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40

Wreckage Economics

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Fleming, P. (2017). Wreckage Economics. In Fleming, P. The Death of Homo Economicus: Work, Debt and the Myth of Endless Accumulation. Pluto Press, pp. 40-86

50

[...] He suggests that we are on the cusp of an open access revolution that will overcome capitalism, heralding a new mode of production based on the principles championed by the likes of Swartz (whom he does not mention). According to Mason, there is now a massive and irreconcilable contradiction between the forces of production (new technologies that promote sharing, peer production and counter-capitalist practices of open access) and the relations of production (based on private property, paywalls and the enforcement of laws that Swartz aimed to challenge). Mason places great emphasis on endogenous technological change (first posited by Paul Romer), claiming that because information is infinitely replicable, with a margin or reproduction cost of zero, the price mechanism is eroded since it can no longer be based on scarcity, supply and demand and so forth. Songs on an iPod don’t degrade with use and those same zero-marginal cost processes will soon infiltrate physical goods too as they acquire digital components. In this environment, firms must (a) simply invent a commodity’s price and (b) create a monopoly to shore up its value. As far as Mason is concerned, such structures are swimming against the tide, swiftly becoming obsolete as a new economic dawn arrives.

[...]

We should not believe for one minute that multinational firms are embarrassed by this outrageous income, as Mason implies, perhaps even backing down in shame. No, these institutions instead tend to react like an outraged monarch, displaying egregious aggression to preserve their right to extract wealth unhindered, since the profit margins are so lucrative yet based on such flimsy grounds. [...]

—p.50 by Peter Fleming 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] He suggests that we are on the cusp of an open access revolution that will overcome capitalism, heralding a new mode of production based on the principles championed by the likes of Swartz (whom he does not mention). According to Mason, there is now a massive and irreconcilable contradiction between the forces of production (new technologies that promote sharing, peer production and counter-capitalist practices of open access) and the relations of production (based on private property, paywalls and the enforcement of laws that Swartz aimed to challenge). Mason places great emphasis on endogenous technological change (first posited by Paul Romer), claiming that because information is infinitely replicable, with a margin or reproduction cost of zero, the price mechanism is eroded since it can no longer be based on scarcity, supply and demand and so forth. Songs on an iPod don’t degrade with use and those same zero-marginal cost processes will soon infiltrate physical goods too as they acquire digital components. In this environment, firms must (a) simply invent a commodity’s price and (b) create a monopoly to shore up its value. As far as Mason is concerned, such structures are swimming against the tide, swiftly becoming obsolete as a new economic dawn arrives.

[...]

We should not believe for one minute that multinational firms are embarrassed by this outrageous income, as Mason implies, perhaps even backing down in shame. No, these institutions instead tend to react like an outraged monarch, displaying egregious aggression to preserve their right to extract wealth unhindered, since the profit margins are so lucrative yet based on such flimsy grounds. [...]

—p.50 by Peter Fleming 3 years, 3 months ago
85

[...] A similar problem dogs liberal critics who call for a return to Keynesianism. It isn’t that capitalism has become corrupt and deviated from its underlying principles. No, the corruption has simply risen to the surface, especially given how the countervailing force of the labour movement has been obliterated.

—p.85 by Peter Fleming 3 years, 3 months ago

[...] A similar problem dogs liberal critics who call for a return to Keynesianism. It isn’t that capitalism has become corrupt and deviated from its underlying principles. No, the corruption has simply risen to the surface, especially given how the countervailing force of the labour movement has been obliterated.

—p.85 by Peter Fleming 3 years, 3 months ago