Who needs the owners? But what’s the alternative?

Over the years I’ve done a lot of talking with people, friends and workmates in various workplaces, about the idea of the workers ‘taking over’ and running things for ourselves. It’s an idea that holds great appeal to me, so I advocate it. Most times, people respond by rolling their eyes – they generally think the system can be fixed so that it functions more fairly. I then try to point out that the system ain’t broke – unemployment, alienation and periodic crises is precisely capitalism functioning. Fortunately, people are skeptical and therefore willing to listen to new ideas. Some ask what the ‘workers taking over’ would actually mean, how would it be different/better, what would it look like?

I then point out that, in most situations, the workers ‘run’ things anyway – this happens on a day-to-day basis. Who in a workplace ever sees the boss – I mean, the real boss, the owner of the industry or service-provider? Sure, we see our foremen and managers, who – like us – need their weekly wage to survive. But the big boss, the owner? So, things day-to-day are pretty much done by the workers on the ‘floor’. While most people I’ve talked with reckon we need the foremen and managers, no-one has ever stated that we need the owners. No-one has declared: “Oh no! Without the owner of our industry, everything would collapse!”. Under the current economic crisis, the reality is that, with the current owners of industry, etc. in charge, everything is collapsing.

Another point that ‘rings a bell’ with people I talk with is that the best ideas come from the ‘floor’. Innovation and detailed knowledge and understanding of workplaces usually comes from the bottom up – and good managers/foremen know this. Yet we also know that good ideas from the floor are sometimes overlooked or altered beyond recognition as they climb the hierarchy of authority within the workplace. Without the people at the ‘floor’ level, nothing can happen – yet they/we are also the least powerful within the structures. When we are listened to, it is only because they choose to listen.

A big part of the problem is that we ”only work there”. The best places to work are organisations in which genuine effort is made to overcome this feeling of alienation and the rank-and-file are involved in some decision-making. I’ve worked in both kinds of places. And yet, even in the very best, no-one I know has ever indicated a desire to work for nothing. We all come in for our 37 hour week because we are paid for our ability to work, and we need the money to survive (which includes the little luxuries we all rightly want). No-one would go to work for the boss on a voluntary basis for 37 hours a week.

So far so good. But skepticism comes to the fore when an alternative, better, system of organising production is raised. Previous experience of socialism certainly dampens enthusiasm rather than inspires it, with the people I have discussed all this with.

By the way, I’m all for skepticism. It’s entirely reasonable and people at this site need to be able to convincingly answer the questions raised. The times call for it!

42 Responses to “Who needs the owners? But what’s the alternative?”

  1. 1 Arthur

    When I was a left social democrat teenager I was very struck by this passage from Nye Bevan’s “In Place of Fear” describing a story told to him by Robert Smillie, leader of the Miner’s Union, as to how the British 1926 General Strike was defeated. It refers to a meeting between the leaders of the Triple Alliance of strategic unions with the Prime Minister, Lloyd George:

    “Lloyd George sent for the labour leaders, and they went, so Robert told me, ‘truculently determined they would not be talked over by the seductive and eloquent Welshman’. At this Bob’s eyes twinkled in his grave, strong face. ‘He was quite frank with us from the outset,’ Bob went on. ‘He said to us: “Gentlemen, you have fashioned, in the Triple Alliance of the unions represented by you, a most powerful instrument. I feel bound to tell you that in our opinion we are at your mercy. The army is disaffected and cannot be relied upon. Trouble has occurred already in a number of camps. We have just emerged from a great war and the people are eager for the reward of their sacrifices, and we are in no position to satisfy them. In these circumstances, if you carry out your threat and strike, then you will defeat us.

    “But if you do so,” went on Mr Lloyd George, “have you weighed the consequences? The strike will be in defiance of the government of the country and by its very success will precipitate a constitutional crisis of the first importance. For, if a force arises in the state which is stronger than the state itself, then it must be ready to take on the functions of the state, or withdraw and accept the authority of the state.

    Gentlemen”, asked the Prime Minister quietly, “have you considered, and if you have, are you ready?” From that moment on, said Robert Smillie, ‘we were beaten and we knew we were’.” [Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear, London, 1952, pp.20-21]

  2. 2 Jad

    I think the ideas of Technocracy Inc have some appeal as an alternative production system, (though I think they are lacking somewhat in industrial democracy).   e.g.  from the Technocracy site:

    “The government itself would be a self-perpetuation hierarchy; recommendation from below and appointment from above.  The important factor herein is that the determining factor for any appointment be “proven capability of function.”   

    Business and finance would cease to exist, and politics as we know it would disappear.

    All necessities for life in our advanced technological society would be available to all – it would be an affluent society whereby every citizen commanded from cradle to grave, not only basic needs but many luxuries.

    The mechanism that enables our society to exist would be the establishment of “Functional Sequences,” such as Transportation, Communication, Education, Medicine and etc. 

    At the top of a pyramid type structure would be the Continental Director, and then spread out below and reporting to the Director would be four major sequences: 

    Armed Forces, Continental Research, Social Relations and Foreign Relations.  Each citizen achieving maturity or classified as an adult, would be issued an “Energy Distribution Card.” 

    This is similar to the credit card usage of today but with a significant and profound difference.  In place of a monetary control, the energy required to do and use anything would be tabulated and each person would be allotted his or her share of the amount of the Continent’s available resources after all basic necessities are accounted for.  Be assured, even though the present method of operations has wasted so much in its need to expand, there would remain adequate energy and natural resources to allow each person the widest latitude of consumption. “

  3. 3 Jad

     PatrickM, re your comment on the Unemployment post:
    The Technocracy people do look like a quaint and quirky bunch, but I disagree that technocracy (as the term is used by Technocracy Inc and not in the usual pejorative sense) is akin to proto -fascism:
    – it is based on production of what people want, not what the State decides.- it is based on the maximisation of personal freedom and free time.- it is premised on abundance, not scarcity.While they certainly don’t have the intellectual firepower which they had in the thirties, the founders of the movement such as Thorstein Veblen and Howard Scott were not kooks or slouches when it comes to economics and engineering.And I think the basic idea of using the most efficient methods to produce what people want and give them as much free time as possible is hardly one that pro-technology marxists would disagree with.
    In relation to the co-ordinated electronic measurement of what goods and services are produced and consumed, I think this would have to be an obvious requirement in a communist society. If there are no price signals to determine supply or demand, how else is society going to know how to produce what people want? For privacy reasons, if necessary the data could be encrypted so that consumption choices could not be linked to particular individuals.

  4. 4 patrickm

    Jad; apologies for only casually referring to your open and honest comments, in an OT manner from another thread. 

    I think you have to read the material from Technocracy Inc more critically.  Indeed there was a philosophy course called critical thinking at University that I think ought to have been compulsory for all students going into high school let alone University. 

    There’s no kind yet quick way to say this so I’ll be quick; this stuff is mush and in being attracted to this as ‘a scheme to change the world’ you demonstrate that you are not familiar with the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge.  Historical Materialism is in opposition to all such scheming.  You would do well to read the paragraph by Mao ‘Where do correct ideas come from?’ then perhaps the book by Engels Socialism – Utopian and Scientific.

    The very thought of;  “The government itself would be a self-perpetuation hierarchy; …etc  leaves me not the least ‘…assured, [that] even though the present method of operations has wasted so much in its need to expand, there would remain adequate energy and natural resources to allow each person the widest latitude of consumption.’ You say ‘The Technocracy people do look like a quaint and quirky bunch…’ and you ought to stick with that thought and build on it.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it may very well be a duck.

    You say ‘… the basic idea of using the most efficient methods to produce what people want and give them as much free time as possible is hardly one that pro-technology marxists would disagree with.’  Well I am a pro-technology marxist and I am on about liberation, not setting up any scheme that gives ‘people’ this or that.  Classes exist and class interests ensure a division among us humans, that’s why all thinking without exception is stamped with a class outlook.

    You say ‘If there are no price signals to determine supply or demand how else is society going to know how to produce what people want?‘. Well that is exactly one of the issues covered by Dave McMullen in his book Bright Future.  Have a look at his Economic calulation without capitalism in section 4: “Capitalism the temporary tool of progress”.  How about you have a dig into these materials and report back on what you find? 

    That’s about the best I have time to offer at present and nobody that I know connected to the ST/ Lastsuperpower project is ever likely to be interested in delving further into the various schemes of the various utopian crackpots one comes across.


  5. 5 tom

    Jad, I agree with Patrick. A cursery look at the tecnocracy site left me with two responses.

    The first was something like: I can see the attraction – the respect and prominance accorded to scientific knowledge and technology is correct.

    The second, which developed as I read on was chilling. The emphasis on “intelligence”, “design”, (combined in “intelligently designed economy”) and “hierarchy” is a tad heeby jeeby.

    In respect to this post utopians who go to the bother of planning and promoting their ideas have one failing in common – a lack of faith in the ability of the people/masses/working classes (take your pick), to arrive at an understanding of their problems and to be able to sort them – and this includes running their work place, community and society (the point of Barry’s original post).

    It is this lack of faith which underscores and justifies their reliance on hierarchical power and control.

    In fact it smacks of bad faith – an inherent though unexpressed mistrust that people will go along with their nostrums. The irony here is that the workers have never been as well educated and intelligent as now. As Barry indicated, they are already running much of the day to day operations of their work places, and capitalist work practises ae tending to flatten hierarchies.

    So why the need for a rigid, top down hierarcy? With tongue planted firmly in cheek it is clearly coincidental that they happen to occupy the top of the hierarchy. The role of the people/masses/working class in creating and forging their future is what is behind Pat’s suggestion to look at/study historical materialism and dialectics (BTW there is no immediate gratificaion in this as most of us here can attest).

  6. 6 Jad

     Thanks for the comments. A bit to chew on there.I’m certainly not suggesting that technocracy be read uncritically or that it should supplant historical materialism. Its just a proposed alternative method of production, which is what byork’s post was about.

    I think its a matter for debate regarding how unhierarchial the production processes of an technologically advanced and maximally automated society can be, but what is of more interest to me is the proposed accounting and resource allocation system – I see no reason why Energy Accounting and the use of integrated IT systems to measure consumer preferences should not be open for consideration by the progressive left.

    Anyway, I’ll read some more. In the meantime, you might be interested in this article on technocracy from a left perspective (though I didn’t have any luck finding the discussion on the marxmail list referred to).

  7. 7 tom

    Thanks for the links Jad. Nudging past 1.30 in the morning isn’t a good time for thoughtful comment on either. However Eugene Plawiuk, the second link, sounds a bit of a character – I liked his libertarianism though not his anarchism – and I thought the only thing missing from his political CV was an historical affiliation to Jaroslaw Hasek’s (author of The Good Soldier Svejk) Party of  Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law. This association may be unfair to both Hasek and Plawiuk but it was the first thing that came to my mind.

  8. 8 keza

    Just a quick comment for now.

    My perusal of the technocracy site immidiately brought to mind the slew of utopian socialist movements which emerged in the wake of the French Revolution.  These movements were all pre Marx (and Engels) and had both progressive and reactionary sides.   The progressive side was that they were the product of the realisation that capitalism was a nasty system, driven by profit and the need to exploit the vast bulk of the population.  Although some of these utopian socialist movements were frankly romantic in the sense that they were actually anti-progress and saw machinery and industrialisation as the problem, there were also utopians who were inspired by the possibilities inherent in the rapid development of science, technology and ‘human reason’. That was the progressive side.

    An example is  Saint-Simonianism which was a direct precurser of positivism

    I’d roughly characterise these movements as driven by a mechanical view of human progress.  All of them tended to see the problems facing humanity as essentially “engineering problems”, solvable by the application of science and human reason.  Despite being materialist (roughly speaking again), and in favour of progress, these movements were still idealist at bottom, because their proponents wanted to solve the problem of a minority exploiting a majority by a direct attempt to change the way people thought.  This led straight  to the idea that the new society should be ruled by a scientific elite (who would rule according to reason and science) and therefore to a rejection of democracy and people power.

    There’s an interesting account of a number of these trends in a book I’m reading at the moment:

    To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson

    There’s a lot I disagree with in this book, but I’d recommend it all the same – to Jad, and others. That’s because it’s a relatively “easy read” and despite Wilson’s eventual rejection of socialism, it is a book which gives the reader a sense of history and the great swirl of ideas/theories/ struggles/ confusion which unfolded in the 19th century. There is a real problem talking and debating with people who have no real “sense” of history.)

    Anayway (!) the thing is, that whether we like it  or not, in the current era, all sorts of utopian theories about possible future forms of social organisation have sprung up. Just as they did in the 19th century. Unbeknownst to many who have embraced these ideas, they aren’t new.

    Patrick remarked in another thread that he felt pretty grumpy about the silliness of these ideas, but realised that when propogated by young people he was prepared to try to put such young people right. I think we need to be careful here about coming over as arrogant, older “know-it-alls”.  In order to defeat ideas that we disagree with we need to do some serious work ourselves.   To me it’s just obvious that Marx and Engels showed exactly what was wrong with them, and this still applies today.   However we can’t just refer religiously to M&E and other thinkers with whom we agree, we need to continue their work and be able to show how it applies in the 21st century. (I don’t think Patrick did refer “religiously” to Marxism, btw, however, I do think that it’s very important not to let the “grumpy old man”, take over.   If you’re a young person (or even a bit older), it’s actually quite ‘natural’ to become enamoured of all sorts of exciting sounding alternative/romantic ideas. That’s just the way things are, and have always been.)

    Marx and Engels actually analysed the conditions of their time ( in amazing detail.,and without word processors or the internet, or the vast amount of computing power and available statistical information which is available today), we need to continue what they started, as part of debating with those with whom we disagree. The reality is that  M&E did what they could in the 19th century, but the job is nowhere near finished.  I doubt that they believed that capitalism would still exist in 2009 and that around 60% of the world’s population would still not have fully  even entered  into capitalist relations of production.   That’s not their fault, or anything which disproves their theory.   However it requires analysis and fresh thinking.

    Changing tack slightly:   No-one has responded to Arthur’s comment (the first one in this thread). I think it’s incredibly important.   Unless there is a movement with a leadership which actually understands how to run things differently, all the anger, protest, rejection of the current system in the world, will get nowhere.  We may be confident that Marx was right, but we can’t get away with just asserting that . No matter how good we are at pointing out the silliness of utopianism or the inadequacies of capitalism, unless we know in quite some detail how “to take on the functions of the state” we could reach the brink (possibly) but then “have to withdraw and accept the authority of the [capitalist] state”.

    It sounds grandioise to use the word “we” of course – given that “we” are just a tiny (TINY!!!) group sitting on the sidelines!!  I’m using the word in the abstract ..it refers to any future movement which becomes strong enough to mount a socialist/communist challenge to the capitalist ruling class.

  9. 9 Arthur

    I agree with Keza, both on the interesting comparison of Technocracy with Saint Smonian elitism (though it, like the lemmningist variants isn’t anywhere near as important at the moment), and on the substance of my point about the Nye Bevan quote.

    Its going to be a much younger generation who step forward in political leadership of sharp struggles, but the least we can do is support them (and help create the environment for them) by systematically producing a range of analytical material on important issues.

    I cannot refrain from (bitterly) remarking that this implies needing a website that has a navigation structure within which one can place serious material in the expectation that people will find it if they are looking for it, so its worth taking the trouble to write such material instead of just dashing off ephemera repeating the obvious.

    We need articles (necessarily half baked) proposing (and seriously debating) concrete policies as to how different aspects of society should be transformed and how the full range of political issues people will soon start getting interested in should be approached.

  10. 10 keza

    Unfortunately we do need to “restate the obvious”, simply because it’s not obvious to many people.  That statement may seem  interestingly contradictory, I realise.   Is something really “obvious” if most people can’t even see it?   This sort of issue is the one that comes up in first year philosophy of science courses. We teach students that science is “theory driven” and that as a result it’s not the case that science is a process in which “the objective facts” just passively give us the answers, they are always interpreted through the lens of theory.   (Students nod and agree, but it’s all taught in the abstract and doesn’t really sink in.).   In saying this, I’m not denying the importance of objectivity, just pointing out that it’s a struggle, a very active one, and will go on forever.  We can’t just “read the book of nature” we have to battle to understand it. 

    One thing which we do need to keep doing is to explain (not just assert), why when we look at exactly the same world (of “facts”) as everyone else, we see something different.  And we have to do this in a non lazy manner, if we don’t want to slip toward religiosity.

    We do need longer articles, and they will be necessarily half-baked.  At the same time as engaging in the relatively easy task of explaining why certain things are ‘obvious’ to us, we need to get on with the task of breaking new ground.    I don’t feel at all confident about being able to do that and I can’t pretend otherwise.  What we don’t have is any deep and detailed analysis of modern capitalism, or of how a modern socialist society would work.  Dave McMullen is the only one of us to who have done some recent hard work on this – hard work which has led to actual articles.

    I have more questions than answers.  David’s work has been more focused on economic matters.  While these are of great importance, I’d like to see some discussion of how a modern socialist society would operate politically.  Most people see socialism as a “one party dictatorship” …. that’s what “dictatorship of the proletariat” means to them. And they reject it.

    I don’t see modern people anywhere being prepared to go for the offer of “economic security” (ie ‘no crises’, guarranteed health care, education etc) at the expense of freedom.  It’s interesting to note that Cuba provides rather good health care, has achieved a high literacy rate and despite a relatively low standard of living, there seems to be a degree of ‘economic security’.  However the people there hate it – and I don’t believe that it’s just because they want more consumer goods. They feel cramped, oppressed, stultified….and they are.

    We can’t just wave our hands and say “well, it’s “obvious” that the Castro regime is reactionary and that real socialism wouldn’t be anything like that, or like Eastern Europe in the past, or like China and the USSR before the Communist Parties in those places had been taken over by ‘capitalist roaders’ “.

    Until the current crisis, capitalism had been steadily giving people more, including more freedom.  I don’t think that Marx and Engels predicted that this could happen to the extent that it has.  Now we do have a crisis and things will get much worse.   This will open up the question of whether people want to stay with capitalism, or not.   But it will only open that question.

    I don’t know enough to predict how bad the current crisis could get.  Could it drive people in the modern world into severe and desperate poverty…. to the point at which they’d follow anyone offfering the modern equivalent of “peace, land and bread”?  That would not be a good basis for winning power, and I doubt that it would happen.  But as things get worse, I think we’ll see various groups emerging who will argue for some form of ‘socialism’ purely on the basis that it would provide economic security..perhaps a lower standard of living, but “security” instead of wealth.  (Trust us, we’ll look after you).

    I think we need to toss these questions around, initially in the rather superficial way that I’ve raised them here … and without fear of feeling silly and ignorant.  Hopefully, as we do this, some of us will build up the confidence to ‘put themselves on the line’ with the first, half-baked articles.

  11. 11 Arthur

    Yes, some things are obvious even when most people can’t see them.

    Drawing people’s attention to the obvious is done by mass agitation with simple slogans in sharp struggles. Not by repeating it to each other. There is no party capable of leading such agitation at the moment and there won’t be for a long time.

    Other things require longer more detailed elaboration and explanation. In particular, this is essential for developing the slogans of agitation and convincing agitators that the results of agitation could be fruitful. This is done by propaganda – serious articles propagated widely among people engaged in political struggles.

    An important aspect of propaganda is polemics, responding to the propaganda of opponents by directly refuting their arguments. This is also the most productive stimulus to development of theory. Losing arguments and discovering one’s slogans are getting nowhere encourages deeper analysis and study.

    At present what is most lacking is theory and a program. There is currently nothing much to propagate and no slogans to advance. Laughing at the pseudo groups who just don’t get it, and keep pressing on resolutely and militantly with either openly reactionary, or pointlessly futile “demands”, is merely a form of entertainment. Enjoyable at times, but personally I prefer flogging…

    The issue “what is the alternative” is sharply posed in Barry’s post starting this thread. In recent decades there has been no widespread mass demand for an answer to that question. That has led, inevitably or not, to very little energy put in to answering it. We are not yet there, but we can now feel a lot more confident that over the next few years the sort of conversations Barry describes will become very much more widespread. People will be asking themselves and each other those questions and coming up with very different answers. At present the honest answer has to be “we don’t know”. That was certainly the case for the trade union leaders facing Lloyd George above.

    David McMullen has drawn my attention to the fact that it was in 1919, not 1926. In 1919 there was Red Clydeside including the Battle of George Square which raised the spectre of Bolshevism in Britain. According to some lemmingists there could have been a British revolution in 1919 if only the trade union leaders had not been such class traitors. Ditto of course for 1926 and every so often thereafter. Their propaganda consists of elaborate, detailed explanations with lots of theoretical and historical illustrations of why the revolution could could succeed if only the workers would abandon their present views, and leaders and rally around the lemmingists.

    Another theoretical trend, often more popular is revolutionary syndicalism. Georges Sorel seems to reflect some positive as well as some very negative ideas.

    One of the negative ideas taken up enthusiastically by both fascists and lemmingists is the deliberate propagation of myths. This can be seen as central to the propaganda (and theory) of most of the groups still claiming to represent the revolutionary left. Genuine Communists on the other hand are destroyers of myths.

    When the Mensheviks claimed at the First Congress of Soviets that no party could replace the coalition Provisional Government, Lenin famously interjected “there is such a party”. Delegates laughed, but it was no myth, as Lenin went on to explain in detail and later proved in practice.The ability of the Provisional Government to rescue Russia from the “Great War” was a myth.Subsequently Lenin explained, in Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder:

    “The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions, and particularly by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: it is not enough for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses should understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; it is essential for revolution that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old way, and when the ‘upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way, -only then can revolution triumph. This truth may be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters).It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand that revolution is necessary and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling classes should be passing through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics … weakens the government and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to overthrow it rapidly”(Italics from Chapter 3 on Theory in Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism)

    At present there is clearly no revolutionary crisis. But the ruling class can no longer rule in quite the old way. For example, at the very least, the basic structure of the financial system has to be reorganized and there are likely to be huge divisions among them about nationalization and internationalization of banking, and especially about the shares of losses to be borne by banking shareholders, creditors, debtors and the working class of different nations.

    Such controversies are likely to draw the masses back into politics.There will certainly be mass opposition to placing the whole burden on the workers. How much of the burden is borne by whom is not predetermined but can be influenced by the struggle. In such struggles it ought to be possible to pose the alternative of expropriating, instead of rescuing, finance capital. Spelling that out in detail will be essential. This includes details of how social security and housing finance are to be reorganized, how industry and investment are to be managed and so forth. (See Part 7 of U&R for a partial list of topics).

    There is a wide range of very real practical questions about how things are to be run in future that can either be left to the ruling class to sort out or can be taken up seriously by revolutionaries.

  12. 12 Jad

     Hi Again, A bit more on technocracy, after having looked at “Bright Future”.

    I agree that the technocrats are hopelessly Utopian in that they offer almost no practical steps regarding how their proposed system can be arrived at, but I think a similar criticism could be made of Bright Future. In any case, I don’t think small doses of crackpot, utopianist speculation now and then do any permanent damage, so I thought I would offer some comparisons between the resource allocation model in Bright Future (BFM) and the Energy Accounting Model (EAM) model of the technocrats. ( By the way, although I’ve only been seriously investigating Marx for a couple of years and was in nappies in ’68 when some of you folks were stomping the streets, unfortunately I no longer consider myself very young!).

    In relation to the determination of what is produced, for both BFM and EAM, this is dependent on consumer demand. To measure demand, BFM would rely on things such as past consumer behaviour, consumer surveys and demographic predictions, whilst EAM emphasizes the electronic recording of all purchases made. There is no difference of any substance here. Of course, both EAM and BFM recognise that supply will never be perfectly matched to demand, due to changes in consumer preferences.

    In relation to individual’s consumption rights, under EAM all individuals would have the same consumption entitlement (which is based on the premise that without the waste of private ownership aggregate supply capacity would exceed aggregate demand), whereas under BFM, initially at least, consumption entitlements would depend on the amount and quality of work performed.

    I agree that EAM, whilst more communistic, is unrealistically utopian here in not recognising that it would take time for people’s consciousness to change and that it is not just the technical aspects of the production system that are relevant.

    Both EAM and BFM see factors such as prestige, enjoyment and intrinsic reward as becoming more important than material reward as a motivating factor for work. The major difference between EAM and BFM is in relation to the pricing of goods and services. Under EAM the cost and price of goods and services is determined by the energy required for their production. Under BFM allocation of resources to production units is dependent on demand for consumer goods, and consumer goods are exchanged for work. I presume that the price of consumer goods would therefore be dependent on the socially necessary labor time necessary for their production, in an application of the labour theory of value.

    I think the EAM method and theory of pricing is superior to BFM for two interrelated reasons.

    Firstly, as automation increases under socialism, direct human labor will become less and less significant as a source of wealth and the labor theory of value will become more and more inapplicable or irrelevant. As Marx says in the Grundrisse:

    “As soon as labor in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases, and must cease, to be its measure”.

    For instance, under BFM how would the labour of a worker who presses buttons in a factory to produce 1000 articles a day be compared to another who does more intricate work in an emerging industry to produce 1 article a day? Alternatively, what would the price of the former article be in terms of the latter? The calculations involved in disentangling the relative contributions of fixed and variable capital and in converting amounts of skilled to unskilled labour would be horrendous, if not impossible. And the more automated society became, the more pointless would such calculations be. Secondly, under BFM pricing there is no intrinsic link between price and the availability of natural resources. When human labour ceases to be a major constraint on productivity and wealth due to automation, the constraint that will remain is nature. As the major natural resource used in creating wealth is energy, I therefore think Energy Accounting makes sense as a determinant of price in the post-capitalist age.

  13. 13 Arthur

    Ok David McMullen and I now have somebody else interested in discussing price systems! I think it would be very useful to discuss what Jad describes as the BFM and EAM price systems quite separately from both other issues regarding technocracy and other issues regarding “what’s the alternative”.That discussion could get quite technical. I suggest Jad’s last post and this should be moved to a new topic on “Price Systems”. There’s also been some mention of the Austrian school recently and von Mises etc is likely to come up in that topic.Meanwhile I’ll just provide a link to the specific chapter 14 in Notebook VII of Marx’s Grundrisse in which Jad’s quote can be found in the second subsection:
    Contradiction between the foundation of bourgeois production (value as measure) and its development. Machines etc.

  14. 14 keza

    OK, I’ll launch that new thread that shortly.  I agree that this thread is better kept for discussing broader issues related to how a system of social ownership would (and could) operate.

  15. 15 Jad

    Re, Arthurs comment:

    “Its going to be a much younger generation who step forward in political leadership of sharp struggles, but the least we can do is support them (and help create the environment for them) by systematically producing a range of analytical material on important issues.”

    I think as part of doing this it is necessary to tap into what young people are interested in, subject it to critical analysis and extract the progressive elements.

    For instance, the Zeitgeist movies look extremely wacky, but have also been extremely popular, with 50 million views allegedly.I have not seen the movies,  but it seems that along with some nutty and reactionary aspects there is also a progressive aspect expressed in the need for societal change (technocracy is mentioned in it too). Their may be some value in critically anlaysing things like Zeitgeist on this website, highlighting their progressive aspects whilst repudiating the crap in a way that doesn’t alienate people.

  16. 16 Arthur

    I’m unavoidably not going to be able to post much for a while, despite being very interested, especially in the 3 U&R related topics so far. Will keep reading and following links though.

    Am hoping that David McMullen will take up the cudgels in the topic on price systems.

    Just read the Zeitgist link and agree that it will be useful to critically analyse stuff like that. I think the mainstream reviews at the end of the Wikipedia article (especially the excerpt from Toronto Globe and Mail) do so adequately, but critiques from a revolutionary left perspective will be important too.

    Given the complete programmatic vacuum on the left, growing thoroughly deserved mass hatred of the ruling class and crisis of confidence within the ruling class, I think its pretty inevitable that “radical” politics will initially be dominated by various nutters.

    If capitalism survives it will be with help from paralysis induced by popularity of nuttiness among radicals and at the same time by major restructuring along state capitalist lines (nationalization of far more than banking while maintaining working class subordination to the bourgeoisie with “middle elements” still rallying around “law and order” and protection of property rights that they see as both essential to their own privileges and a defence of civilization against radical nutters).

    At worst such state capitalism will at least undermine the ideological basis for bourgeois rule and create a much simpler situation for later establishing working class power by winning the battle of democracy and capturing a state power that already owns the decisive means of production.

  17. 17 Jad

    To give an idea of the popularity of the Zeitgeist movement, this site: http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/ (which looks a bit more rational than the movies do ) apparently has 4050 users online at this moment.
    I thought that figure might have been fake, but this site – http://www.websiteoutlook.com – which is quite handy as it lets you check how many daily page views a www site has – confirmed that it averages around 31,000 page views a day.

    Nuttiness and fluff aside, what the Zeitgeist Movement site is advocating is essentially a resource based form of communism, so I think there is some revolutionary potential there that could be harnessed (using some form of “mass line” type of approach maybe??).

  18. 18 Jad

    “At worst such state capitalism will at least undermine the ideological basis for bourgeois rule and create a much simpler situation for later establishing working class power by winning the battle of democracy and capturing a state power that already owns the decisive means of production.”

    That’s a very interesting comment. Like many, I have difficulty in envisaging how a transition to socialism would work in an advanced capitalist country like the US or Australia – If the workers occupied the factories and control of the government was ceded to a revolutionary council, what would happen on day 2?

    Maybe the line between reformism and revoution is not so distinct and restructuring and nationalising along state capitalist lines is a necessary step in the transition to socialism? In which case, would the progressive left in advanced capitalist countries be better off aligning itself with the “market reformists” rather than neoliberals??

  19. 19 Arthur

    I rather enjoyed Thorstein Veblen,”The Engineers And The Price System” originally written in 1919.


    Especially liked the artful explanation that conscious withdrawal of efficiency, ie sabotage, is the central concern of financial management to keep up prices in the interests of purely parasitical Vested Interests.

    Ensuring production does not exceed volumes at which the reduction in marginal revenue from lower prices would fall below the marginal costs) and that investments in capacity are only made where the discounted rate of return exceeds a “hurdle rate” for return on capital is the central task of management.

    Day 2 after simply abolishing private ownership by decree involves getting things moving again while treating that habit as sabotage…

    It will require a lot wider section of the population than engineers to start “inquiries” as to how things are run and how things should be run in order to get to day 1. Involving what Veblen calls the “rank and file” and imagines his technicians and engineers to be the “general staff” of, will naturally lead to much more focus on increasing disposable free time rather than simply expanding for production in accordance with the instincts of the parasites Non Commissioned Officers (not “General Staff”) as expressed in Veblen’s technocracy.

  20. 20 Jad

    Good to see someone’s interest has been sparked.
    I’v not read the whole book yet, but I like Veblen’s style – he has an acid tongue.
    The idea of sabotage is similar to Jacque Fresco’s position that; “The fact that technology is not being allowed to flourish for the benefit of human kind is, in fact, a Civil Rights issue on a certain level…”
    Fresco is the rational half behind the Zeitgeist movement and is a 93 year old former technocrat. Apparently he left because of differences over the use of Energy Accounting – he favours a “Resource Based Economy”, though I’m not sure how that plays out in terms of accounting and pricing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacque_Fresco

  21. 21 Arthur

    I can’t think of the right phrase for Veblen’s style (in that text) which pretends to be respectful of right thinking conservatism in a way that devastatingly undermines it without needing heavy sarcasm. Wouldn’t call it an “acid tongue”, but certainly delightful and worth emulating.

    Certainly agree that technology is being inhibited by capitalism (whereas general perception is that dynamism of capitalism accelerates it – only true compared with feudalism).

    Socialist economy will liberate productive forces that require massive shift from “services” to (global) R&D. Future ecommunist economy mainly R&D (and education and culture etc). Jad’s quote from Grundrisse about increasing insignificance of labour value becomes more relevant as science itself becomes the main productive force).

    “Civil rights issue” is just a phrase and Utopian schemes are just Utopian schemes (and nutty ones are just nutty).

    The absurdity of current economic system will become increasingly obvious but the range of “solutions” that are even sillier is not going to be helpful to actually liberating the productive forces from the current relations of production.

  22. 22 Jad

    Agree with you there that it’s important to stay implanted in concrete realities and not float off into nuttiness – we haven’t reached the jellyfish phase of evolution quite yet!

  23. 23 Jad

    Returning to the first comment of Arthur on this post, reading that and the rest of this site leaves me with the depressive feeling that the left is not ready for socialism. Yet techno-utopians like the Zeitgeist Movement – who want to overthrow the system – have 250,000 members.

    So what to do if events move faster than theory and the masses become ready for socialism but a viable alternative has not yet been devised? Is this what happenned with the French Communist Party in ’68?

    My glum conclusion at the present time is that the most appropriate strategy may be encouraging nationalisation and increased state control of enterprises, so that the eventual transition to socialism down the track is smoother.

  24. 24 Arthur

    The masses are the makers of history. When they are ready the world changes. Dont forget the masses already do all the work keeping the present system running. When they have to take power they will also have to devise the new system.

    I doubt that Zeitgist movement has 250,000 members in any meaningful sense or an intent to overthrow the system in any meaningful sense. But certainly there will be (various, conflicting) mass movements larger and better organized than that among the billions of humans well before human society, let alone the human species develops to its next level.

    Masses certainly werent ready for socialism in 1968. Success of opponents such as French Communist party is proof enough.

    I am not glum about the likelihood that nationalization is likely to be on the agenda in the relatively short term future and that it will open up a struggle for political power to direct the economy towards meeting peoples needs.

    Ruling class is glum about that and its gloominess affects what passes for the “left” these days.

  25. 25 Arthur

    Turning to concrete policy.

    There’s going to be very live issues about both housing finance and savings/retirement funds (including superannuation).

    Varies among countries but the two are closely linked with financial crisis since assets relied on to fund workers retirement are dependent on mortgate debts. Also intertwined with all other aspects of the financial system.

    In simply expropriating all financial assets and taking ownership of the decisive (large corporate) means of production it immediately becomes necessary to (among many other things) replace the systems for both home ownership and retirement in ways that are understood to be fair and viable by the overwhelming majority and vitally opposed to the interests of only the tiniest possible minority (those that actually live off the accumulation of wealth rather than just having illusions about being more wealthy than they are).

    Presumably entitlement to viable retirement pension from national budget would have to replace super funds and payment of rent for housing into national budget would have to replace mortgages.

    How is this is to be done while also meeting needs/desires for “home ownership” and easy exchange of homes and for people preferring to devote different proportions of their income to housing and other wants and to consumption before and after retirement.

    My assumption is the only desire that cannot be met is for home ownership and super investments as a form of wealth accumulation that is supposed to grow at a certain percentage rate to generate income (the bubble).

    Homes and rentals will need to be revalued on a rational basis and pensions set on a rational basis. Revaluations (rational or not) will be inevitable in the course of the crisis. What should be proposed as a rational basis?

    This particular focus, of direct interest to overwhelming majority of people and inevitably thrown up by the crisis may be an easier thing to get a grip on and get discussion going about than the more “mysterious” problem of how to finance investments in industry that workers arent already thinking about (but which is closely related).

  26. 26 Arthur

    Some quick notes on some current trends in articles from (reformist) “left” as they are grappling with the issue of “What’s the alternative”.

    David Harvey in Socialist Review (Has a series of videos on reading “Capital” which I haven’t looked at):

    1. Similar analysis to Brenner.

    2. Sees danger of protectionism and opposes it.

    3. We need a theory of the State and of finance reflecting developments since Marx.

    4. Outcome depends on balance of class power. Hopes for populist movement bringing pressure for radical transformation countering US administration’s desire to change as little as possible.

    David Harvey in Democracy Now:

    5. G20 (and its member governments) trying to consolidate shift in class power to financiers by screwing people.

    6. Instead buy out houses about to be foreclosed houses and manage them by local associations renting to residents. (Sees home ownership as tying people to capitalism).

    7. Democratize local government to involve the people. (He’s an urban geographer).

    8. Crises enable re-structuring system but current policies are to preserve old power structures.

    9. Continuing growth unsustainable (environment etc). Wants a zero growth economy!!!

    10. Strong social movements may take several years. Housing could be central.

    11. Usual stuff on war.

    12. Obama needs strong social movements forcing his hand against pressure to shift class power to financiers.

    Stewart Holland

    13. Back to Keynes.

    14. Stop increasing labor productivity. More labor intensive jobs instead.

    Hugo Radice

    15. Back to Keynes. New Labor doing this well. No realistic socialist alternative possible.

    Leo Pantitch

    16. Turn banks into public utilities serving democratic policies instead of “short term” profits.

    17. Implies need for controls on international capital and domestic investment so democratization of broader economy and state.

    18. Needs a new movement able to think ambitiously again.

    Robin Blackburn

    19. “Social funds” like Norway and California State super financed from tax on dividends.

    20. One of the reasons why we are not ready for purely socialist solutions is that too few [including Blackburn – AD] any longer believe that there is an alternative to capitalism. But the credit crunch itself lends credibility and urgency to a raft of transformative proposals and experiences that put capitalism into question and build a logic of economic citizenship, collective deliberation and social learning.

    Michel Bawins

    21. “Peer to Peer” (eg free software) undermines value accumulation and should be supported together with coops for future non-capitalist economy.


    Not much sign of a reformist revival.

    Only points I can see where there could be much scope for potential unity with initiatives from reformists are items 6 and 21

  27. 27 Jad

    I’m nearly through Harvey’s lectures on Volume 1 – he didn’t strike me as a reformist (though he doesn’t inject much of his personal politics into the videos). Perhaps he just recognises that a revolutionary movement has to develop from something. Anyway, I think the videos perform a very useful role. I was thinking of getting his “Limits to Capital” as an intro to Vols 2 and 3.

    Re his advocacy of zero growth I can’t really see the problem with that for highly developed countries- exponential growth can’t on forever. If waste and built in obselesence are eliminated and maximal technical efficiency utilised, then I think everyone in developed countries could live materially very well without further economic growth.

    I suppose one of the important things about a post-capitalist society is that economic growth could occur if it was necessary but it wouldn’t have to – it would no longer be a case of “Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!”

  28. 28 Arthur


    I classified Harvey as a reformist because item 6 represents a concrete progressive reform.

    His espousal of “zero growth” would, if taken seriously, make him an extreme reactionary.

    I just can’t take it seriously, any more than I can take your sympathy with it seriously.

    BTW economic growth in a post-capitalist society might or might not include accumulation in value terms. A massive shift to investment in R&D would not “accumulate” an increase in value of means of production per worker since no “value” would be attributed to “intellectual property”. It would just directly produce accelerated economic growth – manifested in richer lives all round, including more leisure and reaching for the stars. The pace of obsolescence would of course be dramatically increased compared with capitalism’s attempt to preserve existing capital values that only get discarded in periodic crises and relatively modest “planned obsolescence” neither of which amount to much compared with the “creative destruction” unleashed from the entrepreneurial energies of the whole working class seeking ways to eliminate work instead of a tiny minority of CEOs doing so for the enrichment of parasites.

  29. 29 Arthur

    PS Of course “exponential growth cannot go on for ever”.

    Nothing primitive recursive could be acceptable to revolutionaries.

    Growth at the rate of Ackermann’s function should be sufficient to eliminate value and economics. But the revolution won’t stop there…

  30. 30 Jad

    “BTW economic growth in a post-capitalist society might or might not include accumulation in value terms. A massive shift to investment in R&D would not “accumulate” an increase in value of means of production per worker since no “value” would be attributed to “intellectual property”. It would just directly produce accelerated economic growth – manifested in richer lives all round, including more leisure and reaching for the stars. ” (unquote)

    I’m not sure how you’re characterising economic growth here. In terms of the labor theory of value, it seems to me that increasing productivity of labor and decreasing work time in a post capitalist society would lead to a decrease in the overall value of production and economic growth.

    As I see it, economic growth can be characterised in several ways:

    1) The standard defintion of increase in Gross Domestic Product in monetary terms, after adjusting for inflation.

    2) Growth in the amount of surplus value available for accumulation. This is an underlying determinant of (1) but is not equivalent to it due to other factors such as undersupply, oversupply, varying rates of surplus value, superprofits etc.

    3) Growth in consumption of physical resources.

    4) Growth in available use values for the enrichment of life.

    Capitalism drives and is driven by (1) and (2). At the same time, it also increases labor productivity, resulting in a magnified and environmentally deleterious rate of (3). (4) also increases, but not necessarily for all.

    I think a post capitalist society would, in the long run, lead to a decrease in (1) and (2), for the reasons above. If it was a non-monetary system, (1) would not be relevant.

    Whether (3) increases in a post-capitalist society would, I think, be a technical issue that would depend on an assessment of available resources and reserves. Certainly once the resources of space become exploitable, (3) will not be much of an impediment. But until that time I don’t think it is reactionary to assume that developed countries would need to keep (3) in check whilst undeveloped countries catch up.

    A post-capitalist society would of course aim to maximize (4). I don’t think need be a necessary correlation (3) with (4). “Creative destruction” could maximise (4) whilst (3) is maintained at an optimal level (eg look at the creative potentialities unleashed by the internet).

  31. 31 Arthur

    Jad, we seem to be agreed that a post-capitalist focus would be on 4, while capitalism can only achieve 4 as a side effect of increasing 1 as a result of a focus on 2.

    I suspect 4 does imply an overall increase in 3, the production and consumption of physical resources, though certainly some forms of 4 (and indeed of 1 and 2) do not depend on that.

    While the focus on 2 would be eliminated in a non-capitalist society that does not imply there would be no occasions on which growth took the form of an accumulation of means of production embodying a higher proportion of past labor to the living labor using those means – consistent with an altered form of both 1 and 2. It would just be less restricted and constrained by an absolute requirement for 1 and 2.

  32. 32 Jad

    Arthur, re the last paragraph of your previous post:

    Given that the means of production can only impart as much value to their products as in embodied in their own production, this scenario would obtain where both the productivity of labor and the amount of surplus value increase.

    I agree there would be situations where this would occur in a post-capitalist society e.g. where currently unproductive and parasitical sectors are set to work, or where the rate of surplus value increases due to the decrease in the cost of labor through the cheapening of wage goods(although the latter would also be offset by increased needs and wants of workers).

    But it seems to me that in order to maximise (4) and the time available for it, the long term trend, and indeed the prime objectives of a post capitalist society would be to both increase labor productivity and decrease economic growth (in the sense of 1 and 2), leading to a situation of maximum free time with cheap goods produced by maximum automation.

    So I think economic growth should only be encouraged to the extent that it leads to the conditions for its own abolition, which I think it probably already has in developed countries.

    In these countries, increasing labor productivity whilst reversing economic growth may be a more progressive slogan than advocating for more economic growth. The latter in itself simply amounts to advocating increased exploitation of wage labor.

  33. 33 Arthur


    Eventually most economic growth would simply be improved productivity from R&D – translated directly into both more leisure and more consumption (including more production and therefore more consumption of “resources”).

    Some would still be in a form corresponding to capitalist accumulation with an increased organic composition of capital eg enhancing public transport costs implies a lot of construction work for both improvements to land and installation of plant with a view to improved productivity of transport and other sectors dependent on speed and cost of transport.

    Developing the third world will certainly involve massive accumulation.

    Above are all separate questions from anything corresponding to rate of surplus value.

    If “necessary labor” corresponds to work done to produce current consumption and “surplus value” to additional hours per day of work done for future economic growth (as opposed to also supporting unproductive parasatism) then it is also quite possible there would be an increase in the ratio corresponding to rate of surplus value despite complete elimination of parasitism.

    eg if we spend an hour a day producing 100 times as much consumption as we do now, and two hours per day on R&D and other work to improve productivity further, compared to 4 hours per day for wages and 4 hours for capitalists now, that would be an increase in a corresponding (though not equivalent) rate from 100% to 200%.

  34. 34 Jad

    Hmmm. I could be missing something, but where I’m coming from is that if we assume that the exchange value and price of commodities is determined by their value (ie the socially necessary labor time required for their production) and that economic growth is an increase in the overall value of production, then increasing productivity whilst decreasing economic growth equates with more stuff for less work.

    Eg if R&D enables a worker to produce 1000 items a day instead of 1, then we would expect the exchange value of the item produced to fall from, say, $1000 to $1(plus a bit more for the value of the means of production used up). This is increased productivity but is not economic growth, as there has been no increase in value.

    I do agree with you that massive accumulation is necessary in developing countries and that the rate of surplus value could beneficially increase under post capitalism. Nevertheless, it seems to me that because the very idea of a zero growth economy for developed countries highlights the exploitative nature of capitalism, alliances of the left with greenies on this issue could be appropriate (whilst emphatically rejecting, of course, the back to nature primitivism). Maybe this is what Harvey getting at.

  35. 35 Arthur


    Yes you are missing something (in fact a lot).

    Increasing productivity by factor of one thousand does reduce value per item to one thousandth so total value is same. But that IS economic growth.

    This isn’t ambiguous or controversial. You just haven’t got it.

  36. 36 Jad

    Again , I think it depends on how you are defining economic growth. Could you clarify this?

    If we take the previous example and assume it applies to an entire economy, we get the following:

    – Economic growth, using the standard definition, is increase in the market value (= price = exchange value = value) of all commodities produced in a given period.
    – Before the R&D kicked in, the GDP of the economy was $1000.
    – After the R&D increased productivity, the GDP of the economy was still $1000.
    – Hence, no economic growth.

    (There would still be the same amount of surplus value produced available for accumulation both before and after the R&D, but that is a separate issue).

  37. 37 Arthur


    You are assuming a $ is a unit of value such as a specific number of seconds of socially necessary labour time. It isn’t. If the value of all commodities is reduced to one thousandth, so are the values of whatever is used as money (eg gold, a trade weighted index of export and import commodities, cattle, wampum, energy or whatever).

    So the GDP would increase in monetary terms (as it does).

    If the “value of money” varies differently from other commodities you would have changes in price level and nominal GDP that do NOT correspond to actual economic growth (hence calculations of “real GDP” using chained price indexes).

    With a fixed labor supply the total value added by labour every year would be constant equal to the number of hours of socially necessary labour time supplied. That is ALWAYS true whether there is economic growth or not. But growing GDP per capita is called economic growth while stagnant GDP per capita is not economic growth – whether the population and labour supply are growing or not.

    When there is more of everything it is called economic growth. This isn’t worth discussing. If your concepts don’t fit with that its because they don’t make sense, so review them rather than expecting further detailed explanation.

  38. 38 Jad

    Aah yes, the value of money. I’ll go mull on that, thanks for bringing it up.

    I still see a valid distinction and possible disjuncture between “more of everything” due to the cheapening of commodities as a consequence of increased productivity, and economic growth in monetary terms (which is what capitalists are after and I think what most people associate with the term).

    Incidentally, in his discussion of chapter 24, Harvey makes an interesting analogy between abstinence in the 19th Century and growth in the current century as examples of the fetishization of social necessities into virtues:


  39. 39 poton

    just do the things for the greater good of mankind. The Venus Project

  40. 40 Barry

    I’m not sure if it was in this thread or the one on Unemployment and Revolution but somoene, Arthur I think, made the point that the elites are not seeking to go down the protectionist path. Fortunately, this remains the case in general. However, the New South Wales Government (for overseas readers, it’s a Labor Party government of Australia’s biggest State) has moved directly in the protectionist direction. It will be interesting to see Prime Minister Rudd’s response. Hopefully, he will work against it.

    Today’s ‘Australian’ newspaper runs these instructive paragraphs:

    NSW Labor has form on protectionism. A resolution to the 1909 party conference:

    (A) ALL Chinese furniture factories (in NSW) to be restricted to 48 hours per week and that the 48 hours be worked between 7.30am and 6pm Mondays to Fridays inclusive, and between 7.30 and and 1pm on Saturdays, and that overtime can only be worked after obtaining the sanction of the Department of Labor and Industry. (b) All Chinese furniture and other manufactures be so stamped.

    Former NSW premier Jack Lang in his 1956 memoir I Remember:

    WITH all these precautions, it was not long before the threat of coloured labour had disappeared from the industry. Trade union action finished the job started by legislators.

    NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal in a press release this week:

    THE NSW government will require its agencies and state-owned corporations to give preferential treatment to Australian-made goods under the new Local Jobs First plan. Under Local Jobs First, government agencies and SOCs will now be required to give preferential treatment to local manufacturers under a price-preference mechanism.

    The price preference means locally made content is discounted by 20 per cent when compared to overseas-sourced material in tender evaluations.

    For instance, if an agency has a choice between purchasing an Australian-made product for $10 and a foreign-made product for $9, the Australian-made product will be discounted under the policy, making it in effect worth $8 to the government and making it the better-value product.


  41. 41 Arthur

    The NSW protectionism is quite extreme. There’s a similar bizarre policy adopted by China on local preference for “stimulus” funds. These pressures will grow though its really odd that its happening in countries like Australia and China that are totally dependent on world trade.

  42. 42 Jad

    Hi everyone
    Some good posts happenning on this blog – keep it up! Exciting stuff going on in Egypt.

    For anyone interested in Thorstein Veblen, technocracy and similar, the third Zeitgeist movie is now out. It has been out 5 days and has already had 730,000 views.

    I haven’t seen it yet but have heard that the movement has ditched all the conspiracy theory rubbish, which is good. Here is the link:


  1. 1 Price Systems at STRANGE TIMES

Leave a Reply