Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Paradox: The means of production are democratized – but income in-equality is rising

As Karl Marx observed, the means of production used to be controlled by capitalists. Only the very rich could build factories and large machines. 
Now, an increasing part of the value in the economy is created using a PC with an Internet connection. As the maker movement demonstrates, even very advanced tools, cutting edge knowledge, as well as world-wide supply chains and distribution is now available to most people in the global middle class.

Creation and production of value is being democratized – yet the inequality of wealth and income is rising. We can all participate as individuals or through platforms like Upwork, eBay, Etsy or Uber. But very few can earn more than peanuts from their efforts. Meanwhile, the digital platforms that aggregate and coordinate all of the offerings generate staggering fortunes to owners and investors.

It seems that Marxism needs an update. The capitalist doesn’t control the means of production. Rather, it’s all about coordinating the platform – in a sense controlling the means of making money.

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