Capitalist Suppression of Innovation

Existential Comics: Fact: if you went back in time and killed Bill Gates to prevent Microsoft from ever existing; personal computers, software, the internet, and technology in general would have advanced at a much more rapid pace. He made his billions by impairing progress, not creating it.

David Graeber: [Thorstein] Veblen called this sabotage

Rooster: Veblen was pretty clear in emphasizing that the most useless and destructive members of society were accorded the most prestige, not in spite of being useless & destructive but because of it.

David Graeber: yes but a less known aspect of his work was his argument that profits for capitalist are not based on enhancing productivity but “subverting” it

Rooster: Patents and IP in general are unquestionably an example of that. I just finished reading the book “America by Design” by David F. Noble, and he recounts the rampant corporate exploitation of the patent system to strangle competitors and inventors.

Dunc: But he then stonewalled public access to the internet and made philanthropy seem like the cure to systemic change so, you know, yay billionaires

boris rorer: I still don’t understand why it’s so hard for Americans to read up on just how much or really how little people like Gates and Jobs actually contributed considering how often they’re held up as examples of why the entrepreneurial spirit must be unleashed

Edward Mróz: Yes and no. In the `80s it did become clear that what Bell Labs were forced to release into the public domain was for grabs for any petty bureaucrat if legally privatised. The Reaganism was the real culprit. If not Gates, some other mama boy with connections would have done that.

Sydney Falco: Absolutely true, and he engaged in anti-competitive business practices with a technology the government created. Eventually an anti-trust case was filed, but Bush Jr. dropped it.