BabelHuber wrote: K. A. Pital wrote:
What incentive did it have to replace horses with tractors?
I'm afraid this looks more and more like a congregation of people whose sorry intellectual state is itself a sign of capitalistic disease - poorly capable of thinking systemically and imagining concepts outside the typical buzzwords, they fall prey to the simplest concepts aired in the meme space.
Replacing horses with tractors is an obvious way to raise productivity for agricultural production. Any sane communist leadership will love to do this if it has the chance - either for importing less or for exporting more.
But replacing typewriters with PCs is totally different - it does not give you immediate and obvious advantages. Why would the Brezhnev administration see this as a major breakthrough? Oh right it did not!
The Brezhnev administration didn't have ready access to microcomputers that could
outcompete the typewriter.
Remember that typewriters remained in widespread use right up into and through the 1980s. This is not because there were no microcomputers. This is because a microcomputer cost ten or a hundred times more than a typewriter.
Microcomputers became cheap enough to replace typewriters for reasons that had very little to do with anyone's vision or lack of vision. They had to do with advances in the underlying technology. They had to do with people getting more and more experience in programming simple, cheap, user-friendly computers that could do the jobs that used
to require large, bulky, unserviceable mainframes.
Did capitalism play a major role in making this possible? Yes.
Is it correct to say "communists didn't see the point in replacing typewriters with microcomputers, so they didn't try?" No, it is not.
If you honestly believe the truth is on your side, don't lie.
Don't oversimplify. Don't play word games and try to use catch phrases as a substitute for explanations.
My original point was:
Because a capitalist society has a huge advantage: Individuals have more freedom and hence can start their own companies and pursue their own visions. In a communist society, you may have engineers who are similarly qualified and have similar visions, but due to the centralist nature of their society they cannot pursue them as well.
I don't think that this is nebulous at all.
Yes, I know you don't. That's your problem.
See, "freedom" means a lot of things besides "freedom of enterprise," a term I had to make up precisely because there is no widely accepted word for the phenomenon. Using the word 'freedom' when you mean a singular specific
freedom is you falling prey to buzz-word thinking- one of the very common products of exactly the sort of inefficient, sloppily organized, incompetent, ossified organizations you claim to despise.
People who are effective and useful
don't use vague, broad words to refer to specific, precise concepts. Because they, unlike you, have a clear understanding of what they're talking about. They know what it is, and they know what it is not.
You do not have this understanding of capitalism, as shown by the way you speak of it. This is why your analyses of capitalism, and your policy recommendations, tend to be both ineffective and useless.
Simon_Jester wrote:As Stas noted, it would have the same incentives everyone else did. No reasonably prosperous and functional communist society ever stopped trying to advance its technology, when it knew of a better technology to accomplish a given objective.
You have overseen my main point: Creative destruction
This is the
advantage of capitalistic societies. While creating something new, something old is destroyed.
Creative destruction is not unique to capitalism. Communism is, in fact, frighteningly good
at destroying old things to make room for new things.
The fact that you have a fetish for destroying old 'inefficient' systems because you think they should be replaced with something different does not somehow make you better or smarter.
You're trying to act as though capitalism is somehow uniquely responsible for this wonderful thing you call creative destruction. It's ridiculous. It's like a child trying to take credit for the fact that rain started falling, because they just did the proper little magic dance.
So stop singing from the hymn book in praise of competition, and start thinking.
Like Skimmer did. Skimmer actually came up with a very good, and very specific, reason why capitalism was successful at creating computers. It wasn't a vague buzz-word like "competition." It wasn't "creative destruction."
It was the simple fact of cost accounting
. As long as no market failures or major intangibles are involved, the use of market prices to determine the cost of goods and services has a major advantage. By using market prices, a capitalist economy provides an impersonal, largely objective metric of how much things actually cost society at large, in terms of the labor and materials and logistics required to make them. This is an extremely helpful tool for planning and organizing efficient operations, and it is one that centrally planned economies struggle to duplicate.
And that is only one of many such observations that could be made here.
But such observations are beyond you, because you're so busy making a fetish out of capitalism that you can't stop and think long enough to develop a clear-eyed understanding of what it is.
Simon_Jester wrote:The problem was not that communist society had no incentive to replace typewriters with word processors. The problem was that communist society was unable to rapidly develop and produce a word processor that could outcompete the typewriter.
No. A communist society has to take care about a ridiculous amount of issues. Like in the German Democratic Republic, where the leadership was struggling to make sure that the population has enough coffee (otherwise the people would be in a bad mood).
And yet communism did not have any remarkable problems switching from horses to tractors, or from village blacksmiths to steel mills, or from steam locomotives to diesel, or from trains to airplanes.
You're coming up with simplistic, childish excuses for things that are far more usefully explained by more adult-level thinking.
The problem is not that the leadership of the communist country is distracted by coffee shipments or something. The problem is the difficulty of ensuring that resources and labor are allocated efficiently enough to make the manufacture of cutting-edge computer hardware possible.
You don't seem to get that a company is just a legal construct, not more. If it goes bankrupt, all the people, tools etc. are still there and can be utilized. Except in your twisted fantasy, where the end of a legal entity means suffering of people per default.
Experience shows that you are not correct. When companies go out of business, workers frequently suffer, as they are either left without a job, or forced to justify the right to retain their job to a new employer who purchased their services as part of a buyout.
Have you actually talked to real people whose company went bankrupt, in a diverse set of circumstances and industries?
K. A. Pital wrote:So, not obvious to a person with higher education who understands that replacing pen and paper with a calculator is efficient? Are we even on the same planet?
of the communist societies in the 1970ies failed to replace typewriters with PCs. Not a single one put a top priority on this. Not soviet Russia, not the GDR, not Poland, not Bulgaria, not Cuba, the list goes on and on.
Capitalist societies in the 1970s didn't replace typewriters with PCs either. Typewriters remained in use up through the 1980s, and were not dislodged by PCs until the end of that decade. In parts of the world where people have less money, they are still in widespread use.
On that note, you bringing up nations like Cuba which were always
deeply impoverished compared to developed nations makes this a further joke. Do you really expect a country that never had anything like the West's per capita GDP, before or after communism, to be an early adopter of high technology?
It's not that it's wrong to say "capitalism made the computer revolution possible and it would not be possible under communism." That's not wrong, honestly, I think.
The problem is that you're babbling nonsense and blustering about buzz-words in an attempt to support a true conclusion, a conclusion which is true for more subtle and practical reasons that I'm not sure you're prepared to understand.