Scarcity, limitedness, deposits, needs (was: Re: [ox-en] [Upd-discuss] Paper:"Digital property" By Sabine Nuss - Response to Stallman)
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Sat, 05 Nov 2005 14:45:07 +0100
Hi Michael and all!
I agree with Sabine's contribution.
Last month (29 days ago) Michael Bouwens wrote:
My conclusion is:
In the material world the scarcity is artificial
as well, it is the
result of the private property regime:
Absolutely. Indeed this was one of the early
insights you gave to
Oekonux :-) .
I do have problems with this. On the one hand, I
understand that property creates scarcity, artificial
scarcity. But does that necessarily mean that there is
no objective scarcity in the good itself. After all,is
that not the difference between non-rival and rival
Some time ago in Oekonux we found the terms scarcity, limitedness and
deposits (right term?) to describe what you mean.
Deposits mean the total amount of some raw material available on earth
/ solar system / universe. The deposits are present and fixed and may
not be known. This is the only thing which has to do with nature BTW.
With the term limitedness we describe the portion of the deposits
which is available to humans. This portion changes when new deposits
are prospected, technical developments or social decisions take place.
If you look at a fixed point in time the currently available things
are also limited. However, the limitedness is subject to human
activity aka society. You can produce more of something for instance.
Also the term product comes into play here. Indeed there is very
little which is really raw material because nearly every thing a human
uses is processed and thus a product.
Scarcity is what a society may create. It is what you describe:
For example, even when there is enough food for
everyone, the money system may create an unability to
buy that food.
Exactly. And you even don't need a money system for this. Each money
system is only a reflection of this societal scarcity.
Also scarcity may pertain to a certain form of society. For instance
the deposits of mineral oil are fixed, the limitedness has been
changed by prospecting mineral oil and by advancing technology and the
scarcity totally depends on the "mineral oil society".
But, the world's resources are finite
aren't they. Even before there was feudal land
property, tribes were fighting to access to better
land, because good land is scarce.
Of course these things are limited. But so are needs.
Indeed when we look at use value there is very little unlimited need -
if at all. I.e. there is no theoretical problem to imagine a society
which simply fulfills the needs of its members.
Things change if you abstract from the use value to (exchange) value
which in its generalized form is called money. There are no limits set
by some use value any more and the only "sufficient" amount of money
is positive infinity.
Why is this important. Because I think that peer
production can work for non-rival goods without
reciprocity; but when you dealing with scarce physical
goods, reciprocity will be required.
No. A society could decide to simply fulfill the needs of their
members and can try to accomplish this goal. Indeed most of human
societies worked this way.
Even without capitalism, without 'scarce' money, the
resources will still be limited.
or not?? I'd like to be convinced,
Of course there will always be limitedness. The question is how you
deal with it.
You say the best is reciprocity. Reciprocity logically includes
property because when I do not own something I can not give away
something in a reciprocal manner: It would be simply available to
This makes sense if the process necessary to acquire some property is
painful - i.e. by needing work. It makes no sense if for instance the
production process is painless or even a delight. The first makes
sense when you separate use value from exchange value like in
capitalism. The second makes sense in an economy like the one seen in
Property in Free Software just makes no sense because it is not pain
to write it (as long it is done fully self-determined). If you like it
a productive need. Also property makes no sense because it prevents
and hinders the free flow of products which is so essential in Free
Software. Property is a contradiction to the principles of the
production of Free Software. The Free flow of products is as much a
prerequisite of Free Software economy as it is a result of this type
of economy. This is what I call Free.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de
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