C4SS Feed 44 presents Kevin Carson‘s “Uber: NOT the Networked Successor Economy You’re Looking For” read by Tony Dreher and edited by Nick Ford.
In the early 20th century, technological historian Lewis Mumford coined the term “cultural pseudomorph” to describe the cooptation of new, liberatory technologies — technologies which opened the possibility of fundamentally new social and economic relations — into a preexisting, technologically superfluous institutional framework. His example was the central technology of the new neotechnic era — electrically powered machinery — which was ideally suited to a new economic model of relocalized craft production with machinery scaled to the flow of production, production flow scaled to orders, and small manufacturing shops sited near the point of consumption, all on a lean, demand-pull basis. Instead, thanks to an alliance between the capitalist state and the dominant economic players, electrical power was incorporated into mass production, a newer version of the paleotechnic Dark Satanic Mills of the 19th century. Mass production threw away all the efficiency advantages of scaling production to demand at the point of consumption, and instead built a model based on running enormously expensive, large-scale, specialized machinery full speed to produce large batches totally divorced from preexisting demand. This required all the inefficiencies of supply-push, batch-and-queue distribution — the cost of which more than offset the reduced unit costs of production in the factories themselves.
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