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[ox-en] Scarcity and limitations (was: Re: The nature of apple trees)

Hi Diego, Michel, all!

In a way it is good to reiterate all this stuff. It makes me think
again about some concepts in the light of today's knowledge.

Last week (12 days ago) Michel Bauwens wrote:
scarcity can be engineered, both for immaterial products, through IP
legislation for rent extraction, but also in the physical work, thing of
Monsanto's terminator seeds; in fact, Roberto Verzola makes a strong case
that capitalist markets are scarcity-engineering in their very nature;

On Thu, Apr 23, 2009 at 6:23 PM, Diego Saravia <diego.saravia>wrote:
scarcity is not engineered, is a basic part of every life or ecological

May be I should re-introduce the specific meaning of some notions
here as it is often used in Oekonux.

* By deposits (looking for a better word) I understand the amount of
  deposits of a certain resource.

  This applies to all deposits of that certain resource regardless of
  whether today they are accessible, inaccessible or even still

  For example there are certainly deposits of metals on other planets
  in the solar system though they are probably not known today and
  certainly not accessible for human use.

  Deposits are the really hard limitation set by nature. However, this
  limitation is usually not very relevant. Read on.

* By limitations I understand those limits which are imposed on
  mankind by specific historical conditions not alienated from the
  well-being of humans.

  By non-alienated here I mean conditions which at least in principle
  can be changed by political decisions as part of the normal
  political process of a society. See below for the difference. [1]_

  .. [1] In fact I'm not totally happy with this definition because it
         does not express exactly what I'm thinking about. Help to
         improve it is appreciated.

  These historical conditions include technical abilities but also
  political decisions. For instance accessibility of a deposit is
  largely a question of the availability of technical means to access
  it. Whether you want to access a deposit or not can also be subject
  of a political decision: You may not want to destroy this part of
  nature just to access some iron ore.

  Since by definition limitations are based on historical conditions
  which are subject to change by the normal political process they can
  be influenced by mankind. You can invent new technical means or you
  can make another political decision. As far as production is
  concerned you can make a political decision that you want to create
  ampleness of a certain good to supply the request for it.

  If we look at the peer production movement I see it as one of the
  challenges to step by step create the foundations to make such
  political decisions easier or - even better - just remove
  limitations at all. The invention of universal digital copy (aka
  Internet) for instance lifted a major technical limitation in the
  distribution of (digitized) information. See also the respective
  entry in the DrawingBoard_.

  .. _DrawingBoard:

* By scarcity I understand a situation where limits are alienated from
  the well-being of humans.

  Of course this is particularly true for capitalism since capitalism
  needs to prevent ampleness to make exchange useful at all. This need
  to prevent ampleness is what in capitalism I call scarcity.

  In fact the quote from Michel above gives a few examples but in a
  more general sense I'd expand them to all of exchange based
  production. If the goal of your production is to exchange other
  things for the products then you have a clear incentive to make your
  goods as expensive as possible to get the most return. Or in other
  words: To raise prices. In capitalism this trend to raise prices is
  countered by competition.

  Anyway this force to get the most return imposes scarcity. Even if
  you would have the production capabilities to feed the whole world -
  which in many cases we have already on this planet - you won't do
  this because from giving your products away for gree you don't get a

  Peer production is based on a very different logic here. You get no
  more return if you withhold your products from the world or not. In
  fact you get no return in the sense of exchange for your products at
  all. Even in the contrary: If you share your goods as wide as
  possible there is a better chance that your product will be
  improved. Though this is again not a direct return for you it may
  make your life more comfortable because you have a better product.
  In any case it improves the well-being of all of mankind.

  In fact this logic is opposed to exchange since an exchange logic
  would destroy the sharing and introduce scarcity.


Contact: projekt

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