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Re: Scarcity and limitedness - again (was: Re: [ox-en] Commons in a taxonomy of goods)

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2010/7/1 Stefan Merten <smerten>

Hi Diego!

This is one of the debates which seems to pop up again and again.
However, this debate is important.

I agree

In this project we are trying to include scientific methods.


For example the word "free" you are using all the time is probably one
of the most overloaded words in the world.

yes, but I am using it in a very specific way

And for this we
need to be specific and need to understand why the "common" meaning is
not enough for the things we are trying to grasp.

The wikipedia definition is exactly what we need.

scarcity, as normally defined,  is the consecuence of natural limits
and social economy production/distribution system

This is a nice example for thinking in the old paradigm. StefanMz' and
my claim is that with the new paradigm we need to challenge this
"wisdom" and to replace it by something which is more suitable.


The fact is that peer production or other production system will not
put a end to scarcity, at least until will find other energy and
material sources

do you have something to say here?

Peer production could reduce scarcity,  we use could generate a better
distribution system using peer production, but we could not continue a
infinite growth path.

You can call that "limits", ok, but that will  not change the fundamental
You can try to change the use of the word scarcity, if you don't like
it, but the facts will continue to be there.

From this I understand that you at least accept that there are two
concepts StefanMz (and I) using different words for.


AFAICS you are
not proposing an own word for limitedness


so I'll stick with the
different words developed here.

ok, with limitedness

you did not give arguments to change scarcity or commons/free goods

Your claim now is that these concepts are equal and because of this it
doesn't make sense to talk about them separately.

no, that is not my claim

I am not making any claim

You write an  article proposing to change scarcity/common_good
definition (trying to explain peer production).

I do not see yet the need to change that definition.

That could be a
valid claim but I'll try to explain why IMHO it is misleading at best.

Most of limitedness is due to a certain societal configuration which
*can* be changed by human action.


As in StefanMz' example more apples
*can* be produced if they are needed.

yes, but you will have less oranges

Or you *can* invest in new
technologies to solve the need for more energy. If you like this is
the field of politics in a post-scarcity world.

we are not in a postscarcity world, now humankind is desperately searching
for new energy sources, and there isn't nothing obvious in front of us.

Now the concept of scarcity enters the scene. Scarcity describes a
situation where despite better knowledge there *won't* be more apples
- for instance to keep the prices high.

you are inverting cause-effect here

you will need to  invert first and then you have quantities and then prices.

ok, they are "unknown differential equations", and everything is related,
but you have a time delay in inverstments => production. Tree growth is not
due in a minute.

you can choose if you will have (in the future)  cheaper apples or cheaper
oranges, but if you have a limit in human work time or in capital
investment, or in technologies, you can not produce every good you could
want at the price you want.

There *won't* be new
technlogies for new energy sources such as natural energy sources. And
they won't because the fundamental societal configuration prevents

united states by now are making huge investment in solar/wind energy
sources, some europeans countries are doing the same. China also.

AFAICS in your understanding you are neglecting this and say this is
all "nature" and thus can not be changed.

we, as a part of nature, could make a lot of changes.

but we have limits

some "natural", some not, we could produce more goods, and distribute them
better, but we can not produce everything we want without limits, and that
is ussually called scarcity.

IMHO this is how the old
paradigm tries to sell things to people. It is always easy to say that
*my* decision is really the will of God.

I do not believe in good. I think Darwin gives us a good description of
nature. Science not religion. Nature not heaven :)

However, if this would be correct you should really stop fighting for
anything because laws of nature or the will of God can not be changed.
In this case you simply have to accept that millions of humans are

as  I said, we could make a lot of changes

Our claim is that they *can* be changed because they are effects of
human action.

we can make a lot of changes, but not every change we can imagine.

Our further claim is that they *won't* be changed as
long as there is scarcity -

I think we could stop starving, but we could not stop all kind of scarcity.

So, there is not a magic solution for stoping scarcity.
We have limited work avaibility, we have limited capital resources, etc.

we could organize better, yes.

but we could not have infinite physical goods production.

i.e. the societal configuration prevents
this change.

societal configuration prevents a lot of changes

but there are lot of changes that are limited by other means.

Peer production is clearly part of the new paradigm we are discussing


You can see that it *does* change the societal configuration
because today we have high quality products which in several ways
would not have been possible by the old paradigm.


And this is not by
chance but because the old paradigm *prevents* such products.

we have now, more people,  more capital, better technologies, Internet, etc

peer production is part of a new era

as in industrial revolution, we will have social configuration changes

but, we will continue living in a scarce world

Under scarcity


under actual economic configuration

it makes sense to deliver a low-quality product because
next time you can sell another one which may be a little bit better.


but a lot of people will be watching black and white television, and using
insecure cars

ok I do not have  tv in my house, we dont need color, digital, 3d television

we dont need individual cars


as in cuba, we can have all people eating, with health, etc if we put and
end to capitalism and consumism

I agree

I am not sure if peer production will put an end to consumism

I am very happy with my i7 processor, my 23 inches monitor, my color  laser

Under limitedness such an approach doesn't make sense and that is why
under peer production there is a steady progress to the highest
possible quality. That you have this quality not from the start is an
effect of limitedness but not of scarcity.

I agree, we could live better.

 please give to us your new scarcity definition, and your limitedness

So still to me it makes much sense to distinguish scarcity and
limitedness - especially in this discussion.


could you provide us an example of how  you would rewrite
scarcity/common_good/free_good wikipedia pages?

and write limitdness one

If you have a better word
for scarcity then you are free to propose it.

By now, I agree with wikipedia definition, I am listening you.

Until then I'll stick
with the current meaning developed here and hopefully I was able to
explain why distinguishing these concepts is fundamental for
understanding peer production.

I do not see how wikipedia definition put us a limit to understand peer

Diego Saravia

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Contact: projekt

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