means of production

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Meghnad Desai Marxian economic theory by Unknown

business cycle, commoditize, Corn Laws, full employment, land reform, means of production, p-value, price mechanism, profit motive

This free labour is free in two senses. It is free from feudal ties and any extra-economic compulsions: it is free to enter into contract. It is also free in another sense. It has been divested of its means of production. Unlike a farmer tilling his (owned or rented) land or a weaver with his loom working either for himself or in a putting out system, the free labourer has no means of production, no tools of trade to work with. This severing of means of production from labour is the outcome of a long historical process which renders peasants into unskilled industrial labour and breaks up Guilds and ruins cottage industries {17}.

It is not money which by its nature creates this relation; it is rather the existence of this relation which permits of the transformation of a mere money-function into a capital-function. 11/1/30. 146 (62) M - L: The HistoricaZ Conditions In order that the sale of one's own labour-power (in the fornl of the sale of one's own labour or in the form of wages) may constitute not an isolated phenomenon but a socially decisive premise for the production of commodities, in order that money-capital may therefore perform, on a social scale, the above-discussed function M - C < ~ historical processes are assumed by which the original connection of the means of production with labourpower was dissolved - processes in consequence of I."hich the mass of the people, the labourers, have as non-owners, come face to face with the non-labourers as the ol.ners of these means of production. 11/1/31 (63) The Production FUnction is AhistoricaZ Whatever the social form of production, labourers and means of production always remain factors of it •..• For production to go on at all they must unite. The specific manner in which this union is accomplished distinguishes the different economic epochs of the structure of society from one another. 11/1/34 (64) The Different Nature of Means of Production and Labour-P~er The means of production and labour-power, in so far as they are forms of existence of advanced capital-value, are distinguished by the different roles assumed by them during the process of production in the creation of value, hence also of surplus value, into constant and variable capital.

The specific manner in which this union is accomplished distinguishes the different economic epochs of the structure of society from one another. 11/1/34 (64) The Different Nature of Means of Production and Labour-P~er The means of production and labour-power, in so far as they are forms of existence of advanced capital-value, are distinguished by the different roles assumed by them during the process of production in the creation of value, hence also of surplus value, into constant and variable capital. Being different components of productive capital they are furthermore distinguished by the fact that the means of production in the possession of the capitalist remains his capital even outside of the process of production, while labour-power becomes the form of existence of an individual capital only within this process.


pages: 51 words: 14,616

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

Anton Chekhov, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, means of production, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Upton Sinclair

Human society starts out as tribal, in which the means of production are collectively owned and the products of labor are equally and collectively shared by the tribe; it then moves to the next stage, that of slave-owning society, where the means of production—the slave and the land—are privately owned by the slave owner. The next stage is feudal society, where the principal owners (at times, the only owner) of everything are the king and the nobility. Feudal society is followed by capitalism, where the means of production (the factories, the land, the banks) are privately owned by the capitalist class. And so it goes, from one stage to another, the movement typified by the method of production (tribal, slave, feudal, capitalist) and by the type of ownership of the means of production (collective, private), which is the central issue.

After years and years of laborious study, Marx answered in the affirmative: Yes, the law of social development existed and that law was economic in nature; it had to do with (1) who owned the means of production, (2) what kind of ownership prevailed, and (3) what was the method of production. In the simplest of terms, Marx proposed the following: Human society develops along certain lines; it progresses in a certain predetermined direction; it moves only one way, never going back, never regressing to a previously attained stage. Human society starts out as tribal, in which the means of production are collectively owned and the products of labor are equally and collectively shared by the tribe; it then moves to the next stage, that of slave-owning society, where the means of production—the slave and the land—are privately owned by the slave owner.

That judgment shall be made only when and if a society based on the collective ownership of the means of production is actually created. And that brings me to the subject of the Soviet Union which, as you recall, I promised to look into. What certainly did occur in the U.S.S.R. was the abolishing of private property. The same happened in Albania, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, the People's Republic of Korea, Poland, Romania, Vietnam. But in none of them was public, collective property instituted. What replaced private ownership was state ownership. All the means of production were both de jure and de facto owned, controlled, and run by the state.


The Communist Manifesto in Plain and Simple English (A Modern Translation and the Original Version) by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels

means of production

In its positive goals, however, this form of Socialism plans either to restore the old means of production and of exchange, and with them the old property relations, and the old society, or to cramp the modern means of production and of exchange, within the framework of the old property relations that have been, and were bound to be, exploded by those means. In either case, it is both reactionary and Utopian. In its positive aims, however, this form of Socialism aspires either to restoring the old means of production and of exchange, and with them the old property relations, and the old society, or to cramping the modern means of production and of exchange, within the framework of the old property relations that have been, and were bound to be, exploded by those means.

Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground -- what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour? We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in short, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became like chains. They had to be burst; they were burst. We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society.

Subjection of Nature's forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization of rivers, whole populations magically brought out of the ground -- what earlier century could even dream that such productive forces slept in the lap of social labour? We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in short, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became like chains.


Free Money for All: A Basic Income Guarantee Solution for the Twenty-First Century by Mark Walker

3D printing, 8-hour work day, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, commoditize, financial independence, full employment, happiness index / gross national happiness, industrial robot, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, longitudinal study, market clearing, means of production, new economy, obamacare, off grid, Plutocrats, plutocrats, precariat, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Rosa Parks, science of happiness, Silicon Valley, surplus humans, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, working poor

On one hand, communists might claim victory since there is no longer exploitation of labor by the capitalist class. On the other, since everyone owns the means of production, capitalists can claim victory—the means of production were not seized by the proletariats, as Marx predicted. In the envisioned future, the working class is absorbed into the capitalist class, as everyone owns their own means of production. In which case, Marx is wrong: the means of production are not owned socially at the end of capitalism. Perhaps, in the spirit of diplomacy, we ought to consider it a tie, since both capitalism and communism achieve their main aim: the MOP remain privately owned and workers are no longer exploited.

Rather, the point is this, we need to at least understand Marx better than Epstein does before making any such judgments. 46 FREE MONEY FOR ALL Inverted Marxism: A Purer Form of Capitalism Marx makes two important claims: socializing ownership of the means of production would lead to increased freedom for workers, and capitalism is inherently unjustly coercive. Both claims have been challenged. A common response to the first claim is that workers would not be (or are not) freer under a socialized ownership of the means of production. Proponents of this view might point to the inefficiencies of socialist economies. Workers often have to work as many hours as their counterparts in capitalistic economies for less money, and so Marx was wrong to think that socialized ownership of the means of production would result in more freedom.

The second claim, that capitalism is inherently unjustly coercive, has been challenged in two ways: it has been argued that private ownership of the means of production is coercive, but not unjustly so, and that the private ownership of the means of production is not coercive. For present proposes, we will follow suit with the critics of Marxism and reject both claims by Marx. That is, we will accept, at least for the purposes of argument, that socialism will not lead to more freedom for workers, and that private ownership of the means of production is not unjustly coercive. What I want to suggest is that neither is sufficient to vindicate the contemporary version of capitalism.


pages: 165 words: 48,594

Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism by Richard D. Wolff

asset-backed security, Bear Stearns, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, feminist movement, financial intermediation, Howard Zinn, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, wage slave, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration

They must sell their labor power to those who own the means of production in order to survive. Because of these and many other difficulties, I define capitalism differently. My distinctive focus is not on property or distribution mechanisms or freedom. Instead, I highlight the internal organization of production and distribution: how the social sites where goods and services are produced and distributed organize those processes. A capitalist system is, then, one in which a mass of people—productive workers—interact with nature to fashion both means of production (tools, equipment, and raw materials) and final products for human consumption.

Those key differences then shaped the intellectual struggles between devotees of the two systems, the political struggles between social movements and parties committed to different systems, and the changes brought about by successful revolutions. 5.1 Key Differences between Capitalism and Socialism The first key difference between capitalism and socialism deals with who owns the means of production: land, machines, factories, offices, and so on. Capitalism is the system in which private property predominates. The means of production are privately owned and are contributed to production only if in return the private owners obtain a share of the production’s output (the surplus or profit). In contrast, socialism is defined as a system in which productive property is socialized—becoming the property of the people as a whole—and is then administered by the state for the people as a whole (not for the surplus or profit of private owners).

Moreover, the practical exigencies of the USSR after 1917 and of “actually existing socialist” economies thereafter led them to emphasize expanding output (and especially means of production) via state ownership and planning. This too helped to push issues of radical transformation inside enterprises to a very secondary status, especially among those who equated socialism with what those economies were struggling to establish. They often banished notions of workers becoming also the direct, first appropriators and hence distributors of enterprise surpluses to the murky future realms of socialist utopias. In my view, the macro-level changes brought about by traditional socialism (nationalized ownership of means of production, planning, reduced income inequality, etc.) did not survive in part because they were not accompanied and reinforced by micro-level changes in the internal reorganization of enterprises.


pages: 164 words: 44,947

Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World by Robert Lawson, Benjamin Powell

Airbnb, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, equal pay for equal work, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Kickstarter, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, profit motive, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, single-payer health, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Workers are alienated because market forces, not the workers themselves, decide what will be produced, how it will be produced, and who will produce it. This means that workers are forced to work for the capitalists who own the means of production and dictate terms to the workers, often leaving them in dull, monotonous jobs, earning unfair wages. Marx claimed that once private property in the means of production was eliminated, workers could produce for their needs, rather than for the capitalists’ profits, and thus end alienation. Marx’s theory of history was the final pillar of his system. He believed the collapse of capitalism and transition to socialism was inevitable.

Society-wide socialism “from below” that doesn’t entail state ownership is a contradiction in terms. * * * So what the hell is socialism if every country that has ever collectivized the means of production is not socialist? Many of the conference attendees we asked thought socialism meant simply aspiring toward a world with better conditions for various marginalized groups. Few correctly identified collectivism or state ownership of the means of production as the defining characteristic of socialism, and most had not come here to celebrate that. I [Ben] spoke with three young women after the conclusion of the opening rally, all of whom were associated with the Berkeley International Socialist Organization.

We think a significant number of them identify as socialists without understanding socialism’s defining characteristic—which is state ownership of the means of production and the abolishment of private property. They define socialism as a more radical brand of progressive or leftist beliefs. A significant number of socialist leaders at this conference, however, did support socialism as we understand the term and would socialize the means of production if given the chance. We fear that they are using social justice causes like abortion, the environment, and immigrant rights to bring more young people into the fold.


pages: 369 words: 94,588

The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey

accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, call centre, capital controls, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, failed state, financial innovation, Frank Gehry, full employment, global reserve currency, Google Earth, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, Herbert Marcuse, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, land reform, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, means of production, megacity, microcredit, Money creation, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, place-making, Ponzi scheme, precariat, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Savings and loan crisis, sharing economy, Shenzhen special economic zone , Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, special economic zone, statistical arbitrage, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, the market place, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, women in the workforce

. ——— When capitalists reinvest, they need to find extra means of production available in the market place. The inputs they require are of two sorts: intermediate products (already shaped by human labour) that can be used up in the production process (such as the energy and cloth needed to make a coat) and the machinery and fixed capital equipment, including factory buildings and the physical infrastructures such as transport systems, canals and ports that support the activity of production. The category of means of production is evidently very broad and complicated. But if any of these means of production turn out to be unavailable, then this constitutes a barrier to further capital accumulation.

But the form of capital circulation that has come to dominate from the mid-eighteenth century onwards is that of industrial or production capital. In this case the capitalist starts the day with a certain amount of money, and, having selected a technology and organisational form, goes into the market place and buys the requisite amounts of labour power and means of production (raw materials, physical plant, intermediate products, machinery, energy and the like). The labour power is combined with the means of production through an active labour process conducted under the supervision of the capitalist. The result is a commodity that is sold by its owner, the capitalist, in the market place for a profit. The next day, the capitalist, for reasons that will shortly become apparent, takes a portion of yesterday’s profit, converts it into fresh capital and begins the process anew on an expanded scale.

The trend towards falling profits (which Ricardo had identified) and the crises to which it inevitably would give rise were internal to capitalism and not explicable at all in terms of natural limits. But it is hard to make Marx’s theory of the falling rate of profit work when innovation is as much capital or means of production saving (through, for example, more efficient energy use) as it is labour saving. Marx himself actually listed a variety of counteracting influences to a falling rate of profit, including rising rates of exploitation of labour, falling costs of means of production (capital-saving innovations), foreign trade that lowered resource costs, a massive increase in the industrial reserve army of labour that blunts the stimulus for the employment of new technologies, along with the constant devaluation of capital, the absorption of surplus capital in the production of physical infrastructures, as well as, finally, monopolisation and the opening up of new labour-intensive lines of production.


pages: 504 words: 143,303

Why We Can't Afford the Rich by Andrew Sayer

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, anti-globalists, asset-backed security, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, bond market vigilante , Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deglobalization, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), investor state dispute settlement, Isaac Newton, James Carville said: "I would like to be reincarnated as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.", James Dyson, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land value tax, long term incentive plan, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, patent troll, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, popular capitalism, predatory finance, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, working poor, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

But apart from things like cooking equipment, most of us lack the means of production to produce the things that we need and hence are dependent on those who do own or control those means of production. So, most people, whether they consider themselves working class or middle class, are dependent on others – those who own means of production and who are willing to employ them – for making a living. In a capitalist society, most means of production are privately owned by a minority. In the classic sense,83 a capitalist is someone who owns means of production and uses it to employ others to produce goods and services at a profit.

But this situation where workers own or at least control the means of production they use is enjoyed by only a minority today. As Marx clearly saw, it’s very different from the kind of property in means of production that dominates modern capitalism. This allows a massive centralisation of the ownership and control of means of production into the hands of a minority, so that they can then extract unearned income from the majority as a condition of allowing them to benefit from the use of the technological inheritance. In Tawney’s words, the result is that the means of production become not ‘a means of work but an instrument of gain or the exercise of power, and . . . there is no guarantee that gain bears any relation to service, or power to responsibility’.8 Ownership is divorced from work, and from the workers.

But, as they own neither the so-called ‘means of production’ nor the output, they have little power and are dependent on those who do own them – the capitalists. (I’ll explain why I don’t use the more flattering term ‘entrepreneur’ in Chapter Eight.) We’ve seen that landlords and money lenders, as rentiers, get their money from controlling existing assets. Capitalists own already existing means of production, so are they any different from rentiers? The answer is yes and no. Almost everything we need has to be produced, and this almost always requires means of production. But apart from things like cooking equipment, most of us lack the means of production to produce the things that we need and hence are dependent on those who do own or control those means of production.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, drone strike, end world poverty, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, Gunnar Myrdal, Herbert Marcuse, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, Money creation, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Savings and loan crisis, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

The capitalist starts the day with a certain amount of money (whether the money is borrowed or owned outright does not matter here). That money is used to purchase means of production (use of land and all the resources that lie therein, as well as partially finished inputs, energy, machinery and the like). The capitalist also finds a labour market at hand and hires workers under contract for a given period of work (say, eight hours a day for five days for a weekly wage). The acquisition of these means of production and of labour power precedes the moment of production. The labour power is, however, usually remunerated after production has occurred, whereas the means of production are usually paid for prior to production (unless purchased on credit).

After all, the extraction of surpluses from labour presupposes the domination and the relative unfreedom of labour under the rule of capital. As Marx ironically noted, labourers are free in the double sense: they are free to sell their labour power to whomsover they like, at the same time as they have been freed from control over those means of production (for example, the land) which would permit them to make a livelihood other than that defined by wage labour. The historical divorce of labour from access to the means of production entailed a long and continuing history of violence and coercion in the name of capital’s freedom of access to wage labour. Capital also required a freedom to roam the world in search of profitable possibilities and this required, as we earlier saw, the eradication or reduction of physical, social and political barriers to its mobility.

This ‘fairness’ rests on the conceit that labourers have an individualised private property right over the labour power they are capable of furnishing to capital as a commodity (a commodity which has the use value to capital of being able to produce value and surplus value) and that they are ‘free’ to dispose of that labour power to whomsoever they like. It is most convenient for capital, of course, that labourers be ‘freed’ of any access to the land or even to any means of production. They then have no option except to sell their labour power in order to live. When put to work, capitalists can see to it that labourers produce more in commodity values than the market value of their labour power. Labourers, in short, must add more value than they get if capital is to be created and reproduced.


pages: 823 words: 220,581

Debunking Economics - Revised, Expanded and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned? by Steve Keen

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Money creation, money market fund, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Post-Keynesian economics, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk free rate, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Savings and loan crisis, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave, zero-sum game

‘Guilty of this or that inconsistency because of this or that compromise’ In the course of his attempt to preserve the labor theory of value proposition that labor-power is the only source of surplus value, Marx advanced three propositions which fundamentally contravene his general approach to commodities: that, in the case of the means of production, the purchaser makes use of their exchange-value, not their use-value; that their use-value cannot exceed their exchange-value; and that the use-value of commodity inputs to production somehow reappears in the use-value of the commodities they help create. Marx began with the simple assertion that the means of production can transfer no more than their exchange-value to the product. He next attempted to forge an equality between the exchange-value and the use-value of the means of production, by equating the depreciation of a machine to its productive capacity.

If therefore an article loses its utility, it also loses its value. The reason why means of production do not lose their value, at the same time that they lose their use-value, is this: they lose in the labor process the original form of their use-value, only to assume in the product the form of a new use-value. Hence it follows that in the labor process the means of production transfer their value to the product only so far as along with their use-value they lose also their exchange-value. They give up to the product that value alone which they themselves lose as means of production. (Ibid.) Don’t worry if you found that paragraph hard to understand: it is replete with erroneous and ambiguous propositions.

These agents buy commodities – specifically, labor and raw materials – with money, put these to work in a factory to produce other commodities, and then sell these commodities for (hopefully) more money, thus making a profit. Marx stylized this as M – C – M+: Money→Commodity→More money The complete circuit, and the one which emphasizes the fallacy behind Walras’s Law, was M – C(L, MP) … P … C+c – M+m: Money→Labor and means of production … Production … Different commodities, of greater value than paid for the labor and means of production→Sale of commodities to generate more money This circuit specifically violates Say’s Principle and Walras’s Law. Rather than simply wanting to exchange one set of commodities for another of equivalent value, the agents in this circuit wish to complete it with more wealth than they started with.


pages: 265 words: 15,515

Nomad Citizenship: Free-Market Communism and the Slow-Motion General Strike by Eugene W. Holland

business cycle, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, continuation of politics by other means, deskilling, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Herbert Marcuse, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kim Stanley Robinson, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, peak oil, price mechanism, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, slashdot, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, wage slave, working poor, Yochai Benkler

“In the history of primitive ac­ cumulation,” Marx says, all revolutions are epoch-making that act as levers for the capital class in course of formation; but, above all, those moments when great masses of men are suddenly and forcibly torn from their means of subsistence, and hurled as free and “unattached” proletarians on the labor-market.55 Hence what the title of the first chapter of part VIII calls the “secret” of so-called primitive accumulation is that it really designates the ruthless des­ titution of the working poor, not the stockpiling of wealth in liquid form: The capitalist system presupposes the complete separation of the laborers from all property in the means by which they can realize their labor. . . .The process, therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the laborer the possession of his means of production. . . . The so-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production.56 Indeed, classical political economy was often surprisingly forthright about the conditions required for working people to submit to wage labor (and hence capitalism), as Perelman has shown in his detailed study of “clas­ sical political economy and the secret of primitive accumulation” (as his subtitle has it).57 He quotes one German government minister who ac­ knowledged that when all land has passed into private ownership . . . and capital exerts [its] compulsion on liberated or free workers . . . the command of the slave owner has been replaced by the contract between worker and employer, a contract which is free in form but not really in substance.

Unlike capitalism, where “individuals are subsumed under social production, which exists outside them as their fate,” under communism, social production is to be “subsumed under the individuals who manage it as their common wealth.”21 Remarkably enough, Marx actually ac­ knowledges the Interest of organizing social production via the market: It has been said, and may be said, that the beauty and the greatness lies precisely in this spontaneously evolved connection, in this material and spiritual exchange, which is independent of the knowledge and wishes of individuals and presupposes their mutual independence and indifference.22 But he goes on to critique this view from the perspective of the third, communist stage of historical development, where “social relationships are their own communal [gemeinschaftlich] relations and therefore sub­ jected to their own communal control.”23 And in fact, Marx had already rejected this positive view of the market two pages earlier: “there can . . . be nothing more incorrect or more absurd than to assume, on the strength of exchange-value, of money, control by the associated individuals of their collective production.”24 And he does so in terms that betray the over­ confident Enlightenment modernism shared by most major Marxisms: communism, in this view, would represent “knowledge and will derived from reflection,” the “subordination” of social production by “commu­ nal control” of the means of production,25 a division of labor based on exchange-value being replaced by a social (i.e., nonmarket) organization of labor, “as well as the planned distribution of labor time over the vari­ ous branches of production.”26 It may be possible to read too much into a turn of phrase or two, but this is a watershed.

Scare quotes are often placed around the word primitive for a number of reasons, the least of which is that it is M arx’s German equivalent for Adam Smith’s origi­ nal term, which is simply previous accumulation—referring to the stock­ piled wealth the capitalist supposedly invested for the first time in means of production to initiate the dynamic of capital accumulation. The term itself thus designates the historical emergence of capitalism as a mode of production and also seems to raise questions about where the “first” stockpile of capital-to-be might have come from. The last part of Capital, volume 1 (part VIII, chapters 26-33), sets out to debunk Smith’s moral fable according to which the thrifty protocapitalist saves up money un­ til he is in a position to hire the profligate, who have nothing but their labor power to sell.


pages: 918 words: 257,605

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

algorithmic bias, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, book scanning, Broken windows theory, California gold rush, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, corporate personhood, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, disinformation, dogs of the Dow, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, Ford paid five dollars a day, future of work, game design, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hive mind, Ian Bogost, impulse control, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, linked data, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, means of production, multi-sided market, Naomi Klein, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, off grid, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, Paul Buchheit, performance metric, Philip Mirowski, precision agriculture, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Robert Mercer, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, smart cities, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Bannon, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, structural adjustment programs, surveillance capitalism, The Future of Employment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, two-sided market, union organizing, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck, Yochai Benkler, you are the product

This helps to explain why it is inaccurate to think of Google’s users as its customers: there is no economic exchange, no price, and no profit. Nor do users function in the role of workers. When a capitalist hires workers and provides them with wages and means of production, the products that they produce belong to the capitalist to sell at a profit. Not so here. Users are not paid for their labor, nor do they operate the means of production, as we’ll discuss in more depth later in this chapter. Finally, people often say that the user is the “product.” This is also misleading, and it is a point that we will revisit more than once. For now let’s say that users are not products, but rather we are the sources of raw-material supply.

In a third phase of competitive intensity, surveillance capitalists discovered the necessity of economies of action based on new methods that go beyond tracking, capturing, analyzing, and predicting behavior in order to intervene in the state of play and actively shape behavior at the source. The result is that the means of production are subordinated to an elaborate new means of behavioral modification, which relies upon a variety of machine processes, techniques, and tactics (tuning, herding, conditioning) to shape individual, group, and population behavior in ways that continuously improve their approximation to guaranteed outcomes. Just as industrial capitalism was driven to the continuous intensification of the means of production, so surveillance capitalists are now locked in a cycle of continuous intensification of the means of behavioral modification.

See Google Street View market democracy, 31–32, 40, 496–497 Marketplace of Revolution, The (Breen), 502 Marx, Karl, 99, 222, 406, 598n64 Marxism, 222 Mashable, 235 mass production, 29, 31, 63–64, 85–86, 87–88, 347–348 material infrastructure: hyperscale of, 188–189, 500, 501 Mattel, 266–267 Mayer, Jonathan, 168 McCann Erickson, 288 McClain, Linda, 479 McConnell, Mike, 119–120 McDonald’s, 316 McKinsey, 217 means of behavioral modification: actuation as completion of, 293–294; aimed at “them” vs at “us,” 327; and Big Other, 376, 379; China’s use of, 388–389, 391; definition of, 339; as form of state power, 320, 322, 324, 326; and “goodness,” 432; guaranteed outcomes as result of, 203; history of resistance to, 320–328; ideology of human frailty legitimates, 343; information warfare (secrecy, asymmetries of knowledge and power) as essential to, 281; and instrumentarian power, 352, 360, 376, 379, 396f; means of production subordinated to, 8, 9, 11, 19–20, 67, 339, 351; means of social participation coextensive with, 342; need for rejection of, 344; operations of, 351; ownership of, 11, 326–327, 430; production of, 203; regulation of, 320–326. See also behavioral modification; economies of action; uncontracts means of production: machine intelligence as, 95–96, 97f; serves means of behavioral modification, 8, 9, 11, 19–20, 67, 339, 351. See also means of behavioral modification Meckling, William, 38 media use, international study of “unplugging” from, 445, 446 medical fields: and emotion analytics, 288; and internet of things, 247–251 mental health: depression, 275, 287, 446, 464–465; and Facebook use, 446, 463–465; monitoring of, 412; predictions of, 275 Mercer, Robert, 278 Mercury News, 116 meta-data, 117–118, 245, 272–273, 275 Meyer, Max, 362–363, 363–364, 364–366, 372, 412, 633n39, 634n42, 634n44, 635n45 Meyer, Michelle, 304 m-health (mobile health apps), 248–251 Michaels, Jon, 119 Microsoft, 24, 400; Bing search engine, 95, 162, 163; collaboration with metal-cutting factory, 407–409; Cortana digital assistant, 163–164, 165, 255, 400; Inktomi search engine, 71; and insurers, 217; patents filed by, 411–412; revenues of, 165–166, 405; surveillance capitalism spreads to, 9, 162–163; and voice recognition, 263; Windows 10 operating system, 164–165.


pages: 165 words: 45,129

The Economics of Inequality by Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, basic income, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, deindustrialization, endogenous growth, Gini coefficient, income inequality, low skilled workers, means of production, moral hazard, Pareto efficiency, purchasing power parity, Simon Kuznets, Tax Reform Act of 1986, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, very high income, working-age population

The traditional left-wing position, passed down from nineteenth-century socialist theory and trade-union practice, holds that the only way to alleviate the misery of the poorest members of capitalist society is through social and political struggle, and that the redistributive efforts of government must penetrate to the very heart of the productive process. Opponents of the system must challenge the market forces that determine the profits of capitalists and the unequal remuneration of workers, for instance, by nationalizing the means of production or setting strict wage schedules. Merely collecting taxes to finance transfers to the poor is not enough. This left-right conflict shows that disagreements about the concrete form and desirability of redistributive policy are not necessarily due to contradictory principles of social justice but rather to contradictory analyses of the economic and social mechanisms that produce inequality.

{TWO} Capital-Labor Inequality Since the industrial revolution, and in particular since the work of Karl Marx (1818–1883), the question of social inequality and redistribution has been posed primarily in terms of the opposition between capital and labor, profits and wages, employers and employees. Inequality is thus described as a contrast between those who own capital, that is, the means of production, and those who do not and must therefore make do with what they can earn from their labor. The fundamental source of inequality is thus said to be the unequal ownership of capital. Initially, the two terms of this basic inequality, capitalists and workers, are conceived as homogeneous groups, and inequality of income from labor is regarded as a secondary matter.

If the capitalist mode of production is simply a mechanism for matching fixed quantities of capital and labor, n workers per machine, why is it necessary for anyone to own the machine? If the owner of the machine does nothing but claim a share of what it produces, then he could be eliminated by collectivizing the means of production. Saving could be replaced by taking a sufficient sum out of national income for the purpose of increasing the stock of machines and matching them to an appropriate number of workers: there would be no need of capitalists to accomplish this. This is obviously what Marx concluded from his observations of the capitalist economy, whose operation seemed terribly simple.


pages: 385 words: 111,807

A Pelican Introduction Economics: A User's Guide by Ha-Joon Chang

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bear Stearns, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, income per capita, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberation theology, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Nelson Mandela, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, post-industrial society, precariat, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working-age population, World Values Survey

Capital goods are also known as the means of production and refer to durable inputs into the production process (for example, machines, but not, say, raw materials). In everyday usage, we also use the term ‘capital’ for the money invested in a business venture.* Capitalists own the means of production either directly or, more commonly these days, indirectly by owning shares (or stocks) in a company – that is, proportional claims on the total value of the company – that own those means of production. Capitalists hire other people on a commercial basis to operate these means of production. These people are known as wage labourers, or simply workers.

Markets were eventually abolished and replaced by full-blown central planning by 1928, when the first Five Year Plan started. By 1928, the Soviet Union had an economic system that was definitively not capitalist. It ran without private ownership of means of production, profit motives and markets. As for the other cornerstone of capitalism, wage labour, the picture was more complicated. Yes, in theory the Soviet workers were not wage labourers because they owned all the means of production – through state ownership or cooperatives. In practice they were indistinguishable from wage labourers in a capitalist economy, since they had little control over the way in which their enterprises and the wider economy operated, and their daily work experience was still subject to the same hierarchical relationship.

Smith believed that competition among sellers in the market will ensure that profit-seeking producers will produce at the lowest possible costs, thereby benefiting everyone. However, the similarities between Smith’s capitalism and today’s capitalism do not stretch much beyond those basic aspects. There are huge differences between the two eras in terms of how these essential characteristics – private ownership of means of production, profit-seeking, wage employment and market exchange – are actually translated into realities. Capitalists are different In Adam Smith’s day, most factories (and farms) were owned and run by single individual capitalists or by partnerships made up of a small number of individuals who knew and understood each other.


pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, hockey-stick growth, IKEA effect, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, private space industry, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

The academic way to put this is that global supply chains have become “scale-free,” able to serve the small as well as the large, the garage inventor and Samsung. The non-academic way to say it is this: nothing is stopping you from making anything. The people now control the means of production. Or, as The Lean Startup author Eric Reis puts it, Marx got it wrong: “It’s not about ownership of the means of production, anymore. It’s about rentership of the means of production.” Such open supply chains are the mirror of Web publishing and e-commerce a decade ago. The Web, from Amazon to eBay, revealed a Long Tail of demand for niche physical goods; now the democratized tools of production are enabling a Long Tail of supply, too.

You can invent a better mousetrap, but if you can’t make it in the millions, the world won’t beat a path to your door. As Marx observed, power belongs to those who control the means of production. My grandfather could invent the automatic sprinkler system in his workshop, but he couldn’t build a factory there. To get to market, he had to interest a manufacturer in licensing his invention. And that is not only hard, but requires the inventor to lose control of his or her invention. The owners of the means of production get to decide what is produced. In the end, my grandfather got lucky—to a point. Southern California was the center of the new home irrigation industry, and after much pitching, a company called Moody agreed to license his automatic sprinkler system.

They invent their own designs and can charge a premium to their discriminating consumers who are intentionally avoiding mass-produced goods. So, back to the future. Today we are seeing a return to a new sort of cottage industry. Once again, new technology is giving individuals the power over the means of production, allowing for bottom-up entrepreneurship and distributed innovation. Just as the Web’s democratization of the means of production in everything from software to music made it possible to create an empire in a dorm room or a hit album in a bedroom, so the new democratized tools of digital manufacturing will be tomorrow’s spinning jennies. And the guilds they may break may be the very factory model that grew up in Manchester and dominated the past three centuries.


pages: 237 words: 67,154

Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet by Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, capital controls, citizen journalism, collaborative economy, collaborative editing, collective bargaining, commoditize, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, deskilling, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, future of work, gig economy, Google bus, hiring and firing, income inequality, independent contractor, information asymmetry, Internet of things, Jacob Appelbaum, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, lake wobegon effect, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, minimum viable product, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, openstreetmap, peer-to-peer, post-work, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, SETI@home, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, Snapchat, surveillance capitalism, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Yochai Benkler, Zipcar

A common method for the capitalist to increase value creation is handing the worker a tool (in SpongeBob’s case, the spatula and the secret recipe), enabling the worker to be more productive. The worker is dependent on the means of production, which are owned by the capitalist, because the worker can only be productive through them. Yes, you own a laptop and a mobile phone now; but in analyzing a mode of production, the decisive question is not who owns any kind of means of production but who owns the dominant means of production. These used to be the factory, the machinery. They are now becoming the big algorithms, the constantly adjusted and ever-developing virtual machinery.

He discovered that capital is not a thing but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things. As Marx explains further, “Property in money, means of subsistence, machines, and other means of production, does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if there be wanting the correlative—the wage-worker, the other man who is compelled to sell himself of his own free will.” Marx argues, “The means of production and subsistence, while they remain the property of the immediate producer, are not capital. They become capital only under circumstances in which they serve at the same time as means of exploitation and subjection of the laborer.”

Emancipation, especially the emancipation of labor, does not. It does not emerge as a by-product of technological development, and this still holds true in the age of platforms and algorithmic capitalism. Yes, there are great possibilities for redefining the position of labor in the production process. Yes, the force is strong in the new means of production, but so is the dark side. Should you feel discouraged from opening up a new platform cooperative? No, not at all. But do not expect exploitative, hierarchical, narrow-minded capitalism to roll over and die just because you’re clever enough to program a platform of your own. A new mode of production that could release the potential for a less alienated, less exploited, less asshole-infested worklife will not prevail just because it seems economically superior.


pages: 524 words: 146,798

Anarchy State and Utopia by Robert Nozick

distributed generation, Herbert Marcuse, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, means of production, Menlo Park, moral hazard, night-watchman state, Norman Mailer, Pareto efficiency, price discrimination, prisoner's dilemma, rent control, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, school vouchers, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, Yogi Berra

And the charm and simplicity of this theory’s definition of exploitation is lost when it is realized that according to the definition there will be exploitation in any society in which investment takes place for a greater future product (perhaps because of population growth); and in any society in which those unable to work, or to work productively, are subsidized by the labor of others. But at bottom, Marxist theory explains the phenomenon of exploitation by reference to the workers not having access to the means of production. The workers have to sell their labor (labor power) to the capitalists, for they must use the means of production to produce, and cannot produce alone. A worker, or groups of them, cannot hire means of production and wait to sell the product some months later; they lack the cash reserves to obtain access to machinery or to wait until later when revenue will be received from the future sale of the product now being worked on.

Note that once the rest of the theory, properly, is dropped, and it is this crucial fact of nonaccess to the means of production that underlies exploitation, it follows that in a society in which the workers are not forced to deal with the capitalist, exploitation of laborers will be absent. (We pass over the question of whether workers are forced to deal with some other, less decentralized group.) So, if there is a sector of publicly owned and controlled (what you will) means of production that is expandable so that all who wish to may work in it, then this is sufficient to eliminate the exploitation of laborers.

So, if there is a sector of publicly owned and controlled (what you will) means of production that is expandable so that all who wish to may work in it, then this is sufficient to eliminate the exploitation of laborers. And in particular, if in addition to this public sector there is a sector of privately owned means of production that employs wage laborers who choose to work in this sector, then these workers are not being exploited. (Perhaps they choose to work there, despite attempts to convince them to do otherwise, because they get higher wages or returns in this sector.) For they are not forced to deal with the private owners of means of production. Let us linger for a moment upon this case. Suppose that the private sector were to expand, and the public sector became weaker and weaker.


pages: 109 words: 29,486

Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer

clockwatching, means of production, Paul Samuelson, source of truth

According to Marx’s view of history, as the economic basis of society alters, so all consciousness alters. Greed, egoism, and envy are not ingrained forever in the character of human beings. They would disappear in a society in which private property and private means of production were replaced with communal property and socially organized means of production. We would lose our preoccupation with our private interests. Citizens of the new society would find their own happiness in working for the good of all. Hence a communist society would have a new ethical basis. It has been claimed – by Lenin among others – that Marxism is a scientific system, free from any ethical judgements or postulates.

The ensuing revolution will be, says Marx, lapsing into the style of his earlier writings, ‘the negation of the negation’. It will not mean a return to private property in the old sense, but to property based on the gains made under capitalism, that is, on co-operation and common possession of land and the means of production. Capitalism will make the transition relatively easy, since it has already expropriated all private property into its own hands. All that is now necessary is for the mass of the people to expropriate these few expropriators. The second and third volumes of Capital are much less interesting than the first.

Marx’s theory that human nature is not for ever fixed, but alters in accordance with the economic and social conditions of each period, holds out the prospect of transforming society by changing the economic basis of such human traits as greed, egoism, and ambition. Marx expected the abolition of private property and the institution of common ownership of the means of production and exchange to bring about a society in which people were motivated more by a desire for the good of all than by a specific desire for their own individual good. In this way individual and common interests could be harmonized. Marx’s view of human nature is now so widely accepted that a return to a pre-Marxist conception of human nature is unthinkable.


pages: 457 words: 125,329

Value of Everything: An Antidote to Chaos The by Mariana Mazzucato

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, business cycle, butterfly effect, buy and hold, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, cleantech, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, European colonialism, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, financial repression, full employment, G4S, George Akerlof, Google Hangouts, Growth in a Time of Debt, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, informal economy, interest rate derivative, Internet of things, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, means of production, Money creation, money market fund, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Post-Keynesian economics, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, rent control, rent-seeking, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, sharing economy, short selling, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart meter, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software patent, stem cell, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two and twenty, two-sided market, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, wealth creators, Works Progress Administration, you are the product, zero-sum game

Smith was particularly attracted to the prospect of investment in machines, then just beginning to be used in factories, because they improved workers' productivity. His emphasis on investment linked directly to his ideas about rent. Smith believed that there were three kinds of income: wages for labour in capitalist enterprises; profits for capitalists who owned the means of production; and rents from ownership of land. When these three sources of income are paid at their competitive level, together they determine what he called the ‘competitive price'.28 Since land was necessary, rent from land was a ‘natural' part of the economy. But that did not mean rent was productive: ‘the landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed and demand a rent [from the earth] even for its natural produce'.29 Indeed, Smith asserted, the principle of rent from land could be extended to other monopolies, such as the right to import a particular commodity or the right to plead at the bar.

In early societies of hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers, people worked enough to create the value that would allow them to survive, but no surplus over and above that. Later, under feudalism, they could be forced to produce enough surplus to satisfy the (unproductive) consumption of the feudal lord, which, as Smith and Ricardo knew, could be substantial. But after the means of production were taken away from independent producers - mostly by violence and expropriation through property rights legislation, such as enclosures of common land in England by big landowners - they became workers, ‘free' and without property. Capitalists were able to purchase the workers' labour power because workers lost their independent means of subsistence and needed a wage to survive.

Economists had previously thought of ‘capital' as purely physical -machinery and buildings, for example - and surplus as solely positive, helping the economy to reproduce itself and grow. But Marx gives capital a social dimension and surplus a negative connotation. Labour produces surplus value, which fuels capital accumulation and economic growth. But capital accumulation is not just due to productive labour. It is also deeply social. Because workers do not own the means of production they are ‘alienated' from their work. The surplus they produce is taken away from them. Work is necessary for earning the wages they receive to buy the food, shelter and clothes they need to survive.47 Moreover, in a capitalist market society, relations between people are mediated by commodity exchange.


pages: 196 words: 55,862

Riding for Deliveroo: Resistance in the New Economy by Callum Cant

Airbnb, call centre, collective bargaining, deskilling, Elon Musk, future of work, gig economy, housing crisis, illegal immigration, independent contractor, information asymmetry, invention of the steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, new economy, Pearl River Delta, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, union organizing, Winter of Discontent, women in the workforce

How did that change things? Did it change things? I had had discussions with interested friends a few times, where I repeated the line that I’d heard other people put forward: ‘I basically own the means of production, apart from the app.’ Deliveroo is often used as an example of how capitalism is developing a tendency to accidentally hand over the means of production to workers themselves. But it didn’t feel like I owned the means of production at all. Basically, what I was saying to my friends was a weak version of the argument Nick Srnicek makes in Platform capitalism. He argues that platforms like Deliveroo outsource the majority of their ‘fixed capital’ to their workers.

And, sure, Deliveroo workers in London who do the lunch shift taking £40-a-pop boutique sushi into big trading firms have no class solidarity with the people they’re delivering to. But they have much more in common with worse-off white-collar workers. Purely in terms of the relation to the means of production themselves, there exists an underlying possibility for solidarity between the two in the same way that there exists the possibility for alliance between Deliveroo workers and tech workers. As the Greek socialist theorist Nicos Poulantzas put it back in the 1970s, ‘organising such strata, incorporating them in trade unions, engaging them in collective practices and demands and breaking the ideology that they are “middle class” or “professionals” is indeed one of the most important stakes of class struggles today’.12 This professional segment, balancing dangerously on a cliff edge just above the rest of the working class, is no less important today.

The sensible support of sensible members of the ruling class for the ‘unfortunately necessary’13 dictatorial regimes which prevent workers taking control of the economy itself – be they headed by Mussolini, Pinochet, or Bolsanaro – is the result of the contradictory limits of capitalist democracy and the failures of its ruling political ideology, liberalism. So, the political stakes underlying the proposals of expropriation under workers’ control should not be underestimated. Breaking the grip of the ruling class on the means of production is not a problem that can be skipped around with smart policy and branding. If workers get their hands on the levers of society and begin to challenge the fundamental basis of the mode of production, a desperate fight ensues between extreme reactionaries and the forces of social transformation.


pages: 206 words: 9,776

Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution by David Harvey

Bretton Woods, business cycle, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, creative destruction, David Graeber, deindustrialization, financial innovation, Garrett Hardin, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, precariat, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Savings and loan crisis, special economic zone, the built environment, the High Line, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tragedy of the Commons, transcontinental railway, urban planning, We are the 99%, William Langewiesche, Works Progress Administration

Marx accepts the Lo ckean fiction in the opening chapters of Capital (though the argument is cer­ tainly larded with irony when, for example, he takes up the strange role of the Robinson Crusoe myth in political- economic thinking, in which someone thrown into a state of nature acts like a true-born entrepre­ neurial Briton ) . 16 But when M arx takes up how labor-power becomes an individualized commodity that is bought and sold in fair and free m arkets, we see the Lockean fiction unmasked for what it really is: a system founded on equality in value-exchange produces surplus value for the capitalist owner of the means of production through the exploitation of living labor in production (not in the market, where bourgeois rights and constitutionalities can prevail). Th e Lockean formulation is even more dramatically undermined when Marx takes up the question of collective lab or. In a world where individu al artisan producers controlling their own means of production could engage in free exchange in relatively free m arkets, the L ockean fiction might h ave some purchase. But the rise of the factory system from the late eighteenth century onwards, M arx argued, rendered Locke's theoretical formulations redundant ( even if they had not been redun­ dant in th e first place).

If there is a scarcity of labor and wages are too high, then either existing labor has to be disciplined (technologically induced unemployment or an assault on organized working class power-such as that set in motion by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s-are two prime methods) or fresh labor forces must be found (by immigration, export of capital, or proletarianization of hitherto independent elements in the population). New means of production in general and new natural resources in particular must be found. This puts increasing pressure on the natural environment to yield up the necessary raw materials and absorb the inevitable wastes. The coercive laws of competition also force new technologies and organizational forms to come on line all the time, since capitalists with higher productivity can out-compete those using inferior methods.

Some o f the flow of what seems to be fictitious capital can indeed be involved in value cre­ ation. When I convert my mortgaged house into a sweatshop employing illegal immigrants, the house becomes fixed capital in production. When the state builds roads and other infrastructures that function as collec­ tive means of production for capital, these then have to be categorized as T H E U R BAN ROOTS OF CAP I TALI ST C R I S E S 41 "productive state expenditures:' When the hospital o r university becomes the site for innovation and design of new drugs, equipment, and the like, it becomes a site of production. Marx would not be fazed by these caveats at all.


pages: 142 words: 45,733

Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis by Benjamin Kunkel

anti-communist, Bear Stearns, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, creative destruction, David Graeber, declining real wages, full employment, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Occupy movement, peak oil, price stability, profit motive, savings glut, Slavoj Žižek, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, zero-sum game

A capitalist, in order to produce, must purchase both means of production (Marx’s “constant capital”) and wage-labor (or “variable capital”). After this outlay—C+V in Marx’s formulation—the capitalist naturally hopes to possess a commodity capable of being sold for more than was spent on its production. The difference between cost of production and price at sale permits the realization of surplus value. The production of any commodity, as well as the “expanded reproduction” of the system itself, can thus be described by the further formula C+V+S: to a quantity of constant capital, or means of production, has been added a quantity of variable capital, or labor power, with a bonus of surplus value contained in the finished commodity.

The production of any commodity, as well as the “expanded reproduction” of the system itself, can thus be described by the further formula C+V+S: to a quantity of constant capital, or means of production, has been added a quantity of variable capital, or labor power, with a bonus of surplus value contained in the finished commodity. The trouble is already there to see. Imagine an economy consisting of a single firm which has bought means of production and labor power for a total of $100, in order to produce a mass of commodities it intends to sell for $110, i.e. at a profit of 10 percent. The problem is that the firm’s suppliers of constant and variable capital are also its only potential customers. Even if the would-be buyers pool their funds, they have only their $100 to spend, and no more. Production of the total supply of commodities exceeds the monetarily effective demand in the system.

Capitalism is better understood as designating a society that subordinates all processes—notably the metabolism between humanity and nature, the production and distribution of goods and services, the function and composition of government, and, of course, market exchange—to the private accumulation of capital. As for communism, perhaps it goes without saying, since Žižek doesn’t say so, that it means eliminating private capital on any large scale and realizing the Marxist goal of common ownership of the means of production. Yet would productive enterprises be owned by those who worked for them or by society at large—or somehow jointly between the two groups? Žižek doesn’t ask, let alone answer, such questions. Imagine, in any case, a society whose productive assets are, in one way or another, the property, as Marx said, of “the associated producers.”


pages: 621 words: 157,263

How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism by Eric Hobsbawm

anti-communist, banking crisis, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, currency manipulation / currency intervention, deindustrialization, discovery of the americas, experimental subject, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, Herbert Marcuse, labour market flexibility, liberal capitalism, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, Simon Kuznets, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, zero-sum game

Such general remarks as he made on the subject, as in the Critique of the Gotha Programme of the German social democrats, hardly gave his successors specific guidance, and indeed these gave no serious thought to what they considered would be an academic problem or a utopian exercise until after the revolution. It was enough to know that it would be based – to quote the famous ‘clause 4’ of the Labour Party’s constitution – ‘on the common ownership of the means of production’ which was generally understood as achievable by nationalising the country’s industries. Curiously enough, the first theory of a centralised socialist economy was not worked out by socialists but by a non-socialist 8 Marx Today Italian economist, Enrico Barone, in 1908. Nobody else thought about it before the question of nationalising private industries came on the agenda of practical politics at the end of the First World War.

It was soon realised that such views were likely to be developed by or to attract those who favoured equality, such as the disciples of Rousseau, and to lead to interference with property rights – the point was already made by eighteenth-century Italian opponents of the Enlightenment and of ‘socialists’17 –24 Marx, Engels and pre-Marxian Socialism but it was not entirely identified with a society based on the fully collective ownership and management of the means of production. Indeed, it did not become completely so identified in general usage until the emergence of socialist political parties in the late nineteenth century, and some may argue that it is not completely identified even today. Hence evident non-socialists (in the modern sense) could, even in the late nineteenth century, describe themselves or be described as ‘socialists’, like the Kathedersozialisten of Germany or the British Liberal politician who declared ‘we are all socialists now’.

How much of Saint-Simon’s views were his own, how much influenced by his secretary (1814–17), the historian Augustin Thierry, need not concern us. At all events social systems are determined by the mode of organisation of property, historic evolution rests on the development of the productive system, and the power of the bourgeoisie on its possession of the means of production. He appears to hold a rather simple view of French history as class struggle, dating back to the conquest of the Gauls by the Franks, which was elaborated by his followers into a more specific history of the exploited classes which antici - pates Marx: slaves are succeeded by serfs, and these by nominally free but propertyless proletarians.


pages: 400 words: 129,841

Capitalism: the unknown ideal by Ayn Rand

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business cycle, East Village, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, profit motive, the market place, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, War on Poverty, yellow journalism

The article gives no definition of its subject; it opens as follows: CAPITALISM, a term used to denote the economic system that has been dominant in the western world since the breakup of feudalism. Fundamental to any system called capitalist are the relations between private owners of nonpersonal means of production (land, mines, industrial plants, etc., collectively known as capital) [italics mine] and free but capitalless workers, who sell their labour services to employers. . . . The resulting wage bargains determine the proportion in which the total product of society will be shared between the class of labourers and the class of capitalist entrepreneurs. 1 (I quote from Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, from a passage describing the tenets of collectivism: “An industrialist—blank-out—there is no such person.

It takes extraordinary skill to hold more than fifty percent of a large industry’s market in a free economy. It requires unusual productive ability, unfailing business judgment, unrelenting effort at the continuous improvement of one’s product and technique. The rare company which is able to retain its share of the market year after year and decade after decade does so by means of productive efficiency—and deserves praise, not condemnation. The Sherman Act may be understandable when viewed as a projection of the nineteenth century’s fear and economic ignorance. But it is utter nonsense in the context of today’s economic knowledge. The seventy additional years of observing industrial development should have taught us something.

THE NEW FASCISM: RULE BY CONSENSUS by Ayn Rand I shall begin by doing a very unpopular thing that does not fit today’s intellectual fashions and is, therefore, “anti-consensus”: I shall begin by defining my terms, so that you will know what I am talking about. Let me give you the dictionary definitions of three political terms: socialism, fascism, and statism: Socialism—a theory or system of social organization which advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, etc. in the community as a whole. Fascism—a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.) Statism—the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.54 Based on a lecture given at The Ford Hall Forum, Boston, on April 18, 1965.


pages: 167 words: 50,652

Alternatives to Capitalism by Robin Hahnel, Erik Olin Wright

affirmative action, basic income, crowdsourcing, inventory management, iterative process, Kickstarter, loose coupling, means of production, Pareto efficiency, profit maximization, race to the bottom, transaction costs

Three ideal types of economic structures—capitalism, statism and socialism—can be differentiated in terms of the dominant form of power controlling economic activity3: •Capitalism is an economic structure within which the means of production are privately owned and the allocation and use of resources for different social purposes is accomplished through the exercise of economic power. Investments and the control of production are the result of the exercise of economic power by owners of capital. •Statism is an economic structure within which the means of production are owned by the state and the allocation and use of resources for different social purposes are accomplished through the exercise of state power.

That is a “binary” choice, to use Erik’s words, about which we disagree. At the beginning of the twentieth century, virtually all who opposed capitalism saw the market system as a destructive force that required replacement by democratic planning. Not only did they believe we needed to replace private ownership with social ownership of the “means of production,” but also envisioned replacing the impersonal rule of market forces with a self-conscious system of democratic planning. During the middle third of the twentieth century, social democratic political parties changed their position on this issue, and came out in support of the view that Erik expresses above—a system that combines markets with state regulation and planning through the political system.1 During the last fifth of the twentieth century, many radicals from the generation to which Erik and I both belong reacted to the demise of the planned economies and free market triumphalism by joining social democrats in support of a vision of “socialized markets” while endorsing the “tacit knowledge” critique of comprehensive planning voiced by conservative champions of free market capitalism like Von Mises and Hayek fifty years earlier.

A Social Socialism Both social democracy and socialism contain the word “social,” but generally this term is invoked in a loose and ill-defined way. The suggestion is of a political program committed to the broad welfare of society rather than the narrow interests of particular elites. Sometimes, especially in more radical versions of socialist discourse, “social ownership” of the means of production is invoked as a contrast to “private ownership,” but in practice this has generally been collapsed into state ownership, and the term social itself ends up doing relatively little analytical work in the elaboration of the political program. What I will argue is that the social in social democracy and socialism can be used to identify a cluster of principles and visions of change that differentiate socialism and social democracy from both the capitalist project of economic organization and what could be called a purely statist response to capitalism.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, basic income, battle of ideas, blockchain, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, late capitalism, liberation theology, Live Aid, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Modern Monetary Theory, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, post scarcity, post-work, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

A third approach therefore focuses on invention and emphasises that the choice of which technologies to develop and how they are designed is primarily a political matter.76 The direction of technological development is determined not only by technical and economic considerations, but also by political intentions. More than just seizing the means of production, this approach declares the need to invent new means of production. A final approach focuses on how existing technology contains occluded potentials that strain at our current horizon and how they might be repurposed.77 Under capitalism, technology’s potential is drastically constrained – reduced to a mere vehicle for generating profit and controlling workers.

Through the process called primitive accumulation, pre-capitalist workers were uprooted from their land and dispossessed of their means of subsistence.4 Peasants struggled against this and continued to survive on the margins of the emerging capitalist world,5 and it eventually took violent force and harsh new legal systems to impose wage labour on the population. Peasants, in other words, had to be made into a proletariat. This new figure of the proletariat was defined by its lack of access to the means of production or subsistence, and its requirement for wage labour in order to survive.6 This means that the ‘proletariat’ is not just the ‘working class’ nor is it defined by an income level, profession or culture. Rather, the proletariat is simply that group of people who must sell their labour power to live – whether they are employed or not.7 And the history of capitalism is the history of the world’s population being transformed into proletarian existence through the advancing dispossession of the peasantry.

Without full automation, postcapitalist futures must necessarily choose between abundance at the expense of freedom (echoing the work-centricity of Soviet Russia) or freedom at the expense of abundance, represented by primitivist dystopias.7 With automation, by contrast, machines can increasingly produce all necessary goods and services, while also releasing humanity from the effort of producing them.8 For this reason, we argue that the tendencies towards automation and the replacement of human labour should be enthusiastically accelerated and targeted as a political project of the left.9 This is a project that takes an existing capitalist tendency and seeks to push it beyond the acceptable parameters of capitalist social relations. Capitalism has long been synonymous with rapid changes in technology: driven by the imperative to accumulate, the means of production are continually transformed.10 In the nineteenth century, agriculture began to be mechanised, and small plots of land became increasingly centralised under larger and larger industrial farms. Craftwork was transformed too, with machinery appearing as an alien intervention into the production process.


pages: 297 words: 77,362

The Nature of Technology by W. Brian Arthur

Andrew Wiles, business process, cognitive dissonance, computer age, creative destruction, double helix, endogenous growth, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, haute cuisine, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, locking in a profit, Mars Rover, means of production, Myron Scholes, railway mania, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

These too form building blocks available for continual combination. Modern technology is not just a collection of more or less independent means of production. Rather it is becoming an open language for the creation of structures and functions in the economy. Slowly, at a pace measured in decades, we are shifting from technologies that produced fixed physical outputs to technologies whose main character is that they can be combined and configured endlessly for fresh purposes. Technology, once a means of production, is becoming a chemistry. In attempting to come up with a theory of technology, our first challenge will be to see if we can say something general about it.

The radio processes the signal, and I mean this literally, not metaphorically. It pulls signals from the air, purifies them, and transforms them into sounds. It is a miniature extraction process, a tiny factory that these days can be held in the palm of a hand. All devices in fact process something. That, after all, is why economists refer to technologies as means of production. Does the correspondence work in the other direction? Can we view methods and processes as devices? The answer is yes. Processes and methods—think of oil refining or sorting algorithms—are sequences of operations. But to execute, they always require some hardware, some sort of physical equipment that carries out the operations.

And we picture this system, “the economy,” as something that exists in itself as a backdrop to the events and adjustments that occur within it. Seen this way, the economy becomes something like a gigantic container for its technologies, a huge machine with many modules or parts that are its technologies—its means of production. When a new technology (the railroad for transportation, say) comes along, it offers a new module, a new upgrade, for a particular industry: the old specialized module it replaces (canals) is taken out and the new upgrade module is slid in. The rest of the machine automatically rebalances and its tensions and flows (prices, and goods produced and consumed) readjust accordingly.


pages: 277 words: 80,703

Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle by Silvia Federici

Community Supported Agriculture, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, fixed income, global village, illegal immigration, informal economy, invisible hand, labor-force participation, land tenure, mass incarceration, means of production, microcredit, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Occupy movement, planetary scale, Scramble for Africa, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, the market place, trade liberalization, UNCLOS, wages for housework, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

However, the return of “Primitive Accumulation” on a world scale, starting with the immense expansion of the world labor market, the fruit of multiple forms of expropriation, has made it impossible for me to still write (as I had done in the early 1970s) that WfH is the strategy not only for the feminist movement “but for the entire working class.” The reality of entire populations practically demonetized by drastic devaluations in addition to proliferating land privatization schemes and the commercialization of all natural resources urgently poses the question of the reclamation of the means of production and the creation of new forms of social cooperation. These objectives should not be conceived as alternatives to the struggles for and over the “wage.” For instance, the struggle of immigrant domestic workers fighting for the institutional recognition of “carework” is strategically very important, for the devaluation of reproductive work has been one of the pillars of capital accumulation and the capitalistic exploitation of women’s labor.

Similarly, the appearance of child-soldiers in the 1980s and 1990s would never have been possible if, in many countries, the extended family had not been undermined by financial hardships, and millions of children were not without a place to go except for the street and had someone to provide for their needs.11 War has not only been a consequence of economic change; it has also been a means to produce it. Two objectives stand out when we consider the prevailing patterns of war in Africa, and the way in which warfare intersects with globalization. First, war forces people off the land, i.e., it separates the producers from the means of production, a condition for the expansion of the global labor market. War also reclaims the land for capitalist use, boosting the production of cash crops and export-oriented agriculture. Particularly in Africa, where communal land tenure is still widespread, this has been a major goal of the World Bank, whose raison d’etre as an institution has been the capitalization of agriculture.12 Thus, it is hard today to see millions of refugees or famine victims fleeing their localities without thinking of the satisfaction this must bring to World Bank officers as well as agribusiness companies, who surely see the hand of progress working through it.

In contrast to UN-made feminism, with its NGOs, its income-generating projects and paternalistic relations with local movements, stand the grassroots organizations that women have formed in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to fight for basic services (like roads, schools, clinics), to resist the governments’ attacks on street vending which is one of women’s main forms of subsistence, and to defend each other from their husbands’ abuses.19 Like every form of self-determination, women’s liberation requires specific material conditions, starting with control over the basic means of production and subsistence. As Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen have argued in The Subsistence Perspective (2000), this principle holds not only for women in the “Third World,” who have been major protagonists of land struggles to recover land occupied by big landowners but also for women in industrialized countries.


pages: 121 words: 36,908

Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase

Airbnb, basic income, bitcoin, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Dogecoin, Edward Snowden, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, fixed income, full employment, future of work, Herbert Marcuse, high net worth, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kim Stanley Robinson, litecoin, mass incarceration, means of production, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-work, postindustrial economy, price mechanism, private military company, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart meter, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck

We will have to do at least a little work to manage and maintain the machines. But I assume all human labor away to avoid entangling myself in a debate that has bedeviled the Left ever since the Industrial Revolution: how a postcapitalist society would manage labor and production, in the absence of capitalist bosses with control over the means of production. This is an important (and ongoing) debate, but the issues I’m concerned with will be clearer if I can set it aside. Thus, the constant in my equation is that technical change tends toward perfect automation. If automation is the constant, ecological crisis and class power are the variables.

I share Marx’s aversion to recipes for the kitchens of the future, so I won’t attempt some kind of programmatic account of the transition to communism. I’ll merely suggest some basic principles. We should not assume that the end of capitalism necessarily involves some grand revolutionary movement that merely bides its time and builds strength, before seizing the state and the means of production at one stroke—the model of Bolshevik and other insurrectionist revolutionaries. That’s not to say, however, that some kind of dramatic rupture won’t ultimately be necessary; it would be naïve to think that the holders of wealth and power will relinquish it voluntarily. But since we are a long way from being able to force such a reckoning, we can think in the meantime about strategies that build the alternative to capitalism before it is completely overturned.

Rents accrue not just to land and government bonds but to distributed stock portfolios and, increasingly, to intellectual property, to which we will return. The existence of rents and rentiers has always been something of an embarrassment to the defenders of capitalism. Defending the necessity of the boss who controls the means of production is easier, since ideologists can at least claim that they do something, whether it’s organizing production or coming up with products, or merely taking economic risks. But rentiers create nothing, make nothing, do nothing; they just passively accept the rewards of ownership. Thus, there have historically been calls to tax away the rents from merely owning property, as opposed to the profits that come from doing something with it.


Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy by Philippe van Parijs, Yannick Vanderborght

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, centre right, collective bargaining, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, declining real wages, diversified portfolio, Edward Snowden, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, George Akerlof, Herbert Marcuse, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Money creation, open borders, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Post-Keynesian economics, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, selection bias, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, universal basic income, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor

On the contrary, they justify the attempts by some of his followers to work out normative perspectives that could justify the strugÂ�gle for the replacement of capitalism by socialism, of the private by the collective ownerÂ�ship of the means of production. Two concepts play a crucial role in Â�these attempts—Â� exploitation and alienation—Â�and both are no less relevant to the discussion of an unconditional basic income than to the discussion of socialism. Exploitation, or the extraction of surplus value, is essentially the appropriation by nonworkers of part of the net product of an economy. Part of the total product in any given period is used to replace the material means of production used up in the production proÂ�cess, from seeds to computers. What is left is the net product, some of which is purchased with the workers’ wages.

So can collaboration between national tax authorities in the form of agreements on minimal rates and exchange of fiscal information.25 In the history of basic income, Â�there have been more radical proposals that avoid this probÂ�lem by making capital pay for basic income without its needing to be taxed. If a state owns all means of production, it can simply determine what proportion of the total product it allocates to wages, to investment, and to other expenditures, including, if it so wishes, an unconditional basic income. In a socialist society, in other words, part of the economic surplus can be disbursed as a uniform social dividend without anyone’s needing to be taxed. This is posÂ�siÂ�ble Â�under centrally planned socialism, but it is also posÂ�siÂ�ble Â�under market socialism, where the collective ownerÂ�ship of the means of production is combined with competition among firms and a free Â� Â�labor market.

Fund i ng, E xper i men ts, and Trans itions John Roemer all include a social dividend.26 If Â�there is a Â�free Â�labor market— as opposed to a centralized allocation of workers—Â�the relative levels of wages and the social dividend raise incentive issues analogous to Â�those raised by taxation Â�under capitalism, though with more leeway since there Â� is no private capital to be assuaged by sufficient profits. This option may not be completely ruled out in the few countries in the world in which a significant part of the means of production is still publicly owned.27 But elsewhere, a Â�wholesale nationalization of the means of production is not exactly in sight. A move in this direction was nonetheless proposed by James Â�Meade as a central component of his “Agathotopian” model.28 Â�Under his “topsy-Â�turvy nationalization,” firms are privately managed but half of their shares are owned by the state.


pages: 199 words: 61,648

Having and Being Had by Eula Biss

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, David Graeber, Donald Trump, Garrett Hardin, glass ceiling, Haight Ashbury, index fund, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job satisfaction, Landlord’s Game, means of production, moral hazard, new economy, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, precariat, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tragedy of the Commons, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, wage slave, wages for housework

We didn’t amass capital, we didn’t understand it, and we didn’t learn how to manage it. We didn’t have mothers and grandmothers teaching us about capital. But here’s the thing—she circles her womb with her hand—we are capital. We are the means of production. I had three children, she says. I’ve been the means of production. Now I want to own the means of production. I pause over this, wondering what it means to own yourself. And wondering if the very idea of owning yourself requires, as she suggests, imagining your body as capital. Now she’s saying, You know, money isn’t bad. Money isn’t the problem.

“The fossilized trace of a trillion birds will outlast—and mark the passage of—the humans who made them,” Raj Patel and Jason Moore write in A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things. What about capitalism, I wonder, could we tax capitalism itself? I ask the economist if he can explain to me what capitalism is. The botanist leaves to get a drink. Capital, he begins, is a means of production. That much I already know. And capitalism is a system in which one builds wealth by owning a means of production. Like a factory, he says, or a cow. Or land? I ask. Yes, land. Or another person. Even a sharpened stick is capital. Capitalism has been around a long time, he says, it’s as old as ownership. I think he’s wrong on this, but we’re talking about fossil fuels now.


Phil Thornton by The Great Economists Ten Economists whose thinking changed the way we live-FT Publishing International (2014)

availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, business process, call centre, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Corn Laws, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, double helix, endogenous growth, endowment effect, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, loss aversion, mass immigration, means of production, mental accounting, Myron Scholes, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Post-Keynesian economics, price mechanism, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Toyota Production System, trade route, transaction costs, unorthodox policies, Vilfredo Pareto, women in the workforce

Think of a supermarket checkout worker, a solicitor’s assistant or a bank teller and you can see that the same dynamic applies now. Marx saw that there was a difference between what the workers were paid for their efforts and what the factory owners received as a result. Marx called this ‘surplus value’: the capitalists were able to keep the extra value of profits because they owned the means of production. Capitalists therefore need to pay the workers less than the value at which they planned to sell the goods. This equation also needs to include the costs of the machinery, which Marx explains as being the value of the ‘concealed’ labour that went in to build the machine. Their profit was the surplus divided by the sum of the labour costs (variable capital) and machines (fixed capital).

With this grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organised by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself,’ Marx wrote. ‘The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument [skin]. 58 The Great Economists The capitalist system was in Marx’s eyes unsustainable and would end in revolution and its own overthrow. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds.

Indeed, it was the stark differences between the wealth enjoyed by people living in capitalist countries and those living under communism that fuelled the overthrow of the latter regime – rather than the other way around. 64 The Great Economists Working conditions have improved rather than deteriorated thanks to innovations such as the minimum wage, which Marx would have approved of, and trade unionisation, which he would also have applauded. But what Marx did not predict was the rise of the middle class, a group of people that did not own the means of production (unless they bought and held stakes in Britain’s privatised industries) but who could command a high value for their labour. Defenders of Marx can point to the fact that governments of capitalist countries have had to respond to workers’ demand for greater pay and greater rights in order to avert rising anger and revolution at work as a sign that Marx was on the right lines in looking at how capitalism would develop as a dynamic model.


pages: 590 words: 153,208

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bear Stearns, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Gunnar Myrdal, Home mortgage interest deduction, Howard Zinn, income inequality, independent contractor, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, Money creation, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, non-fiction novel, North Sea oil, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, San Francisco homelessness, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, volatility arbitrage, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

It betrays every person who seeks to redistribute wealth by coercion. It balks every socialist revolutionary who imagines that by seizing the so-called means of production he can capture the crucial capital of an economy. It baffles nearly every conglomerateur who believes he can safely enter new industries by buying rather than by learning them. It confounds every bureaucrat of science who imagines he can buy the fruits of research and development. The cost of capturing technology is mastery of the underlying science. The means of production of entrepreneurs are not land, labor, or capital but minds and hearts. Capitalism is a system that begins not with taking but with giving to others.

Even Karl Marx knew enough not to stress, as the crux and keystone of capitalism, control over the means of consumption—or even of the supply of money. Marx, however, erroneously located the means of production in the material arrangements of the society rather than in the metaphysical capital of human freedom and creativity. The problem of contemporary capitalism lies not chiefly in a deterioration of physical capital, but in a persistent subversion of the psychological means of production—the morale and inspiration of economic man—undermining the very conscience of capitalism: the awareness that one must give in order to get, supply in order to demand.

Even government-financed R&D, outside the results-oriented military, is mostly wasted. Enduring are only the contributions of mind and will and morality. If we continue to harass, overtax, and oppressively regulate the entrepreneurs, our liberal politicians will be shocked and horrified to discover how swiftly the physical tokens of the means of production dissolve into so much corroded wire, abandoned batteries, forlorn windmills, scrap metal, and jungle rot. More than thirty years ago, led by Art Laffer who famously inscribed his concept on a napkin in a congressional dining room, supply siders boldly proclaimed that by reducing tax rates Washington would be paradoxically rewarded with higher revenues.


pages: 964 words: 296,182

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion by Gareth Stedman Jones

anti-communist, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, fixed income, invention of the sewing machine, joint-stock company, land reform, land tenure, means of production, New Journalism, New Urbanism, night-watchman state, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, unemployed young men, wage slave

The downfall of the Reich and other repressive states in Europe would come about not as the result of the activities of this or that subversive party, but because the productive forces created by the capitalist mode of production had come into ‘crying contradiction’ with that mode of production itself: ‘To such a degree that if the whole of modern society is not to perish, a revolution in the mode of production and distribution must take place’.76 Engels also offered an opportune criticism of the ‘ultimate scientific insufficiency’ of the ambition to create ‘a free people’s state’.77 The bourgeoisie through its transformation of productive forces had replaced the means of production of the individual by social means of production only workable by ‘a collectivity of men’. In effect the means of production had already begun to be socialized to such an extent that the state had already begun to take over ‘the great institutions for intercourse and communication – the post office, the telegraphs, the railways’.78 In this way, the bourgeoisie, having transformed ‘the great majority of the population into proletarians’, was itself ‘showing the way to the accomplishing of revolution’.

Attention was also paid to the effect of ‘subsumption; upon rural and domestic occupations, originally pursued to meet the needs of the family, but progressively ‘transformed into independent capitalist branches of labour’.125 Reiterating a theme which he had first encountered in the 1840s, Karl stated that the ability of ‘objectified labour to convert itself into capital i.e. to convert the means of production into means of command over, and exploitation of, living labour, appeared under capitalist production as ‘an inherent characteristic of the means of production’ that was ‘inseparable from them as a quality which falls to them as things … The social form assumed by labour in money expressed itself as the qualities of a thing.’ In this perspective, ‘The capitalist functions only as capital personified … just as the worker only functions as the personification of labour … Thus the rule of the capitalist over the worker is … the rule of the object over the human, of dead labour over living, of the product over the producer.’

It demonstrated the ambiguity of the notion of ‘freedom’ in the case of the early-modern peasant or artisan, freed from serfdom, but also free in the sense of being deprived of any independent access to the means of production. Possessing nothing therefore, except their labour power, these once independent peasants and artisans were compelled constantly to resell their labour power in order to survive. It traced how the separation of labour from means of production was maintained and reinforced by the process of primitive accumulation: ‘the spoliation of the church’s property, the fraudulent alienation of the State domains, the robbery of the common lands, the usurpation of feudal and clan property, and its transformation into modern private property, under circumstances of reckless terrorism, were just so many idyllic methods of primitive accumulation.


pages: 273 words: 93,419

Let them eat junk: how capitalism creates hunger and obesity by Robert Albritton

Bretton Woods, California gold rush, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate personhood, creative destruction, deindustrialization, Food sovereignty, Haber-Bosch Process, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kickstarter, land reform, late capitalism, means of production, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, the built environment, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile

What is central to capitalism is that well-defined pieces T H E M A NAG E M E N T O F AG R I C U LT U R E A N D F O O D 21 of private property constituting the means of production come to be fully controlled by capitalists, thus excluding workers from them. In its very constitution private property always implies a power relation between an owner and non-owner, and in the case of pure capitalism all means of production are private property owned exclusively by capitalists. The exclusion of workers from the means of production creates a structural power relation, which in principle, forces a worker in pure capitalism to accept the working conditions and wages set by the competitive labour market.

It is natural, then, for capital to intensify, speed up and extend the production of profit to the limit of human endurance. A good capitalist worker should not go to bed until absolutely exhausted, for every minute of lost productivity is profits lost forever. In some cases, capital can keep its means of production working 24 hours a day (agrarian field labour is usually limited to daylight hours), and it can increase the intensity of its work and speed of its machines. When workers cannot be made to work any faster, it may be possible to replace them with robots that can. Since every minute of production time that is lost is lost forever, the linear sequential counting of time becomes central to capitalist economic logic.

(Presumably no one would voluntarily and knowingly enter into an exchange where something of greater value is exchanged for something of lesser value.) As already mentioned, historically the commodification of labour T H E M A NAG E M E N T O F AG R I C U LT U R E A N D F O O D 39 power is brought about by the separation of workers from the means of production, primarily land, and the continued commodification of labour-power depends upon some means of maintaining an industrial reserve army so that when capital needs more hands, they can be hired. “Hands” is an appropriate metaphor because capital is indifferent to the distinct qualities of the worker as a person, but rather simply hires the quantity of hands that it requires at the lowest possible pay (“subsistence” in pure capitalism).


What Kind of Creatures Are We? (Columbia Themes in Philosophy) by Noam Chomsky

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, conceptual framework, en.wikipedia.org, failed state, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, liberation theology, mass incarceration, means of production, phenotype, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Turing test, wage slave

Both Smith’s vivid excoriations of what the division of labor does to destroy our creative individuality and Dewey’s harsh words on the shadow cast by corporate interests on just about every aspect of public and personal life are invoked to establish this. The tradition of anarchism (from Bakunin to Rudolph Rocker and the anarcho-syndicalism of the Spanish Civil War period) combines socialist ideas with the liberal principles of the classical Enlightenment to construct an ideal—of cooperative labor, workers’ control of the workplace and the means of production, and a social life revolving around voluntary associations—that, if implemented, would sweep away the obstacles to the goal of human development that come from both free-market capitalism and Bolshevik tendencies to a “red bureaucracy.” Dewey’s ideas on education reveal how, by contrast with much of the contemporary practice found in educational institutions, the goal of human development can best be pursued from an early age.

But consider his ideas.13 In his conception of democracy, illegitimate structures of coercion must be dismantled. That includes, crucially, domination by “business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda.” He recognized that “power today resides in control of the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Whoever owns them rules the life of the country,” even if democratic forms remain. Until those institutions are in the hands of the public, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business,” much as we see today. But Dewey went well beyond calling for some form of public control.

See also origin of language action at a distance, apparent absurdity of: ignoring of, by post-Newtonian physicists, xvii, 34, 98–99, 108; Locke on, 33; Newton on, xvi, 33–34, 83, 85, 86, 87–88, 98; parallel of, with consciousness arising from matter, 86–87; Russell on, 90 aesthetic theory, relation of scope and limits in, 56–57 Affordable Care Act, complexity of, as symptom of broken U.S. health system, 68–69 African Americans, exclusion of from U.S. personhood, 46 aitiational semantics, 43 Albert, David, 55 Albert, Michael, 72 Alperovitz, Gar, 72 American tradition, roots of anarchism in, 72–73 Analysis of Matter (Russell), 90, 99–100 anarchism: anarcho-syndicalism as goal of, 62; balance of socialist and libertarian elements in, xxiii; federations of self-governing communities under, 66–67, 72; and freedom from domination, 66–67; and freedom from economic exploitation, 64; and freedom from guardianship, 64–65, 80; as heir to principles of classical liberalism, 62, 63, 71; and human development, xxi; on necessity of state power to defend oppressed, 67; political goals of, 62, 64, 70; principles of, xxi; roots of, in American tradition, 72–73; as term, 63; and unjustified coercion, dismantling of, xxiii, 63–64, 66; workers’ ownership of means of production in, 71–72 anarcho-syndicalism: Rocker on, 62; of Spanish Civil War, xxi, 63 animal signals: causative link of, to external objects, xviii–xix, 41–42, 126; vs. human language, xviii–xix, 41–43, 48; as unlikely evolutionary source of human language, xviii–xix, 48 apes: global nature of association in, 42–43; and language as computational procedure, x–xi, 13 Aristotle: on democracy, 79; on form, 50; on nature of language, xi, xviii, 4, 6, 14; on words as mind-dependent concepts, 44, 45 atomic elements of computation: complex nature of, 126; lack of causative link of, to external objects, xix, 42, 126; lack of referential properties in, xviii, 43–46, 126; necessity of accounting for, in model of language origin, 41; origin of, as mystery, 125–26; parallels of, with phonetic elements, 43; as prior to words or lexical items, xviii, 41; questionable value of literature on, 41; as unique to humans, 59, 125 Bakunin, Mikhail, xxi, 64, 68 Basic Property of Language, viii, 4; and computational procedure, ix, 4; and early definitions of language, 5–7; formulation of, 3–4; issues exposed by clear formulation of, 9–12; Merge as optimal computational procedure for, 24; origin of, requirements for credible account of, 40; and principle of simplicity, 16–17; reformulation of, 13 Bernays, Edward, 76 Bilgrami, Akeel, 43 biolinguistic framework, 5; and mid-twentieth-century turn to generative grammar, 9 biological basis of I-language, ix, xiv, 5, 59; importance of investigating vs. computed objects, 8–9; provisional abstraction from, ix, 129n3.


pages: 193 words: 63,618

The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich by Ndongo Sylla

British Empire, carbon footprint, corporate social responsibility, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Doha Development Round, Food sovereignty, global value chain, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labour mobility, land reform, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Naomi Klein, non-tariff barriers, offshore financial centre, open economy, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, selection bias, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

In fact, according to Brenner, in the line of Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi, the economic development model described by Adam Smith presupposes social relations of production that are specific to the 75 Sylla T02779 01 text 75 28/11/2013 13:04 the fair trade scandal capitalist system: private property and the ‘commodification’ of labour. Capitalism presupposes on the one hand a free labour force and on the other a separation between workers and the means of production. In the capitalist system, as Henri Nadel points out, ‘man with labour power must necessarily have no other commodity to sell but this strength, and no other means to survive without alienating it’ (1994: 129). Likewise, owners of means of production must compete with one another in order to preserve their means of production. These are the structural contradictions that would generate economic growth as well as its related exploitation and inequalities.

This is only possible when the labour force is free (no slavery, no servitude, and no forced labour). It also implies that the division of labour enables a labour productivity increase. This is the case only when free workers are gathered within production units with means of production made available for that purpose. Indeed, the existence of several small owners of means of production does not encourage specialisation or the adoption of new methods of production. Finally, it implies that there is continuous pressure towards an increase in labour productivity. This was not the case until the advent of capitalism. In fact, according to Brenner, in the line of Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi, the economic development model described by Adam Smith presupposes social relations of production that are specific to the 75 Sylla T02779 01 text 75 28/11/2013 13:04 the fair trade scandal capitalist system: private property and the ‘commodification’ of labour.


pages: 352 words: 98,561

The City by Tony Norfield

accounting loophole / creative accounting, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital controls, central bank independence, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, continuation of politics by other means, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial innovation, financial intermediation, foreign exchange controls, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, G4S, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Irish property bubble, linked data, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, Money creation, money market fund, mortgage debt, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Sharpe ratio, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, transaction costs, transfer pricing, zero-sum game

In the end, they have to raise productivity. Raising productivity means that more commodities are produced per worker in a given time, thereby increasing the mass of the means of production – raw materials, machinery and technology – compared to the number of workers employed and the labour time they work. This is what Marx called a rise in the ‘technical composition’ of capital. Alongside this, the value of the means of production will also tend to increase relative to the money that capitalists have to advance to pay wages. For example, even the infamous Foxconn, with its vast assembly plants in China employing very low-paid workers, had to increase the number of robots a hundredfold in order to lower its unit production costs further.30 Marx’s concept of the rising ‘organic composition’ of capital is used to refer to the process of capital accumulation where both the technical and the value compositions rise together.

But there is no definite limit to the mass of raw materials and machinery that he or she can work with. Over time, the mass of profit created by the worker will tend not to rise as much as the value of the capital invested in the means of production rises. This results in a tendency for the rate of profit per worker to fall, and so too throughout the whole capitalist economy. This tendency is modified in practice by many factors. Improved productivity often means that a given portion of the means of production, such as computers or raw materials, will cost less than before. But usually a revamp of the productive system is needed for significant productivity increases.

They are both the culmination of previous economic trends and a means by which the rate of profit might be increased back to levels that will allow investment and growth to resume. This can happen in several ways. If capital values are destroyed through a collapse in asset and commodity prices, those capitalists left standing will be able to buy means of production more cheaply and so secure a higher rate of return on their investments. This was what happened after the Second World War. But, at least in the rich countries today, governments have been reluctant to allow the mechanism of crisis to get into full swing, fearing social turmoil. Instead, huge levels of debt, which in earlier crisis resolutions would have been either written off or devalued, still remain in place.


pages: 171 words: 53,428

On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky

anti-communist, crowdsourcing, feminist movement, land reform, means of production, Occupy movement, post-industrial society, profit motive, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

These associations would serve as “a practical school of anarchism.”20 If private ownership of the means of production is, in Proudhon’s often quoted phrase, merely a form of “theft”—“the exploitation of the weak by the strong”21—control of production by a state bureaucracy, no matter how benevolent its intentions, also does not create the conditions under which labor, manual and intellectual, can become the highest want in life. Both, then, must be overcome. In his attack on the right of private or bureaucratic control over the means of production, the anarchist takes his stand with those who struggle to bring about “the third and last emancipatory phase of history,” the first having made serfs out of slaves, the second having made wage earners out of serfs, and the third which abolishes the proletariat in a final act of liberation that places control over the economy in the hands of free and voluntary associations of producers (Fourier, 1848).22 The imminent danger to “civilization” was noted by de Tocqueville, also in 1848: As long as the right of property was the origin and groundwork of many other rights, it was easily defended—or rather it was not attacked; it was then the citadel of society while all the other rights were its outworks; it did not bear the brunt of attack and, indeed, there was no serious attempt to assail it.

It is in this spirit that Daniel Guérin has approached the study of anarchism in Anarchism and other works.15 Guérin quotes Adolph Fischer, who said that “every anarchist is a socialist but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist.” Similarly Bakunin, in his “anarchist manifesto” of 1865, the program of his projected international revolutionary fraternity, laid down the principle that each member must be, to begin with, a socialist. A consistent anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production and the wage slavery which is a component of this system, as incompatible with the principle that labor must be freely undertaken and under the control of the producer. As Marx put it, socialists look forward to a society in which labor will “become not only a means of life, but also the highest want in life,”16 an impossibility when the worker is driven by external authority or need rather than inner impulse: “no form of wage-labor, even though one may be less obnoxious than another, can do away with the misery of wage-labor itself.”17 A consistent anarchist must oppose not only alienated labor but also the stupefying specialization of labor that takes place when the means for developing production mutilate the worker into a fragment of a human being, degrade him to become a mere appurtenance of the machine, make his work such a torment that its essential meaning is destroyed; estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labor process in very proportion to the extent to which science is incorporated into it as an independent power. . . . 18 Marx saw this not as an inevitable concomitant of industrialization, but rather as a feature of capitalist relations of production.

23 The workers of Paris, in 1871, broke the silence, and proceeded to abolish property, the basis of all civilization! Yes, gentlemen, the Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labor of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators. It wanted to make individual property a truth by transforming the means of production, land and capital, now chiefly the means of enslaving and exploiting labor, into mere instruments of free and associated labor.24 The Commune, of course, was drowned in blood. The nature of the “civilization” that the workers of Paris sought to overcome in their attack on “the very foundations of society itself” was revealed, once again, when the troops of the Versailles government reconquered Paris from its population.


pages: 188 words: 9,226

Collaborative Futures by Mike Linksvayer, Michael Mandiberg, Mushon Zer-Aviv

4chan, AGPL, Benjamin Mako Hill, British Empire, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative economy, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Debian, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, informal economy, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, late capitalism, loose coupling, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Naomi Klein, Network effects, optical character recognition, packet switching, postnationalism / post nation state, prediction markets, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, stealth mode startup, technoutopianism, The future is already here, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application, WikiLeaks, Yochai Benkler

One example could be the young and relatively domain-specific collaboration so ware that this book is being wri en with, Booki. 113 So ware services have made “installation” of new so ware as simple as visiting a web page, social features a click, and provide an easy ladder of adoption for mass collaboration. They also threaten autonomy at the individual and community level. While there are daunting challenges, meeting them means achieving “world domination” for freedom in the most important means of production—computer-mediated collaboration —something the free so ware movement failed to approach in the era of desktop office so ware. 114 31. Science 2.0 Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.

Put more boldly, distributed collaboration is a means to transgress the system of International apartheid condemned by Bonnardel and Olivier. The effect and effectiveness of transgression is always hotly debated. However, it is also possible that open collaboration could alter relationships between some workers and employers in the workers’ favor both in local and global markets. Control of the means of production Open collaboration changes which activities are more efficient inside or outside of a firm. Could the power of workers relative to firms also be altered? 133 “Intellectual property rights prevent mobility of employees in so far as their knowledge is locked in in a proprietary standard that is owned by the employer.

When the source code is closed behind copyrights and patents, however, large sums of money is required to access the so ware tools. In this way, the owner/firm gains the edge back over the labourer/programmer. This is were GPL comes in. The free license levels the playing field by ensuring that everyone has equal access to the source code. Or, pu ing it in Marxist-sounding terms, through free licenses the means of production are handed back to labour. […] By publishing so ware under free licences, the individual hacker is not merely improving his own reputation and employment prospects, as has been pointed out by Lerner and Tirole. He also contributes in establishing a labour market where the rules of the game are completely different, for him and for everyone else in his trade.


pages: 565 words: 151,129

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Garrett Hardin, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Conference 1984, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, means of production, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, Yochai Benkler, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Writing in 1936, in the throes of the Great Depression, he asked whether the institution of private ownership of the means of production would continue indefinitely to foster economic progress, or whether at a certain stage of technological development the very success of the system would become a shackle to its further advance.4 Lange noted that when an entrepreneur introduces technological innovations that allow him to lower the price of goods and services, he gains a temporary advantage over competitors strapped with antiquated means of production, resulting in the devaluation of the older investments they are locked into. This forces them to respond by introducing their own technological innovations, again increasing productivity and cheapening prices and so on.

It is not fully here yet, but as it kicks in, it will eventually and inevitably reduce marginal costs to near zero, eliminate profit, and make property exchange in markets unnecessary for many (though not all) products. The democratization of manufacturing means that anyone and eventually everyone can access the means of production, making the question of who should own and control the means of production irrelevant, and capitalism along with it. Three-dimensional printing, like so many inventions, was inspired by science-fiction writers. A generation of geeks sat enthralled in front of their TV screens, watching episodes of Star Trek. In long journeys through the universe, the crew needed to be able to repair and replace parts of the spaceship and keep stocked with everything from machine parts to pharmaceutical products.

The historian Maurice Dobb makes the point that the subordination of production to capital, and the appearance of this class relationship between capitalist and producer is, therefore, to be regarded as the crucial watershed between the old mode of production and the new.2 The concentration of ownership of the means of production by the capitalists and the subjugation of labor to capital would come to define the class struggle by the late eighteenth century. Adam Smith penetrated to the very core of the contradiction that would plague capitalism until the end of its reign. Smith saw a correlation between the enclosure of land and the enclosure of the tools of craftsmen.


Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World by Branko Milanovic

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, assortative mating, barriers to entry, basic income, Berlin Wall, bilateral investment treaty, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, colonial rule, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, ghettoisation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, high net worth, household responsibility system, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, liberal capitalism, low skilled workers, Lyft, means of production, new economy, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-materialism, purchasing power parity, remote working, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, special economic zone, Tax Reform Act of 1986, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, uber lyft, universal basic income, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working-age population, Xiaogang Anhui farmers

CHAPTER 2 LIBERAL MERITOCRATIC CAPITALISM [Democracy] is a wonderfully pleasant way of carrying on in the short-run, isn’t it? —Plato, The Republic The definition of liberal meritocratic capitalism is quite straightforward. I define capitalism in the fashion of Karl Marx and Max Weber, as the system where most production is carried out with privately owned means of production, capital hires legally free labor, and coordination is decentralized. In addition, to add Joseph Schumpeter’s requirement, most investment decisions are made by private companies or individual entrepreneurs.1 Definition of liberal meritocratic capitalism The terms “meritocratic” and “liberal” come from the definitions of various forms of equality that John Rawls lays out in A Theory of Justice (1971).

Both believed that every society contains, or has contained, a distinct upper class, and that such an upper class uses ideology to present its own interests as general interests and thus to maintain its hegemony over those it rules. How to think about today’s elite in liberal meritocratic capitalism Their view differed, however, about the importance of ownership of the means of production as the principal basis for class distinction, and about the importance of the way in which production is organized. Marx saw these factors as determining the characteristics of societies and those of the ruling classes, while Pareto’s view was more open-ended: even within a single social formation, the elite may be formed according to different criteria and may maintain its dominion in different ways.

If the optimistic Marxist view about the ability of imperialism and global capitalism to convert Third World economies into clones of Western capitalist economies had been correct, colonialism would have turned them into mirror images of Britain and France, and there would have been no need for structuralist explanations. Structuralists and dependency theorists thus merely tried to fill this gap, explaining why global capitalism was not more successful while at the same time shying away from suggesting a fully socialist economy (e.g., public ownership of the means of production) as a way to development, since the Soviet model was, by the time structuralists came to the scene, showing clear signs of senescence. The structuralists came to the scene too late, and their approach, as well as the huge gap between what they advocated and what they actually implemented (when they had a chance to do so), reflects that lateness.


pages: 470 words: 130,269

The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas by Janek Wasserman

Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business cycle, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, different worldview, Donald Trump, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, housing crisis, Internet Archive, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mont Pelerin Society, New Journalism, New Urbanism, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, price stability, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, union organizing, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game, éminence grise

Only when everyone—especially socialists—realized that the gift of marginal utility theory “is not a weapon of one man against another” but rather a tool for “all in the economic struggle against nature” would society enjoy all the benefits of free economic exchange.61 With the authors’ innovative economic and ideological arguments, Böhm and Wieser found broad resonance. Anton Menger, Carl’s brother and a professor of law, even preferred their work to his brother’s. In his juridical work, Anton took up their antisocialist arguments, criticizing the feasibility of worker control of the means of production and the distribution of goods, along Wieser’s lines. An Austrian School was beginning to coalesce in the mid-1880s not just in economics but in political theory, jurisprudence, and philosophy too.62 With the Austrians’ intellectual reputation assured, they turned their attentions to practical affairs.

He claimed to hoist Marxism on its own petard, arguing that the socialist state would of necessity engage in the same exploitation of labor as the capitalist one: “But much more important than any such sporadic obtaining of interest by private individuals is the fact that, in the Socialist state, the commonwealth itself, as against the citizens, would make use of the principle of interest which to-day it reviles as ‘exploitation.’” This interpretation was a misreading of socialist theories of exploitation, which did not object to interest or capital per se but to who owned the means of production and who received the profits. Nonetheless Böhm’s Positive Theory served as a starting point for subsequent liberal critiques of socialism.72 In the midst of Böhm’s star turn, he promoted his friend and brother-in-law, Wieser. Böhm admitted that he only dealt with the role of capital in the production of wealth and could not provide a full accounting for the distribution of value across the factors of production.

Schumpeter wanted to extend his earlier work from static models into an examination of the dynamic processes of the modern economy. Looking at the flow of goods through production and consumption cycles, Schumpeter betrayed his indebtedness to Wieser, Böhm, and Menger on every page. He deployed Böhm’s theory of roundabout means of production to explain economic change, and he referenced approvingly Menger’s theory of higher-order goods. Working from a position of methodological individualism—that is, that economic investigation must start by examining the actions of individuals—he showed how marginal utility theory explained economic activity.41 As much as Schumpeter liked economic models, he reveled more in uncertainty.


pages: 324 words: 89,875

Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy by Alex Moazed, Nicholas L. Johnson

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, altcoin, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, commoditize, connected car, disintermediation, future of work, gig economy, hockey-stick growth, if you build it, they will come, information asymmetry, Infrastructure as a Service, intangible asset, Internet of things, invisible hand, jimmy wales, John Gruber, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, platform as a service, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, source of truth, Startup school, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, the medium is the message, transaction costs, transportation-network company, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, white flight, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator

The Means of Connection For the last couple of centuries, linear businesses created value by owning the means of production. They focused on creating value from the capital base of the company, whether it was factories, human capital, or intellectual property. They aggregated internal resources and designed processes to turn their capital base into valuable products and services for their customers. This was a linear process in which the business acquired inputs and turned them into more valuable outputs, whether that product was a Ford truck, investment advice, or tax software. For a linear business, the means of production were the primary activity in Porter’s value chain.

Think about what Uber does for taxis, what Airbnb does for vacation rentals, what Apple does for apps, and what YouTube does for videos. None of these companies is a traditional, linear business. They are all platforms. Like eBay, these businesses don’t directly create and control inventory via a supply chain the way linear businesses do. Platforms don’t, to use a common phrase, own the means of production—instead, they create the means of connection. The two most successful platforms to date are Google and Apple, whose rise to the top in mobile we discussed in the prologue. But they are only the tip of the iceberg. The number of platforms at the top of our economy is growing fast. In 2015, the top three members of Forbes’s list of most valuable brands were platform companies, as were eleven of the top twenty.15 All of the companies at the heart of the social media boom were also platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This method of establishing market dominance contrasts starkly with how platforms operate today. Platform businesses grow not by acquiring more factories but by connecting more and more users within their networks. In other words, platforms become dominant not because of what they own but rather because of the value they create by connecting their users. They don’t own the means of production, as industrial monopolies did. Instead, they own the means of connection. This fact helps explain why old monopolies were largely despised while today’s platforms are not. Although every business has some detractors (we all have that one friend who refuses to use Facebook), consumers love Facebook, Alibaba, and Google.


Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres by Jamie Woodcock

always be closing, anti-work, call centre, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, David Graeber, invention of the telephone, job satisfaction, late capitalism, means of production, millennium bug, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, post-industrial society, post-work, precariat, profit motive, social intelligence, stakhanovite, women in the workforce

Without the labour that 55 Working the Phones went into reproducing labour-power, producing commodities for sale, or those for use by capital – for example, computers, telephones and networks – the affective work in call centres would not be possible. This involves a move from the formal to the real subsumption of workers to capital. Formal subsumption involves capital monopolising the means of production – the ownership of workplaces and the things inside them, for example – and compelling people to work for a wage. This shift to real subsumption ‘means instead that the workers’ lifetimes have been captured by the capital flow, and the souls have been pervaded by techno-linguistic chains’. This entails the ‘introduction of pervasive technologies, the computerization of productive processes and of social communication [that] enact a molecular domination upon the collective nervous network’.30 Within mental labour it is possible to distinguish between ‘brain workers’ and ‘chain workers’.

43 84 Management This paints a picture of an unchecked management, whose power leaves workers helpless. The only alternative seems to be fleeing from the call centre, the advantage being what Marx ironically describes as a doubly free worker – free to choose who to sell their labour to, and additionally freed from the ownership of capital or means of production.44 It is worth returning to the quote from Alan McKinlay and Phil Taylor, that ‘the factory and the office are neither prison nor asylum, their social architectures never those of the total institution’.45 The potential of the Panopticon for surveillance, controlling and intensifying the labour process is clear.

The call centre is an obvious example as it would be difficult to imagine why it would be brought under workers’ control: who would you want to bombard with high speed sales calls? This is because the development of the call centre has been tied closely to the use of methods of surveillance, speed-up and control. Rather than seizing the means of production, a more attractive option is to simply go and do something else. The second kind of work is that which could be fulfilling and useful if it could be radically reorganised. An example of this is privatised care work. In the UK a large proportion of this kind of work is done on a highly casualised basis with low pay, often organised on a highly regulated basis in which limits are put on how long workers may spend with each user.


pages: 247 words: 68,918

The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? by Ian Bremmer

affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global reserve currency, global supply chain, household responsibility system, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, new economy, offshore financial centre, open economy, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Savings and loan crisis, shareholder value, Shenzhen special economic zone , South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

It’s a turn of phrase that captures the freedom and personal empowerment that many of us imagine when thinking about the only economic system proven over time to generate sustainable prosperity. But capitalism takes many forms, and freedom is a relative concept. For our purposes, capitalism is the use of wealth to create more wealth, a broad enough definition to capture both free-market and state capitalism. Generally speaking, in a capitalist economic system, most means of production—labor, land, and capital—are privately owned and traded. Money is the measurable, universally accepted means of exchange. Individuals and privately owned institutions make most of the decisions on what to buy and how much to pay, what to make and how much to charge, how much to save and where to invest.

Some, like Liebknecht, railed against the half measures of those who failed to denounce capitalism forcefully enough. Liebknecht assured a socialist congress in Paris that, “Nobody has shown more distinctively than I that State Socialism is really State Capitalism.”5 He was arguing that it’s not enough for the state to seize the means of production. It must surrender political power to the proletariat. Once Marxism gained a real-world foothold following the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922, this debate began to get ugly. Liebknecht was long dead by the 1920s, but the argument gained new force among some within the Bolshevik elite.

Those who practice state capitalism know, often from bitter personal experience, that command economies are bound to fail eventually, because governments can never direct supplies of scarce resources and attach values to goods and services as efficiently and intelligently as markets can. Instead of eliminating markets, they try to harness them for their own purposes. Socialism often represents a long-term commitment to progressively greater state control, a sort of “slow boat to communism”—eventual state ownership of all means of production. This boat may never reach port, but its captain is ideologically committed never to change course, no matter how heavy the storms that stand in his way.8 The current governments of China and Russia, on the other hand, have no intention of pushing their countries back toward communism. They want as much control as possible over economies that remain dynamic and innovative enough to produce explosive and sustainable growth.


pages: 554 words: 158,687

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All by Costas Lapavitsas

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bear Stearns, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Flash crash, full employment, global value chain, global village, High speed trading, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, market bubble, means of production, Modern Monetary Theory, Money creation, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, oil shock, open economy, pensions crisis, Post-Keynesian economics, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Simon Kuznets, special drawing rights, Thales of Miletus, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, union organizing, value at risk, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Finance is a part of circulation, but also possesses mechanisms standing aside commodity trading and its corresponding flows of money. The traded object of finance is loanable money capital, the cornerstone of capitalist credit. Production, circulation and distribution give rise to class relations, pivoting on the ownership of the means of production, but also determined by the appropriation of profits. Financialization reflects a growing asymmetry between production and circulation – particularly the financial component of the latter – during the last three decades. The asymmetry has arisen as the financial conduct of non-financial enterprises, banks and households has gradually changed, thus fostering a range of aggregate phenomena of financialization.

Marx did not subscribe to Adam Smith’s fallacious abstraction of ‘primitive’ trade. Treating money as the outcome of relations of commodity exchange has nothing to do with assuming that money emerges out of a primordial state of barter. For Marx, societies in which production is run by autonomous and private owners of the means of production necessarily turn products into commodities. Such societies rely on markets to organize the flow of commodities and to allow reproduction to take place: they require money as a social organizer, and none more so than capitalist society. However, the historical origin of money does not lie within the internal organization of communities; money does not emerge as a curative for a malfunctioning barter economy.

Under other social and historical conditions, financial practices would remain partial, fragmentary, and particular, even if they were complex and sophisticated. It is a theoretical point of paramount importance that appropriate relations for the emergence of a system of finance emerge only within the capitalist mode of production. Under capitalist social conditions – independent, competing capitalists who own the means of production and hire wage labour – the deployment and expansion of monetary value becomes a fixed social practice, providing the foundation for the emergence of a financial system. A financial system is a specifically capitalist phenomenon, although sophisticated financial practices can be observed in a wide variety of other social formations.4 Even assuming the existence of capitalist conditions, however, the emergence of a financial system continues to pose thorny theoretical problems, as is shown in the rest of this chapter.


pages: 410 words: 119,823

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic bias, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, Ian Bogost, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, post-work, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shenzhen special economic zone , Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, When a measure becomes a target, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

The question then becomes what kind(s) of shared space will be produced by people endowed with this particular set of capabilities, individually and collectively—and how we might help the unmediated contend with environments unlike any they have known before, enacted for the convenience of the ambiguously transhuman, under circumstances whose depths have yet to be plumbed. 4 Digital fabrication Towards a new political economy of matter A roughly cubical object of modest scale, rounded at the corners, sits on a dusty tabletop in the University College London building where I teach one day a week. Faintly smelling of long-chain molecules, it scarcely seems credible that this little box could transform what is meant by “ownership of the means of production.” And yet a means of production is precisely what I am looking at. The cubical object is a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer, nothing less than a portable manufactory. No larger than a first-generation Apple Macintosh, the Replicator 2 can be programmed to produce … just about anything you can imagine, really, as long as it isn’t any larger than eleven inches in any dimension, and you don’t mind it being made of a slightly greasy polymer.

Bowyer’s vision of a self-replicating future implied not merely an enormous increase in planetary production capacity, but its radical democratization as well. In this conception of things, there may be fairly stark limitations on what can be produced—combine harvesters and pile drivers are out, similarly mobile phones or tablets—but the barriers to entry are lowered to the point that anyone with the requisite will can own the means of production. And because the RepRap’s specifications are open, users are free to tinker and improve upon Bowyer’s original design, free to contribute those improvements back to the informational commons so everyone can benefit from them. Bowyer hoped that the fabricator itself would become “subject to evolution by artificial selection,” as the fruits of constant, iterative enhancement were incorporated into each new generation.

The unstated premise behind all of these visions of the future isn’t merely an economy in which high-precision fabricators themselves are available cheaply. It’s one in which all the inputs required to make things with them—specifically, feedstock, energy and specification diagrams—are also available at something very close to zero cost. Without access to these, one doesn’t truly own the means of production, only its instruments; with them, but for labor time and amortization of the fabrication engine itself, objects might indeed be had for something close to the cost of the raw material used to make them. But feedstock, energy and specifications all need to be produced by someone, somehow, and the costs involved cannot simply be wished away.


pages: 443 words: 98,113

The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay by Guy Standing

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Bonfire of the Vanities, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Firefox, first-past-the-post, future of work, Garrett Hardin, gig economy, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, independent contractor, information retrieval, intangible asset, invention of the steam engine, investor state dispute settlement, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, mini-job, Money creation, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Neil Kinnock, non-tariff barriers, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, nudge unit, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, openstreetmap, patent troll, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, precariat, quantitative easing, remote working, rent control, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Right to Buy, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, structural adjustment programs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Y Combinator, zero-sum game, Zipcar

The revolt should aim to achieve Keynes’s desired ‘euthanasia of the rentier’, weakening mechanisms that produce rental income. But there is something more. The failing distribution system and emerging class structure have produced inequalities of particular relevance to the precariat. A century ago, progressives linked to the proletariat hoped to gain control of the ‘means of production’. Today that would excite humour and puzzlement. The means of production are not the assets over which the redistributive struggle should take place. For the precariat, the assets of most value are those essential to a decent life in modern society – income security, time, quality space, uncommodified education, financial knowledge and financial capital.3 Policies should be judged by whether or not they would reduce the unequal distribution of these key assets.

Deliveroo delivers meals to your door; TaskRabbit undertakes domestic tasks and errands; Thumbtack finds local professionals to supply services, from installing a kitchen to teaching yoga. It is a misnomer to call this the ‘sharing economy’. These digital platforms are rentier entities; they control the technological apparatus but, unlike great corporations of the past, they do not own the main means of production. Rather, they are labour brokers, often taking 20 per cent (sometimes more) from all transactions. ‘Crowdwork’ platforms also act as labour brokers, providing a digital labour exchange through which organisations (‘requesters’) post online tasks, split into small, sometimes micro tasks, which workers (‘taskers’) then bid for.

This is disingenuous. Most taskers are neither entrepreneurial nor independent; few will build a business based on queuing for iPhone buyers, as some are tasked to do. But it would be equally wrong to call them ‘employees’ in the classic sense of that term; they are not directly supervised, they own the main means of production and, in principle, they have control over their working time. However, taskers are not self-employed either. They depend on the labour broker (the platform) to obtain tasks and are subject to rules, such as wearing a T-shirt with the company logo or accepting a certain number of tasks. Yet, like the self-employed, they bear most job-related costs, including transport, repairs and maintenance, and insurance for accidents and ill-health.


pages: 362 words: 99,063

The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late by Michael Ellsberg

affirmative action, Black Swan, Burning Man, corporate governance, creative destruction, financial independence, follow your passion, future of work, hiring and firing, independent contractor, job automation, knowledge worker, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mega-rich, meta-analysis, new economy, Norman Mailer, Peter Thiel, profit motive, race to the bottom, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Steve Ballmer, survivorship bias, telemarketer, Tony Hsieh

For knowledge workers in the developed world, the tools of their trade have become so ridiculously cheap that the “means of production” have once again become affordable to individual workers. These workers no longer have to depend on bosses or large organizations to furnish them with the means of production. They can quit the factory-style organizations and become “butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers” once again—that is, digitally connected entrepreneurs and solo-preneurs. Pink calls it “Digital Marxism: In an age of inexpensive computers, wireless handheld devices, and ubiquitous low-cost connections to a global communications network, workers can now own the means of production.”11 And increasingly, more and more of them (especially younger ones who have grown up with the Internet) are deciding to take their means of production, strike out on their own with their copy of The Four-Hour Workweek in their laptop bag, and flip a big, bad massive bird to their former employers.

As Pink points out in Free Agent Nation, there was a time in our nation’s history, before the Industrial Revolution, when most people were self-employed—that is, “the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.” In these times, writes Pink, mass self-employment made sense because “most of the things people needed to earn their living they could buy easily and keep at home.” However, writes Pink, “it was only when these things—the means of production, to use Karl Marx’s famous phrase—became extremely expensive . . . that large organizations began to dominate.... Capital and labor, once so intertwined the distinction scarcely mattered, became separate entities. Capitalists owned the equipment. Laborers earned their money by receiving a sliver of the enormous rewards those giant machines produced.”10 Pink argues that in the last decade, in one area of the economy—called “knowledge work”—a shift has occurred as massive and with implications as far-reaching as those during the shift from an agrarian to an industrial society.

Pink calls it “Digital Marxism: In an age of inexpensive computers, wireless handheld devices, and ubiquitous low-cost connections to a global communications network, workers can now own the means of production.”11 And increasingly, more and more of them (especially younger ones who have grown up with the Internet) are deciding to take their means of production, strike out on their own with their copy of The Four-Hour Workweek in their laptop bag, and flip a big, bad massive bird to their former employers. And here’s something else these self-employed people, small-business owners, and micropreneurs are starting to realize more and more: for them, formal educational credentials are irrelevant to the new economic reality they are operating in. In this new reality, no one gives a damn where you went to college or what your formal credentials are, so long as you do great work.


pages: 405 words: 103,723

The Government of No One: The Theory and Practice of Anarchism by Ruth Kinna

Berlin Wall, British Empire, complexity theory, creative destruction, David Graeber, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, friendly fire, ghettoisation, Herbert Marcuse, Kickstarter, late capitalism, means of production, moral panic, New Journalism, Occupy movement, post scarcity, Steven Pinker, Ted Kaczynski, union organizing, wage slave

While this construction usefully highlighted the corrupting power of the bourgeoisie and the partiality of the law, it wrongly underplayed the independent, oppressive power of the state. Thus for Marx, Bakunin argued, revolution meant seizing control of the ownership of the means of production. Marx believed wrongly, in Bakunin’s view, that this was possible if the proletariat seized control of the state’s machinery. Marx was unable to see that for as long as the state remained intact, the revolution would be stunted. Control of the means of production would bring class equality, in the sense that it would wipe out the economic power of the bourgeoisie, but it would not remove hierarchy: workers would still be subject to the dictates of the law.

Between these two social classes there cannot exist any bond of friendship or fraternity, for the possessing class always seeks to perpetuate the existing economic, political and social system which guarantees it tranquil enjoyment of the fruits of its robberies, while the working class exerts itself to destroy the iniquitous system and institute one in which the land, the houses, the machinery of production and the means of transportation shall be for the common use.61 Yet Magón’s analysis was also typically anarchist in the way it drew on a critique of private property ownership and government. In talking about class, anarchists often devote as much attention to issues of social exclusion and dependency as to prevailing Marxist concerns like the ownership of the means of production or the extraction of surplus value. Anarchists have also rejected aspects of Marx’s theory and have rarely adopted it uncritically. The anarchist objection to Marxist class analysis is that it is underpinned by a thesis of progress. Marxists tend to see revolution as the outcome of a process of change led by transformations in the economy which then lead to the emergence of worker solidarity and awareness of the collective power of workers as a revolutionary force.

For regardless of the revolutionary status that Marxism bestowed upon them, in official unions workers had more reason to maintain and manipulate the system for their own ends than they had in destroying it. It followed that the Marxist focus on class struggle would bankrupt the socialist vision. In his obsession to wrest control of the ownership of the means of production, Marx skirted over the deadening, polluting effects of industrial production, the mindless boredom of labour and the structural impacts of capitalist-driven technology. Anarchists wanted to inherit the earth not the drab, dirty world that Marxist communism seemed to promise on the back of the capitalist transition.


pages: 153 words: 45,871

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson

AltaVista, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, disinformation, edge city, informal economy, Joi Ito, means of production, megastructure, pattern recognition, proxy bid, telepresence, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

Musicians could perform for money, and the printing press had given rise to an industry in sheet music, but great fame, and wealth, tended to be a matter of patronage. The medium of the commercial audio recording changed that, and created an industry predicated on an inherent technological monopoly of the means of production. Ordinary citizens could neither make nor manufacture audio recordings. That monopoly has now ended. Some futurists, looking at the individual musician’s role in the realm of the digital, have suggested that we are in fact heading for a new version of the previous situation, one in which patronage (likely corporate, and nonprofit) will eventually become a musician’s only potential ticket to relative fame and wealth.

Some futurists, looking at the individual musician’s role in the realm of the digital, have suggested that we are in fact heading for a new version of the previous situation, one in which patronage (likely corporate, and nonprofit) will eventually become a musician’s only potential ticket to relative fame and wealth. The window, then, in which one could become the Beatles, occupy that sort of market position, is seen to have been technologically determined. And technologically finite. The means of production, reproduction, and distribution of recorded music are today entirely digital, and thus are in the hands of whoever might desire them. We get them for free, often without asking for them, as inbuilt peripherals. I bring music up, here, and the impact the digital is having on it, mainly as an example of the unpredictable nature of technologically driven change.

Film, I imagine, is in for a different sort of ride up the timeline, primarily owing to the technology-intensive nature of today’s product. Terminator III Unplugged is a contradiction in terms. Hollywood is massively and multiply plugged, and is itself a driver of new technologies. The monopoly on the means of production (at least in terms of creation) can be preserved, in this environment, as the industry itself operates on something very near the cutting edge of emergent technology. For a while, at least. In terms of the future, however, the history of recorded music suggests that any film made today is being launched up the timeline toward end-user technologies ultimately more intelligent, more capable, than the technologies employed in the creation of that film.


The Limits of the Market: The Pendulum Between Government and Market by Paul de Grauwe, Anna Asbury

"Robert Solow", banking crisis, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, Honoré de Balzac, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, means of production, Money creation, moral hazard, Paul Samuelson, price discrimination, price mechanism, profit motive, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, very high income

Ultimately these contradictions must lead to the destruction of the capitalistic mode of production, when impoverished and alienated workers start a revolution against a capitalistic system that has become increasingly fragile because of its incapacity to generate sufficient profits. After the revolution a communist mode of production will be set in motion characterized by a collectivization of the means of production. This will be the start of a ‘red paradise’ where the exploitation of the workers by private owners of the means of production will have become impossible. This theory of the internal contradictions of capitalism has exerted an incredible influence on the minds of many people and has led many of them to take action so as to overthrow capitalism. This led to communist regimes in many parts of the world during the twentieth century.  OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 27/10/2016, SPi R I S E A N D F A L L : LINEAR OR CYCLICAL ?

.  capital accumulation n diminishing returns  /income ratio n public and private in Great Britain and France f quantity of –,  capitalism , , , , – crony ,  global b internal contradictions –,  linear theories see linear theories on the rise and fall of capitalism see also capitalism, limits of capitalism, limits of – individual and collective rationality – see also external limits of capitalism; internal limits of capitalism carbon dioxide emissions –, , – and emission standards – and taxation – central banks – see also in particular Bank of England under United Kingdom; European Central Bank (ECB); Federal Reserve (Fed) under United States centrally planned economic model – China consumption per capita  gross domestic product (GDP) per capita f climate change  see also global warming Club of Rome, ‘The Limits to Growth’ n Coase, R.  collective decision-making process – collective irrationality   INDEX collectivization of means of production  communism , , –, – competition/competitiveness –, , –, ,  Congo, Republic of infrastructure, lack of  consumption lack of growth in , ,  material  prices  tax (VAT) –,  continental European model and social security  cooperation –,  Croatia labour costs, gross hourly f cyclical theories of rise and fall of capitalism  Cyprus labour costs, gross hourly f Czech Republic labour costs, gross hourly f Damasio, A.  De Keyzer, P.


pages: 268 words: 75,490

The Knowledge Economy by Roberto Mangabeira Unger

additive manufacturing, balance sheet recession, business cycle, collective bargaining, commoditize, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, global value chain, information asymmetry, knowledge economy, market fundamentalism, means of production, Paul Samuelson, savings glut, secular stagnation, side project, total factor productivity, transaction costs, union organizing, wealth creators

A third stage of innovations in the legal and institutional structure of the market order would begin with change in the property regime, which defines the terms for the decentralization of economic initiative and the claims of economic agents on the means of production. The point would not be to replace the unified property right, established and theorized only in the nineteenth century, by another, equally exclusive form of property vested, for example, in the firm’s labor force. The aim instead would be to radically diversify the forms of decentralized access to capital and the other means of production. The traditional unified property right joins all the powers that we associate with property (and that the civil law tradition distinguished as use, usufruct—command of the income stream, and dominion—the right to alienate or sell) and vests them in a single right holder, the owner.

Because it facilitates contrarian entrepreneurial initiative, the unified property right will continue to be useful and even indispensable to the development of the knowledge economy. But rather than remaining the default way to decentralize economic initiative, it would turn over time into a limiting case. The more common form of the property right would become its disaggregation into fragmentary, temporary, or conditional claims on the means of production. Such disaggregation would organize the coexistence of claims by different stakeholders—such as private or public investors, workers, local governments, and local communities—in the same productive resources. It would make it possible to increase the decentralization of economic initiative—the number of economic agents able to bargain on their own initiative and their own account.

The sixth level of initiatives breaking through supply constraints on economic growth also breaks through the demand constraints because such initiatives form part of a reallocation of power in the economy, against the background of changes in education and in politics that reassign power in culture and in the state. In any generalized form of the knowledge economy, the corporate form and the unified property right cease to be the nearly exclusive legal instruments for the decentralization of access to the means of production. The disaggregation of the property right—the creation of a wide range of fragmentary, conditional, or temporary stakes in pieces of the apparatus of production—allows different kinds of stakes and stakeholders in the same productive resources to coexist. It also makes it possible to combine, to a greater extent than present arrangements do, the decentralization of economic initiative and the aggregation of resources, the better to achieve scale.


pages: 934 words: 135,736

The Divided Nation: A History of Germany, 1918-1990 by Mary Fulbrook

Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, centre right, coherent worldview, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, joint-stock company, land reform, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, open borders, Peace of Westphalia, Sinatra Doctrine, union organizing, unorthodox policies

But to what extent had the two Germanies developed into different societies in the period before 1989? Let us start with an attempt to compare the two Germanies in a number of different empirical respects. There was an obvious difference in the question of ownership of the means of production: in West Germany, capital remained predominantly in private ownership, while in East Germany between 1945 and 1989 private ownership of the means of production was to a major extent abolished. According to the GDR's official statistics, in 1983 out of 8,445,300 economically active persons, only 397,100 were engaged in privately owned concerns. 1 This effect was achieved in stages over the years; while, as we have Page 222 seen, there were radical changes in socio-economic structure in the occupation period, in 1952 over forty-five per cent of the economy was still in private hands. 2 In this fundamental respect, then, capitalist West and communist East were by definition quite different.

Concessions made by employers to workers, when the latter were relatively strong and the former feared a more radical revolution, were to be fundamentally queried and subject to sustained assault as was the political system that guaranteed those concessions when the relative circumstances of the parties had changed. By December 1918, the USPD had fallen out with Ebert's cautious course. The radical socialists had wanted to seize the opportunity for a thorough-going reform of the army, and for the socialization of the means of production; in short, they wanted to effect a genuine revolution, not to administer affairs on a temporary basis pending national elections. The USPD left the Page 28 government; and at the end of December, the far left formed the German Communist Party (KPD). In January 1919 the split between moderate Social Democrats on the one hand, and radical socialists and communists on the other, became an unbridgeable chasm.

By contrast, in 1939 the area which was to become West Germany had 43 million inhabitants; in 1980 despite fears in the 1970S about the declining birth-rate, and claims that the 'Germans were dying out' the population had risen to 61.7 million. 5 These figures, and the corresponding statistics concerning numbers of inhabitants per square kilometre, again give detail to the immediate impressions of relative emptiness and sparser population of East Germany in comparison to the West. Discussions of ownership or non-ownership of the means of production, and of the distribution of population among agrarian, industrial and service sectors of employment, or levels of urbanization, do not tell us very much about social structure, however. Central questions about stratification and social inequality must be addressed also. The German Democratic Republic was grounded in a political theory committed to the eradication of class differences; yet East German theorists admitted that social inequalities persisted, and certain inequalities of status, privilege and income were variably condoned or encouraged in East Germany.


pages: 1,327 words: 360,897

Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism by Peter Marshall

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, anti-globalists, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, David Graeber, different worldview, do-ocracy, feminist movement, garden city movement, Herbert Marcuse, hive mind, Howard Zinn, invisible hand, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, liberation theology, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Naomi Klein, open borders, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, the market place, union organizing, wage slave, washing machines reduced drudgery

It meant politically a society without government, that is anarchy, and economically, the complete negation of the wage system and the ownership of the means of production in common: ‘everybody, contributing for the common well-being to the full extent of his capacities, shall enjoy from the common stock of society to the fullest possible extent of his needs.’65 Moreover, Kropotkin believed ‘Anarchy leads to Communism, and Communism to Anarchy.’66 He felt that anarchist communism was the union of the two fundamental tendencies of his society, a tendency towards economic equality and a tendency towards political liberty.67 As he points out in the The Conquest of Bread, Kropotkin felt that economic communism is the only fair solution since wealth results from collective effort and the means of production are the collective work of humanity: Individual appropriation is neither just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate everyone’s part in the production of the world’s wealth.68 The means of production would be owned not by the State but by associations or communes of producers. They would be organized on a voluntary basis and connected federally.

While his followers, the mutualists, tried to retain private ownership for agriculture (because of the individualism of the French peasantry), they accepted collective ownership for transport and proposed a form of industrial self-management. Proudhon himself thought that in the future, large-scale industry must be the fruit of association, that is to say, the means of production and exchange must be managed by associations of workers themselves. Making a distinction between possession and ownership, he proposed that the workers should possess their means of production, but not be their exclusive owners. They would exchange goods whose value would be measured by the amount of labour necessary to produce them. Workers would receive wages in ‘work vouchers’ according to the amount of work done.

Collectivists believed that the State should be dismantled and the economy organized on the basis of common ownership and control by associations of producers. They wished to restrict private property only to the product of individual labour, but argued that there should be common ownership of the land and all other means of production. Collectivists in general look to a free federation of associations of producers and consumers to organize production and distribution. They uphold the socialist principle: ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to work done.’ This form of anarchist collectivism appealed to peasants as well as workers in the labour movement who wanted to create a free society without any transitional revolutionary government or dictatorship.


Ellul, Jacques-The Technological Society-Vintage Books (1964) by Unknown

Bretton Woods, conceptual framework, do-ocracy, double entry bookkeeping, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, liberal capitalism, means of production, Norbert Wiener, price mechanism, profit motive, rising living standards, road to serfdom, spinning jenny, Thorstein Veblen, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto

But, with a better understanding of the illusory nature of the “threshold quan­ tity," we are able to turn aside the objections which are always raised by those who rightly but extraneously urge that historical societies have always had to struggle with the possibility of a ma­ terial takeover and that the present state of affairs is therefore not something new. The answer, of course, is that the objection is ir­ relevant. Ellul could not mean to assert that men in the past have not had to contend with material means which threatened to ex­ ceed their capacity to make good use of them, but that men in the past were not confronted with technical means of production and organization which in their sheer numerical proliferation and ve­ locity unavoidably surpassed man’s relatively unchanging biologi­ cal and spiritual capacities to exploit them as means to human ends. Second, Engel’s law must never be taken to imply a one-way transition of quantity into quality.

Nor must we overlook the fact that this parentage represents a profound inter­ vention in the economy on the part of the state, an intervention, moreover, not dictated by a theory or a will to power, but by the technical manifest. The necessity of utilizing certain goods also tends in the same direction. It has long been recognized that technical progress is effected more rapidly in the creation of the means of production. From this fact comes a kind of hypertrophy of machine-producing industries. The well-known Hoover Committee for the elimination of waste found, for example, that the production of the American clothing industry was 45 per cent greater than necessary. The ca pacity ot the shoe industry was double its real production; and the printing industry was overequipped by 100 per cent.

The eif ects of this new revenue-calculating economic technique, which relates economic effects to their causes, are easily seen in fields such as the liquor industry, housing, trans­ portation, and so on. It is clear that this calculated revenue poten­ tial bears not merely on money but also on human capital. France does not yet have a central accounting service which could com­ pletely exploit this technique and establish a measurement of social needs, means of production, movement of capital, national income, and demographic change, etc. Returning to the methods of pure economic technique, we find the metl^od of models. It is extremely difficult to experiment in eco­ nomic matters. But experimentation is indispensable in all sciences and even more so in techniques.


pages: 869 words: 239,167

The Story of Work: A New History of Humankind by Jan Lucassen

3D printing, 8-hour work day, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-work, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, computer age, coronavirus, COVID-19, demographic transition, deskilling, discovery of the americas, domestication of the camel, European colonialism, factory automation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fixed income, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, hiring and firing, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, knowledge economy, labour mobility, land tenure, long peace, mass immigration, means of production, megastructure, minimum wage unemployment, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, New Urbanism, out of africa, pension reform, phenotype, post-work, precariat, price stability, reshoring, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, stakhanovite, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, two and twenty, universal basic income, women in the workforce, working poor

It is likely that the first wage labour was created in this way – albeit without a labour market. Parallel to this, we now see the first evidence of the private ownership of the means of production, specifically of land and cattle, but in the cities, too, of artisanal tools. This is how self-employed households that traded their products on the market came into being. And it was this that first made wage labour in the service of the self-employed possible on a larger scale – that is to say, the phenomenon of people without the means of production (especially land) working for someone who does, but for a reward: wage labour through the market. The question then is, how was the nature and level of this reward determined?

Thus, the uneven redistribution of communal revenue became institutionalized. In the states – that is, the polities – that emerged from city leagues, elites became increasingly powerful, internally and externally. Internally, they could now claim for the state not only all revenues but also the means of production and, in exchange for remuneration, the services of non-property-owning citizens (for example, as professional soldiers). At the same time, citizens could work for themselves and, in addition, traders and other professionals could acquire production resources and, ultimately, they could also employ wage workers.

The term ‘transegalitarian’ is used to describe the transitional form of more unequal societies, in the sense that: ‘Where significant ownership of resources, economically based competition, and wealth differences occur but are not institutionalized as class distinctions, we refer to such societies as “transegalitarian” societies.’ Even more unequal societies have been called ‘chiefdom organizations’.81 For the time being, however, we should not regard the concept of ownership as the ownership of the means of production (land, cattle), but as control over harvest surpluses. Signs of unevenly distributed property only come later.82 The question now, then, is how to characterize the gradual transition between hunting-gathering and agriculture along these lines. Let us again start from the important observation that the Neolithic Revolution created possibilities for saving food, much more than was the case among most hunter-gatherers.


pages: 365 words: 88,125

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, borderless world, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, means of production, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, Myron Scholes, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, post-industrial society, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, rent control, shareholder value, short selling, Skype, structural adjustment programs, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Tobin tax, Toyota Production System, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

The top Russian scientists were as inventive as their counterparts in capitalist countries, but the rest of the country did not seem able to live up to the same standard. What was going on? In pursuit of the communist vision of a classless society based on collective ownership of the ‘means of production’ (e.g., machines, factory buildings, roads), the Soviet Union and its communist allies aimed for full employment and a high degree of equality. Since no one was allowed to own any means of production, virtually all enterprises were run by professional managers (with minor exceptions such as small restaurants and hairdressers), preventing the emergence of visionary entrepreneurs, like Henry Ford or Bill Gates.

Despite this, the system still failed to function well because of the inefficiency of the communist central planning system, which was supposed to be a more efficient alternative to the market system. The communist justification of central planning was based on some quite sound logic. Karl Marx and his followers argued that the fundamental problem with capitalism was the contradiction between the social nature of the production process and the private nature of ownership of the means of production. With economic development – or the development of productive forces, in Marxist jargon – the division of labour between firms develops further and as a result the firms become increasingly more dependent on each other – or the social nature of the production process is intensified. However, despite the growing interdependence among firms, the Marxists argued, ownership of the firms firmly remains in separate private hands, making it impossible to coordinate the actions of those interdependent firms.

Many unsold products are thrown away, machines that used to produce now-unwanted things are scrapped, and workers who are capable and willing to work are laid off due to the lack of demand. With the development of capitalism, the Marxists predicted, this systemic contradiction would become larger and consequently economic crises would become more and more violent, finally bringing the whole system down. In contrast, under central planning, the Marxist argued, all means of production are owned by the whole of society and as a result the activities of interdependent production units can be coordinated ex ante through a unified plan. As any potential coordination failure is resolved before it happens, the economy does not have to go through those periodic crises in order to balance supply and demand.


pages: 320 words: 86,372

Mythology of Work: How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself by Peter Fleming

1960s counterculture, anti-work, call centre, clockwatching, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, David Graeber, Etonian, future of work, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, illegal immigration, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, means of production, neoliberal agenda, Parkinson's law, post-industrial society, post-work, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, Results Only Work Environment, shareholder value, social intelligence, The Chicago School, transaction costs, wealth creators, working poor

That process is, of course, capitalism. The accumulation of capital – in all its variants, including financial or fictitious capital – involves the use of a labour process that takes a variety of organizational forms. That labour process is in turn built around exploitation and class relations (i.e. who owns and controls the means of production). What we call work is the social embodiment and ritualistic calculus of that exploitation process. One reason that the ideology of work has got away with its recent exponential growth, becoming a ‘way of life’, is that it is still confused with survival and ineluctable necessity. This is one of the great ruses of neoliberal reason: it is able to impose an artificial regime based upon the pretext of organic self-preservation.

Work becomes an inescapable way of life, 24/7. For example, when we enter the workplace today we are not only selling our skills as potential labour power but also ourselves as certain kinds of people. Hence the popularity of ‘human capital’ in neoclassical economics, which is now a central component of the means of production in a totally commercialized society. We can note this emphasis on human and social capital in the following mainstream praise of the modern corporation. Under the title of ‘Sociability’s Value Added’, we are told by pro-business celebrants Goffee and Jones that sociability is often a boon to creativity because it fosters teamwork, the sharing of information, and an openness to new ideas.

Customer service staff, cleaners, catering, recruitment services, telephone operators and even managers are employed by a myriad of other firms, which then outsource their staff functions as well. In the end, the hotel is merely a building and a brand. Other than its owners, it is people-less. For is not the private ownership of the means of production liberated from the trouble of labour the perfect ideal of the current era? This is not an isolated case; it is the basic business model of late capitalism, especially for jobs that involve dangerous, controversial or undesirable work. It keeps wages low, enables large firms to bypass health, safety and employment regulations and defers the costs of employment in a never-ending chain of contractors.


pages: 239 words: 80,319

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, Chris Wanstrath, citation needed, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, disinformation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, feminist movement, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kim Stanley Robinson, l'esprit de l'escalier, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mondo 2000, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, packet switching, PageRank, pre–internet, profit motive, QAnon, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, surveillance capitalism, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing complete, We are the 99%, web application, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, you are the product

“[When] i went into cyberspace i went into it thinking that it was a place like any other place and that it would be a human interaction like any other human interaction,” Hermosillo began, tearing down The WELL’s self-mythologizing as a utopia, and instead painting a picture of cyberspace as large as a vampiric spectacle: i have seen many people spill their guts on-line, and i did so myself until, at last, i began to see that i had commodified myself. commodification means that you turn something into a product which has a money-value. in the nineteenth century, commodities were made in factories, which karl marx called “the means of production.” capitalists were people who owned the means of production, and the commodities were made by workers who were mostly exploited. i created my interior thoughts as a means of production for the corporation that owned the board i was posting to, and that commodity was being sold to other commodity/consumer entities as entertainment. that means that i sold my soul like a tennis shoe and i derived no profit from the sale of my soul. people who post frequently on boards appear to know that they are factory equipment and tennis shoes, and sometimes trade sends and email about how their contributions are not appreciated by management.

A good explanation of the difference between users and customers can be found in “The Discovery of Behavioral Surplus,” in Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (Public Affairs, 2019): “There is no economic exchange, no price, and no profit. Nor do users function in the role of workers … Users are not paid for their labor, nor do they operate the means of production.” 1. SEARCH In 2015, Google restructured itself and renamed its holding company “Alphabet,” but no one seems to actually call it that other than its shareholders. There was an NPR segment in 2014 about the questions the New York Public Library fielded from the 1940s to the ’80s (“Before the Internet, Librarians Would ‘Answer Everything’—And Still Do,” December 28, 2014).


pages: 263 words: 80,594

Stolen: How to Save the World From Financialisation by Grace Blakeley

"Robert Solow", activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, bond market vigilante , Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, David Graeber, debt deflation, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, fixed income, full employment, G4S, gender pay gap, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, global supply chain, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, impact investing, income inequality, inflation targeting, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), job polarisation, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land value tax, light touch regulation, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Modern Monetary Theory, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, pensions crisis, Ponzi scheme, Post-Keynesian economics, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk-adjusted returns, road to serfdom, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, transfer pricing, universal basic income, Winter of Discontent, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

For a long time, it has been easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism — by which we mean an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production (the main factors used in the production process) with the aim of profit maximisation, the enforcement of private property rights by the state, and the allocation of resources through the market mechanism. The system may create inequality, unemployment, frequent crises, and environmental degradation but, we have been told, the alternative is far worse. Socialism — a system under which the means of production are owned collectively — has only ever lead to death and destruction. Capitalism is the worst way of organising the economy, except for all the others.

Capitalism has built these systems, and the powerful are trying to contain their complexity using hierarchical, top-down decision-making processes that are unfit for the task. As a result, capitalists are slowly losing control. As Marx put it, modern bourgeois society, which “has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer, who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells”.25 There is a better way. Just as feudalism paved the way for capitalism, the development of capitalism is paving the way for socialism. Socialising ownership would ensure that economic growth and development benefit everyone — if everyone has a stake in the economy, then when the economy grows, we all get better off.

No new jobs are created when I pay my landlord rent or when a corporation pays interest to a bank — income is simply transferred from one place to another. The combination of a falling wage share and a rising rentier share saps demand out of the real economy, as well as increasing financial instability, contradictions that will be analysed later in this book. The divide between the owners of the means of production and rentiers on the one hand, and those who are forced to work for a living on the other, is the divide between the many and the few — between those who live off work and those who live off wealth. This is the fundamental divide that characterises capitalist societies today. The political salience of this divide may rise and fall depending upon wider political economic conditions, but it never goes away.


pages: 286 words: 87,168

Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel

air freight, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate personhood, COVID-19, David Graeber, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, disinformation, Elon Musk, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gender pay gap, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, land reform, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, meta-analysis, microbiome, Money creation, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, passive income, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-Keynesian economics, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, universal basic income

This was utterly new in world history. Such people were referred to at the time as ‘free labourers’, but this term is misleading: true, they were not forced to work as slaves or serfs, but they nonetheless had little choice in the matter, as their only alternative was starvation. Those who controlled the means of production could get away with paying rock-bottom wages, and people would have to take it. Any wage, no matter how small, was better than death. * All of this upends the usual story that we’re told about the rise of capitalism. This was hardly a natural and inevitable process. There was no gradual ‘transition’, as people like to assume, and it certainly wasn’t peaceful.

Capitalism rose on the back of organised violence, mass impoverishment, and the systematic destruction of self-sufficient subsistence economies. It did not put an end to serfdom; rather, it put an end to the progressive revolution that had ended serfdom. Indeed, by securing virtually total control over the means of production, and rendering peasants and workers dependent on them for survival, capitalists took the principles of serfdom to new extremes. People did not welcome this new system with open arms; on the contrary, they rebelled against it. The period from 1500 to the 1800s, right into the Industrial Revolution, was among the bloodiest, most tumultuous times in world history.

While output soared, commoners were hit by two centuries of famine. So too in the factories. None of the gains from the surge in labour productivity went back to the workers themselves; indeed, wages declined during the enclosure period. Profits were pocketed instead by those who owned the means of production. The essential point to grasp here is that the emergence of the extraordinary productive capacity that characterises capitalism depended on creating and maintaining conditions of artificial scarcity. Scarcity – and the threat of hunger – served as the engine of capitalist growth. The scarcity was artificial in the sense that there was no actual depletion of resources: all the same land and forests and waters remained, just as they always had, but people’s access to them was suddenly restricted.


pages: 573 words: 115,489

Prosperity Without Growth: Foundations for the Economy of Tomorrow by Tim Jackson

"Robert Solow", bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, bonus culture, Boris Johnson, business cycle, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, critique of consumerism, David Graeber, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, financial deregulation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, Garrett Hardin, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hans Rosling, Hyman Minsky, impact investing, income inequality, income per capita, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, means of production, meta-analysis, Money creation, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, peak oil, peer-to-peer lending, Philip Mirowski, Post-Keynesian economics, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, secular stagnation, short selling, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Spirit Level, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, universal basic income, Works Progress Administration, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

The starting point is to unravel some of the workings of modern capitalism. Varieties of capitalism Capitalism is an elusive concept. It isn’t a simple, homogeneous entity. And it certainly thrives or survives in numerous varieties. The most widely used formulation defines capitalism in terms of the private ownership of the ‘means of production’. Common definitions also stress the importance of a ‘profit motive’ as a defining motive within the economic system.4 What does this mean in practice? Broadly, it means that private individuals (capitalists) invest their money (their ‘capital’) in the factories, the farms, the mines, the supply chains and the distribution networks (also the ‘capital’) that allow society to produce goods and services.

I want to come back to this question at the end of the book (Chapter 11), as it has some interesting repercussions for debates about prosperity and growth. But what’s immediately clear from empirical experience is that the forms of ownership of capital can vary enormously from context to context. In oligarchic capitalism, the means of production are owned by a few powerful firms or individuals. In shareholder capitalism, the ownership is spread much more widely across society. Today, for instance, anyone with a pension participates in the ownership of any number of companies. In most advanced economies, we are all to some extent capitalists.

And as I’ve already intimated, the act of definition is itself so distorted by the inherently politicised nature of the debate as to be virtually impossible. To make any kind of progress, we have to settle on a usable definition of the term. So let’s start with Baumol’s assumption that capitalistic economies are those where ownership and control of the means of production lies in private hands, rather than with the state. In general terms, this suggests there’s a likelihood that the economy of tomorrow is going to be ‘less capitalistic’.16 Longer-term, less productive investments will be essential for sustainability but less attractive to private capital. So the role of the progressive State in protecting these assets is going to be vital.


pages: 345 words: 92,849

Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

We have to think and produce if we want to live and achieve happiness, and as a result we must have the right to think and produce (and to keep what we produce) if we are to create a society in which individuals can flourish. What can violate those rights? What can stop us from supporting our lives through thought and production? Basically, just one thing: physical force. The only way human beings can coexist peacefully is if they “leave their guns outside” and agree to live by means of production and voluntary trade rather than brute violence. As Locke explained, this was the purpose of government: to protect the rights of the “industrious and rational” from violation by “the quarrelsome and contentious.”26 By making the government the guardian of our equal rights rather than a tool through which the politically privileged controlled and exploited the rest of society, the Founders transformed the state from an instrument of oppression into an instrument of liberation: it liberated the individual so that he was free to make the most of his life.

East Germany, however, conformed to Soviet-style totalitarian rule, economic central planning, and an egalitarian ideology that “stressed uniformity in outcomes, irrespective of individual differences in ability or effort.”40 The Socialist Unity Party of Germany oversaw virtually all production, most of the means of production were owned by the state, and prices and wages were placed under centralized control. The government dictated what to produce, how to produce it, and how to distribute what was produced. Although it allowed for some income gaps, those gaps were far narrower than in West Germany.41 But if we focus on living standards rather than income differences, it is clear that East Germany’s economic equality went hand in hand with poverty and stagnation, and West Germany’s economic inequality went hand in hand with prosperity and progress.

By the mid-1900s, Sweden was one of the richest countries in the world. What made this possible? Freedom. Over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century, all major government restrictions, regulations, and controls were removed and the basic institutions of capitalism were established: private ownership of the means of production, freedom of competition, and free trade. The government was small (spending around 10 percent of GDP), and taxes were low.55 The 1870s would mark the beginning of what is known in Sweden as “The 100 Golden Years.” Between 1870 and 1970, Sweden enjoyed some of the highest economic growth, productivity growth, and wage growth in the world.


pages: 346 words: 90,371

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing by Josh Ryan-Collins, Toby Lloyd, Laurie Macfarlane

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, deindustrialization, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, foreign exchange controls, full employment, garden city movement, George Akerlof, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, land tenure, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, low skilled workers, market bubble, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, Money creation, money market fund, mortgage debt, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, place-making, Post-Keynesian economics, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Spirit Level, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, working poor, working-age population

It enabled early industrialists to raise capital to fund investment in new machinery, and played a central role in the post-war restructuring of national economies in Germany, Japan and Korea, where land redistribution and the grant of title to those who worked it (mainly in an agricultural context) spread access to capital (both credit and the means of production) to a much larger proportion of society than had existed previously. This in turn enabled the emergence of dynamic, capitalist economies and the long boom of the post-war era (Linklater, 2013). In the UK and much of the Western world, the mid-twentieth century rise of individual homeownership also spread landownership to large sections of the population, with broadly beneficial consequences for economic growth, resilience and equality (Saunders, 2016), at least up until the 1970s.

(Clark, 1899, p. viii) More broadly, Clark and the marginal utility theory that was blossoming in Europe can be seen as a reaction to the writings of both George and Karl Marx’s (1867) labour theory of value. Both emphasised the economic rent and exploitation of workers derived from private ownership (of the ‘means of production’ in Marx’s famous term). Although presented as an objective theory of distribution, in fact Clark’s version of marginal productivity had a strong normative element. He explicitly argued that having rewards determined by marginal contribution to output was fair because ‘what a social class gets is, under natural law, what it contributes to the general output of the industry’ (Clark, 1891a, p. 319).

Ultimately, this limits what the theory can say about the distribution of income, particularly in a world where such economic rents are large (Robinson, 1973). 3.7 Land and socialism Although neoclassical economics can be said to have dominated the past fifty years of economic thought, Karl Marx’s powerful legacy and its continuance in socialist regimes across the world from 1918 to 1990 in the first sixty years of the twentieth century maintained a focus on the economic rents that can be derived from ownership of the means of production. Social democratic regimes in Europe in particular were successful in advancing an interventionist role for the state in preventing the worst abuses of monopoly via competition laws, as well as using progressive income taxes to support advanced welfare states. Even in the United States, where socialism and public ownership of enterprise never took off, powerful anti-trust legislation dealt a blow to big business monopolists that controlled the railroads, the telegraph and oil businesses.


pages: 209 words: 89,619

The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing

8-hour work day, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, deskilling, fear of failure, full employment, Herbert Marcuse, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, independent contractor, job polarisation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, land reform, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, marginal employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nudge unit, old age dependency ratio, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pensions crisis, placebo effect, post-industrial society, precariat, presumed consent, quantitative easing, remote working, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, Tobin tax, transaction costs, universal basic income, unpaid internship, winner-take-all economy, working poor, working-age population, young professional

Reviving equality In the twentieth century, inequality was seen in terms of profits and wages. For social democrats and others, redistribution was to be achieved by controlling the means of production, through nationalisation, and obtaining a greater share of profits through taxation, which could then be redistributed in state benefits and public services. That model fell into disrepute and socialists are in despair. In a collection of essays on Reimagining Socialism by American socialists who saw the means of production going to China, Barbara Ehrenreich and Bill Fletcher (2009) wrote: ‘Do we have a plan, people? Can we see our way out of this and into a just, democratic, sustainable (add your own favourite adjectives) future?

A POLITICS OF PARADISE 171 They should take heart. The egalitarian ethos has moved on. The baton is being picked up by the precariat, the rising class in a tertiary society where means of production are nebulous and dispersed, and often owned by workers anyhow. Every Transformation has been marked by a struggle over the key assets of the era. In feudal societies, the peasants and serfs struggled to gain control of land and water. In industrial capitalism, the struggle was over the means of production, the factories, estates and mines. Workers wanted decent labour and a share of the profits in return for conceding control of labour to managers.


Noam Chomsky: A Life of Dissent by Robert F. Barsky

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, centre right, feminist movement, Herbert Marcuse, Howard Zinn, information retrieval, means of production, Norman Mailer, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, strong AI, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, theory of mind, Yom Kippur War

Such "common ownership must not be confounded with public ownership," a system in which workers are commanded by state officials who direct production. Rather, they must themselves take over complete control of the means of production and all planning and distribution. Capitalism is a "transitional form," combining modern industrial technique with the archaic social principle of private ownership. Advanced industrial technology combined with common ownership "means a free collaborating humanity," the proper goal of the workers movement. [Pannekoek] also wrote that ''the idea of their common ownership of the means of production is beginning to take hold of the minds of the workers." (Radical Priorities 263) file:///D|/export2/www.netlibrary.com/nlreader/nlreader.dll@bookid=9296&filename=page_41.html [4/16/2007 3:05:03 PM] Document Page 42 Chomsky emphasizes that Pannekoek's writing on the workers' councils was, in fact, almost unknown beyond a few small circles.

Chomsky and Bertrand Russell One of the few adornments in Chomsky's office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a large poster of Bertrand Russell. As a young man, Chomsky discovered the British mathematician, logician, and philosopher who came to realize (quite a bit later in life than Chomsky) that the ruling classes own the means of production and are therefore driven to legitimize their power. Russell was an inspiration to Chomsky. First, he was an important influence upon Chomsky's thinking about philosophy and logic; second, he had a similarly profound commitment to the cause of popular liberation; third, he was closely affiliated with the university world as a scholar, while simultaneously acting on behalf of the oppressed lower classes; and fourth, he upheld his views even if it meant jeopardizing his reputation, or even his freedom.

In the domain of economic and historical analysis, they claimed, ''Marx fits the facts and is useful for prediction." The elements of this society that the group considered unsatisfactory would continue to exist "as long as there is a controlling class, wages and profits, and a lack of complete freedom in the utilization of the means of production." The People did not believe that reform is possible within the framework of the capitalist society, or that any bureaucratic structure, any attempt to manage or lead the people, "will in the long run aid in the development in the desired direction." file:///D|/export2/www.netlibrary.com/nlreader/nlreader.dll@bookid=9296&filename=page_72.html [4/16/2007 3:05:24 PM] Document Page 73 The document makes reference to historical-materialist works such as those of Erich Fromm (of the Frankfurt School) and Arthur Rosenberg, as well as works of American cultural anthropology, modern natural sciences, and mathematical logic.


pages: 209 words: 63,649

The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community Is Changing the World by Aaron Hurst

Airbnb, Atul Gawande, barriers to entry, big-box store, Bill Atkinson, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, Elon Musk, Firefox, glass ceiling, greed is good, housing crisis, independent contractor, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, longitudinal study, means of production, Mitch Kapor, new economy, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, QR code, Ray Oldenburg, remote working, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, Tony Hsieh, too big to fail, underbanked, women in the workforce, young professional, Zipcar

And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. —Robert F. Kennedy, 1968 The Information Economy At the start of the 20th century, the name of the game was efficiency and output, which launched an obsession with building faster and more efficient means of production. By the middle of the 20th century, the marketplace was dominated by large corporations and institutions, which created a new kind of workplace built on hierarchy and development within an organization. Labor became increasingly segmented into narrow functional roles, and new vocational training and professional schools were created to respond to the need for more focused training within one specialization.

And it has inspired the purpose generation, Millennials, who are increasingly constructing their identities around purpose to make sense of the rapidly evolving world and their equally fluctuating role in it. And yet, this is not an economic or social evolution; it is how we manipulate the world to better serve our needs. Each new economy evolves out of a distinctive set of conditions and is characterized by an innate set of products and means of production. Just as the farmers of the Agrarian Economy made use of the earth to grow crops and raise livestock, the industrialists extracted raw materials for producing energy and fueling a new breed of powerful machines. The expertise developed in building increasingly sophisticated machines was key to the rise of the Information Economy.

The simple stamp of approval, a “fair trade certified” Fair Trade USA icon (which can now be found on over 12 thousand products in 100 thousand U.S. retail locations), was effectively a campaign for more humane production methods and practices. This tactic has helped change public perceptions around ethical means of production. Leveraging these changing public perceptions, the group created a foundation that is now a vehicle for affecting policy, creating awareness, supporting transparency, and promoting best practices in the supply chain. 7. San Francisco Public Utility Commission: Utility Conservation the San Francisco Public Utility Commission is exemplary among American utility providers.


pages: 239 words: 62,311

The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa by Irene Yuan Sun

barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, capital controls, clean water, Computer Numeric Control, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, European colonialism, floating exchange rates, full employment, global supply chain, invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, manufacturing employment, means of production, mobile money, post-industrial society, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Shenzhen special economic zone , Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Skype, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, Washington Consensus, working-age population

Whether he can ever become a factory owner will depend not only on hard work and determination—which Stephen has in spades—but also on the relationships he is able to forge with foreign investors. The latter can offer him a partnership or not, look out for his interests or not, believe in him or not. If Chinese investment in Africa is to spawn a generation not only of African workers but also of African industrialists who themselves own the means of production, multiple elements will be required: individual initiative, complementary business arrangements, and ultimately, that most nebulous of ingredients: personal trust. … Realizing Stephen’s dream of becoming a factory owner will no doubt be an uphill battle, but hopefully not as literal of a battle as what he’s endured so far.

He would have cash in the bank and no need to buy more machinery, and he would have hundreds of workers with experience with his production system. Only time will tell whether Luqy pulls off his big order, becoming the biggest success—or the biggest failure—of the bunch. These four local owners—Chris, Mabereng, Thabiso, and Luqy—illustrate the diversity of the locals who aspire to own the means of production. From well-heeled royalty to ordinary small businesspeople, they bring differing skills and shortcomings to their endeavors. The elites are well connected, lacking neither cash nor state backing, but short on factory-floor experience and perhaps naive about whom to trust. The no-name business owners are scrappier and understand the nitty-gritty of the shop floor, but struggle to obtain credit and to generate enough cash to grow.

“I wasn’t sure if I would make it financially, but I have known these people since 1992. I really trust them. They are like family.”14 Mrs. Zaf’s story points to the magic ingredient that’s needed if the Chinese in Africa today are to avoid becoming enclaved communities like the Indian Kenyans and the Lebanese Ivorians. For Africans to increasingly own the means of production, the strivings of local entrepreneurs and the business abilities they possess are only part of the equation. The other part is relationships—whether budding business partners have a true affinity, whether each trusts the other enough to share when a promising new opportunity arises. Here is where business becomes personal: for local ownership to become a reality, local integration must happen first.


Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression by Geoff Cox, Alex McLean

4chan, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, bash_history, bitcoin, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Conference 1984, Ian Bogost, Jacques de Vaucanson, Larry Wall, late capitalism, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Slavoj Žižek, social software, social web, software studies, speech recognition, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, Turing machine, Turing test, Vilfredo Pareto, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, Yochai Benkler

Negation of negation is explained by Žižek as the separation of the “negated system’s ‘real’ death from its ‘symbolic’ death . . . the system has to die twice.” See Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (London: Verso, 1999), 72. Or to put it in straightforward Marxist terms: producers take over the means of production, but at this first stage it remains within the confines of private ownership; this first stage has to be further negated to abolish the whole principle of private ownership of the means of production. 64. Kleiner, The Telekommunist Manifesto, 10–12. 65. Referring to David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation of 1817. 66. Paolo Virno, Multitude: Between Innovation and Negation, trans.

Facebook regularly shares information with government agencies and purges activist’s accounts, such as those of campaigners trying to organize antiausterity protests in 2011, including the UK Uncut and Occupy movements.89 A closer look at the terms of service of these platforms confirms ways that ownership is carefully managed, parodied by a consumer advocacy blog with the suggestion for new terms: “We can do anything we want with your content. Forever.”90 Users are happily granted access to the means of production but not ownership. The underlying contradiction is clear: “The social web facilitates an unprecedented level of social sharing, but it does so mostly through the vehicle of proprietary platforms.”91 In such ways, freedom is extracted by a service to serve the free market, not free expression.


pages: 695 words: 194,693

Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible by William N. Goetzmann

Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, banking crisis, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, compound rate of return, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, delayed gratification, Detroit bankruptcy, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edmond Halley, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, financial independence, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, frictionless, frictionless market, full employment, high net worth, income inequality, index fund, invention of the steam engine, invention of writing, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, spice trade, stochastic process, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, wage slave

Corporate dividends are derived from paying meager subsistence wages to laborers and then turning around and selling goods at higher money prices that no longer reflect their labor value. Capitalists control the means of production and use it to generate and hoard surplus labor. Mechanization and productivity gains generate higher profits and result in layoffs, which in turn lead to a reserve of cheap labor. Unemployment drives down demand, however, and profits suffer. This cycle of productivity gain and unemployment leads to periodic crises in the capitalist economy. At some point, the cycle will break down, and workers will control the means of production and thus be able to retain for themselves the surplus value of their own labor.

In the spirit of Marx, Lenin envisioned this ultimate global battle as the end of capitalism itself; the transformative financial crisis predicted by Marx in Das Kapital that would reunite workers and the means of production to take back the accumulated labor value stored in the portfolios of the world’s moneybags. Imperialism, he argued, was the transition of competitive capitalism to monopoly capitalism, in which the means of production are finally controlled by a handful of powerful global financial giants who have divided the world into spheres of interest and thus reduced costly competition. At the outset, Lenin made it clear that his book was inspired by Hobson’s Imperialism—taking the 1902 treatise as an inspiration but throwing out Hobson’s bourgeoisie pacifism and replacing it with the iconoclastic vision of Marx’s end of capitalism.

While criticism of market forces, banks, stock markets, lending, and investment existed long before Karl Marx, the novelty of Das Kapital is that it redefines capitalism in its own terms and predicts its doom. He argued that the seeds of capitalism’s future failure lay in the business cycle. Eventually, a great recession in the industrialized economies would stir the proletariat to seize the means of production from the capitalists. In the meantime, capitalism would relentlessly and systematically drain the life blood of the working class. KAPITAL IN A NUTSHELL In Marx’s world, the value of everything is a function of the labor expended to create it. Marx adapted this view from the work of David Ricardo—a brilliant and influential political economist of the early nineteenth century who proposed a theory of value based on human input to the production process.


pages: 572 words: 134,335

The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class by Kees Van der Pijl

anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, collective bargaining, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, European colonialism, floating exchange rates, full employment, imperial preference, Joseph Schumpeter, liberal capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, North Sea oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, RAND corporation, strikebreaker, trade liberalization, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty

Title 337.4073 HF1532.5.U5 First published 1984 © Kees van der Pijl 1984 Verso 15 Greek Street London W1V 5LF eBook ISBN: 978-1-84467-936-2 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84467-871-6 v3.1 For Kiek, Margreet & Frank ‘Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organization of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it. Classes are groups of people one of which can appropriate the labour of another owing to the different places they occupy in a definite system of social economy.’

As will be demonstrated below, this distinction is particularly important when it comes to reconstructing the ideological propensities of the functionaries of productive capital. This also goes for another distinction Marx deploys in Volumes Two and Three — the one between capital engaged in the production of means of production and capital engaged in the production of consumer goods: Departments I and II. Since Fordism in the era of Atlantic integration rested on the dynamic articulation of relative surplus-value production in the consumer-durables sector and a concomitant reorientation of key ‘Department I’ industries towards supplying this sector with semi-finished products (notably steel), the departmental division is relevant in this light as well.

Through the Technical Assistance and Productivity Program, the complete inventory of Taylorism and Fordism, like merit rating, job classification, shift labour in continuous processes, and so on, was exported to Western Europe. The key component of Marshall Plan hardware deliveries in this context was the technology of continuous wide-strip mills for the steel industry. These advanced means of production were capable of producing large quantities of cheap sheet steel for automobiles and household appliances, and, thus, were instrumental in subordinating the traditionally reactionary steel industry to the system of relative surplus-value production, while at the same time consolidating the subordination of the US steel industry to the powerful automobile groups by cheap exports.40 Twenty years after their introduction in the United States, the wide-strip mills with American aid broke the cartel barriers which hitherto had prevented their installation in Europe.


pages: 550 words: 89,316

The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class by Elizabeth Currid-Halkett

assortative mating, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, discrete time, disruptive innovation, Downton Abbey, East Village, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Etonian, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, income inequality, iterative process, knowledge economy, longitudinal study, Mason jar, means of production, NetJets, new economy, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post scarcity, post-industrial society, profit maximization, Richard Florida, selection bias, Silicon Valley, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the market place, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thorstein Veblen, Tony Hsieh, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Veblen good, women in the workforce

Imitation was no longer the only conduit by which to get closer to the elite. Instead, through both mass production and fast credit (a development from the latter half of the twentieth century), many more people began to consume the same products as elites. In Veblen’s time the elite leisure class owned property, and controlled the means of production and the means to acquire material goods. The Industrial Revolution brought massive economic restructuring and the introduction of a middle class of businessmen and workers. These new workers were unlike the landless proletariats before them who were oppressed under the noble class. In the ensuing decades, the middle class, not just the upper tiers of society, acquired property, and generated wealth and disposable income that allowed them to purchase status through consumption.

Deindustrialization brought erosion to major urban centers (where many factories were located) and joblessness throughout huge swaths of the country.36 In manufacturing’s place came the rise of the service economy, a truly bifurcated economic structure. Globalization manifested itself in the outsourcing of cheap labor for manufacturing but also through the emergence of elite “global cities,” to use Saskia Sassen’s term. Global cities became the sites for the new economic means of production—information and financial capital. The labor market elites responsible for the greatest profit-making were found in professional sectors—accountancy, finance, law, and medicine, or what Sassen calls “high level producer services.” Another account of this economic restructuring offers a similar but simpler explanation: The global economy had moved from producing widgets to producing ideas—those who were responsible for generating those ideas, what Robert Reich has called “symbolic analysts”37 or Richard Florida has termed the “creative class”—are the winners in the new economy.38 While a college degree is not an explicit measure of membership to Sassen’s, Reich’s, or Florida’s categorization, it certainly helps and most members do possess one.

First, so much of material consumption is accessible and overt that the aspirational class, both consciously and unconsciously, finds more obscure, codified symbols to reveal their social position.4 Second, there is no “leisure class.” The restructuring of the global economy prizes a meritocracy, who own the means of production through their minds, not land ownership. These labor market elites (many of whom are members of the aspirational class) believe in upward mobility and want the same for their children. Their dominant ethos—working hard and acquiring knowledge—is also the dominant cultural hegemony and spills over into all walks of life.


pages: 417 words: 97,577

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, compensation consultant, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, diversification, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, Herbert Marcuse, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, late capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, merger arbitrage, Metcalfe's law, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, passive investing, patent troll, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, undersea cable, Vanguard fund, very high income, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, you are the product, zero-sum game

Brandeis and Friedman were fortunate to live and work in the United States, but European economists viewed the dangers of concentration even more acutely. The Ordoliberals saw how large trusts aided the rise of Hitler. As Friedrich Hayek wrote, “It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves.” He went on to warn, “If all the means of production were vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of “society” as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us.”10 After World War II, the United States exported its tradition to Europe, and the Ordoliberals helped extend it further.

Economists such as Joseph Stiglitz have referred to it as “ersatz capitalism,” where the distorted representation we see is as far away from the real thing as Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean are from real pirates. If what we have is a fake version of capitalism, what does the real thing look like? What should we have? According to the dictionary, the idealized state of capitalism is “an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, characterized by the freedom of capitalists to operate or manage their property for profit in competitive conditions.” Parts of this definition have universal appeal today. Today, for example, we take private property for granted in the world. Communism defined itself in opposition to private property.

He could trade on better terms than smaller merchants by receiving rebates up to 75% of the cost of shipping.5 When other companies couldn't compete, he would offer to buy them out or run them out of business. Small farmers, refiners, and businessmen resented the tycoons because they controlled the highways of industrial traffic, the means of production, and all avenues through which the stream of commodities passed from producer to the consumer. The large could squeeze the small. As Vanderbilt had discovered after acquiring one railway, owning the arteries of commerce meant you could expand your reach ever further. The desire to exploit power at the time was endless.


pages: 236 words: 66,081

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

Andrew Keen, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, citizen journalism, corporate social responsibility, Dean Kamen, experimental economics, experimental subject, fundamental attribution error, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, Kevin Kelly, means of production, meta-analysis, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, social software, Steve Ballmer, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, the strength of weak ties, Tragedy of the Commons, ultimatum game, Yochai Benkler

A lot of new kinds of media have emerged since Gutenberg: images and sounds were encoded onto objects, from photographic plates to music CDs; electromagnetic waves were harnessed to create radio and TV. All these subsequent revolutions, as different as they were, still had the core of Gutenberg economics: enormous investment costs. It’s expensive to own the means of production, whether it is a printing press or a TV tower, which makes novelty a fundamentally high-risk operation. If it’s expensive to own and manage the means of production or if it requires a staff, you’re in a world of Gutenberg economics. And wherever you have Gutenberg economics, whether you are a Venetian publisher or a Hollywood producer, you’re going to have fifteenth-century risk management as well, where the producers have to decide what’s good before showing it to the audience.

We’ve always enjoyed all three of those activities, but until recently, broadcast media rewarded only one of them. TV is unbalanced—if I own a TV station, and you own a television, I can speak to you, but you can’t speak to me. Phones, by contrast, are balanced; if you buy the means of consumption, you automatically own the means of production. When you purchase a phone, no one asks if you just want to listen, or if you want to talk on it too. Participation is inherent in the phone, and it’s the same for the computer. When you buy a machine that lets you consume digital content, you also buy a machine to produce it. Further, you can share material with your friends, and you can talk about what you consumed or produced or shared.


pages: 116 words: 31,356

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek

3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, deindustrialization, deskilling, disintermediation, future of work, gig economy, independent contractor, Infrastructure as a Service, Internet of things, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mittelstand, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, platform as a service, quantitative easing, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, software as a service, surveillance capitalism, TaskRabbit, the built environment, total factor productivity, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, unconventional monetary instruments, unorthodox policies, Zipcar

This includes media content like YouTube and blogs, as well as broader contributions in the form of creating websites, participating in online forums, and producing software.4 A related claim is that material commodities contain an increasing amount of knowledge, which is embodied in them. The production process of even the most basic agricultural commodities, for instance, is reliant upon a vast array of scientific and technical knowledges. On the other side of the class relation, some argue that the economy today is dominated by a new class, which does not own the means of production but rather has ownership over information.5 There is some truth in this, but the argument goes awry when it situates this class outside of capitalism. Given that the imperatives of capitalism hold for these companies as much as for any other, the companies remain capitalist. Yet there is something new here, and it is worth trying to discern exactly what it is.

AWS is now the most rapidly growing part of Amazon – and also the most profitable, with about 30 per cent margins and nearly $8 billion in revenue in 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, AWS generated more profit for Amazon than its core retail service.40 If Google and Facebook built the first data extraction platforms, Amazon built the first major cloud platform in order to rent out an increasingly basic means of production for contemporary businesses. Rather than relying on advertisers’ buying data, these cloud platforms are building up the basic infrastructure of the digital economy in a way that can be rented out profitably to others, while they collect data for their own uses. Industrial Platforms As data collection, storage, and analysis have become increasingly cheaper, more and more companies have attempted to bring platforms into the field of traditional manufacturing.


pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells

"Robert Solow", Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, borderless world, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, computerized trading, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, independent contractor, Induced demand, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, Leonard Kleinrock, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, moral panic, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, popular capitalism, popular electronics, post-industrial society, Post-Keynesian economics, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Shenzhen special economic zone , Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl, zero-sum game

The structural principle under which surplus is appropriated and controlled characterizes a mode of production. In the twentieth century we lived, essentially, with two predominant modes of production: capitalism and statism. Under capitalism, the separation between producers and their means of production, the commodification of labor, and the private ownership of means of production on the basis of the control of capital (commodified surplus), determined the basic principle of appropriation and distribution of surplus by capitalists, although who is (are) the capitalist class(es) is a matter of social inquiry in each historical context, rather than an abstract category.

In advanced economies, the public-service sector becomes the refuge of employment for an increasing share of the work force expelled from traditional good-producing sectors. And entrepreneurship and innovation continue to thrive on the margins of the corporate sectors of the economy, increasing the numbers of self-employed as technology allows self-reliance in the control of the means of production of knowledge-based services, from the desk-top quality printer to online services. In sum, the occupational structure of our societies has indeed been transformed by new technologies. But the processes and forms of this transformation have been the result of the interaction between technological change, the institutional environment, and the evolution of relationships between capital and labor in each specific social context.

Matter includes nature, human-modified nature, human-produced nature, and human nature itself, the labors of history forcing us to move away from the classic distinction between humankind and nature, since millenniums of human action have incorporated the natural environment into society, making us, materially and symbolically, an inseparable part of this environment. The relationship between labor and matter in the process of work involves the use of means of production to act upon matter on the basis of energy, knowledge, and information. Technology is the specific form of this relationship. The product of the production process is socially used under two forms: consumption and surplus. Social structures interact with production processes by determining the rules for the appropriation, distribution, and uses of the surplus.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joan Didion, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, Yochai Benkler

Peer into the cover’s computer screen and all you see looking back at you is you. In a solipsistic world, every Lonely Girl is a Great Man. DIGITAL SHARECROPPING December 19, 2006 STRIP THE HAPPY-FACE EMOTICONS from the social web, and you’re left with a sad-face truth: By putting the means of production into the hands of the masses but withholding from those same masses any ownership over the products of their work, the internet provides an incredibly efficient mechanism for harvesting the economic value of the free labor provided by the very many and concentrating it into the hands of the very few.

THE LOOM OF THE SELF April 9, 2014 “IT IS HARD TO RESIST a technology that is also a tool of pleasure,” write Sarah Leonard and Kate Losse in the new issue of Dissent. “The Luddites smashed their power looms, but who wants to smash Facebook—with all one’s photos, birthday greetings, and invitations?” That’s on the money. Things do get messy, confused, when the means of production is also the means of communication, the means of expression, the means of entertainment, the means of shopping, the means of fill-in-the-blank. But out of such confusion comes, eventually, simplification, a concentration of effort and effect. Imagine if, at the turn of the nineteenth century, the power loom also served as a social medium.

Beyond the efficiency gains, Silicon Valley would stand to profit from such a system. By developing a proprietary brain-computer network that renders human cogitation fully machine-readable, the tech industry would be able to transmit, store, parse, and hence to own, the entirety of our thoughts. “Industrial capitalism privatized the means of production,” Davies observed. “Digital capitalism seeks to privatize the means of communication.” That’s already happening. In digitizing human expression, the protocols of social networks are beginning to alter speech to make it more amenable to machine transmission and interpretation. Think of Like buttons, or other forms of online communication that involve, say, tapping an icon or clicking a checkbox or selecting an option from a drop-down menu.


pages: 571 words: 106,255

The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking by Saifedean Ammous

Airbnb, altcoin, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, central bank independence, conceptual framework, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, delayed gratification, disintermediation, distributed ledger, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, fixed income, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, global reserve currency, high net worth, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, iterative process, jimmy wales, Joseph Schumpeter, market bubble, market clearing, means of production, Money creation, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Network effects, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, QR code, ransomware, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Satoshi Nakamoto, secular stagnation, smart contracts, special drawing rights, Stanford marshmallow experiment, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, Walter Mischel, zero-sum game

Government regulations and taxes are becoming less powerful as individuals can live or work where it suits them and deliver their work via telecommunication. As more and more of the value of economic production takes the form of nontangible goods, the relative value of land and physical means of production declines, reducing returns on violently appropriating such physical means of production. Productive capital becomes more embodied in the individuals themselves, making the threat of violently appropriating it increasingly hollow, as individuals' productivity becomes inextricably linked to their consent. When peasants' productivity and survival was tied to the land that they did not own, the threat of violence was effective in getting them to be productive to benefit the landowner.

The most productive allocation is determined only through the price mechanism allowing the most productive users of capital goods to bid highest for them. The supply and demand of capital goods emerges from the interaction of the producers and consumers and their iterative decisions. In a socialist system, government owns and controls the means of production, making it at once the sole buyer and seller of all capital goods in the economy. That centralization stifles the functioning of an actual market, making sound decisions based on prices impossible. Without a market for capital where independent actors can bid for capital, there can be no price for capital overall or for individual capital goods.

Socially, economically, and politically, the role of government was recast as the wish‐granting genie, and the population merely had to vote for what it wanted to have it fulfilled. French historian Élie Halévy defined the Era of Tyrannies as having begun in 1914 with World War I, when the major powers of the world shifted toward economic and intellectual nationalization. They nationalized the means of production and shifted to syndicalist and corporatist modes of societal organization, all while suppressing ideas viewed as opposed to the national interest, as well as the promotion of nationalism in what he termed “the organization of enthusiasm.”15 This classical liberal conception of government is only possible in a world with sound money, which acted as a natural restraint against government authoritarianism and overreach.


India's Long Road by Vijay Joshi

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Basel III, basic income, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, business climate, capital controls, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, colonial rule, congestion charging, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Doha Development Round, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, financial intermediation, financial repression, first-past-the-post, floating exchange rates, foreign exchange controls, full employment, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, hiring and firing, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Induced demand, inflation targeting, invisible hand, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, moral hazard, obamacare, Pareto efficiency, price mechanism, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, reserve currency, rising living standards, school choice, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, special drawing rights, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, universal basic income, urban sprawl, working-age population

The aims I have outlined are compatible with what is sometimes called ‘social democracy’, which seeks to achieve the egalitarian objectives of socialism, while remaining committed to the values and institutions of liberal democracy.3 What about the means of attaining the above aims? The most fundamental choice concerns the balance between the state and the market in the organization of economic activity.4 Post-​independence India has always been a mixed economy in which private and state ownership of the means of production, as well as free and regulated markets, co-​exist. But the mix has varied. In the first three decades after 1947, it moved quite sharply towards state ownership and state intervention in the market. Since then the balance has swung towards market liberalization and private ownership.5 I believe this shift was wholly desirable.

But it is an impractical ideal at present since India lacks the data base for such an ambitious project. See Government of India (2013). I therefore stick to the convention of treating growth and environmental sustainability as separate objectives. 3. The defining principle of socialism is state ownership of the means of production, with central planning and control as its mode of operation. But this principle is pressed into the service of egalitarian aims. Social democrats accept the egalitarian aims but not the defining principle of state ownership and central planning. 4. A healthy democratic society also requires thriving civil-​society institutions that operate outside the domains of the state and the market but serve to keep them honest.

A healthy democratic society also requires thriving civil-​society institutions that operate outside the domains of the state and the market but serve to keep them honest. In addition, a strong civil society helps to develop the bonds of trust between citizens that are essential to the working of both the state and the market. The state should do all it can to allow civil society to flourish. 5. The relation between free markets and private ownership of the means of production is not entirely straightforward. It can and has been argued that the two are separable, i.e. that markets can work without private property. It is possible to imagine a ‘socialist market economy’ in which managers of state enterprises make decisions on the basis of optimal ‘shadow’ prices provided to them by the central planning authority (see Lange 1936).


pages: 477 words: 75,408

The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism by Calum Chace

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, ImageNet competition, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lifelogging, lump of labour, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, post-work, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

A society comprising gods and the useless might turn out to be inherently unstable. In a full-on conflict between them it seems likely that the gods would have the means to protect themselves, but at what cost? Will capitalism remain fit for purpose? Private property is an essential feature of capitalism, and in particular, the private ownership of the means of production, exchange and distribution. In market economies, most people earn their living by selling their labour – their time and their physical and intellectual skills. People called entrepreneurs hire workers and combine their labour with the other major element of the capitalist economy – capital, which consists of money, machinery, land, buildings and intellectual property.

Second, if the rate of technological progress continues to accelerate, the elite may avail themselves of the means of cognitive and physical enhancement to diverge from the majority, both physically and cognitively. The obvious but difficult remedy for this is to end the institution of private property. The means of production, exchange and distribution would be placed into some kind of collective ownership to prevent the possibility of social and species fracture. As we saw in chapter 3.1, this conclusion is rejected by the two most popular books published so far about technological unemployment. I share their inclination, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable.

There is no enforcement of a rigid equality of personal outcomes across the lives of everyone in this society, but there is also no increasingly entrenched divergence between those with access to all the latest technologies and those without. In chapter 5.5, we confronted the possibility that this society has felt obliged to abandon our powerful attachment to the concept of private property, and has moved to some form of collective ownership of the means of production, exchange and distribution. In other words, socialism. Those of us who are convinced that the free market economy, suitably regulated, is an ingenious system that has demonstrably created the best standards of living that humans have ever enjoyed will find this hard to swallow. Certainly, the idea takes some getting used to.


pages: 251 words: 76,225

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, clean water, commoditize, desegregation, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, Ferguson, Missouri, game design, Google Hangouts, hiring and firing, Kickstarter, means of production, microaggression, Nelson Mandela, Skype, women in the workforce

Those who can bear them are the means of that production. Gain control over the means of production, and you can rule the world. And this is where this film gets all the violence-against-women stuff right, because it boldly and frankly positions it for what it is, stripping it of the male gaze, of sexuality, of uncontrollable male urges. There are no on-screen rape threats, rape attempts, or rapes because they would detract from the entire point. You have to strip all that away to see it for what it is: Sexism is about power. Sexism is about controlling the means of production. At its core, sexism has very little to do with the act of sex.

It’s why we see a large room full of well-fed women hooked up to milking machines—yes, milking machines—because all anybody drinks in this world is water and milk, and all you ever see them eat is bugs and lizards. The animals are dead. That leaves us with those women. And these women are owned totally and completely by Immortan Joe, who controls all the means of production—he owns the water and the women. And, once he owns those two things, he owns everyone and everything. He has consolidated absolute power by turning people into chattel. In this world, those who can bear babies are chattel, used to breed more soldiers and provide life-sustaining milk to the elite.


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd

accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bitcoin Ponzi scheme, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, Dogecoin, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial exclusion, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Herbert Marcuse, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, Modern Monetary Theory, Money creation, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, National Debt Clock, negative equity, new economy, Nixon shock, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, Post-Keynesian economics, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk free rate, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Veblen good, Wave and Pay, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

This notion is money as mystification, and is the fountainhead of greed.15 Marx’s theory of credit is extended in Volume 3 of Capital, where he conveys the dynamics of credit inflation as a bubble. Specifically, he shows how capital must simultaneously assume various forms in order for capital accumulation, the “M–C–M” cycle, to continue. It must assume the form of money, the form of commodities, the form of means of production, and (back again) the form of money. This is where credit money and the financial system come into play. Now that we have all the key players of a credit crisis arranged on the stage, we can move on to the fifth key step in Marx’s analysis: the existence of fictitious capital makes it inevitable that capitalism goes through a repeat cycle of bubbles and crashes.

Marx, as much as any thinker, drew attention to the crucial importance of the social life of money to any understanding of its nature, and in particular, its role in the dynamics of capitalism. Remember what he actually said: Monsieur le Capital and Madame la Terre are social characters as well as mere things. Likewise with money: “Capital is the means of production as transformed into capital, these being no more capital in themselves than gold or silver are money” (Marx 1894: 953). Hence Marx’s theory of money only makes sense if we take both parts of the formulation (social characters, mere things) together. When Marx wrote Capital, most forms of money, especially fiat money, were related to gold.

To grasp its full ramifications, we need to take a step backward to consider an aspect of his argument right at the end of the first volume of Capital that tends to be overlooked, particularly its implications for the theory of money. This aspect is the account of primitive accumulation. PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION Marx defines primitive (originary: ursprünglich) accumulation as “the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production” (Marx 1982: 875). This divorcing is the process whereby producers lose ownership and control over the fruits of their labor. Harvey calls it “accumulation by dispossession” (Harvey 2005b: ch. 4). Historically, it has occurred in various ways: for example, through the seizure of land and the expulsion of the resident population.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hedonic treadmill, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, The future is already here, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

Automation could lead to an economic singularity. “Singularity” is a term borrowed from maths and physics, and means a point where the normal rules cease to apply, and what lies beyond is un-knowable to anyone this side of the event horizon. (1) An economic singularity might lead to an elite owning the means of production and suppressing the rest of us in a dystopian technological authoritarian regime. Or it could lead to an economy of radical abundance, where nobody has to work for a living, and we are all free to have fun, and stretch our minds and develop our faculties to the full. I hope and believe that the latter is possible, but we also need to make sure the process of getting there is as smooth as possible.

The optimistic scenario is that AI-powered robots do all the work, creating an economy of what Peter Diamandis calls radical abundance, leaving humans to pursue self-fulfilment by reading, writing, talking, playing sports and undertaking adventures. Or perhaps playing endless video games in immersive virtual realities. Martin Ford envisages this as a modification to the market economy, with the UBI being funded by taxes on the rich. An alternative is some form of socialism, whereby the means of production – the AI systems and their peripherals, the robots – will be taken into common ownership. UBI is a noble vision, but it leaves three large problems outstanding: the allocation of scarce resources, the creation of meaning, and the transition. Even if radical abundance is possible without consuming and polluting the entire planet, there will still be scarce resources.


pages: 349 words: 86,224

Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States by James C. Scott

agricultural Revolution, clean water, David Graeber, demographic dividend, demographic transition, deskilling, domesticated silver fox, facts on the ground, invention of writing, joint-stock company, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, means of production, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route

Each of the earliest states deployed its own unique mix of coerced labor, as we shall see, but it required a delicate balance between maximizing the state surplus on the one hand and the risk of provoking the mass flight of subjects on the other, especially where there was an open frontier. Only much later, when the world was, as it were, fully occupied and the means of production privately owned or controlled by state elites, could the control of the means of production (land) alone suffice, without institutions of bondage, to call forth a surplus. So long as there are other subsistence options, as Ester Boserup noted in her classic work, “it is impossible to prevent the members of the lower class from finding other means of subsistence unless they are made personally unfree.

Alexis de Tocqueville reached for this analogy when he considered Europe’s growing world hegemony: “We should almost say that the European is to the other races what man himself is to the lower animals; he makes them subservient to his use, and when he cannot subdue, he destroys.”41 If we substitute for “Europeans” “early states,” and for “other races” “war captives,” we do not greatly distort the project, I think. The captives, individually and collectively, became an integral part of the state’s means of production and reproduction, a part, if you will, along with the livestock and grain fields of the state’s own domus. Pushed even farther, I believe the analogy has an illuminating power. Take the question of reproduction. At the very center of domestication is the assertion of human control over the plant’s or animal’s reproduction, which entails confinement and a concern for selective breeding and rates of reproduction.


pages: 324 words: 86,056

The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality by Bhaskar Sunkara

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, collective bargaining, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, Ferguson, Missouri, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gig economy, Gunnar Myrdal, happiness index / gross national happiness, Honoré de Balzac, income inequality, inventory management, labor-force participation, land reform, land value tax, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Neil Kinnock, new economy, Occupy movement, postindustrial economy, precariat, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Steve Bannon, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, We are the 99%

History doesn’t usually offer second chances, so what would we do with one? FOR YEARS PRIOR to this moment, there have been arguments within the modern American socialist movement—of which you are now part—about what exactly we oppose in capitalism and what we can live with. Capitalism is a social system based on private ownership of the means of production and wage labor. It relies on multiple markets: markets for goods and services, the labor market, and the capital market. The left wing of the Springsteenist movement opposes private ownership of production and wage labor because of the power it gives some people over others. Its members believe socially created wealth shouldn’t be privately expropriated.

As Bernstein and Kautsky wrote, such a “transformation amounts to the emancipation not only of the proletariat, but of the entire human race.” The immediate tasks of the day were laid out in a section largely drafted by Bernstein: “Without political rights, the working class cannot carry on its economic struggles and develop its economic organization. It cannot bring about the transfer of the means of production into the possession of the community without first having obtained political power.” The Erfurt Program also shifted away from Lassallean illiberalism to a declaration that the party “fights not only the exploitation and oppression of wage earners in society today, but every manner of exploitation and oppression, whether directed against a class, party, sex, or race.”

It was a party driven by trade unions’ interests, and it never had the same radical ideological influences as the German SPD. Labour was refused admittance into the Second International for years for its emphasis on class collaboration, but it took a turn to the left after the Great War. Clause IV of its constitution, adopted in 1918, called for “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.” The party’s second stint in power was in 1929. In the 1923 general election, Labour won over a million fewer votes than the Conservative Party but was able to form a minority government with Liberal support. The experiment only lasted ten months, and with less than a third of Parliament, MacDonald was unable to pass anything other than minor education, housing, and employment reforms.


pages: 353 words: 81,436

Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism by Wolfgang Streeck

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, banking crisis, basic income, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial repression, fixed income, full employment, Garrett Hardin, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, means of production, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, Occupy movement, open borders, open economy, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, profit maximization, risk tolerance, shareholder value, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, union organizing, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

Neo-Protestantism, whose adherents are proud of their lives of constant exhaustion minutely structured around ‘the compatibility of job and family’,32 and the human capital capitalism of self-commodification in contemporary labour markets, with its internalization of returns-to-education calculations in the life plans of whole generations, apparently have put an end to the ‘crisis of wage-labour’ and of the achievement principle, as has the ‘new spirit of capitalism’33 which, by drawing on newly created spaces of creativity and autonomy at the workplace, has deepened corporate integration and served as a vehicle for personal identification with the aims of profit extraction.34 Whereas the loyalty of workers and consumers to postwar capitalism held steady, the same was by no means true on the side of capital. The problem of the Frankfurt crisis theories of the 1970s was that they did not think capital capable of any strategic purpose, because they treated it as an apparatus rather than an agency, as means of production rather than a class.35 So they had to make their calculations without it. Even for Schumpeter, not to speak of Marx, ‘capital’ had been a constant trouble spot in modern economic society: the source of ‘creative destruction’36 until the socialism of bureaucracy would finally lay it to rest.

While correctives to the market based on social – political ideas of justice are disturbances to capitalist practice, they must be considered inevitable so long as it is possible that the born losers of the market refuse to play ball. Without losers there can be no winners, and without permanent losers, no permanent winners.27 Furthermore, capital could always react to social encroachments in the market that seemed to go too far. Crises develop if those who control essential means of production fear they will not eventually be rewarded in accordance with their ideas of market justice; their ‘confidence’ then sinks below the minimum level necessary for investment. Holders and handlers of capital may transfer it abroad or park it somewhere in the money economy, withdrawing it forever or temporarily from circulation in the economy of a polity in which they no longer trust.

There is much to be said for the view that the emergence of finance capital as a second people – a Marktvolk rivalling the Staatsvolk – marks a new stage in the relationship between capitalism and democracy, in which capital exercises its political influence not only indirectly (by investing or not investing in national economies) but also directly (by financing or not financing the state itself). In the 1960s and 1970s critical crisis theory studied how postwar states more or less succeeded in securing their democratic legitimacy despite the special position occupied by citizens in command of the means of production and investment. The rapid, class-skewed decline of democratic organization and participation within the liberalization process, as well as the diminishing scope for political action in the crises of the past four decades, might signify that something similar may not be possible after the transition from the tax state to the debt state.


pages: 1,015 words: 170,908

Empire by Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri

Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, colonial rule, conceptual framework, disinformation, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, global pandemic, global village, Haight Ashbury, Herbert Marcuse, informal economy, invisible hand, late capitalism, low skilled workers, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, open borders, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Scramble for Africa, social intelligence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, urban planning

Vogelfrei, ‘‘bird free,’’ is the term Marx used to describe the proletariat, which at the beginning of modernity in the processes of primitive accumulation was freed twice over: in the first place, it was freed from being 158 P A S S A G E S O F S O V E R E I G N T Y the property of the master (that is, freed from servitude); and in the second place, it was ‘‘freed’’ from the means of production, separated from the soil, with nothing to sell but its own labor power. In this sense, the proletariat was forced to become the pure possibility of wealth. The dominant stream of the Marxist tradition, however, has always hated the poor, precisely for their being ‘‘free as birds,’’ for being immune to the discipline of the factory and the discipline necessary for the construction of socialism.

Marx described the processes of proletarianization in terms of primitive accumulation, the prior or previous accumulation necessary before capitalist production and reproduction can begin to take place. What is necessary is not merely an accumulation of wealth or property, but a social accumulation, the creation of capitalists and proletarians. The essential historical process, then, involves first of all divorcing the producer from the means of production. For Marx it was sufficient to describe the English example of this social D I S C I P L I N A R Y G O V E R N A B I L I T Y 257 transformation, since England represented the ‘‘highest point’’ of capitalist development at the time. In England, Marx explains, proletarianization was accomplished first by the enclosures of the common lands and the clearing of peasants from the estates, and then by the brutal punishment of vagabond-age and vagrancy.

It would be a mistake, however, to take the English experience of becoming-proletarian and becoming-capitalist as representative of all the others. Over the last three hundred years, as capitalist relations of production and reproduction have spread across the world, although primitive accumulation has always involved separating the producer from the means of production and thereby creating classes of proletarians and capitalists, each process of social transformation has nonetheless been unique. In each case the social and productive relations that preexisted were different, the processes of the transition were different, and even the form of the resulting capitalist relations of production and especially those of reproduction were different in line with specific cultural and historical differences.


Because We Say So by Noam Chomsky

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, Chelsea Manning, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Garrett Hardin, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Julian Assange, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Slavoj Žižek, Stanislav Petrov, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Tragedy of the Commons, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

Some might even use the term “capitalism” to refer to the industrial democracy advocated by John Dewey, America’s leading social philosopher, in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Dewey called for workers to be “masters of their own industrial fate” and for all institutions to be brought under public control, including the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Short of this, Dewey argued, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business.” The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. Now control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority “down below” has been virtually disenfranchised.

In contrast, as Rocker writes, a truly democratic system would achieve the character of “an alliance of free groups of men and women based on cooperative labor and a planned administration of things in the interest of the community.” No one took the American philosopher John Dewey to be an anarchist. But consider his ideas. He recognized that “power today resides in control of the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication. Whoever owns them rules the life of the country,” even if democratic forms remain. Until those institutions are in the hands of the public, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business,” much as is seen today. These ideas lead very naturally to a vision of society based on workers’ control of productive institutions, as envisioned by 19th-century thinkers, notably Karl Marx but also—less familiar—John Stuart Mill.


pages: 494 words: 132,975

Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott

"Robert Solow", airport security, banking crisis, Bear Stearns, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, collective bargaining, complexity theory, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, if you build it, they will come, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, mortgage debt, New Journalism, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Northern Rock, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, pushing on a string, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trickle-down economics, War on Poverty, Yom Kippur War

Socialism told us that we had been looking for improvement in the wrong direction.”1 Mises’s principal objection to a communist or socialist society was that it ignored the price mechanism he believed essential for any economy to operate efficiently. He argued in Economic Calculation that because in a socialist society the government owned the main industries—“the means of production”—and therefore set the prices of goods, the key purpose of prices, to distribute scarce resources, was made redundant. He claimed that “every step that takes us away from private ownership of the means of production and from the use of money also takes us away from rational economics.”2 Mises’s arguments went to the core of the debate that was to ensue between Keynes and Hayek, and they presaged one of Hayek’s eventual contentions, that by ignoring market prices socialism deprives individuals of their unique contribution to society—to express, through their willingness to pay a price, their opinion of the worth of an object or service.

Hayek also confronted another Keynesian remedy, that if an idle plant was brought into use it would spur a depressed economy back to life and increase employment. “What [economists like Keynes] overlook is that . . . in order that the existing durable plants could be used to their full capacity it would be necessary to invest a great amount of other means of production in lengthy processes which would bear fruit only in a comparatively distant future.”45 He went on, “It should be fairly clear that the granting of credit to consumers, which has recently been so strongly advocated as a cure for depression, would in fact have quite the contrary effect.” Such “artificial demand,” he suggested, would merely postpone the day of reckoning.

Keynes, who, from the outset, analyses complex dynamic processes without laying the necessary foundations by adequate static analysis of the fundamental process.”34 As for substance, Hayek tangles with Keynes over definitions, preferring established Austrian terms for such basic concepts as “savings” and “investment” to those either already in use at Cambridge or newly minted by Keynes to describe what he believed to be freshly observed phenomena. Hayek’s main objection to Keynes’s treatise, however, is his ignoring Austrian notions of capital theory, in particular the implications to prices and demand of “roundabout” means of production of capital goods that he had so singularly failed to explain adequately in his lecture to the Marshall Society. Hayek drew attention to two notions at the heart of their conflicting views of how an economy works: Hayek could not agree with Keynes’s rejection of the need for an equilibrium between savings and investment; nor could he accept Keynes’s assertion that the importance of the divergence between investment and savings was that it adversely affected the stability of prices.


pages: 372 words: 152

The End of Work by Jeremy Rifkin

banking crisis, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, cashless society, collective bargaining, compensation consultant, computer age, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, future of work, general-purpose programming language, George Gilder, global village, Herbert Marcuse, hiring and firing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land reform, low skilled workers, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, Paul Samuelson, pink-collar, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, Thorstein Veblen, Toyota Production System, trade route, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration

Cheaper wages will entice employers to hire additional workers rather than purchase more expensive capital equipment, thereby moderating the impact of technology on employment. 2 The idea that technological innovation stimulates perpetual growth and employment has met with stiff opposition over the years. In his first volume of Capital, published in 1867, Karl Marx argued that producers continually attempt to reduce labor costs and gain greater control over the means of production by substituting capital equipment for workers wherever and whenever possible. The capitalists profit not only from greater productivity, reduced costs, and greater control over the workplace, but also secondarily by creating a vast reserve army of unemployed workers whose labor power is readily available for exploitation somewhere else in the economy.

Issues of hiring and firing, promotions, discipline actions, health benefits, and safety concerns were brought into the collective bargaining process in every industry. Business Week warned that "the time has come to take a stand ... against the further encroachment into the province of management."28 Menaced by the increasing intensi ty of labor's demands and determined to maintain its long-standing control over the means of production, America's industrial giants turned to the new technology of automation as much to rid themselves of rebellious workers as to enhance their productivity and profit. The new corporate strategy succeeded. In 1961 a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee published statistics on the impact of automation on jobs in the preceding half decade.

Today, less than 3 percent of the price of a semiconductor chip goes to the owners of raw materials and energy, 5 percent to those who own the equipment and facilities, and 6 percent to routine labor. More than 85 percent of the cost goes to specialized design and engineering services and for patents and copyrights. 44 In the early industrial era, those who controlled finance capital and the means of production exercised near-total control over the workings of the economy. For a while, during the mid-decades of this century, they had to share some of that power with labor, whose critical role in production assured it some influence in decisions governing both the ways and means of doing business and the distribution of profits.


pages: 366 words: 94,209

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business process, buy and hold, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Garrett Hardin, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Google bus, Howard Rheingold, IBM and the Holocaust, impulse control, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, medical bankruptcy, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software patent, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

For example, there is a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing. Economies of scale, especially in the agricultural sector, end up forcing smallholders to sell their land or to abandon their traditional crops. Their attempts to move to other, more diversified, means of production prove fruitless because of the difficulty of linkage with regional and global markets, or because the infrastructure for sales and transport is geared to larger businesses. Civil authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of small producers and differentiated production.3 On and on he went, explaining the ways that monopoly control of capital and resources not only leads to their overextraction but also prevents a majority of people from participating in value creation.

And it suggests what governments can do to facilitate instead of hinder this transition to a postindustrial prosperity. Distributism should not be confused with leftism. It’s calling not for the redistribution of earnings or capital through taxes or state action after the fact but for the widest possible distribution of the means of production as preconditions for a healthy marketplace. Workers ought to own the tools they use, and their contributions to an enterprise should earn them an ownership stake in the business itself. Distributism also discourages the externalization of costs to other parties or government, the privatization of currency, the treatment of economics as an impartial physical science, and the way big business and big government drain the market of liquidity.

What might the tetrad for a genuinely digital, distributist business look like? One that could live up to the demands of a renaissance? It would amplify value creation from everywhere as much as from the center—distributed creativity. It would obsolesce centralized monopolies, working to break them up and share the means of production with customers. It would retrieve the values of the medieval marketplace, recovering inexpensive means of exchange between peers. Pushed to the extreme, well, a digitally distributed company would probably seek some sort of collective or spiritual awareness—another retrieval of a more familial or even tribal sensibility.


pages: 330 words: 91,805

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism by Robin Chase

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Andy Kessler, banking crisis, barriers to entry, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business climate, call centre, car-free, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, congestion charging, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, decarbonisation, different worldview, do-ocracy, don't be evil, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Ferguson, Missouri, Firefox, frictionless, Gini coefficient, hive mind, income inequality, independent contractor, index fund, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, openstreetmap, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, Post-Keynesian economics, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, Turing test, turn-by-turn navigation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Zipcar

The Peers Inc structure transforms the economic logic and this once-sound societal-benefits argument. Remember, platforms give individuals the power of the corporation at very affordable prices (often for free). Productivity and quality-of-life gains are now not necessarily achieved only through government support of the big and wealthy. Peers now have access to the means of production themselves. We don’t have to stifle the informal economy, because platforms organize, improve quality, and even self-regulate. In Chapter 10, I profile G-Auto, an example of an Indian company that is cleaning up the disorganized auto rickshaw market. But for all that, the rise of the micro-entrepreneur requires reworking and rethinking laws that protect them and their rights to earn a living wage and to work in a safe and healthy environment.

It stands alone, beautiful, inspiring, challenging. Return to that beach two weekend days later, and what was a beach in its rocky wild form has been transformed into a landscape of dozens of rock cairns. With each passing day visitors see the example, the template for what is possible. The means of production lie at hand. One hour of pleasant painstaking experimentation later, you take a photo to capture and share your proud accomplishment, then continue on your hike. Photo: Robin Chase Photo: Heidi Spencer See it, do it, share it—like the rocks on the beach of this Maine island, like videos on YouTube, like successful uses of GPS.

To survive and thrive involved becoming just a smidge smaller than a monopoly, controlling the market while avoiding regulation. Control was maintained by exclusive ownership of intellectual property, trade secrets, copyrights, equipment, and employees. Why? Because factories, tools, and other expensive means of production demanded organizations large enough to extract their full potential. Products and services were standardized because high volumes led to economies of scale and the ability to offer lower-priced products. Higher volumes also meant increased market share. Then the Internet happened. Those old barriers to entry—large privately held assets and closed intellectual property—no longer result in the greatest value.


pages: 268 words: 89,761

Unhealthy societies: the afflictions of inequality by Richard G. Wilkinson

attribution theory, business cycle, clean water, correlation coefficient, experimental subject, full employment, fundamental attribution error, Gini coefficient, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, invisible hand, land reform, longitudinal study, means of production, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, twin studies, upwardly mobile

He suggested that how hierarchical or egalitarian societies are depends as much upon control over the means of destruction as it does on control of the means of production. Some weapons—like stone tools, spears, bows and arrows—are essentially democratic in that anyone can make them and it is difficult to deny people access to them. On the other hand, guns can only be obtained from other sources, and if people manage to gain a monopoly in access to them (or to any other superior weaponry), they have the power to coerce others. Clearly the means of production are also important. Class systems depend on controlling access to the means of production in ways that necessarily differ at different stages of development.


pages: 310 words: 90,817

Paper Money Collapse: The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown by Detlev S. Schlichter

bank run, banks create money, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, currency peg, fixed income, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, inflation targeting, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, Long Term Capital Management, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, Money creation, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, open economy, Ponzi scheme, price discovery process, price mechanism, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, risk tolerance, savings glut, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Y2K

Other goods deliver a more satisfying service to the public if their supply is increased. More cars can transport more people; more TV sets can entertain more people; more bread can feed more people. These things are goods because they have use-value, they can directly satisfy the needs of their owners. This holds likewise for the means of production, such as tools, plants, and machinery. Although they do not satisfy the needs of consumers directly, their usefulness lies in their ability to help in the production of goods and services that will ultimately satisfy the needs of consumers. However, to the extent that a good is used as money, its usefulness does not lie in any ability it may have to meet any needs directly but lies exclusively in its marketability, in its general acceptance as a medium of exchange.

Yet, the state played an important and over time increasingly active role, to be witnessed, among other things, by constantly rising levels of taxation, regulation, and public debt. With the collapse of communism in 1989, the mixed economy, meaning the combination of mostly privately owned means of production with democratically legitimized state interventionism, became the globally dominant societal model. That the state should supply the economy with its own paper money under a regional monopoly, that the state should thus control and flexibly adjust the supply of money and constantly expand it, had become unquestioned features of this system.

In Germany the Nazi economist Werner Daitz declared that “in future, gold will play no role as a basis for the European currencies, because a currency does not depend on what it is covered by, but rather it is dependent on the value which is given it by the state, or in this case by the economic order which is controlled by the state.”22 After the Second World War, and in particular after the disintegration of the Communist Soviet Bloc after 1989, the dominant global model of society became parliamentary social democracy, which combines capitalist elements, in particular private ownership of the means of production, with a democratically legitimized, interventionist state. Democratic states have all experienced on-trend growing state expenditure, rising levels of taxation and rising public debt. Against this backdrop it should come as no surprise that the attempt to limit the power of the state by subjugating it to the strictures of an immovable and inflexible system of commodity money turned out to be short-lived.


pages: 328 words: 92,317

Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to Radical Capitalism by David Friedman

back-to-the-land, Fractional reserve banking, hiring and firing, jitney, laissez-faire capitalism, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, means of production, Money creation, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, Tax Reform Act of 1986, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

When he has gotten all the way around the circle, the politician throws fifty cents down in front of one person, who is overjoyed at the unexpected windfall. The process is repeated, ending with a different person. After a hundred rounds everyone is a hundred cents poorer, fifty cents richer, and happy. III You object that capitalism works too well, that more efficient means of production drive out less efficient, leaving everyone with sterile and repetitive jobs in a soul-killing environment. More efficient means of production do drive out less efficient means, but your definition of efficiency is too narrow. If under one arrangement a worker produces a dollar an hour more than under another, but the conditions are so much worse that he will gladly accept a wage of two dollars an hour less to work under the other, which is more efficient?

I would have no objection to such a socialist society, beyond the opinion that its members were not acting in what I thought was their best interest. The socialists who advocate such institutions do object to our present society and would probably object even more to the completely capitalist society that I would like to see develop. They claim that the ownership of the means of production by capitalists instead of by workers is inherently unjust. I think they are wrong. Even if they are right, there is no need for them to fight me or anyone else; there is a much easier way to achieve their objective. If a society in which firms are owned by their workers is far more attractive than one in which they are owned by stockholders, let the workers buy the firms.


The Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason

"side hustle", Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, citizen journalism, creative destruction, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, East Village, Firefox, future of work, glass ceiling, global village, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Urbanism, patent troll, peer-to-peer, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog

Anything and everything else could be next. As a result, many companies are now basing their entire operation around punk capitalists, pandering to their every need with ever more advanced technology. It seems that ownership of the means of production—the backbone of capitalism—is falling into the hands of the masses. But soon the notion of “owning” the means of production may itself be redundant. 3-D.I.Y. Anything that can be transmitted electronically and downloaded is being affected by the ever-increasing flurry of D.I.Y. activity. Because of downloading, the media and entertainment industries are becoming very different beasts.

And it might not have happened in quite the same way if it were not for a nun in the 1940s, throwing children’s birthday parties. All hail Sister Alicia, the patron saint of sharing. Talking ’bout Boundaries (Territorial Disputes) Each story in this book is about boundaries coming down. Punk democratized the means of production. Pirates ignored old restrictions on new ideas. We have seen how useful the remix can be, and how graffiti artists reclaim public spaces from private interests. All of these ideas are about sharing and using information in new ways. But each story in this book has another side to it. As quickly as soci- *Loft parties are still held regularly at secret locations in New York.


Rethinking Islamism: The Ideology of the New Terror by Meghnad Desai

Ayatollah Khomeini, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, full employment, global village, illegal immigration, income per capita, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, liberation theology, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, means of production, Nelson Mandela, oil shock, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Yom Kippur War

฀Capitalism,฀or฀the฀bourgeois฀mode,฀was฀the฀current฀ one฀ and฀ in฀ it฀ the฀ conflict฀ between฀ the฀ proletariat฀ (the฀ workers)฀ and฀ the฀ capitalists฀ (the฀ owners฀ of฀ the฀ means฀ of฀ production)฀ was฀ the฀ central฀ dynamic฀ force.฀ But฀ capitalism,฀ too,฀ was฀ destined฀ to฀ pass.฀ It฀ would฀ be฀ followed฀ by฀ socialism฀ and฀ then฀ Communism.฀ Under฀capitalism,฀the฀proletariat฀–฀the฀propertyless฀workers฀–฀were฀ exploited฀ by฀ the฀ capitalists฀ who฀ owned฀ the฀ means฀ of฀ production฀ which฀the฀workers฀were฀employed฀to฀use฀to฀produce฀surplus฀value.฀ Socialism฀would฀come฀with฀the฀collapse฀of฀capitalism฀as฀a฀result฀of฀   ฀  its฀own฀internal฀contradictions.


Masters of Mankind by Noam Chomsky

affirmative action, American Legislative Exchange Council, Berlin Wall, failed state, God and Mammon, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, Martin Wolf, means of production, Nelson Mandela, nuremberg principles, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit maximization, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Silicon Valley, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, union organizing, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system

He saw the dangers of a “permanent inequality of conditions” and an end to democracy if “the manufacturing aristocracy which is growing up under our eyes,” “one of the harshest that has ever existed in the world,” should escape its confines. Or America’s leading twentieth-century social philosopher, John Dewey, who held that we cannot talk seriously about democracy in a regime of private power. “Power today resides in control of the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation and communication,” he wrote. “Whoever owns them rules the life of the country,” and politics is little more than the “the shadow cast on society by big business” as long as the country is ruled by ‘business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda.”

However, a recent study by the International Monetary Fund indicates—to quote the business press—that perhaps “the largest US banks aren’t really profitable at all,” adding that “the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from US taxpayers.”2 This is more evidence to support the judgment of the most respected financial correspondent in the English-speaking world, Martin Wolf of the London Financial Times, that “an out-of-control financial sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been laid.”3 The term “capitalism” is also commonly used for systems in which there are no capitalists: for example, the extensive worker-owned Mondragón conglomerate in the Basque Country of Spain or the worker-owned enterprises expanding in northern Ohio—often with conservative support—a matter discussed in important work by Gar Alperovitz.4 Some might even use the term “capitalism” to include the industrial democracy advocated by John Dewey, America’s leading social philosopher. He called for workers to be “masters of their own industrial fate,” and for all institutions to be under public control, including the means of production, exchange, publicity, transportation, and communication.5 Short of this, Dewey argued, politics will remain “the shadow cast on society by big business.”6 The truncated democracy that Dewey condemned has been left in tatters in recent years. Now, control of government is narrowly concentrated at the peak of the income scale, while the large majority “down below” are virtually disenfranchised.


The New Class War: Saving Democracy From the Metropolitan Elite by Michael Lind

affirmative action, anti-communist, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, centre right, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, disinformation, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, future of work, global supply chain, guest worker program, Haight Ashbury, illegal immigration, immigration reform, independent contractor, invisible hand, knowledge economy, liberal world order, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, moral panic, Nate Silver, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open borders, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade liberalization, union organizing, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, working poor

This drive, moreover, is world-wide in extent, already well advanced in all nations, though at different levels of development in different nations.4 In his essay “Second Thoughts on James Burnham” (1946), George Orwell provided a succinct summary of Burnham’s thesis: Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralized society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic. The rulers of this new society will be the people who effectively control the means of production: that is, business executives, technicians, bureaucrats and soldiers, lumped together by Burnham, under the name of “managers.” These people will eliminate the old capitalist class, crush the working class, and so organize society that all power and economic privilege remain in their own hands.

Antimonopolists want to turn wage earners into small business owners. In the 1930s, Keynes speculated about the euthanasia of the rentier class. These reformers propose the euthanasia of the working class. The neoliberal utopia is a workerless paradise. * * * — WHAT ABOUT SOCIALISM—the genuine kind with state ownership of the means of production? In theory, the option of democratic socialism need not be discredited by the horrors wrought by Marxist-Leninist dictatorships in rural nations like twentieth-century Russia and China. Democratic socialism is discredited for other reasons. One is the greater track record of the mixed economy, with a blend of markets, public enterprises, and nonprofit provision, over both the pure free market economy and state socialism.


pages: 371 words: 36,271

Libertarian Idea by Jan Narveson

centre right, invisible hand, means of production, Menlo Park, night-watchman state, Pareto efficiency, Peter Singer: altruism, prisoner's dilemma, psychological pricing, rent-seeking, zero-sum game

But also it was Locke who insisted that there were important limits to what we can acquire in a “state of nature”, at least: no more than we can use without spoiling, and only what leaves “enough and as good for others”. The question quite properly asked by objectors to private property, especially as applying to the “means of production”, is how we can suppose that we could, starting with just the premises about self-ownership, wind up with the entire panoply of ownership rights familiar in contemporary nonsocialist societies. It is not clear, as will be seen in Part Three, just what that “panoply” really consists of, but let us suppose that what we are after are the rights of (1) exclusive use, and thus of permitting or refusing use by any others, except only on jointly agreed terms, and (2) transfer in the form of (a) sale, (b) exchange, (c) gift, and (d) bequeathal.

And he suggests that “Equality, more than any other baseline, reflects the fact that, other things being equal, nobody naturally deserves a larger or smaller share.”18 Of course, we should also use any baseline in which W (the worst-off person, remember) is better off than the worst-off 90 person would be in any other system, and so this might give us one of the others. What could the libertarian say in reply? Arthur suggests this. “One other line of argument is open to the libertarian. Suppose that private ownership of the means of production were far more efficient than public ownership, and suppose further that capitalism for some reason could not survive if individuals were required to compensate others when they appropriate a natural resource for their own use. How would these putative facts affect W‟s demand for compensation?”

With private property held by a number of people, various arrangements are possible, but ordinarily those arrangements have been made, and if they have not, we can expect trouble when the joint owners diverge regarding the use to which it is to be put. In the case of public property, however, ownership being totally “collective”, these problems are legion. It might be thought that public ownership gives unlimited “access” (as in the socialist‟s “access to the means of production”). But obviously a given thing cannot be completely available to all, or indeed to more than one. Rules will have to be framed so as to assure a fair shake for all potential users, say, or something of the sort. The point is that with public ownership, we must resort to politics to decide who is going to do what with it and when—with all the difficulties that entails.


pages: 665 words: 146,542

Money: 5,000 Years of Debt and Power by Michel Aglietta

bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, energy transition, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, German hyperinflation, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, margin call, means of production, Money creation, money market fund, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shock, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, secular stagnation, seigniorage, shareholder value, special drawing rights, special economic zone, stochastic process, the payments system, the scientific method, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus

There is a probability qi expressing the power of influence that i has over the group in its totality, that the process converges towards ui(0), and thus that U = {ui(0), … ui(0)}. Source: André Orléan (1984), ‘Monnaie et spéculation mimétique’, pp. 55–68. What are the theoretical properties of such a solution? The society of market subjects, who are supposedly all endowed with means of production, is a society of equals. In the theory of coordination by the market, this is expressed in the hypothesis that all subjects accept prices that they hold to be exogenous. In the theory of social interaction, subjects uniformly seek a form of wealth that is immediately an object of social recognition: namely, liquidity.

This also implies the intertemporal solvency of the value of the assets that sustain these debts and credits, which is to say, their capacity to be converted into liquidity. Here we enter into capital’s monetary economy. This is one of the two foundations of capitalism, the other being the separation of labour and capital by way of the private appropriation of the means of production. Capital’s monetary economy, however, is the essential focus of the arguments that we elaborate in this book. For now, we will show how day-to-day settlements work, and thus how the finality of payments operates, when money appears in a multiplicity of banking signs issued as a counterparty to credits.

In our study of the implementation of monetary policy, we showed that the guide for monetary policy in these economies is the natural interest rate. This rate expresses the net anticipated profitability of new investment in production. It thus orients the business projects whose fulfilment depends on access to finance. The cost of accessing the means to finance the new capital goods that replace used or out-of-date means of production is the capital cost. The central bank influences the interest rates for the financial supports through which savings are made available to business projects. Insofar as it exercises this influence, the central bank is the regulator of this adjustment. It tries to ensure that the point of adjustment between aggregate savings and investments takes place at the level of economic activity which most efficiently employs the available human and material resources.


How to Be a Liberal: The Story of Liberalism and the Fight for Its Life by Ian Dunt

4chan, Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, battle of ideas, Bear Stearns, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, bounce rate, British Empire, Brixton riot, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disinformation, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, eurozone crisis, experimental subject, feminist movement, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, invisible hand, John Bercow, Kenneth Rogoff, liberal world order, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Mohammed Bouazizi, Northern Rock, old-boy network, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, recommendation engine, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, Steve Bannon, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, upwardly mobile, Winter of Discontent, working poor, zero-sum game

‘The history of all hitherto existing society,’ Marx wrote in the opening pages of the Communist Manifesto, ‘is the history of class struggles.’ Class was defined by a group’s relationship to the means of production, which were the tools and raw materials used to make products. The bourgeoisie – such as factory-owners – controlled the means of production and the proletariat sold their labour to them. In Marx’s time, the means of production were developing at an extraordinary rate in the form of factories, coal mines, railways and utilities. But Marx believed that by creating the huge workforce necessary to run them, capitalism was giving birth to its own grave-diggers.

But Marx believed that by creating the huge workforce necessary to run them, capitalism was giving birth to its own grave-diggers. The vast ranks of the disenfranchised, propertyless industrial working class would bring down the system. In the first post-revolutionary stage, called socialism, they would seize the means of production and establish the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat.’ In the second stage, called communism, private property would be abolished and everything held in common. As the material condition of society changed, people’s social personality would evolve, and the era of exploitation and injustice would pass away. Unlike most socialist ideas of the time, which were typically quite dream-like, Marx framed his theory in scientific language.


pages: 445 words: 105,255

Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization by K. Eric Drexler

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, crowdsourcing, dark matter, double helix, failed state, global supply chain, industrial robot, iterative process, Mars Rover, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, performance metric, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game

Like the Industrial Revolution, it will use artificial mechanical systems to make things. Like the Information Revolution, it will use high-frequency nanoscale devices to process and deliver patterns (but of atoms rather than bits). Like each of the prior revolutions, it will lead to deep changes in products, productivity, means of production, and human society. Able to multiply the productivity of agriculture, manufacturing, and computation by factors of ten to one million. Can radically extend the scope and scale of production, transforming the material basis of civilization and reducing its impacts on climate and the Earth as a whole.

For example, in 1960, after half a century’s progress, an efficient aircraft could stay aloft for no more than tens of hours without refueling, yet even the earliest satellites could stay aloft for millennia. Satellites had quite literally entered a realm with new rules. Likewise with the future potential of manufacturing. Simple, conservative implementations of advanced APM can far outperform the most refined modern means of production, again because the new realm has new rules. Because location matters more than refinement, the cost structure changes. In product-oriented engineering, the costs of manufacture and operation typically dwarf the cost of design, and as a consequence, large investments in design can bring great rewards.

Speculations in this area may be worth undertaking if the results are regarded with sufficient skepticism, but here, such speculations would be out of scope. Consumer goods pervade our experience of life, yet they aren’t part of its deeper physical basis. My concern here is with developments at that deeper level, where some of the most basic driving forces for change can be expected with substantial confidence. TRANSFORMING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION From where we stand today the coming transformation can best be understood through contrasts with current industrial technologies. As we’ve seen, the primary contrasts emerge from just two basic characteristics of APM-level technologies: the nanoscale size of components and the atomic precision of processes and products.


pages: 392 words: 106,532

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis

American ideology, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, European colonialism, full employment, land reform, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sinatra Doctrine

The social alienation generated by economic inequalities could only result in revolution: “[N]ot only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working class—the proletarians.” Capitalism’s grave-diggers would sooner or later replace it with communism, a more equitable method of organizing society in which there would be common ownership of the means of production, and in which extremes of wealth and poverty would no longer exist. Neither, therefore, would resentment, so the happiness of the human race would follow. Communism, Marx’s collaborator Friedrich Engels claimed, would mark “the ascent of man from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom.”6 This was not just a profession of faith: Marx and Engels also saw it as science.

Like the nuclear war that never came, the revival and eventual triumph of democratic capitalism was a surprising development that few people on either side of the ideological divide in 1945 would have foreseen. Circumstances during the first half of the 20th century had provided physical strength and political authority to dictatorships. Why should the second half have been different? The reasons had less to do with any fundamental shift in the means of production, as a Marxist historian might have argued, than with a striking shift in the attitude of the United States toward the international system. Despite having built the world’s most powerful and diversified economy, Americans had shown remarkably little interest, prior to 1941, in how the rest of the world was governed.

The most inspirational alternatives the Soviet Union could muster were Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, a clear sign that dictatorships were not what they once had been. Meanwhile, communism had promised a better life but failed to deliver. Marx insisted that the shifts in the means of production would increase inequality, provoke anger, and thereby fuel revolutionary consciousness within the “working class.” He failed, though, to anticipate the kinds of shifts that would take place, for as post-industrial economies evolved they began to reward lateral over hierarchical forms of organization.


pages: 568 words: 174,089

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills, Alan Wolfe

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American ideology, anti-communist, Asilomar, collective bargaining, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, full employment, Ida Tarbell, Joseph Schumpeter, long peace, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, one-China policy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, Thorstein Veblen, Vilfredo Pareto

From even the most superficial examination of the history of the western society we learn that the power of decision-makers is first of all limited by the level of technique, by the means of power and violence and organization that prevail in a given society. In this connection we also learn that there is a fairly straight line running upward through the history of the West; that the means of oppression and exploitation, of violence and destruction, as well as the means of production and reconstruction, have been progressively enlarged and increasingly centralized. As the institutional means of power and the means of communications that tie them together have become steadily more efficient, those now in command of them have come into command of instruments of rule quite unsurpassed in the history of mankind.

The government has subsidized private industry by maintaining high tariff rates, and if the taxpayers of the United States had not paid, out of their own labor, for a paved road system, Henry Ford’s astuteness and thrift would not have enabled him to become a billionaire out of the automobile industry.5 In capitalistic economies, wars have led to many opportunities for the private appropriation of fortune and power. But the complex facts of World War II make previous appropriations seem puny indeed. Between 1940 and 1944, some $175 billion worth of prime supply contracts—the key to control of the nation’s means of production—were given to private corporations. A full two-thirds of this went to the top one hundred corporations—in fact, almost one-third went to ten private corporations. These companies then made money by selling what they had produced to the government. They were granted priorities and allotments for materials and parts; they decided how much of these were to be passed down to sub-contractors, as well as who and how many sub-contractors there should be.

As a definition, it points to the tendency of military men not to remain means, but to pursue ends of their own, and to turn other institutional areas into means for accomplishing them. Without an industrial economy, the modern army, as in America, could not exist; it is an army of machines. Professional economists usually consider military institutions as parasitic upon the means of production. Now, however, such institutions have come to shape much of the economic life of the United States. Religion, virtually without fail, provides the army at war with its blessings, and recruits from among its officials the chaplain, who in military costume counsels and consoles and stiffens the morale of men at war.


The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler

A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, mass immigration, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, Peter Calthorpe, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, Savings and loan crisis, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

lly the .fancy .hl1ildings.. where J :hey lived, worked, and were e�t:ertained. It was reasoned, therefore, that the com­ ing evolutionary leap into utopia would include the uplift of the work­ ers, resulting in "the new industrial man. " Ultimately, reasoned Karl Marx, the new industrial man would attain control of "the means of production" and all class distinctions would be abolished in an ensuing reorganization of life. Thus exalted and elevated, this new industrial man would require a better place to live than the slums that had been his customary abode. 6 0 ... YE S TE R D A Y ' S T O M O R R O W In fact, he and everybody else would require a new architectural setting for everyday life to replace the structures of the decadent past-else the new industrial man would lose the edge of moral superiority that he had only lately achieved, his evolution having been mostly a moral leap.

Trolleys hogged the major thoroughfares, which were further clogged by horse-drawn ve­ hicles. Traffic control meant an occasional cop at the busiest intersec­ tions. ( t' O F 8 8 ... J O Y R I DE Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but with the Model T he developed a very reliable machine that "the great multitude" could afford to buy, and he dreamed up a means of production-the assembly line-that made his machine cheaper every year for two decades, even while wages, and the prices of other things, climbed. Ford offered the first Model T in the fall of 1908 at $825 for the "runabout" and $25 more for the "touring car. " This was a time when $1200 was an ex­ cellent yearly salary.

The long-term result was the death of the family farm in America, the replacement of agriculture by agribusiness. By 1940, the percentage of the population on farms fell to 23 percent, and by 1980 it had dwin­ dled to 3 percent. In and of itself, this population shift might not have been a bad thing, but it was accompanied by another terrible cost. A way of life became simply a means of production. Human husbandry gave way to the industrial exploitation of land. Left behind was the knowledge of how to care for land, so plainly evinced in today's prob­ lems of soil erosion and in pollution from chemical pesticides and fer­ tilizers. The cycle of overproduction, debt, and foreclosure in the late 1920s was the first sign that accommodating a new technology like the motor vehicle in an established economy could be wildly disruptive.


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, disruptive innovation, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, fixed income, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Future of Employment, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

Institutional supports having fallen into disarray, post-capitalist capital accumulation depends on culture lagging behind structure, or substituting for a structure that has long dissolved, and on the difficulties of an alternative culture developing under the combined pressures of fragmented competition and precarious, all-too-easily lost access to the means of production and consumption. Ideology, in particular the exaltation of a life in uncertainty as a life in liberty, is of central importance here. Neoliberal ideological narratives offer a euphemistic reinterpretation of the breakdown of structured order as the arrival of a free society built on individual autonomy, and of de-institutionalization as historical progress out of an empire of necessity into an empire of freedom.

This would seem to be another indication that the economy of the oligarchs has been decoupled from that of ordinary people, as the rich no longer expect to pay a price for maximizing their income at the expense of the non-rich, or for pursuing their interests at the expense of the economy as a whole. What may be surfacing here is the fundamental tension described by Marx between, on the one hand, the increasingly social nature of production in an advanced economy and society, and private ownership of the means of production on the other. As productivity growth requires more public provision, it tends to become incompatible with private accumulation of profits, forcing capitalist elites to choose between the two. The result is what we are seeing already today: economic stagnation combined with oligarchic redistribution.39 CORROSIONS OF THE IRON CAGE Along with declining economic growth, rising inequality and the transferral of the public domain to private ownership, corruption is the fourth disorder of contemporary capitalism.

In the final analysis, the transformation of the debt state into a consolidation state is to end the tendency, envisaged under both ‘Wagner’s Law’ and the Marxian conjecture of an increasing socialization of production, for a maturing capitalist-industrial society to require ever-rising levels of public support – of infrastructural investment and all sorts of collective repair work and compensation – up to a point where capitalist industrialism would become incompatible with private ownership in the means of production. Imposing public austerity on the debt state of the late twentieth century may be interpreted as an effort to escape this trend, in response to the growing resistance of capitalist society against being taxed for public provision. What results is a large-scale political experiment turning over to private enterprise the tasks of insuring against social risks, providing welfare, education and health, building and maintaining physical infrastructures, and even parts of government itself (warfare, the collection of intelligence).


pages: 376 words: 118,542

Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman, Rose D. Friedman

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, bank run, banking crisis, business cycle, Corn Laws, foreign exchange controls, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, invisible hand, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, price stability, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rent control, road to serfdom, Sam Peltzman, school vouchers, Simon Kuznets, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration

And getting SEC approval may cost upwards of $100,000—which certainly discourages the small firms our government professes to help. Freedom to own property is another essential part of economic freedom. And we do have widespread property ownership. Well over half of us own the homes we live in. When it comes to machines, factories, and similar means of production, the situation is very different. We refer to ourselves as a free private enterprise society, as a capitalist society. Yet in terms of the ownership of corporate enterprise, we are about 46 percent socialist. Owning 1 percent of a corporation means that you are entitled to receive 1 percent of its profits and must share I percent of its losses up to the full value of your stock.

They reflected the change that had occurred earlier in the intellectual atmosphere on the campuses—from belief in individual responsibility, laissez-faire, and a decentralized and limited government to belief in social responsibility and a centralized and powerful government. It was the function of government, they believed, to protect individuals from the vicissitudes of fortune and to control the operation of the economy in the "general interest," even if that involved government ownership and operation of the means of production. These two strands were already present in a famous novel published in 1887, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, a Utopian fantasy in which a Rip Van Winkle character who goes to sleep in the year 1887 awakens in the year 2000 to discover a changed world. "Looking backward," his new companions explain to him how the Utopia that astonishes him emerged in the 1930s—a prophetic date—from the hell of the 1880s.

It has simply altered its direction. The expansion of government now takes the form of welfare programs and of regulatory activities. As W. Allen Wallis put it in a somewhat different context, socialism, "intellectually bankrupt after more than a century of seeing one after another of its arguments for socializing the means of production demolished—now seeks to socialize the results of production." 2 In the welfare area the change of direction has led to an explosion in recent decades, especially after President Lyndon Johnson declared a "War on Poverty" in 1964. New Deal programs of Social Security, unemployment insurance, and direct relief were all expanded to cover new groups; payments were increased; and Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and numerous other programs were added.


pages: 448 words: 116,962

Singularity Sky by Stross, Charles

anthropic principle, cellular automata, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological constant, disinformation, Doomsday Clock, Extropian, gravity well, Kuiper Belt, life extension, means of production, new economy, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, skinny streets, technological singularity, uranium enrichment

How about a post-Marxist theory of post-technological political economy, and a proof that the dictatorship of the hereditary peerage can only be maintained by the systematic oppression and exploitation of the workers and engineers, and cannot survive once the people acquire the selfreplicating means of production?" There was a pause, and Timoshevski exhaled furiously. Just as he was about to speak, the telephone made an odd bell-like noise: "That will be sufficient. You will deliver the theory to this node. Arrangements to clone a replicator and library are now under way. Query: ability to deliver postulated proof of validity of theory?"

And does it contain schemata for producing direct fusion weapons, military aircraft, and guns?" "Yes and yes to all subqueries. Query: ability to deliver postulated proof of validity of theory?" Timoshevski was punching the air and bouncing around the office. Even the normally phlegmatic Wolff was grinning like a maniac. "Just give the workers the means of production, and we'll prove the theory," said Rubenstein. "We need to talk in private. Back in an hour, with the texts you requested." He pressed the OFF switch on the telephone. "Yes!" After a minute, Timoshevski calmed down a bit. Rubenstein waited indulgently; truth be told, he felt the same way himself.

"Well, you won't find any decent hospitality here." Rubenstein swept a hand around the clearing. "Old Earth, did you say? Now that is a long way to come with a parcel! Just what exactly is it?" "It's a cornucopia machine. Self-replicating factory, fully programmable, and it's yours. A gift from Earth. The means of production in one handy self-propelled package. We hoped you might feel like starting an industrial revolution. At least we did before we found out about the Festival." Rachel blinked as Rubenstein threw back his head and laughed wildly. "Just what exactly is that meant to mean?" she demanded irritably.


pages: 446 words: 117,660

Arguing With Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future by Paul Krugman

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, bond market vigilante , Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, cryptocurrency, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, different worldview, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, employer provided health coverage, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, frictionless, frictionless market, fudge factor, full employment, Growth in a Time of Debt, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, index fund, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, Modern Monetary Theory, New Urbanism, obamacare, oil shock, open borders, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, quantitative easing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, salary depends on his not understanding it, secular stagnation, Seymour Hersh, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, universal basic income, very high income, working-age population

(People generally like the idea of being able to buy into Medicare, but not the idea of being required to give up private insurance if they’re happy with it.) Should America adopt socialism? That’s not a real question, because “socialism” can mean different things to different people. The classic definition is “government ownership of the means of production,” and clearly voters don’t favor that. But there’s a long tradition in American politics of trying to conflate socialism in that sense with what Europeans call “social democracy”—a market economy, but with a strong public social safety net and regulations that limit the range of actions businesses can take in pursuit of profit.

The libertarian Cato Institute says no: “Denmark has quite a free-market economy, apart from its welfare state transfers and high government consumption.” That’s some qualification. It’s true that Denmark doesn’t at all fit the classic definition of socialism, which involves government ownership of the means of production. It is, instead, social-democratic: a market economy where the downsides of capitalism are mitigated by government action, including a very strong social safety net. But U.S. conservatives—like Fox’s Regan—continually and systematically blur the distinction between social democracy and socialism.

So let’s talk about what’s really on the table. Some progressive U.S. politicians now describe themselves as socialists, and a significant number of voters, including a majority of voters under thirty, say they approve of socialism. But neither the politicians nor the voters are clamoring for government seizure of the means of production. Instead, they’ve taken on board conservative rhetoric that describes anything that tempers the excesses of a market economy as socialism, and in effect said, “Well, in that case I’m a socialist.” What Americans who support “socialism” actually want is what the rest of the world calls social democracy: a market economy, but with extreme hardship limited by a strong social safety net and extreme inequality limited by progressive taxation.


pages: 251 words: 69,245

The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality by Branko Milanovic

Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, colonial rule, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, endogenous growth, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, full employment, Gini coefficient, high net worth, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, open borders, Pareto efficiency, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Simon Kuznets, very high income, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Inequality rose almost everywhere and was not regarded as negatively as during the heyday of welfare capitalism. So the postcommunist countries just “imitated” their Western counterparts in letting inequality shoot up in the 1990s. How did socialism realize that greater equality? There were several things, like a package, that led to it. First, nationalization of the means of production and of land (or the agrarian reform in several countries) obliterated the large industrial and landowning fortunes. This was particularly the case in countries like Russia (after the revolution in 1917) and Hungary and Poland (after 1947) where large landholdings still existed. Private industrialists in all countries disappeared, their assets were nationalized, and stock markets were closed.

It also corresponded broadly to a division in economic policies followed by the countries. The first world was capitalist but not monolithic. There were welfare-oriented central and North European countries and the more private-sector-dominated United States. The second world’s distinguishing characteristic was state ownership of the means of production, but heterogeneity existed there, too, between the centrally planned Soviet Union, on the one hand, and market-oriented Yugoslavia, on the other. The third world, it could be easily averred, was dominated by “developmentalist” policies, where the state played an active role, not only in taxation and spending (as in many Western economies) but also in production.


pages: 236 words: 67,953

Brave New World of Work by Ulrich Beck

affirmative action, anti-globalists, Asian financial crisis, basic income, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, full employment, future of work, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, job automation, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, mini-job, post-work, postnationalism / post nation state, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, working poor, working-age population, zero-sum game

Knowledge, not work, will become the source of social wealth; and ‘knowledge workers’ who have the capacity to translate specialized knowledge into profit-producing innovations (products, technological and organizational innovations, etc.) will become the privileged group in society. The basic economic resource – the ‘means of production’ to use the economist's term – is no longer capital, nor natural resources (the economist's ‘land’), nor ‘labour’. It is and will be knowledge. The central wealth-creating activities will be neither the allocation of capital to productive uses nor ‘labour’ – the two poles of nineteenth- and twentieth-century economic theory, whether Classical, Marxist, Keynesian or Neo-Classical.

The leading social groups of the knowledge society will be ‘knowledge workers’ – knowledge executives who know how to allocate knowledge to productive use; knowledge professionals; knowledge employees. Practically all these knowledge people will be employed in organizations. Yet unlike the employees under capitalism they own both the ‘means of production’ and the ‘tools of production’ – the former through their pension funds which are rapidly emerging in all developed countries as the only real owners, the latter because knowledge workers own their knowledge and can take it with them wherever they go. The economic challenge of the post-capitalist society will therefore be the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge worker.20 Many have objected that there is nothing new in this line of argument, since knowledge already played a central role in the industry and services era, perhaps in all epochs of work.


pages: 243 words: 66,908

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Meadows. Donella, Diana Wright

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, clean water, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, game design, Garrett Hardin, Gunnar Myrdal, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, peak oil, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, Stanford prison experiment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, Tragedy of the Commons, Whole Earth Review

• “God created the universe with the earth at its center, the land with the castle at its center, and humanity with the Church at its center”—the organizing principle for the elaborate social and physical structures of Europe in the Middle Ages. • “God and morality are outmoded ideas; people should be objective and scientific, should own and multiply the means of production, and should treat people and nature as instrumental inputs to production”—the organizing principles of the Industrial Revolution. Out of simple rules of self-organization can grow enormous, diversifying crystals of technology, physical structures, organizations, and cultures. Systems often have the property of self-organization—the ability to structure themselves, to create new structure, to learn, diversify, and complexify.

Disorderly, mixed-up borders are sources of diversity and creativity. In our system zoo, for instance, I showed the flow of cars into a car dealer’s inventory as coming from a cloud. Of course, cars don’t come from a cloud, they come from the transformation of a stock of raw materials, with the help of capital, labor, energy, technology, and management (the means of production). Similarly, the flow of cars out of the inventory goes not to a cloud, but through sales to the households or businesses of consumers. Whether it is important to keep track of raw materials or consumers’ home stocks (whether it is legitimate to replace them in a diagram with clouds) depends on whether these stocks are likely to have a significant influence on the behavior of the system over the time period of interest.


pages: 235 words: 65,885

Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines by Richard Heinberg, James Howard (frw) Kunstler

addicted to oil, anti-communist, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, demographic transition, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Fractional reserve banking, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, urban planning

Bellamy’s vision inevitably proved myopic: while Looking Backward was popular and influential (it sold over a million copies and inspired many Progressive reforms throughout the next two decades), it did not successfully anticipate the world of the early 21st century. Bellamy saw our era as one in which government would control the means of production and divide wealth equally between all people and in which all citizens would receive a college education and be given freedom in choosing a career, from which they would retire at age 45. In short, Bellamy foresaw a socialist utopia and entirely missed the realities of globalization, sweat shops, and environmental devastation.

And so what we are saying (once again, but in a slightly different way) is that understanding energy sources is essential to understanding human societies. Anthropologist Marvin Harris identified three basic elements that are present in every human society:• infrastructure, which consists of the means of obtaining and processing necessary energy and materials from nature — i.e., the means of production; • structure, which consists of human-to-human decision-making and resource-allocating activities; and • superstructure, consisting of the ideas, rituals, ethics, and myths that serve to explain the universe and coordinate human behavior.6 Change at any of these levels can affect the others: the emergence of a new religion or a political revolution, for example, can change people’s lives in real, significant ways.


pages: 246 words: 70,404

Come and Take It: The Gun Printer's Guide to Thinking Free by Cody Wilson

3D printing, 4chan, active measures, Airbnb, airport security, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, assortative mating, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, disintermediation, fiat currency, Google Glasses, gun show loophole, jimmy wales, lifelogging, Mason jar, means of production, Menlo Park, Minecraft, national security letter, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Skype, thinkpad, WikiLeaks, working poor

I was comfortable charting out the organization and the networking, finding the human and financial means to get it done. I didn’t know a thing about engineering, ballistics, or plastics. Before the call could end, I was already spinning out the rhetoric in my mind. This is what access to the means of production was always going to look like. Defense Technology? As opposed to what? I did a little reading about the Maker Movement the day after hanging up with Ben. I had so quickly persuaded myself that besides American gun politics, ours would be a story of the history of the use of 3D printing. Running with an abstract and still undefined technology, we’d get to claim the highest ground of political realism.

As I waited to speak, I watched the latch windows above and the plunging darkness below. I took in the filth, as the phone filled the spaces with its tinny soundings. At last I grew impatient with the reporter’s standard liberal shit. “Look, you’re a good socialist, right?” I thrust out my arm toward the grimy ceiling dropping above me. “Well, we finally got the means of production! What the hell did you think it would look like?” I couldn’t find Amir when I returned, and I wouldn’t stay. Without a word I left the squat, searching the orange-tinted streetscapes for a room. I wandered between the sold-out hotels, watching the colors pool in the blacktop further ahead.


pages: 281 words: 71,242

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism

She compared AI, with its theory about the programmable mind, to psychoanalysis and Marxism—as “a new way of understanding almost everything.” In each case a central concept restructures understanding on a large scale: for the Freudian, the unconscious; for the Marxist, the relationship to the means of production. . . . [F]or the AI researcher, the idea of program has a transcendent value: it is taken as the key, the until now missing term for unlocking intellectual mysteries. Carl Page was a rationalist. Yet some biographical accounts of Larry’s childhood note that his father had instructed him with religious intensity.

This isn’t simply a slogan, it is a highly developed theory of history. The narrative goes like this: Once upon a time, the world needed gatekeepers. Resources were limited, so they had to be prudently rationed by enlightened elites. Scarcity, however, has now faded into the past thanks to the collapsing price of computing. This was a revolution in the means of production. Cheaply and easily, anyone could publish a book, broadcast an opinion, launch a company, create a Web site. Bureaucracies and clunky corporations continue to ploddingly exist. But really, who needs them? One by one, they have begun to suffer and fade. “I see the elimination of gatekeepers everywhere,” Bezos said.


Work in the Future The Automation Revolution-Palgrave MacMillan (2019) by Robert Skidelsky Nan Craig

3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Web Services, anti-work, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, business cycle, cloud computing, collective bargaining, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, data is the new oil, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, deskilling, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, independent contractor, informal economy, Internet of things, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, job automation, job polarisation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, moral panic, Network effects, new economy, off grid, pattern recognition, post-work, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, wealth creators, working poor

Lessons of History What does history tell us? The Luddites were undoubtedly right about their own trade—handloom weaving. Whereas spinning had been mechanised in factories, weavers were primarily using a handloom which was operated on a domestic basis up until after the Napoleonic wars; in other words, they still owned their means of production. Wages in weaving were very high, as it was a skilled craft. It was not until the early 1840s that the number of power looms in production exceeded the number of handloom weavers. The introduction of the power loom had three primary results: it concentrated the weaving aspect of cotton production in the factories, it led to the displacement of the handloom weavers, and it destroyed the wages they had received.

Statistics speak a clear language reflecting the destruction of the Indian economy, based on exports producing within the 5 Patterns and Types of Work in the Past: Wageworker… 47 household economy. Instead of giving way to a rising proletarian class of wageworker and housewife couples the family households adapted to the new situation. If they could not maintain their means of production, that is land, farmhouses, workshops, devices, they transformed into income-­ pooling households. This is not only true for India, but applies to global peripheries in general. In the global South the modern couple did not gain momentum. It was only attractive for postcolonial upper and upper-middle classes.


pages: 603 words: 182,826

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership by Andro Linklater

agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bear Stearns, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, income inequality, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, land tenure, light touch regulation, market clearing, means of production, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mortgage debt, Northern Rock, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, The Chicago School, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, ultimatum game, wage slave, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, working poor

For the group of nineteenth-century reformers who backed Wakefield, including such key contemporaries as Bentham’s social utilitarians and Mills’s economic liberals, Durham’s advocacy of free-market principles was taken as a decisive blow against the mercantile attitudes still entrenched in London. Karl Marx added his own backhanded compliment: “Wakefield discovered that in the Colonies, property in money, means of subsistence, machines, and other means of production, does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if there be wanting the correlative—the wage-worker, the other man who is compelled to sell himself of his own free-will. He discovered that capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons, established by the instrumentality of things.”

Despite Marx’s cautious endorsement of the mir, Lenin quickly dispensed with any thought of retaining small peasant strips. Learning from the mechanization of the American prairies, he argued in his 1899 text, The Development of Capitalism, for the creation of large farms that could be mechanized and fertilized on an industrial scale, and for communal ownership to give poor and landless peasants a share in the means of production. Middle peasants, those working their own small plots, might be allowed to keep them, but Lenin had an almost superstitious fear of the social impact of land ownership. “Small-scale production,” he declared, “gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie constantly, daily, hourly, with elemental force, and in vast proportions.”

A tug at the broken banking thread pulled out the political failure of regulation, and that in turn led to the Austrian school of economics, and the particular meaning that Friederich Hayek and his colleagues gave to property and liberty. Thus step by step the focus of the book turned to ownership. To 19th century Whig historians who took property to be the foundation-stone of democracy and to their Marxist successors who identified possession of the means of production as the central agent in shaping society and class consciousness, the impact of ownership across history was obvious. But that context is largely ignored by today’s historians. Even those studying wills and inventories of possessions or specialists in consumer economies and gender politics, rarely examine their topics in the context of a need to assert possession.


pages: 302 words: 73,581

Platform Scale: How an Emerging Business Model Helps Startups Build Large Empires With Minimum Investment by Sangeet Paul Choudary

3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Clayton Christensen, collaborative economy, commoditize, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, frictionless, game design, hive mind, hockey-stick growth, Internet of things, invisible hand, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social software, software as a service, software is eating the world, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, TaskRabbit, the payments system, too big to fail, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Wave and Pay

As we progress through this section, we will increasingly note that all platform design decisions are built around the core value unit. PLATFORM SCALE IMPERATIVE The age of the industrial economy accorded inordinate power to those who held the means of production. In the age of platforms, production is decentralized. Whether it is the decentralization of manufacturing through 3D printing, the decentralization of marketing and journalism through social media, or the decentralization of service providers in the collaborative economy, the means of production are no longer limited to large companies or entities. With decentralized production, the platforms that enable and aggregate this production are the new winners.


pages: 301 words: 74,571

Idoru by William Gibson

experimental subject, Kowloon Walled City, means of production, pattern recognition, place-making, telepresence

Rez raised his eyebrow. "A water filtration plant, something like that?" The Russian kept his eye on the big man's axe. "In Tallin," he said, "we soon are building exclusive mega-mall, affluent gated sub- urbs, plus world-class pharmaceutical manufakura. We are unfairly denied most advanced means of production, but we are desiring one hundred percent modern operation." "Rez," the man with the axe said, "give it up. This boon and his mates need that thing to build themselves an Estonian drug factory. Time I took you back to the hotel." "But wouldn't they be more interested in… Tokyo real estate?"

Rez raised his eyebrow. "A water filtration plant, something like that?" The Russian kept his eye on the big man's axe. "In Tallin," he said, "we soon are building exclusive mega-mall, affluent gated sub-o 0 263 urbs, plus world-class pharmaceutical manufakura. We are unfairly denied most advanced means of production, but we are desiring one hundred percent modern operation." "Rez," the man with the axe said, "give it up. This hoon and his mates need that thing to build themselves an Estonian drug factory. Time I took you back to the hotel." "But wouldn't they be more interested in… Tokyo real estate?"


pages: 330 words: 77,729

Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes by Mark Skousen

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, experimental economics, financial independence, Financial Instability Hypothesis, foreign exchange controls, full employment, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, liberation theology, liquidity trap, means of production, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, open economy, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Post-Keynesian economics, price stability, pushing on a string, rent control, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, The Chicago School, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, Tragedy of the Commons, unorthodox policies, Vilfredo Pareto, zero-sum game

Marx applied Hegel's dialectic to his deterministic view of history. Thus, the course of history could be described by using Hegelian concepts— from slavery to capitalism to communism. Figure 3.1 The Hegelian Dialectic Used to Describe the Course of History THESIS According to this theory, slavery was viewed as the principal means of production or thesis during Greco-Roman times. Feudalism became its main antithesis in the Middle Ages. The synthesis became capitalism, which became the new thesis after the Enlightenment. But capitalism faced its own antithesis—the growing threat of socialism. Eventually, this struggle would result in the ultimate system of production, communism.

Marx's theory of class consciousness and class conflict has engaged historians and sociologists. To what extent are behavior and thought reflections of bourgeois or proletarian values? To what point does the ruling class protect and advance its interests through the political process? Does the group that owns or controls property and the means of production dominate? Is it true that "law and politics are in the service of industrial capital"? If so, asks Wolff, "why are trade unions allowed? Why do universities have Arts Faculties as well as Engineering (indeed, why allow the teaching of Marxism)? Why don't the multinationals win every one of their court cases?"


pages: 290 words: 76,216

What's Wrong With Economics: A Primer for the Perplexed by Robert Skidelsky

"Robert Solow", additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, full employment, George Akerlof, George Santayana, global supply chain, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, happiness index / gross national happiness, hindsight bias, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Internet Archive, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, loss aversion, Mahbub ul Haq, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Modern Monetary Theory, moral hazard, paradox of thrift, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, precariat, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, sunk-cost fallacy, survivorship bias, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tragedy of the Commons, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

Social organisation has always been shaped by a dominant class for its own purposes, whether the purpose was military glory or booty, with a strong connection between the two, and both involving exploitation of the labouring class according to the prevalent mode of production (slavery, serfdom, ‘wage slavery’). Its basis has always been class ownership of the means of production. In capitalist society, class power is wielded by the capitalist class and stems from their ownership of capital. Mostly this is blunt power: either workers accept the capitalist-determined wage or they starve to death. But hegemonic power is not lacking as reinforcement. Control over the means of production includes control over the production of ideas. Marx wrote, ‘The ideas of the ruling class are in any epoch the ruling ideas . . . The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships that make the one class the ruling one; therefore the ideas of its dominance’.


pages: 303 words: 74,206

GDP: The World’s Most Powerful Formula and Why It Must Now Change by Ehsan Masood

"Robert Solow", anti-communist, bank run, banking crisis, Bob Geldof, Bretton Woods, centre right, clean water, colonial rule, coronavirus, Covid-19, COVID-19, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, Diane Coyle, energy security, European colonialism, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, Mahbub ul Haq, mass immigration, means of production, Mohammed Bouazizi, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, Washington Consensus, wealth creators

And it was at Yale that Rostow became obsessed with the ideas of Karl Marx. Never short of self-belief, he vowed one day to match the communist thinker for global influence.6 To an extent, Rostow shared Marx’s desire to help the poor to live more prosperous and fulfilling lives. Marx wanted citizens to seize control of the means of production, ushering in the communist revolution where ownership would be shared between people, and where there would be equality of income, wealth, and opportunity.7 Rostow could see how Marx’s ideas would appeal to countries fighting liberation struggles against colonial powers, and so he came up with his own “non-communist manifesto”—that being the subtitle given to his bestselling Stages of Economic Growth,8 part three of a trilogy of books on growth.9 In Stages Rostow claimed to have found the formula, the elixir through which any poor country could become as prosperous as Europe or America.

For biographical details on Rostow, see David Milne, America’s Rasputin: Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War (New York: Hill & Wang, 2008), 23–25. 7. According to Rostow’s reading of Marx, a feudal or traditional society is one in which a small number of people are very rich. They own property and the means of production, while everyone else works for poverty wages. Sooner or later, the poor become desperate to escape and make a better life for themselves. In some countries these desperate poor have helped to create a socialist economy, where the state allows more people to own property and establish businesses, thereby helping them to become richer.


pages: 105 words: 18,832

The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future by Naomi Oreskes, Erik M. Conway

anti-communist, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, en.wikipedia.org, energy transition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Kim Stanley Robinson, laissez-faire capitalism, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, means of production, oil shale / tar sands, Pierre-Simon Laplace, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, stochastic process, the built environment, the market place

The fallacy rested on an incomplete analysis, which considered only physical by-products of combustion, particularly in electricity generation, and not the other factors that controlled overall energy use and net release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. capitalism A form of socioeconomic organization that dominated Western Europe and North America from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries, in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services were owned either by individuals or by government-chartered legal entities called “corporations.” Typically these entities were operated for-profit, with the surplus value produced by workers funneled to owners, managers, and “investors,” third parties who owned “stock” in a company but had lia-bility neither for its debts nor its social consequences.


Basic Income And The Left by henningmeyer

basic income, Bernie Sanders, centre right, eurozone crisis, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labour market flexibility, land value tax, means of production, mini-job, moral hazard, precariat, quantitative easing, Silicon Valley, the market place, Tobin tax, universal basic income

will be increasingly In its admittedly noble striving for increased social justice, the political left has historically had several ideas that, one might dare claim, were not particu‐ larly well thought out. For example, the idea of the centrally planned economy, the nationalisation of all the means of production, forced collectivisation of agriculture and, I can add, the Swedish wage earner funds. One reason for these, sometimes monstrous, failures is a reluctance to take the implementation process into account and think through how the policies will actually work when they meet reality and with what consequences.


pages: 283 words: 85,824

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disinformation, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-work, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Tragedy of the Commons, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, Yochai Benkler, young professional

In Florida’s optimistic view, the demise of career stability has unbridled creativity and eliminated alienation in the workplace. “To some degree, Karl Marx had it partly right when he foresaw that the workers would someday control the means of production,” Florida declares. “This is now beginning to happen, although not as Marx thought it would, with the proletariat rising to take over factories. Rather, more workers than ever control the means of production, because it is inside their heads; they are the means of the production.”26 Welcome to what Florida calls the “information-and-idea-based economy,” a place where “people have come to accept that they’re on their own—that the traditional sources of security and entitlement no longer exist, or even matter.”


pages: 272 words: 83,798

A Little History of Economics by Niall Kishtainy

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, car-free, central bank independence, clean water, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, first-price auction, floating exchange rates, follow your passion, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, Hyman Minsky, inflation targeting, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, loss aversion, market clearing, market design, means of production, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, washing machines reduced drudgery, wealth creators, Winter of Discontent

Communism would get rid of the division of society into different classes constantly fighting against each other. Marx believed, then, that capitalism is all about turmoil and stress – no sign here of Adam Smith’s invisible hand through which moneymaking leads to harmony. Under capitalism, the capitalists own the ‘means of production’: the capital needed to make the goods. The workers own nothing but their own labour. Unlike peasants in a feudal society who are tied to a lord, the workers are free to work for anyone. But all they have is their labour so their only option is to work for a capitalist and be exploited. Capitalists are able to build up their capital and get rich because the country’s laws and political system allow them to own capital and to keep as profit the surplus value created by the workers.

(i), (ii) Kerala (India) (i) Keynes, John Maynard (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) Keynesian theory (i), (ii), (iii) Klemperer, Paul (i) Krugman, Paul (i), (ii) Kydland, Finn (i), (ii) labour (i) in ancient Greece (i) and market clearing (i) women as unpaid (i) labour theory of value (i), (ii) laissez-faire (i) landowners (i), (ii), (iii) Lange, Oskar (i) law of demand (i), (ii) leakage of spending (i) Lehman Brothers (i) leisure class (i) leisured, women as (i) Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich (i), (ii) Lerner, Abba (i) Lewis, Arthur (i) Lincoln, Abraham (i) List, Friedrich (i) loss aversion (i) Lucas, Robert (i), (ii) MacKay, Charles (i) Macmillan, Harold (i) macro/microeconomics (i) Malaysia, and speculators (i) Malthus, Thomas (i), (ii), (iii) Malynes, Gerard de (i), (ii) manufacturing (i), (ii) division of labour (i) see also Industrial Revolution margin (i) marginal costs (i), (ii) marginal principle (i), (ii), (iii) marginal revenue (i) marginal utility (i), (ii) market, the (i) market clearing (i) market design (i) market failure (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) ‘Market for Lemons, The’ (Akerlof) (i) market power (i) markets, currency (i), (ii) Marshall, Alfred (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) Marx, Karl (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) Marxism (i) mathematics (i), (ii), (iii) means of production (i) mercantilism (i), (ii) Mesopotamia (i) Mexico, pegged currency (i) micro/macroeconomics (i) Microsoft (i) Midas fallacy (i) minimum wage (i) Minsky, Hyman (i) Minsky moment (i), (ii) Mirabeau, Marquis de (i), (ii), (iii) Mises, Ludwig von (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) mixed economies (i), (ii) Mobutu Sese Seko (i) model villages (i) models (economic) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) modern and traditional economies (i), (ii) monetarism (i) monetary policy (i), (ii) money (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) see also coins; currency money illusion (i) money wages (i) moneylending see usury monopolies (i), (ii) monopolistic competition (i), (ii) monopoly, theory of (i) monopoly capitalism (i), (ii), (iii) monopsony (i) moral hazard (i), (ii) multiplier (i) Mun, Thomas (i), (ii), (iii) Muth, John (i) Nash, John (i), (ii) Nash equilibrium (i) national income (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) National System of Political Economy (List) (i) Nelson, Julie (i) neoclassical economics (i) net product (i) Neumann, John von (i) New Christianity, The (Saint-Simon) (i) new classical economics (i) New Harmony (Indiana) (i) New Lanark (Scotland) (i) Nkrumah, Kwame (i), (ii) non-rival good (i) Nordhaus, William (i), (ii) normative economics (i), (ii) Obstfeld, Maurice (i) Occupy movement (i) oligopolies (i) opportunity cost (i), (ii) organ transplant (i) output per person (i) Owen, Robert (i) paper money (i), (ii) Pareto, Vilfredo (i) pareto efficiency (i), (ii) pareto improvement (i) Park Chung-hee (i) partial equilibrium (i) pegged exchange rate (i) perfect competition (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) perfect information (i) periphery (i) phalansteries (i) Phillips, Bill (i) Phillips curve (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) physiocracy (i), (ii) Pigou, Arthur Cecil (i), (ii), (iii) Piketty, Thomas (i), (ii), (iii) Plato (i), (ii), (iii) policy discretion (i) Ponzi, Charles (i) Ponzi finance (i) population and food supply (i), (ii), (iii) of women (i) positive economics (i) poverty (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) in Cuba (i) Sen on (i) and utopian thinkers (i) Prebisch, Raúl (i) predicting (i) Prescott, Edward (i), (ii) price wars (i), (ii) primary products (i) prisoners’ dilemma (i) private costs and benefits (i) privatisation (i) productivity (i), (ii), (iii) profit (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and capitalism (i), (ii) proletariat (i), (ii) property (private) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) and communism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) protection (i), (ii), (iii) provisioning (i) public choice theory (i) public goods (i) quantity theory of money (i) Quesnay, François (i) Quincey, Thomas de (i), (ii) racism (i) Rand, Ayn (i) RAND Corporation (i), (ii) rate of return (i), (ii) rational economic man (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) rational expectations (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) real wages (i), (ii), (iii) recession (i) and governments (i), (ii), (iii) Great Recession (i) Keynes on (i), (ii) Mexican (i) redistribution of wealth (i) reference points (i) relative poverty (i) rent on land (i), (ii), (iii) rents/rent-seeking (i) resources (i), (ii) revolution (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Cuban (i) French (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Russian (i), (ii) Ricardo, David (i), (ii), (iii) risk aversion (i) Road to Serfdom, The (Hayek) (i) robber barons (i) Robbins, Lionel (i) Robinson, Joan (i) Roman Empire (i) Romer, Paul (i) Rosenstein-Rodan, Paul (i) Roth, Alvin (i), (ii) rule by nature (i) rules of the game (i) Sachs, Jeffrey (i) Saint-Simon, Henri de (i) Samuelson, Paul (i), (ii) savings (i), (ii) and Say’s Law (i) Say’s Law (i) scarcity (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) Schumpeter, Joseph (i), (ii) sealed bid auction (i) second price auction (i) Second World War (i) securitisation (i) self-fulfilling crises (i) self-interest (i) Sen, Amartya (i), (ii) missing women (i), (ii), (iii) services (i) shading bids (i), (ii) shares (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) see also stock market Shiller, Robert (i), (ii) signalling (i) in auctions (i) Smith, Adam (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) social costs and benefits (i) Social Insurance and Allied Services (Beveridge) (i) social security (i), (ii) socialism (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) socialist commonwealth (i) Socrates (i) Solow, Robert (i) Soros, George (i), (ii), (iii) South Africa, war with Britain (i) South Korea, and the big push (i) Soviet Union and America (i) and communism (i), (ii) speculation (i) speculative lending (i) Spence, Michael (i) spending government (fiscal policy) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), (vi), (vii) and recessions (i), (ii) and Say’s Law (i) see also investment stagflation (i), (ii) Stalin, Joseph (i) standard economics (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Standard Oil (i) Stiglitz, Joseph (i) stock (i) stock market (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) stockbrokers (i) Strassmann, Diana (i), (ii) strategic interaction (i), (ii) strikes (i) subprime loans (i) subsidies (i), (ii) subsistence (i) sumptuary laws (i) supply curve (i) supply and demand (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) and currencies (i) and equilibrium (i), (ii) in recession (i), (ii), (iii) supply-side economics (i) surplus value (i), (ii) Swan, Trevor (i) tariff (i) taxes/taxation (i) and budget deficit (i) carbon (i) and carbon emissions (i) and France (i) and public goods (i) redistribution of wealth (i) and rent-seeking (i) technology as endogenous/exogenous (i) and growth (i) and living standards (i) terms of trade (i) Thailand (i) Thaler, Richard (i) theory (i) Theory of the Leisure Class, The (Veblen) (i) Theory of Monopolistic Competition (Chamberlain) (i) Thompson, William Hale ‘Big Bill’ (i) threat (i) time inconsistency (i), (ii) time intensity (i) Tocqueville, Alexis de (i) totalitarianism (i) trade (i), (ii), (iii) and dependency theory (i) free (i), (ii), (iii) trading permit, carbon (i) traditional and modern economies (i), (ii) transplant, organ (i) Treatise of the Canker of England’s Common Wealth, A (Malynes) (i) Tversky, Amos (i), (ii) underdeveloped countries (i) unemployment in Britain (i) and the government (i) and the Great Depression (i) and information economics (i) and Keynes (i) and market clearing (i) and recession (i) unions (i), (ii) United States of America and free trade (i) and growth of government (i) industrialisation (i) and Latin America (i) Microsoft (i) recession (i), (ii) and the Soviet Union (i) and Standard Oil (i) stock market (i) wealth in (i) women in the labour force (i) unpaid labour, and women (i) usury (i), (ii), (iii) utility (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) utopian thinkers (i), (ii) Vanderbilt, Cornelius (i), (ii) Veblen, Thorstein (i), (ii), (iii) velocity of circulation (i), (ii) Vickrey, William (i) wage, minimum (i) Walras, Léon (i) Waring, Marilyn (i) wealth (i) and Aristotle (i), (ii) and Christianity (i) Piketty on (i) and Plato (i) Smith on (i) Wealth of Nations, The (Smith) (i), (ii) welfare benefits (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) welfare economics (i) Who Pays for the Kids?


pages: 336 words: 83,903

The Refusal of Work: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work by David Frayne

anti-work, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, call centre, clockwatching, critique of consumerism, David Graeber, deindustrialization, deskilling, future of work, Herbert Marcuse, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, McJob, means of production, moral panic, new economy, post-work, profit motive, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, unpaid internship, working poor, young professional

It usurps the time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight. It higgles over a meal-time, incorporating it where possible with the process of production itself, so that food is given to the labourer as to a mere means of production, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and oil to the machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration, reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so many hours of torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely exhausted, renders essential. It is not the normal maintenance of the labour-power which is to determine the limits of the working-day; it is the greatest possible daily expenditure of labour-power, no matter how diseased, compulsory, and painful it may be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers’ period of repose.

They are exploited: paid less than the true value of their labour, so that an elite class of owners (the bourgeoisie) may profit from the fruits of their work. The Marx who students usually first encounter is the one who calls for ‘collective appropriation’: abolition of the class system and an end to exploitation, via a workers’ struggle to take collective ownership of the means of production. Alienated work can then become non-alienated work – a true expression of the workers’ productive capacities. However, Marx’s call for collective appropriation – or the ‘Plain Marxist Argument’ (Booth, 1989: 207) – can be contrasted with ideas in his later writing, where some believed he tempered his earlier enthusiasm for work.


pages: 261 words: 86,905

How to Speak Money: What the Money People Say--And What It Really Means by John Lanchester

asset allocation, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, commoditize, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, disintermediation, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, estate planning, financial innovation, Flash crash, forward guidance, Garrett Hardin, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, high net worth, High speed trading, hindsight bias, income inequality, inflation targeting, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kodak vs Instagram, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, London Whale, loss aversion, margin call, McJob, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, negative equity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, Nikolai Kondratiev, Nixon shock, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, security theater, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tragedy of the Commons, trickle-down economics, two and twenty, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, working poor, yield curve

The fact that it was the IMF announcing this, though, was a big part of the shock, since the IMF is the organization whose off-the-shelf package of measures for troubled economies always includes a huge dose of austerity. nationalization The taking into state ownership of private assets or industries. It used to be the central pillar of the Labour Party’s economic policy, in the form of clause 4f of the party constitution, calling for common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, until Tony Blair led the charge to abolish it in 1994. Nationalization had gone entirely out of favor in most of the developed world until governments found they had to nationalize banks in order to save the financial system in 2008. A partial list of nationalizations since 2008 would include AIG and General Motors in the United States; two of the UK’s four biggest banks, Lloyds-HBOS and RBS; the Belgian bank Dexia, much of the Spanish banking system; and so on.

Smith had something of a novelist about him, of the novelist’s ability to describe a society to itself, and it was this aspect of his work that gave it such power: he made modern life, the tangled web of relationships and producers and consumers and livelihoods and forces, comprehensible to the people who were tangled in its mesh. He came up with a way of looking at the whole of modern society as a single mechanism. socialism The system where the ownership of natural resources, property, and the means of production is held collectively. socialism for the rich The expression is supposed to be a joke, but in the aftermath of the credit crunch it looked a lot like the reality of the financial system, because the fact was that when banks were making huge profits, they paid themselves huge bonuses, but when they were facing collapse, taxpayers had no choice but to step in and bail them out to keep the financial system functioning.


pages: 308 words: 84,713

The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr

Airbnb, Airbus A320, Andy Kessler, Atul Gawande, autonomous vehicles, Bernard Ziegler, business process, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, computerized trading, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, Douglas Engelbart, drone strike, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, High speed trading, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, turn-by-turn navigation, US Airways Flight 1549, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche

“My body is geared into the world when my perception provides me with the most varied and the most clearly articulated spectacle possible,” explained Merleau-Ponty, “and when my motor intentions, as they unfold, receive the responses they anticipate from the world. This maximum of clarity in perception and action specifies a perceptual ground, a background for my life, a general milieu for the coexistence of my body and the world.”13 Used thoughtfully and with skill, technology becomes much more than a means of production or consumption. It becomes a means of experience. It gives us more ways to lead rich and engaged lives. Look more closely at the scythe. It’s a simple tool, but an ingenious one. Invented around 500 BC, by the Romans or the Gauls, it consists of a curved blade, forged of iron or steel, attached to the end of a long wooden pole, or snath.

As we transform ourselves into creatures of the screen, we face the same existential question that the Shushwap confronted: Does our essence still lie in what we know, or are we now content to be defined by what we want? That sounds very serious. But the aim is joy. The active soul is a light soul. By reclaiming our tools as parts of ourselves, as instruments of experience rather than just means of production, we can enjoy the freedom that congenial technology provides when it opens the world more fully to us. It’s the freedom I imagine Lawrence Sperry and Emil Cachin must have felt on that bright spring day in Paris a hundred years ago when they climbed out onto the wings of their gyroscope-balanced Curtiss C-2 biplane and, filled with terror and delight, passed over the reviewing stands and saw below them the faces of the crowd turned skyward in awe


pages: 324 words: 80,217

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter,