Capitalism and free market are different things

Submitted by the_oalrus in Tech

An initial proposal:

The free market as envisioned by Adam Smith revolved around the idea of multitudes of independent consumers and producers freely exchanging. He was picturing something more akin to what Tocqueville meant with 'a nation of shopkeepers' and not a bunch of people selling their labor to make pins for someone else. That idea of a flexible market where supply and demand are determined by multitude of perfectly informed actors was always idealistic and ignored externalities, asymmetric information, and other market failures. But conceptually, and with safeguards, it makes a degree of sense to me.

The problem is marrying it with a capitalism system. After the industrial-revolution capital had to be massive to be meaningful and so by definition only a few centralized entities could hope to be actual capitalists. A couple of thousand dollars and a shingle with your name doesnt make you a capitalist. So, in 'free market' capitalism we cant have multitudes of actors and therefore we don't actually have free markets.

My proposal is that in an information economy we are all information capitalists. We all have meaningful human capital. We have life experiences, backgrounds, and educations. And when we create information in our information systems we are combining the capital we have with our own labor to create value. The current system of Facebook, Google, and the rest, assumes the value of that capital and labor to be zero. I think more and more people are realizing that this is ridiculous.

I am proposing an alternative information organization that recognizes the value of human capital and labor in creating the digital world. At first I want to create a system that works on voluntary compensation but can also scale to actual exchange. The future doesn't have to be capitalist.

Check out my first efforts at Oalrus. My current goal is to validate the idea and try to build a mailing list of people who could be alpha testers of a new community. So if you share some of my concerns and want to see continued investment in the idea, sign up for the mailing list.


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_ziq_ wrote (edited )


the_oalrus wrote

Neat. I am neophyte here and have learned something from your links. Thank you.

The difference I think is that market anarchism is grounded in concerns of physical capital where question of ownership is central. I argue that in digital economies the capital that is most meaningful is human capital and the ownership of that is not in any sort of dispute.

So to me the question for a digital economy is not how move away from ownership and centralization of physical capital but a question of motivating and rewarding individuals for acquiring human capital.