To say that socialist economies cannot succeed
at technological innovation is bizarre.
Someone has forgotten about Sputnik.
Additionally, the Soviets were the first
to send a man into space. For several
years the US was frantically trying to
Capitalism continually innovates, but much
of what is produced is cultural garbage.
Then they use advertising to convince us
that we need it. A lot of the junk coming
out of our "innovative" system I would
actually have a better life without.
One of the worst "innovations" affecting
my life in a negative fashion is the loud
car stereo. Ever had your sleep, work, or
concentration disturbed by a boom car
rattling your windows?
Cell phones? Who needs 'em? I get tired
of hearing the ugly electronic "Pop Goes
the Weasel" going off in libraries, which,
in more civil times, were recognized as
places where quiet was the rule.
Paul Baron and Paul Sweezy had a lot to say
about corporate "innovation" in their classic
Monopoly Capital. They pointed out that
just about every technological innovation
in the auto industry of any substance was
accomplished before 1950, when there were
numerous competitors producing autos. Then
in the 50s, when the market was dominated
by the Big Three, competition was based only
on styling changes and advertising strategis.
It remained that way until the Japanese
came along, and introduced the Big Three to
the "innovative" idea of building a dependable,
fuel-efficient car that lasts for a while.
~~ Michael Wright
In a message dated Fri, 14 Jul 2000 7:58:24 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Marty Jezer <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes:
<< That's quite a statement, Bill, and I expect it is a result of both hard
thinking and personal anguish. I would say that socialist countries can
mass produce products like big multinational corporations. Communists
failure is that command economics leave little room for innovation; the
entrepreneurial spirit. Those are words I choke on saying, but it's the
truth. Here people see a need for a product and they fill that need. True,
most of the products are unnecessary and most entrepreneurial ventures
fail. But some do fulfill a need. Corporations, themselves, rarely
innovate. They simply buy out the new ventures.
I agree with Bill that in the immediate era we need a social democratic New
Deal for modern times. Environmental regulations, progressive taxation, a
civic society that values democracy and justice. But the game ain't over.
Free market globalization has some real dangerous downside that even its
most ardent advocates (e.g., Thomas Friedman in The Lexus and the Olive
Alas, the digital revolution, robotics, the internet are here to stay; the
ability of investors to move money around the world at the click up a mouse
Syndicalism, cooperatives, some form of market socialism are ideas whose
time has not yet come, but we can't stop the experiments and the advocacy.
And the fight against bigotry and the immoral use of wealth and power can
At 10:22 PM 7/13/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>I haven't "bought into" anything. It has been my vocation and
>avocation to study for sixty years the countries that actually
>did abolish capitalist classes and private ownership of the means
>of production. The only organizations that did that were
>Communist parties. Anarchists, with their long traditions in
>Italy, France, and Spain, did not. Trotskyists, including a
>number of devoted and courageous people, never amounted to
>anything: 2,000 members in the U.S., vs. 100,000 in the CP. The
>societies without capitalists, without private ownership of the
>means of production, and without markets, i.e., those that met
>Marx' stated criteria for socialism, all ultimately collapsed.
>The most human societies that now exist are those with capitalism
>of a social-democratic or New Deal nature. When we here attain
>that, we'll be vastly better off. That will not end history, but
>it will be for those in that capitalism with a human face to set
>themselves further goals and seek routes to attain them.
> Certainly global mega-corporations not only reflect but
>effectuate economies of scale. And certainly they do all the
>terrible things you list. By every measure of human welfare --
>life expectancy, health, education, whatever -- people are better
>off in the "developed" capitalist countries than anywhere else.
>It is also true that, in the United States, the living standard
>of the majority has declined in the past thirty years, but it
>remains one that Haitian peasants and Israeli Ph.D.s fight like
>hell to come here to enjoy.
> There are no easy answers and no formulaic solutions.
> William Mandel
-- Marty Jezer * 22 Prospect St. * Brattleboro, VT 05301 * p/f 802 257-5644
Author: Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words (Basic Books) Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel (Rutgers University Press) The Dark Ages: Life in the USA, 1945-1960 (South End Press) Rachel Carson [American Women of Achievement Series] (Chelsea House) Check out my web page: http://www.sover.net/~mjez To subscribe to my Friday commentary, simply request to be put on my mailing list. It's free! >>
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