- Our class and economic analysis of capitalism,
- The need to replace that social system by one based on the common ownership and the democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all society,
- The need to establish socialism through democratic political action, that is, by winning control of the state apparatus.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
“Stagnant pools of sewage lay nearby, mixing with the regular afternoon rains, virtually ensuring that all open wounds would become infected. A girl, aged about five, stands half-naked except for a skin of massive, infected lesions which stretch from under her jaw to her waist.”
“A blackmarket for food and goods has sprouted in Dili, with tonnes of rice and noodles being imported and held under guard in warehouses in the razed capital.”
“It costs money to amass, monitor and analyse data and pass it on to the people who need it most.” (6 March)
"In a letter to Republican Senators, Bush reversed his election campaign promise to limit C02 emissions from coal-fired plants, saying a new study shows it would be too expensive. He also reiterated his opposition to the Kyoto protocol, a 1997 agreement which aims to reduce greenhouse gases in the industrialised countries by 5.2 per cent by 2012" (New Scientist, 15 March).
"The reversal was a blow to Kyoto supporters, since limits on power plants are probably necessary for the US to reach the goals. Christopher Flavin, President of the WorldWatch Institute says: 'It is essential since those plants are one of the main reasons for the recent sharp increase in US C02 emissions. In the last two years, the US has passed China to be the world's number one coal burner'" (New Scientist, 15 March)
The business of computing (hardware, software, and services), communications (telephony, cable, satellite), and content (publishing, entertainment, advertising) are . . . collapsing to create a new industry sector. This new media industry is the engine of the new economy and will be critical to leading a successful transition. The rise of this new sector and the transformation of corresponding markets is forcing every company to rethink its very existence . . . (Don Tapscott, author and chair of Alliance for Converging Technologies).
The scarcity of copyright cannot compete against the abundance of gifts . . . At the cutting edge of modernity, the exchange of commodities now plays a secondary role to the circulation of gifts. The enclosure of intellectual labour is challenged by a more efficient method of working: disclosure.
The Internet is being hailed as a saviour by both capitalists and anti-capitalists alike. Rarely has any technology been so universally viewed as a holy grail by sworn mutual enemies. Who is right? Will it destroy capitalism or rejuvenate it?
“The flow of information into or out of a nation can no longer be effectively controlled by the state; information is everywhere and accessible. To participate in the burgeoning economic benefits of world commerce means adopting practices that undermine state control . . .” (Carl Builder, Strategy analyst, RAND Corporation).
Yet talk of “boxes” is itself an obsolescent concept, as Xerox have perfected “e-paper” (Observer, 22 August) and research continues towards wristwatch computers and even brain implants, giving rise to talk of “synthetic telepathy” in the more distant future. And as science revolutionises the Internet, so the Internet is revolutionising science. With the spatial decoupling of the scientist from the task, the so-called “collaboratory” is born, enabling multiple users to share a singe physical resource, enhanced productivity with no travel time, and participation by experimenters in multiple, geographically-distributed projects.
Despite a clear tendency towards enlightening social relations, the Internet does not promise to give revolutionaries their socialist society on a plate. In fact, it offers us the parallel “disinformation revolution” as well. Unlike misinformation, disinformation is deliberate.
Although mass propaganda can be expected to decrease quantitatively, customised propaganda may increase qualitatively. Propaganda and spin could become more, not less, powerful, as mass media gives way to “mess media” and a proliferation of micro-channels, micro-markets and perhaps micro-cultures makes the targeting of disinformation against selected individuals more feasible. It’s as if the ultimate dream of the free-marketeers is of six billion separate Earths, a doppelganger for each of us, and consensus or revolution impossible in any of them. But humans aren’t so easy to control, nor communication so easy to stop. The right-wing utopians forget about our critical faculties and our propensity to gossip amongst ourselves:
The hypnotic spell of years of television and its intense public relations is broken as people learn to deconstruct and recombine the images intended to persuade them. The result is that the population at large gains the freedom to re-examine previously accepted policies and prejudices” (Rushkoff, Cyberia, p.55-6).
The danger of participation is that there are . . . thousands of potentially critical eyes watching every entry. A faulty fact will be challenged, a lie will be uncovered, plagiarism will be discovered. Cyberspace is a truth serum (Rushkoff, p.18).
In 1992 the size of the world labor force was something like 1.76 billion people; by 2025, if current trends stay more or less what they are, the world labor force is going to be 3.1 billion people. That means every year for the next thirty years the world economy needs to create 38 to 40 million new jobs. And it’s got to do that at a time when the main technological trend is going in the opposite direction of net job liquidation” (http://www.eff.org/pub/Publications/E-journals/CyRev).
Ubiquity drives increasing returns in the network economy. The question becomes: what is the most cost-effective way to achieve ubiquity? And the answer is: give things away. Make them free (New Rules for the New Economy, Fourth Estate, 1998).
The network economy has set into motion the power of hobby tribes and informed peers . . . The law of increasing returns can feed a small interest into a mid-sized interest. Whereas once there was a lone fanatic for every notion, now there is a devoted website for every fanatic notion; soon there can be 10,000 fellow enthusiasts for every fascination (Kelly, p.105).
They will be playing computer games, watching interactive TV, and shopping in virtual malls. The stratified distribution of education will act as the guardian of the virtual border between the passive and the active user, and prevent those populations participating in multi-directional interactivity from increasing in any significant numbers (Alinta Thornton, Ch.5, http://www.wr.com.au/democracy/thesis1).
In this concluding article in our series on the impact of the Internet we examine its possible effect on community.
Behind the technological part of the information highway is the business community’s attempt to use the new information and communications technology to shift power from governments and the nation state to multinational corporations, from the public to the private sector, from small business to big business, from a unionized to non-unionized environment, from citizens to consumers, and from group rights to individual rights (Unions and the Information Highway: http://www.ofl-fto.on.ca/ftp/ppaper5.txt).
the current wisdom is that up to half the commuting hours saved by telecommuting employees may be given directly back to the company as additional work hours. The Gartner Group estimates that telecommuting improves employee productivity by 10 percent to 40 percent (American Demographics).
The community will benefit in the longer term as larger numbers of home workers abandon the peak-hour rush. There will be fewer cars on the road, less air pollution and traffic congestion, fewer health and work-induced stress problems and more community participation (International Journal of Career Management Conference, August 1995: http://www.mcb.co.uk/liblink/ijcm)