Platform Capitalism and Basic Income: Beyond the Pros and Cons of Basic Income in the Marxist Debate
The introduction of Basic Income (BI) signifies the appearance of a new distribution principle qualitatively distinguished from the current principle of income distribution which is established on property ownership and labor performance. However, the effect of BI cannot be reduced merely to that in the narrow dimension of income distribution. It will lead to a total redistribution of property and restructuring of production and social reproduction; in other words, a new economy or redistribution of social time. Such a profound change is possible only under a certain condition, and the contemporary crisis of capitalism is that very condition. Herein lies the intersection of Marx’s intellectual legacy and BI. Nevertheless, the encounter of these two positions has been rarely productive for either, so far. There have been three memorable attempts among the few but these are rather limited: one to reduce Marx’s spare remarks on higher period of communism to the justice theory of distribution, another to derive the raison d’etre of BI from the impossibility of the quantification of work-time and value, and the other to ground BI from the perspective of political economy critique by focussing on the concept of expropriation. In this paper, instead, I pay attention to the internalizing process of the production of wealth, which is exterior to the categories of the critique of political economy, as the production of value. I argue that the data-based value creation is not an expropriation, or distribution of the already created surplus, but a valorization, by the platform capital, of the digital commons.
Keywords: platform capitalism, basic income, Marx, data based value creation, valorization of digital commons