- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Questions about Consumer Utopia

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on September 29, 1999 at 16:35:42:

In Reply to: Sabot posted by Gee on September 29, 1999 at 15:27:38:

: The circulation sphere has been growing larger and larger since the universalization of computers. Our so-called information technology (as it pertains primarily to Dept. 1) is nothing more than an added layer of circulation costs required to realize the final sale of commodities. (These costs come out of production costs---and are presented as a 'discount' to retailers; they do not add to the final value of the product, however, thus they cannot be 'passed on' to the final consumer.) Once upon a time a businessperson made a sale without the highly developed network of computers and computer-based services ubiquitous today.

: Now these things must be added to the list of constant capital---which, of course, reduces the previous 'dependence' upon variable capital (and seemingly all the 'labor hassles' that come with it).

SDF: 1) I thought capital was what you needed to run a business. Is the point here that computers have provided cheaper accounting services for business or cheaper advertising for business? Don't computers just allow big businesses to get bigger, at the point in a business' growth when accounting costs start to loom large?

: With me so far?

SDF: No.

: So erm..... business tends to be capital intensive now. If you dont have the IT goodies you cant meet client demanda to their satisfaction relative to others who do have IT goodies.

SDF: How so?

: The notion that 'workers spend what they get. and capitalists get what they spend'

SDF: Is this supposed to have any real-world meaning? Would you care to explain what the thought was behind this (if there was one at all)?

: suggests that capitalist are getting less and less, because less and less is going to workers, as more and more is going into so called 'dead labor'.

SDF: If "less and less is going to workers," this hardly suggests that "capitalist (sic) are getting less and less", in fact "capitalist" might get more and more. Lower wages means less overhead for competitive businesses. Fewer "labor hassles" means lower wages. Lower wages mean less overhead, or (with an increase in worker hours when workers try to earn the same wage by working more hours) it means more productivity per dollar.

: Capital intensive companies should be dying like flies. Except theyre growing like summer flowers.

SDF: Should we be surprised, given the above logic I've given? I don't get it.

: Whats goin on? Dead labor is worth alot more in its ability to be wealth creating alongside 'live labor' users than was ever its exchange value. A machine costs 10 spades but does the work of 1000 etc. The scope of wealth creation does continue to increase, for as many moments as we can ominously say "for the moment". The living standard of said workers contines to 'drop' as evidenced by ever (in general) relatively cheaper goods, more access to mass communications, medicine, cheaper holidays, better housing, safer everything, massive entertainment capacity, increasing actual leisure time, labor saving devices (linked to the leisure time increase) and so forth, all things I have actually heard people have the gall to disparage as 'trinkets'.

SDF: So you like trinkets and mass communications, and the main advance of mass communications (the Internet) is a product of a government program (ARPANET, courtesy of the US Department of Defense). Any statistical evidence for rest of the above? I've heard counterevidence to the notion that "increasing leisure time" is a fact for even a minority of workers. After all, the real argument leaks through the above collection of jargon in golden phrases such as "less and less is going to workers" (i.e. real wages are falling) and reduced costs for "labor hassles". Is the idea of putting "medicine" in this list an attempt to paper over the failures of the managed care industry in the US? Is "massive entertainment capacity" supposed to mean that we are in fact entertained? Where is any shred of evidence for "safer everything"? I watch enough ads on TV as it is. What is this one advertising?

: Who is getting the benefit of those thinner profit slices per $ capital? the above.

: Where shall we throw our Sabot next?

SDF: At Russia's anarcho-capitalists with their dependency upon Mafia rule?

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