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December 12, 2011



"On the other hand, though, capitalism is unable or unwilling to innovate..."

That's quite a refutation of your own point in the footnotes! Obviously capitalism does innovate - to quite staggering degrees - as anyone who has seen Walmart's food aisle can testify. You don't need me to tell you why (and an unrealistic expectation of profit is only part of a long list of reasons).

Also, State schools "serve the interests of capital" do they?! Odd how private schools, which really do serve the interests of capital, shy away from rubbish exams and are much better at providing rounded teaching.


Explains why we haven't had any decent Xmas songs since the 70s and 80s (and no I'm not a crusty old codger, I was born in the 80s).


@ Charles - I think capitalism has got a problem with innovation - viz Cowen's great stagnation theory, and the composition of the FTSE 100; most firms are in businesses that existed 100 yrs ago.
And I'm not sure private schools do serve the interests of capital. They provide a rounded education because they serve the interests of their customers.


Hang on, we're discussing culture here, so in the case of x-factor what we see is mannufacture of culture and it's imposition upon the rest of us. The capitalist doesn't care about culture which is not commodified, which is not used for profit, and is not under the control of another capitalist like themselves. Unless of course they can buy it out with a big wedge of cash and use it for their own purposes, as I understand has happened to many aspiring artists.

Ralph Musgrave

If you want “mindless drudgery” and the “the soulless imitation of past achievements” religion gives capitalism a run for its money. Religious services are largely the mindless repetition of the same words and phrases.

And there is the moronic idea that X equals Y because “it says so in the Bible / Koran”. Equally mindless.

As for Muslims’ tendency to kill or threaten to kill the authors and publishers they don’t like, that will take civilisation to unprecedented levels of diversity and sophistication, I don’t think.


"Religious services are largely the mindless repetition of the same words and phrases.

And there is the moronic idea that X equals Y because “it says so in the Bible / Koran”. Equally mindless."

Just like the speeches at the supreme soviets. Add Stalinism to the list of words and ideas designed to stop you thinking. Plus the violence and oppression of dissent. No one has a monopoly of mindless stupidity. Or hostility to actual creativity.


Sorry but this just sounds as if you like Cash's version more than Lewis's. So do I, but I ain't gonna elevate my predilection for gravelly voiced country into anything more than it is.


The rent seeking copyright has nothing to do with capitalism. But neither does most of the corporate welfare.

Exam boards are in competition to lower standards and therefore serve the schools and the league tables.

Of course we can't build on culture as copyright locks it up forever. Alloowing it's owners to recycle it, as no-one else has access.

Innovation occurs inspite of interlectual property, not because of it, and is often due to technological progress, some of it driven by research at public universities.

Private industry tries to capture the value of public investment in science and technology research and development.

The technology industry seems to be good at capturing the value of it's products, of course competition should ensure the benefits accrue to society through the consumer surplus, so the profits from innovation should be limited in duration, spuring more innovation.

A market that actually works ?
Intel, Microsoft, Oracle etc all capture large profits and engage in anti-competitive (monopoly) practices.


At least capitalism generates sufficient wealth and bandwidth that fresh artistic works can grow between the cracks in the paving stones. I'm not sure you can say that about the brands of statism that anti-capitalists usually gravitate to.


When you say 'The question: “Is this good work by the standards of a musical tradition?” becomes unaskable', what do you mean? I can ask this question any time I like, and so can you? If you mean people don't ask this question as often as they should, why don't you say that?



Copyright is statist a Government sponsored monopoly, other businessw models are possible, but when you can seek monopoly rents, why bother.

Copyright serves the distributors not the artists, a fact some artists are beginning to recognise.

Culture pre-dates copyright.

Tim Newman

For capitalists, it is useless if we merely contemplate past artistic accomplishments.

That explains why Madonna, The Rolling Stones, and U2 can't sell concert tickets any more: nobody is interesting in past artistic accomplishments.


Your analysis is correct in respect of incumbent suppliers - their incentives are to commoditise, avoid innovation and increase margins. But you ignore the incentive of competition. Once you get a stagnant market with supernormal profits some entrepreneur is going to try and take it on. The rate this happens depends on barriers to entry (low in music now, but still high in TV). A key part of capitalism - perhaps the better part of it - is inevitable creative destruction. Cant wait for it to happen to Simon Cowell - and it will.

Churm Rincewind

This entire post is predicated on the assertion that Leona Lewis' version of the song was "soulless" and that Johnny Cash's version was "meaningful". No. Leona Lewis' version works for today; Johnny Cash's version is preferred by oldsters.

What's the problem?

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