RE: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Miriam English (
Date: Wed Jul 18 2001 - 21:08:22 MDT

Hi Reason,


At 01:38 PM 18/07/2001 -0700, Reason wrote:

> > How much less
> > likely do you think it will be when governments can no longer break up
> > monopolies or unhealthy concentrations of power? Do you think the simple
> > system of a free market offers any solution to consolidation of
> > power into fewer and fewer hands?
>This only happens because of the government regulation that raise the cost
>of entry for small companies to the point where it doesn't happen.

I am surprised. Do you really think that is the only reason power becomes

What about when a small company tries to enter a market, the big players
reduce their prices to below cost so as to put the new entrant out of
business? That is a tactic very often used.

How about this one: the big player buys the small startup.

There are plenty of other tactics too, that are not so above-board.

>All monopolies are unstable;

In the long run, I agree with you. What I think worries most people is the
incredible damage to the people and the economy that they can wreak along
the way. Sure, they have to fall eventually, but they could last hundreds
of years... do you think the next generation should have to deal with that

>Look at the much less regulated computer and software industry. It's in a
>constant state of flux with new companies, new products, new trends coming
>and going all the time. Microsoft has been forced to drastically change
>their basic business model several times in order to adapt; the fact that
>they've retained their position of power for so long is testament to their
>determination to do so by any and all means possible.

I am amazed that you would choose Microsoft here; they are a great example
of the kind of error that capitalism is prone to. They are corporate
bullies that produce a substandard product, yet they have grown to
incredible riches through shrewd marketing.

Have you read the Halloween documents?

The best thing that has come out of the computer industry is the
open-source movement, which is a strange combination of socialism and
capitalism, yet is neither. It seems to need a certain threshold of general
wealth in which to grow, so it probably needs capitalism as its
springboard. Some of its greatest strongholds are counties which most
successfully combine socialism and capitalism. It has a very strong
affinity with libertarianism, yet also with anarchist ideals and social
responsibility. It values the individual more highly than any other system
that I know of.

I actually hope that somehow open-source will give us the model for moving
forward into the future. I am not sure how yet, but it sure feels like it
combines the best of all worlds.

>Someone earlier said that power ends up in the hands of those with control
>of resources sooner or later in whatever system you're in. Very true. The
>big advantage of capitalism over other forms of economic government is that
>is doesn't attempt to get people to act in non-natural ways. Why fight the

Because of the abuse by those natural accumulations of power.

>You want a form of government that works with the way in which groups
>of people will act, otherwise you end up with a big mess on top of the
>normal way in which people act. Communism as was practiced in the USSR for
>example...the underlying real social interaction was all about accumulation
>and exchange of resources.

Very few countries actually practice communism. Certainly the USSR didn't.
As far as I can see, communism is a system that only seems to work in very
poor societies. Although I gotta say the kibbutzes(sp?) in Israel seem a
pretty neat anomaly.

The USSR most resembled an enlarged bureaucratic corporation.

But, yes I agree with you.

> > >the more [societies] are under centralized control---the worse they are.
> >
> > Yes, this is exactly my point.
>And the reason decentralized control is good is above: it's a very good way
>(indeed, probably the only way with the computing power available now) to
>flow with the desires and actions of the governed.

I can't argue with that. That's what I want too. What worries me is that
capitalism with its pricewars, mergers, and buyouts always ends up
centralising power... just as all other systems do. It is a bit more
promising, and delivers a heck of a lot along the way, sure, but I can see
it ending up in the same place.

Best wishes,

         - Miriam (who is not being very successful at disentangling
herself from this sticky thread :)

Q. What is the similarity between an elephant and a grape?
A. They are both purple... except for the elephant.
Virtual Reality Association

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