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November 01, 2013

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FromArseToElbow

"The decline of mass production and rise of more human capital-intensive businesses means that traditional capitalism with external shareholders and top-down hierarchies is no longer technically efficient".

Though automation can create high-value roles (e.g. IT jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago), the aggregate impact is less human capital-intensive business, not more. That's why we have more robots, a growing surplus of labour, and stagnating wages for all but a few.

This means that top-down hierarchies, based on the ownership of capital (i.e. robots), are not going away.

"The internet is facilitating cooperation at the expense of traditional capitalism". No, it's facilitating global monopolies. For all the "long tail" ideological blether, the reality is consolidation. The Internet might look like devolution, but in reality it is a scale economy.

Of course both of these features, capital-labour substitution and monopolistic concentration, are as predicted by Marx.

Luis Enrique

so either you believe:

1. capitalism will deliver "abundance so complete that it removes all major conflicts of interests" ... in which case what sort of lunatic would call themselves anti-capitalist?

2. capitalism will not deliver "abundance so complete ..." ... in which socialism is not feasible

Deviation From the Mean

"The internet is facilitating cooperation at the expense of traditional capitalism."

Though the capitalists are seeing to it that this process is reversed. Capitalism is a fetter on where the technology is right now.

"No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient have been developed."

I always felt that this was an exceedingly bold statement. But saying it doesn't make it so.

anders

"Technologies must exist which permit cooperative modes of production, and which capitalism cannot develop."

What does the second bit mean? Surely all technologies are being developed by capitalism (albeit in many cases with state subsidy)?

Rob Smith

All of these discussions are worthless because every discussion on socialism/Marxism utterly fails to consider human nature and, more importantly, the human survival instinct. While you all decry capitalism, you continue to promote and dream about a political philosophy that has repeatedly failed to fulfill its promise. In order to dismantle capitalism you must come up with something that uses human nature better than capitalism. Anything else is a waste of time.

Andrew

What I don't understand is what "within capitalism" means.

Capitalism is a description of certain parts of the economic world. A state of affairs. It is not a cause of anything independent of the systems it describes.

And yet you are always describing it as one amongst a set of implied alternatives, as if "we" could switch it like an energy company.

I understand that Marx thought that capitalism was a self-limiting process that would produce certain conditions necessary and sufficient for its downfall. In which case is Marxism nothing more than an opinion about the future?

What about "the point is to change things"? What about economics not being properly concerned with grand forecasts?

There seems to be a tension between the Marxism view of an almost deterministic view of social mood (determined by conditions of production) and desire to change this mood somehow in order to initiate change.

Is that fair?

Anonymous

@ Tim, if you're reading this, welcome :-)

If you're not, poo and willy to you.

UnlearningEcon

@luis

Capitalism may 'deliver the goods', but the marxist argument is that they are unevenly distributed and often wasted, while production is often focused on superfluous things.

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Martin S

"People must be sufficiently wealthy that they have pro-social motives. Marx saw what Ben Friedman has corroborated - that the potential for cooperation grows with income"

This doesn't seem right to me.

A more plausible Darwinian scenario is that cooperative behaviour occurs among the poor because sharing is necessary for survival. You help each other out or you die.

The priority for the rich is hanging on to what they have. And they don't need anyone else to survive. They just need high walls and a police force.

Anecdotal evidence from Kensington high street suggests the rich are rather less pro-social than the rest of us. They have a greater sense of entitlement and tend to barge past everyone else.

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