds depth and insight to the discourse, making it an essential read for those interested in exploring new avenues for socio-economic transformation.”

    Boris Y Kagarlitsky, Professor, Moscow Higher School for Social and Economic Sciences, Russia, editor of “Rabkor'” web-journal, and author of Between Class and Discourse: Left Intellectuals in Defence of Capitalism

    Capital Redefined fearlessly tackles the question of what ‘value’ could be beyond the confines of capitalism. Hosseini and Gills present a transformative framework that broadens value theory, drawing on Critical Realism and a ‘modular’ approach. Their discursive move between ‘fetish value’ and ‘true value’ unveils a path towards creativity, liveability, conviviality, and alterity. While quantitative analysis and metrics are yet to be fully explored, this work invites scholars and activists to engage in a discussion that could invigorate progressive research and policy development.”

    James Juniper, Ph.D., Conjoint Academic, Newcastle Business School, Australia, and author of The Economic Philosophy of the Internet of Things

    “This book introduces an expanded non-capitalist concept of ‘true value’ embedded in ‘life’ itself. Challenging the dichotomy of exchange value and use value within capitalist systems, it presents a post-capitalist horizon that politicizes the technical composition of capital. The book's theoretical approach goes beyond a mere description of capitalist accumulation; it offers a critical vantage point to make claims against it. For scholars and activists envisioning post-capitalist possibilities, Capital Redefined is an essential read.”

    James Goodman, Professor of Social and Political Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and co-author of Beyond the Coal Rush

    “‘Capital Redefined,’ undertakes a critical re-evaluation of capital, positioning it squarely within the challenges of the 21st century. This book transcends traditional Marxist and Pikettian analyses, introducing a unique commonist perspective on value. The distinction between “true value” and “fetish value” is a pivotal contribution, offering a nuanced understanding of capitalism’s impacts. The critical realist framework, refocused on creativity, liveability, conviviality, and alterity, is both innovative and compelling. This work is not merely a critique but a transformative proposal, paving the way for future theories centred on the commons and commoning. It is essential reading for those committed to understanding and shaping the future of economic and social systems.”

    Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Professor of Global Development Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland, and author of The Commons in an Age of Uncertainty