Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



This thesis evaluates the economic and Marxist claims on excess. As its official science, economics takes the capitalist economy as a given and explains excess as savings on costs resulting from the strategic planning of capitalist agents, whose point of view, in studying economic phenomena, economics takes. Marx, in a historicist move, argues that capitalism is but one political economy among many, where the facts assumed by economics, such as savings, are, far from given, attributable to a particular systemic formation (a political event) of social relations and materials into an economy. This systemic social formation that comes to be called capitalism, Marx argues, involves at its core the exploitation of labor, in which capitalists expropriate the surplus value that laborers produce, appropriate it as their profits, which is then accumulated as additional capital. While this thesis takes the view that something similar to what Marx refers to as exploitation takes place in the capitalist social formation, I argue that a further standpoint beyond historicism is called for to account for the contribution, in addition to that of labor (whose point of view Marx takes), of other elements to the system. Deleuze’s metaphysics provides this standpoint by describing the abstract process that underlies all political economies, namely the assemblage of different elements into a unified, consistent, and productive whole that is the social formation. Thereby exploitation is revealed as a concrete actualization of the virtual process that Deleuze calls capture, an actualization specific to capitalism. More importantly, capitalist capture is revealed to presuppose a spontaneous generation of excess. As such, exploitation does not exhaust all the productive capacities of the system and is but one potential source of values among others. As Deleuze is quick to point out, however, all the (economic) potentials presupposed to be spontaneously generated are inseparable from the (political) process of capture that subordinates values to the dominant element in the system (e.g. to capital). Marx thus has some warrant to assert that exploitation is fundamental not only to the workings of the capitalist system but, more importantly, to the production of excess.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Greg Schufreider