Appropriation of Digital Machines and Appropriation of Fixed Capital as the Real Appropriation of Social Being: A Comment on Toni Negri’s Article “The Appropriation of Fixed Capital: A Metaphor?”

Keywords: Toni Negri, fixed capital, appropriation, digital capitalism, digital machines, Karl Marx


This article is a reflection and comment on Toni Negri’s essay “The Appropriation of Fixed Capital: A Metaphor?”. The comment first points out aspects of Negri’s reception of Marx. It stresses the continuities of the Grundrisse and Capital. In both, we can find a dialectical concept of technology. Second, this paper points out that Negri’s notion of the appropriation of technology/fixed capital should best be read as a critique of techno-optimism à la Marshall McLuhan and of techno-pessimism à la Martin Heidegger. Negri advances a dialectical concept of appropriation that is focused on the appropriation, and therefore transformation, of technology and society. Third, this reflection asks: What does it mean to appropriate digital machines? Concrete strategies of digital appropriation are outlined. The author argues that commons-public partnerships can be powerful political means of struggle against digital capitalism.

Acknowledgement: This article was first published as a book chapter. It is reproduced based on a Creative Commons licence. Original source: Fuchs, Christian. 2019. Appropriation of Digital Machines and Appropriation of Fixed Capital as the Real Appropriation of Social Being: Reflections on Toni Negri’s Chapter. In Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data, 215-221. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI:

Author Biography

Christian Fuchs, Paderborn University, Department of Media Studies: Media Systems and Media Organisation

Christian Fuchs is Chair Professor of Media Systems and Media Organisation. He is co-editor of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. His research interests are: critical theory, social theory, political economy of media and communication, critical digital media studies.
URL:, Twitter @fuchschristian

Reflections (Non Peer-Reviewed)