Saturday, July 23, 2011

The only path to Quality: Post Capitalism

In previous post I described how there seems to be a way out of the end-of-growth (from peak everything), and that is for quality to take the place of quantity.  I only began to contemplate how difficult, or perhaps even impossible, that would be.

The more I think about it, the more impossible it seems.  Not that we can't get quality (though we probably won't, except as I plan to describe), but that quality could provide continued "economic growth," at least as we've known that under capitalism.

I'm familiar with concepts related to quality from my other blog, Audio Investigations.  I've been an audiophile for more than 40 years.  I've heard quality.  I've also heard what was supposed to be quality, but wasn't, and unfortunately, even among dedicated audio enthusiasts, that is quite common, maybe more the rule than the exception.

Now sometimes quality does require more resources.  For example, the quality from a large speaker system, or a large Class A amplifier, may require LOTS more resources.  THAT kind of quality cannot continue to increase, given peak everything.  A few high wizards, as I'd like to imagine myself, may be able to keep the candle of such quality burning.  But it cannot become more and more widespread.

Similarly the quality that comes from selecting the best things out of many.  Even though any one of these highly selected things may not have required more resources, the many things it was selected from did, so most people cannot have such quality, and therefore it cannot continue to grow.

But there is one kind of quality that can continue to grow endlessly.  And that is the quality that comes from precisely one thing: knowledge.

There is a problem with that wrt economic growth.  And that is that knowledge seeks to be free.  So while out "utility" from knowlege can continue to grow exponentially (and it may be doing that now more than ever, thanks to endless free blogs on the internet which are often much better than this one), that utility cannot pay the rent to rentiers, or pay the wages of people to do miserable work that nobody really wants to do.

This newly endless and free knowledge is already part of Marx's Realm of Freedom.  It is not capitalism any longer, it is post capitalism.  But while our heads may be in the clouds, our mouths are back down on the ground.

And it's back down on the ground where capitalism, now more than ever, seems to be grinding itself (and the planet with it) into burning dust.

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