Jonathan Marshall on Wed, 16 May 2012 01:44:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Capitalism is FINISHED -- As a Result of the Internet! (was Another insult . . )

Mark writes:

>For some "unexplained" reason -- which is not simply because people are "poor"
>or have no "disposable income" or "are worried about the future" -- *demand* just
>isn't there to re-energize the "treadmill" required to grow the GDP.

I don't want to suggest that everything is business as usual, but my understanding is that this is pretty normal in financial crises in capitalism, when there is a shortage in the money supply, and governments abandon the 'keysian solution'. Certainly where i live banks seem to be refusing to loan to anyone who cannot immediately pay them off - which basically means small business and normal people cannot borrow.  So, to a certain extent the 'bottom' end of the economy, (which has never been provided for first) is finding it hard to get credit, and given that credit seems to have been the main source of spending then spending will decline.  Whether this will eventually fix itself or not i don't know.

But i have no idea what this has to do with 'new media', the decline of mass media, or indeed conspicuous consumption.  My point was that conspicuous consumption still seems to flourish in the new media field, where status spending fits in with market drives and status claims.

I'm also not sure that the mass media is declining for more or less the same kind of reasons that Dmytri Kleiner discusses in his mail on 'Commercialization makes your online rights irrelevant'; namely that profit and effect determines the value of information in capitalism.

So i still see no evidence for your statement that "The *effect* of digital media is to directly undermine "conspicuous consumption" which REQUIRED mass-media to prop it up"

>Furthermore, the widely understood "mechanism" used to generate demand in excess
>of *needs* -- in particular, the psychological impact of mass-market advertising -- has
>dramatically faded in its effectiveness  and the presumed "replacement" of *targeted*
>advertising has failed to live up to expectations (as widely understood by those in this business.)

Whether advertising is generating needs as much as it ever has done but that people simply lack the cash, is another issue. People may simply react with depression, not with joy that they are no longer consuming, or feel they are simply working to pay off debt.

My understanding is that in my part of the world, despite the depression, overt conspicuous consumption, like spending on weddings, expensive rock concerts, for example is increasing.

My understanding of targeted advertising us that it is still cheaper and more generally effective - the main thing is to link it into spur of the moment purchasing.... but i'm just recalling some mails i've seen recently, so i'm not standing by that.

>In addition, those who have been "polling" US consumers about their attitudes over the
>past 20+ years, such as DYG Inc., have noticed a change that has grown over the past
>decade -- across all "demographics" and "cohorts" -- that shows a significant shift away
>from "quantity" to "quality" of life.

Even if this is true what is the connection with 'new media'? and how do we know that people are not just 'saying' the latest thing, to show their status. as in 'I have enough money to not worry about quantity, just quality'? or 'I'm outside the system, i'm an independent entepreneurial type'.

>LESS-is-MORE began to be a very popular theme in these polls started around 2002 and
>increasing annually since then.

i guess i come from a field where it is recognised that what people say they do/want, is often different from what they do.... but again even if they say this, what has this to do with new media?

>The fact that many groups still consume beyond their baseline needs is obvious but the overall
>trend is unmistakable from the data I have seen.

What is a baseline need? How is that socially defined, or defined by networks etc? 'Real' baseline needs are pretty low.... possibly only a very few societies have volutarily had everyone on baseline needs ever.... Religion automatically complicates whatever is a baseline need, and that is pretty common.... and again even with a trend, what has this to do with digital media?

>> so what are the Chinese doing? buying more coal?
>> displacing poorer people for dams, buying palaces
>> for their rich in China and overseas?

>Exactly!  Which is precisely what you *should* want them to do as they go through
>a very rapid industrialization!

Assuming the earth survives :)

>At the same time, they are on track to dominate the "clean" energy alternatives to coal
>and, when/if fusion energy becomes a reality, they will likely dominate that business as well.

true but their, and India's, contribution to coal burning will be enormous - and how much of that is driven by the desire to show the West they have 'arrived' and are major world powers through conspicuous consumption? That they deserve this....

>Roughly 300 MILLION Chinese will be added to the middle class over the next 10+ years --
>which is only a part of the BILLION+ who will go through this transition globally.
>This is a *remarkable* achievement!

Absolutely, and what evidence is there that they will cease consuming, and just stay with 'base line needs'? Improbable, given the apparent spending patterns of the 'new elites'. And even if everyone in China decided to live at Mao type levels, what does this have to do with digital media?

>What the Chinese have "figured out" is that the DEVELOPED economies have already
>stopped growing our "needless" consumption and that they have adjusted their own
>goals and strategies accordingly.  Furthermore, some understand that digital technologies
>are driving this process.

Still don't know why digital tech is driving this process....

>From what sources have you learnt that the Chinese have decided not to grow (once they reach parity with the west?) - will they stick with that anyway? Will they pour their growth into the military to expand their living space, and deal with population issues through conquest? i don't know....

Perhaps they have figured out the developed economies have stopped growing, because of the crisis in capitalism, or because they are in moral and physical decline generally and this is a great opportunity to take the lead?

>Meanwhile, *we* seem to pretend that nothing fundamental has happened.
>Any ideas about why we are so *stupid* about our own society and its culture?

Something is happening, balance of power in the world is changing, military success eludes the US removing the fear factor, the US is becoming totally corporated dominated, and that domination is destroying its power and living standards, current energy sources are becoming problematic, Islam is growing as a political system all through the world, but i'm still not sure this has much to do with the effects of digital media in the west (except perhaps the growth of Islam).

If you will pardon me, perhaps it is being stupid to think that everything is driven by digital media? i'd suggest that digital media's main effect is to contribute to the mess of information, and thus leave us all more and more deluded or uncertain, or wedded to absolute certainties so as to make sense of it all....


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