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As we've seen over and over again, when consumer products become commoditized, their retail prices eventually converge on the cost of production, and competition forces that cost lower and lower, until the market price reaches a technologically-determined minimum range and stays there, so that producers are unable to extract any meaningful profit from the activity of manufacturing and selling the product.  Simultaneously, market competition relentlessly drives innovation, functional enhancement, and quality improvement so that the end-state products are generally remarkably excellent, powerful, and high-quality items produced for the lowest possible cost, and provided at the lowest possible price.

Since little or no "surplus value" is being created in its delivery, this end-state product of competitive capitalism is arguably equivalent to an ideal Communist production outcome--maximum benefit for the consumer masses, with no profit for the producers.  In this way, the free market eventually forces many self-interested profit-motivated private enterprises to function as if they were public-benefit communes in a planned economy.  Ironic.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Scarcity prevents this at present. Actual scarcit (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssgbryan, FG, splashy

    y of e.g. rare earth elements for electronics, etc. Energy scarcity to power various productions (eg. agriculture) or products.  And scarcity imposed by enviromental constrains, i.e., you can only burn so much coal before you kill everyone locally or destroy the climate's ability to support 7+ b people.

    This is why nano-sssembler- and bio-tech hold so much promise for humanity as a whole.  Bc they essentially abolish scarcity of resources (though they may create other significant problems, e.g., enviromental).

    But, capitalists are not stupid and are busy trying to create artifical scarcity ala diamonds.  The actually fair market value of diamonds is a fraction of thier present prices, but Debeers keeps so many off the market it artcifically makes them scarce and thus pricey.

    Assuming new tech bears out (and it may not) the question then is whether capitalists can 'Debeers' things or not.  In this regard, the 3D printer may provide an interesting test case.

  •  Capitalism refers to use (in the future) while (6+ / 0-)

    communism refers to ownership. The two are not necessarily related.
    The negative behavior we are witnessing, which involves the abuse of other human beings, is mindless predation moderated into human husbandry. Humans exploit their own kind and coerce them to labor by restricting their access to sustenance. The principle of private or exclusive property lets them do that. People have become convinced that ownership of property is a boon. It isn't. Ownership is both a sop and a mechanism of abuse. Just ask the slaves.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:30:32 AM PST

  •  Seems to me the irony was lost on the consumers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of Communist regimes, since the latter never seemed to get around to the "end-state products...generally remarkably excellent, powerful, and high-quality items produced for the lowest possible cost, and provided at the lowest possible price" part.

    •  "Communism" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Hamlet, itsjim, splashy, ZhenRen

      was what Wallerstein famously called a "mercantilistic semi-retreat from the capitalist world system" by a nation-state of the semi-periphery trying to catch up in development with the core nations, and using "communism" as an ideology while voiding it of its meaningful content.  "Communism" collapsed because its elites switched sides and proclaimed themselves neoliberals.  It wasn't, in short, communism at all.

      "Every time you opt in to kindness/ Make one connection, used to divide us/ It echoes all over the world" -- from Dar Williams' "Echoes"

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:49:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What we call "communism" is totalitarianism (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Where a small group makes the decisions. Not enough minds working on things leads do bad decisions.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 11:34:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice title, but no. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, ZhenRen

    Capitalism is a monster devouring both nature and society for profit.  There will be no maximum benefit for consumers when enjoyment is based on the ability to pay in a system which channels the preponderance of wealth into the hands of a relatively tiny investor class.

    "Every time you opt in to kindness/ Make one connection, used to divide us/ It echoes all over the world" -- from Dar Williams' "Echoes"

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:51:32 AM PST

  •  The problem with your analysis... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Hamlet, Mr Robert, splashy

    is that that capitalist does not pay the full cost of production. The capitalist pays wages, raw materials, machine depreciation, interest, etc. But most importantly, the capitalist does not pay the worker for the value-added by the worker to the materials of production.

    The difference between the cost of production and the value-added by the worker is profit. This profit/value-added is created by the worker during production. Profit is not produced in the market exchange of commodities, the profit is already there for the capitalist to appropriate.

    It is, however, true that the rate of profit is falling because the use of machinery to replace workers is increasing. Profit cannot be made off a machine. The capitalist gets nothing from a machine except what he actually pays for. His profit comes from the human being working the machine.

  •  Interesting but theory is often different from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    practice. What passed for communism last century was obviously quite different from what you call communism. And it's not clear if what you call communism is even possible or it will always devolve to the same dictatorship as it did in the past.

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