Cyborg Economy: When Proletariat and Capitalist Fuse

One of the main features of economies over the last four or five centuries has been the separation between labor and capital. That is – because of technological conditions – the means of production had to be separate from the ownership of production.

It may help to read Marx’s Capital and Smith’s Wealth of Nations for deeper understandings of the ramifying influences of capitalism on the world (new conceptions of time, impacts on culture and class, etc.). But what matters most is to understand the key role of the separation of means of production from its ownership.

That separation has always created conflict: labor seeks better wages, hours, conditions; capital seeks lower wages, longer hours, cheaper conditions and more capital.

Until now, technology has been the primary agent in creating and enforcing this fundamental dichotomy. If a printing press cost too much for a writer to own and run, she had to rely on a capitalist to supply the ability to publish.

Now, the Web and cheapening technologies open the possibility of the proletariat and the capitalist to ‘fuse’ – that is, it’s now possible to use *and* own production.

It’s becoming more of a reality that workers (labor) can fund their own endeavors (capital).

You can see this fusion as the emergence of a new kind of cyborg, an economic one – let’s call it the Prolecapatarian.

The proletarian can now embed/extend capitalist features into her presence in the economy. Same thing for the capitalist.

But what’s the effect of these new economic cyborgs? Specifically, what happens to the classic conflict between labor and capital? Does it become internalized?

Does the Prolecapatarian face internal conflict? What does that look like?

It’s something to think about, because those of us who live the 24/7 nomadic life have to contend with being both the user and owner of production.

How about you: do you think we’ll see the emergence of this new kind of economic being? Or do you think we’re in a transition period and that eventually we’ll be back to the schism between labor and capital and the emergence of wholly larger concentrations of capital accumulation and labor surplus?

Are you a Prolecapatarian?

@PhilBaumann

484-362-0451

Don’t Sell Capitalism Short

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The Dow lost over 500 points today. I don’t know how big a deal it is that the market dropped 4.42%. (4.42% isn’t a newsworthy soundbite, is it?) Don’t get me wrong: today produced historic news which could signal a dark time ahead.

Time will tell how much damage the speculative project of mortgage-backed securitization does to the domestic and international markets. At the heart of our current economic dangers lies Consumerism.

Democracy depends on freedom of capital flow as much as it does on freedom of ideas. Capitalism remains the most reliable system of economic justice. The problem is: most of us are selling capitalism short.

CONSUMERISM IS ASSAULTING CAPITALISM MORE VIOLENTLY THAN COMRADE MARX

Let’s not confuse capitalism with consumerism. We live in an age of consumerism. We want instant gratification. We have tall orders and short attention spans.

What happened today on Wall Street and on other trading floors is simply a consequence of the greed of a consumerist culture. If our system was truly capitalistic we wouldn’t be crying about today’s metrics. A system is only as good as its people.

Capitalists understand the value of discipline, focus, and long-term perspective. Capitalists understand the value of values, the payoff of hard work, the necessity of risk-taking, the soil made by failed crops.

Consumerists understand nothing.

Many of our CEOs and fund managers are consumers. There are very few capitalists anymore. We have been selling capitalism out for a long time now.

Perhaps it started when auditors became their clients’ consultants. Perhaps it started when investors rewarded executives who boosted quarterly earnings and share prices merely by downsizing. It probably doesn’t matter now. The damage is done.

The last century was infected by the scapegoating dellusions of untested Marxist hypotheses. I understand where Karl Marx was coming from: he lived in a time of catastophic socioeconomic change. We live in a time of socioeconomic change. And so his shadow, no matter how re-worded, may continue to cast well into this century.

HOW TO RESURRECT THE SPECTRE OF CAPITALISM

Let’s not make the mistake of selling capitalism short.

Let’s appreciate the value of intelligent, disciplined, creative and focused wealth-building. Let’s instill in our youth the value of the time-value of money; the value of understanding opportunity cost; the value of values.

We are part of a culture war. It’s no longer a war between Capitalism and Communism.

We are now enmeshed a war between Capitalism and Consumerism. Consumerism is winning.

We’re losing our capitalists, everyday, to a consumer culture that is hell-bent on instant gratification at the expense of distant satisfaction.

Here’s what to do, now that you’ve had a rough day:

  • Work hard. Work smart.
  • Jettison despair.
  • Embrace discipline.
  • Be valuable to others.

In short: Do meaningful things and the money will follow you.

Civilization abhors a lack of focus and adores an abundance of grit.

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