- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Good topic

Posted by: Stoller on January 19, 19100 at 10:56:14:

In Reply to: Intellectual Property posted by David on January 19, 19100 at 00:39:00:

: Speaking of intellectual property, a good friend of mine is an intellectual property lawyer, and let me tell you, it is the sweetest law gig there is. I mean, the companies actually want the lawyers to stall the judicial process. They pay the lawyers to stop a patent so as to preserve market share or bar entry by another competitor.

This is not news:

Nevertheless, like all monopoly, [monopoly capitalism] inevitably engenders a tendency stagnation and decay. Since monopoly prices are established, even temporarily, the motive cause of technical and, consequently, of all other progress disappears to a certain extent and, further, the economic possibilty arises of deliberately retarding technical progress.(1)

According to Marx, each business has a certain amount of capital invested in plant and machinery, fixed capital. It's 'fixed' because it takes a very long time to wear out (each portion of wear entering into the cost of each aliquot commodity produced)---usually ten years. Therefore any innovation which would make obsolete fixed capital is a threat to the capitalist (especially if competitors, ready to replace their fixed capital, have access to the innovation). Thus, retardation of innovation is essential to the logic of capitalism...

A classic example of this, of course, is Xerox's suppression of the 'paperless office'---otherwise known as the personal computer---developed as early as 1971, a suppression which lasted into the 1980s...

Another point that merits some thought:

The personality of every one who has attained eminence in the intellectual or social field belongs to those chances whose appearance does not conflict in any way with the tendency of the average line of the intellectual development of mankind to follow a course parallel to that of its economic evolution.(2)

Materialism at its cutting edge!

What this means is that if the development of society is materially (economically) 'ready' for, say, computers---that computers would further the development of other activities gaining ascendence---then 'someone' will invent computers.

Not a single 'great man' who alone changes history like God making the earth and man in 7 days---but 'someone.' Possibly several people getting near the idea at the same time.

If a company is permitted to patent (purchase sole ownership) of a vital technology, then other inventors---perhaps motivated more by humanitarian instincts---will be prevented from following their own leads and bringing forth their developments.

This is the nefarious aspect of 'intellectual property rights.'

It takes science out of the hands of humanity and puts it at the service of a minority (whose prime incentive is making a quick buck).


1. Lenin, 'Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,' Collected Works volume 22, Progress 1964, p. 276.

2. Plekhanov, Fundamental Problems of Marxism, International n.d., p. 70.

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