“The Monsters Within: Capital, Cancer, and Crisis” by Benjamin C. Wilson

Reproduced from: http://www.binzagr-institute.org/working-paper-no-114/

Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity

Working Paper No. 114

October 2016

The Monsters Within: Capital, Cancer, and Crisis

Benjamin C. Wilson

Abstract

This paper critiques Marx’s use of the vampire as a metaphor for capital, by suggesting that cancer offers political economists a more appropriate lexicon to describe capitalism’s exploitative and destructive nature. This argument, however, is not limited to a metaphorical narrative. While cancer, similar to dead labor, drains the vitality of living labor, it is also a real disease that is investigated using innovative science to find a cure and treatments designed to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. One of the most promising advances in cancer research comes from the ability to compare the healthy human genome to those undergoing the mutations that produce cancer cells. Genetics’ mapping of cancer’s pathologies is critical to understanding why, how and what treatments are effective. Using the Cancer Atlas as a model, this paper outlines how political economy can apply the imaging technology of geographic information systems to identify patterns in the spread of capitalism’s social and environmental mutations. In addition, these tools also afford an opportunity to investigate the health benefits of institutions and organizations animated by mutual aid and cooperation, rather than rational optimization and efficient production. From this comparative examination, illustrated by maps and described by oncology’s vocabulary, a wider discussion of production, value, and social change becomes more accessible to all those who desire a healthy society with sustainable prosperity available to all.

Keywords: geographic information systems; cancer; capitalism; value.

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Reproduced from: https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/handle/10355/46455

The Production of Space, Place, and Food: The Ecology of Money and the Emergence of Transformative Circuits of Money Capital

Benjamin C. Wilson

2015-08-04

Abstract

This dissertation argues that Henri Lefebvre’s (1991) The Production of Space expresses a theoretical blueprint for the construction of an interdisciplinary approach to social science that integrates political economy, ecology, and geoscience under common meta-theoretical commitments. From this foundation a comparative analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of two food systems is undertaken. The orthodox or industrial food system, characterized by intensive agriculture, and the countervailing agriculture of alternative food networks supply contrasting subjects for investigating the role of distance in the production and reproduction of social and environmental externalities. By means of the Marxian circuits of money capital, each of these food systems is modeled to analyze metabolic changes as distance between the stages: purchase, production, and sale are spatially differentiated. The capacity to investigate distances is facilitated by efforts to overcome critiques of Lefebvre’s theory of space as being too abstract for practical application. This is accomplished by mapping the stages of the Marxian circuits of money capital to the physical locations in which they take place using geographic information systems (GIS). From this perspective, social and environmental externalities are interpreted both visually on maps and quantitatively using spatial analysis techniques. Given this interdisciplinary perspective of the contrasting food systems, it is hypothesized that the primary energy sources used in production are fundamental to understanding distance. Although energy is typically discussed in terms of fossil fuel or biological resources, this investigation extends the analysis to include money. Money as a social relation contributes to a spatial understanding of what Marx called the “opposite metamorphosis” or the valorization of commodities taking place between the stages of purchase and sale. The final substantive chapter outlines a policy proposal to reduce the distance of the “opposite metamorphosis” through the issue of a community currency. The issuance of the community currency expands the money ecology and stabilizes sustainable alternative food networks.

Table of Contents

Introduction — A contribution to the production of space — Industrial food and the ideology of growth — Modeling alternative food networks using the circuit of money capital — Moving the production of space into a geographic information system-first steps — A comparative spatial examination of food’s circuits of money capital — Money as social energy — Reflections and future inquires

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