On July the 31st, the members of Liberty Discussion Group met once again, this time to discuss the article “The End of Capitalism Has Begun” by Paul Mason, an award-winning journalist, professor and an “Economics Editor of Channel 4 News.” The writer argues in the essay that with the revolutionary growth in the field of information technology, the concept of work is being altered, that the production of goods and services are no longer dictated by the interaction in the markets, and that markets have lost the power to set prices. Before we realize it, he argues, capitalism as we know it is changing.
Different member of the groups had differing views about the arguments presented in the essay. The one-and-a-half-hour discussion mostly revolved around some of the observations the writer talks about in the essay.
The discussion began with some members expressing dissent over some of the assumptions used by the writer: that the edges between work and free time has been blurred; capitalism today is creating monopolies as its defence mechanism against the abundance of information leading to weakening of markets; and that goods and services being produced today are no longer guided by the market demand.
To these “observations,” the participants argued that while technology has indeed reduced the need to “physical work,” it is greatly enhancing the productivity of the people, meaning that they have more time to pursue other goals. The uncertainty about what people will do with the “more time,” and about what they can achieve is, in their opinion, wherein the beauty of capitalism lies. Based on the experience of progress that human beings have continued to make throughout their history, it was pre-mature they argued, to state that capitalism was about to be burnt by itself.
They also discussed that price was never really an end, and was not designed by anybody in such a way that there would be an ideal price of everything and that it would be the end. Price’s sole function was to communicate the information between the supply and demand of goods or services or information in the market; it is the interaction between the demand and supply that should a subject of study, not the prices.
Some participants took the observation that wikipedia had overtaken the encyclopedia market and deprived the advertisement industry an estimated “$ 3 bn a year in revenue” with a sign of positivism and optimism as it meant that in effect, $ 3bn a year was being released for some other form of innovation or to contribute to some other cause in the world.
Participants were divided over whether or not an economic crisis was needed to spur technological innovation. Some a pointed out to the fact that the essay uses numbers and figures but does not offer bases, and this, some participants took as the writer’s strategy to lead the audience into believing something without giving them a clear picture.
There were other number of arguments that the participants of the session were divided over. The discussion ended with a substantial portion of the essay yet to be discussed. The participants agreed to study a little more on the writer and his other works, develop a clearer understanding, and discuss his works again in future.