[Marxism] Netflix as creative destruction

Eli Stephens elishastephens at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 9 09:23:15 MDT 2010

Guy Kawasaki, famous ex-Apple "evangelist," used to give a talk on this subject. One of the examples I remember him using was ice houses, which were put out of business by refrigerator companies. Speaking from a business point of view, Kawasaki's point was that the mistake made by the ice house companies was that they saw themselves in the "ice house business," rather than in the "food refrigeration" business. Netflix saw itself in the "entertainment distribution" business, rather than the more limited "Videotape rental" business, and because of their larger vision, is pushing out those who didn't have that larger vision.

For socialists, opposing technological innovation, embracing a Luddite point of view, is precisely the wrong answer. The problem with capitalism isn't technological innovation. It's that the fruits of that innovation go into increased profits for the capitalists and increased misery for the increasingly unemployed working class, a phenomenon that is escalating steadily. Someday (maybe already, I haven't been inside their warehouse), Netflix might completely automate their operation - billing, shipping, leaving their owners and the post office delivery people as the only human beings left in the operation. Under socialism, where the fruits of that operation and all others would be shared in some way, that would mean increased leisure time for people to enjoy their lives. Under capitalism, they get the increased "leisure" time, just not the ability to enjoy it.

Technological advances are a good thing. It's the system of managing the fruits of those advances that has to change.

Eli Stephens
 Left I on the News


More information about the Marxism mailing list