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Re: [ox-en] built-in infinite growth (was: Re: Meaning of markets, scarcity, abundance)

Very clear explanation, thanks,

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----- Original Message ----
From: Stefan Meretz <stefan.meretz>
To: list-en
Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2008 5:34:45 AM
Subject: [ox-en] built-in infinite growth (was: Re: Meaning of markets, scarcity, abundance)

Hi Michel,

I narrowed the topic just to the infinite growth question and

other points here.

On 2008-01-05 03:29, Michael Bauwens wrote:
What I'm not sure is why it is the commodity-money cycle (M-C-M) that
is responsible for infinite growth. I think this cycle was operating
in stable local markets long before capitalism.

StefanMn already answered this point, however, maybe his

to short. StefanMn wrote:

Even then there might have been elements of exchange but
- as Marx rightly says - the important point is when the markets
shifted from a "Good => Money => Other Good" logic to a "Money =>
Commodity => More Money" logic - being the basis of capitalism.
This is also the root of where the logic of infinite growth creeps
in. Infinite growth is certainly alienated from humanity.

BC: Before capitalism we have C-M-C

By using "good" instead of "commodity" (as Marx did) Stefan is more 
precise, because before capitalism goods had not been commodities. 
Being a commodity is a special societal form goods (only) get in 
capitalism. In the following I use "good" when talking about 

WC: Within capitalism we have M-C-M'

The really important sign here is the apostrophe, which you forgot. It 
indicates the entirely different dynamics of pre-capitalist markets

capitalist markets. Lets look a bit into it.

BC: Goods are generally produced for self-suffiency. To obtain goods 
someone is not producing, the overplus of the produced goods are 
brought to market: Either to exchange them directly with other goods

via money being the mediator. At the end, there is not a

but only an "other good". There is no (effective) driver for 
progression. Things develop slowly and under circumstances of personal 

WC: Roles and relationships of C (or G) and M have completely changed 
(ignoring why and how). When BC the good and thus the needs are 
starting and end point of the cycle, now money takes this place, and 
commodities are in the roles of the mean. From the standpoint of the 
cycle logic, the purpose concerning needs aren't of interest at

products may be food or bombs, it doesn't count. The only purpose is

make money.
However, the purpose is not simply to make money, the purpose is to 
make _more_ money than invested before. This more-logic comes from 
competition of those producers who want to sell the same commodity on

limited market. A single capitalist can't say "my way of production is 
ok, I'll do it for the rest of my live", because the competitor

sleep and produces the same commodities cheaper to overtake market 
share from the competitor. Why overtaking market share? Because of the 
economics of scale: On a bigger scale you can produce cheaper (more 
efficient in terms of value). Conclusion: All participants have to 
strive for increasing the productivity of work to make their products 
cheaper - by punishment of downfall. They have no choice if they want 
to stay inside.

"Having no choice" means a coercion to follow the rules of the things 
(the commodities). This leads to a reversal of the relationship

the social and the things. In capitalism it is no longer the case,

we organize socially what things we want to produce to satisfy our 
needs, it is reversed: The things seem to have a life of its own, they 
move and say to us, want we should do, to satisfy their "needs". They 
say: Produce me cheaper or you're out of the game. This really weird 
behavior was named "fetishism" by Marx, and this was one of his most 
important discoveries (and not the exploitation stuff, which of course 
it true anyway).

Marx in his own words: "Thus the participants in capitalist production 
live in a bewitched world and their own relationships appear to them

properties of things, as properties of the material elements of 

StefanMn uses another term addressing the same topic: alienation. 
Production in capitalism is alienated, we don't do it for us, we do it 
for M' in M-C-M'. Thus the "C", the products, are only a by-product of 
an alienated logic, they are not the aim. Being only a by-product also 
means, that it cannot be controlled, what they are (food, bomb, etc.), 
because they all serve M'. And moreover, other externalities cannot be 
controlled too: CO2-emission etc. Ok, states try to implement some 
controllings via prices, however, this doesn't really help. Stop.

Conclusion: The built-in infinite growth feature of capitalism finally 
eats the planet -- and us.


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