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  • Jun 27th, 2014 @ 3:07pm


    The ZMCS brings power away from the centralized concentration of capital to the user as producer. Ultimately, the user or prosumer is able to produce his own products without employing the traditional tools associated with capitalism. Capitalism focuses on the use of capital to reduce costs, especially labor costs. As it becomes more efficient, it reduces the importance of labor to the extent that it does not need to employ anything near the laborers who are available for work.

    Capitalism destroys itself by reducing costs to the extent that it no longer serves a valuable purpose for society. The emerging tools like 3D make it possible to produce goods at the village or individual level. This is contrary to the massive resources and organization required to produce the current automobile, for example.

    Rifkin doesn't think that capitalism will completely disappear as there will be certain functions where its traditional modus operandi will be necessary.

    Taking one example of a near zero margin cost product, solar electricity, capitalism is still required to produce the panels in an efficient manner but the actual operation can occur at the consumer level with almost no input or cost. However, the question is, will it really be possible to produce panels efficiently in a near zero marginal cost scenario.

    We shall see how this plays out. I am not certain that 3D printing, for example, has the promise that the author thinks it does. But there will be situations where capitalism, including private ownership of capital, is not necessary to produce certain required goods and service. We have government provided roads which cost billions of dollars. No one expects to have to directly fund his own roads except to pay gas taxes, general taxes, and in some cases, user fees to the government.

    I don't think capitalism will completely disappear but I think it will be much different that it is now. Collaboration will not necessarily occur within a capitalist context.

    There are all sorts of arguments for its superiority as an economic system. Superiority, however, depends upon one's value systems. Most of us operate within a universe where we are happy to forego capitalism in one area in our lives but recognize it efficacy in other areas of our lives. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

    Part of the reason that socialism is such a bogeyman is because of how it went wrong in the Soviet Union. The basic centralized structure stayed the same but did nothing to help people determine their economic destiny on a local or individual level. Lack of empowerment of the individual is a problem whether one is in a socialism or capitalist system. The zero marginal cost society will enable empowerment at a level closer to the individual.