Profits and the Information Economy (Re: De Long on networkeconomy

Peter Kilander peterk at
Sat Aug 14 17:57:06 PDT 1999

>>You know, while there is a strong sense of resistance to capitalism, I
>>wouldn't call it a leftist streak. For the most part, it's a strong
>>right-libertarian streak, as exemplified by Eric S. Raymond. They don't so
>>much reject capitalism as reject restrictions on *their* rights and
>>*their* priviledges - it's a wholly atomistic worldview.
>>(It is ironic that Torvalds and Stallman are counterexamples to this
>>philosophy, but they are very much politically isolated in this way).

John K.:
>Perhaps not. Maybe this is a feasible model for socialists appealing to
>libertarians. Let's face it. In the US, most civil libertarians just want
>exist unmolested and undertaxed. The only way to get them to contribute to
>social good is to get them involved deeper in social organizations. These
>organizations should appeal to their libertarian sympathies rather than a
>desire for improved social welfare.
>The right wing does something similar. Conservative churches appeal to an
>individual's desire for self improvement and a social life (and
>salvation). Along the way, they saddle them with a little healthy guilt,
>then eventually get them to think that premarital sex is irrational and

The right also excels at flag-waving. Maybe - hopefully - the Internet is doing some damage in that department. Maybe the revolutionary class will turn out to be a combination of the propellerheads and the telemarketers (you might remember that Doug recently reported that the latter - the people who like to call during dinner - far outnumber autoworkers. Imagine their potential networking and organizing ability. They could organize on the clock.) John's right about the strong libertarian streak and this should always be remembered. The pull of the hacker mythos is still strong. Also, I don't think it can be pointed out often enough that it was the government and not some heroic entrepreneur (and certainly not Al Gore) that invented the Internet. It's conventional wisdom that Bill Gates bluffed his way into the game and used hardball business tactics to get ahead.

In my opinion, one of the many things to keep your eye on if the market takes a downturn is its effects on the political consciousness of these folks who would be faced with much more"competitive" job market. Will there be the usual scapegoating? I mean, we don't have welfare moms to kick around anymore. How will they react to capitalism's creative destruction?

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