STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Dear Socialists: The People HAVE Seized the Means of Production… Using Capitalism.
By Joe Jarvis - February 12, 2019

The proletariat did not have to seize the means of production in a violent socialist coup.

Capitalism handed the means of production to the workers voluntarily.

And it did so for a profit.

We traded violent destructive revolution for peaceful productive markets… and accomplished more than socialism could ever imagine. And we are just getting started.

Socialists have long seen injustice in the fact that the workers who do the labor don’t get to keep the entire product of their labor.

And capitalists have responded by claiming that providing the means of production and organization entitle them, not the workers, to the profits.

But the entire argument is moot. 

Production costs have dropped so low that basically anyone can accumulate the capital to launch an independent endeavor.

And that has revealed that it was never really about the capital…

Socialists are right about one thing: labor is the main driver behind production.

Unfortunately, they fail to see the value in the labor of the capitalists and managers.

Allocating capital to productive endeavors takes skillful labor. Organizing and running a business takes skillful labor. That’s why most new businesses fail.

But any worker who has these skills can now buck their capitalist overlords, seize their own means of production, and the socialist revolution is complete.

Example 1: A hotel cleaner quits and rents a spare bedroom on Airbnb.

Now he cleans rooms and keeps the entire product of his labor. But he also has to do some of the labor that management and concierge used to do… Display the room, greet guests, solve problems…

Airbnb profits by helping people use their extra capital (empty rooms) for profit, as a means of production.

Ah, says the savvy socialist, but what about Airbnb itself? That too is a means of production. Why not seize the platform, and do away with their fees?

Again you don’t have to. The capital required to start an app or platform like Airbnb is negligible. If you can’t create a competing app, that means the Airbnb folks have a skill that you don’t have.

The value is in their labor, not in their means of production. Anyone can start a free website and post a short term room rental online.

Airbnb creators managed to make their app popular and trusted. It’s their labor that is valuable, not their means of production.

Example 2: Jeff Bezos, Socialist Hero.

Starting a book store requires capital for real estate, books, marketing, and labor costs.

Starting e-commerce giant Amazon in a garage and working 12 hour days for years required less capital.

Bezos seized the means of production from the capitalist book store owners and became the richest man in modern history.

Yet if Jeff Bezos distributed all of his $134.5 billion to all 736 million people on earth living in extreme poverty, he could more than double their standard of living… for three months, and six days.

Then all his money would be gone. He wouldn’t be making any more from Amazon, having liquidated his 16% of the company in order to distribute his wealth. And the people in poverty would be no better off than they were 96 days earlier.

But Bezos’ platform Amazon allowed two million sellers worldwide to earn $42 billion in 2018.

And they will keep earning that money year after year. That’s how poverty has been reduced by over 90% in the last 120 years.

Anyone can start an e-commerce website for a couple hundred bucks. The value in using Amazon for e-commerce is the labor that Jeff Bezos put into the company, not in the website itself.

In fact, Amazon helped me seize the means of production from publishing companies.

I wrote and self-published a book… which basically no one bought. Because the value of a publisher is not in their printing presses… it is in the skilled labor required to sell a book. (And I’d be grateful to any greedy capitalist who helped me sell a million copies and kept 90% of the profits.)

Capitalism has even allowed socialists to exit the capitalist system, and start their own little socialist utopias… on private property.

The only thing that may be holding you back in all this is the government.

Because the government still forces you to pay rent on your socialist utopia’s land–property taxes.

The government taxes self-employed independent contractors 15.3% just on payroll taxes–double what an employee pays.

The government requires licensing for hair braiding, giving diet advice, and teaching kids how to sew.

The government has so many taxes, that you can hardly accumulate enough capital to start a business. They have so many regulations, that you can’t compete against the established crony-capitalist political donors.

The government is what is standing in the way of the people fully seizing the means of production. Not the capitalists.

The capitalist who created cloud computing, online sales systems, apps, platforms, computers, cell phones, and so much more… they were happy to hand over the means of production, for an ever smaller price.

They did it for profits… And they cut their prices because of competition.

The result is, the proletariat has been freed from the oppressive demands of the capitalist.

The choice is not to work long hours for little pay, or starve.

The choice is work 40 hours for meh pay, and do fine… or strike it out on your own, and see if you have the skills it takes to not just seize, but productively USE the means of production.

And if you can’t… you’re probably better off working for a capitalist and borrowing his means of production in exchange for a salary.


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