[OPE-L:6384] Re: (Monopoly) Rates of Profit?

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 30 Mar 1998 23:17:30 -0500 (est)

Chai-on wrote on Mon, 30 Mar:

> But I think we have to take into account specific character of the
> commodity in this case. Microsoft's Window95, the OS has, in fact, no
> competitor. In theory, it has competitors.

There are "competitors" to Microsoft's GUI product (Windows) like those
produced by IBM (hi Paul Z and Iwao) and Apple (hi Riccardo, Duncan and
others). But, I agree that Microsoft has something very close to a

> But consumers must follow suit
> others' using as far as the OS is concerned. OS is a kind of language. If
> my friend uses MS language, I have to use the same language to communicate
> with him.

...well, I think it might now be possible to read text written for
Windows applications on Macintosh and/or WARP machines ... but I may be
wrong about that.

> Strictly speaking, the OS is not a commodity. Application softwares can be
> commodities but the OS alone is like a road or a bridge, a kind of SOC. It
> is invaluable. The language shall be used free of charge.

I agree that the OS *should* be free of charge. I also believe that all of
the applications software should be free of charge. But, we live in a
capitalist society where there is commodity production. This means, in
part, that the value of commodities must come to be expressed through the

A OS is certainly invaluable for operating a computer. I.e. it has a
use-value. But it is something more than a language (use-value): it is a

> In practice, IMO, the governments must pay for the soc and have to
> distribute it with no price.

It is certainly conceivable in the abstract that it could be produced by
the state rather than by capital. If you are saying that a computer OS
_should be_ a "public good", I don't object. But, I think that would be a
pretty hard reform to win. I can also think of other commodities that I
would like to see made into public goods first (like health care in the

> None but the best OS cannot but fail in the commoditization. And so it has
> no competitors.

I don't think Windows 95 is the best OS. I don't even think it's as good
as Windows 3.11. And some others on the list might think there are better
alternatives to Windows.

> Softwares are intellectual products and a kind of artistic or scientif
> discoveries. The demand price determines its price.

But ... Microsoft through its advertising and marketing strategies helps
to create and expand demand.

> A kind of natural
> monopoly. It must be different from the competitive commodities.

A kind of monopoly (actually, an oligopoly), yes. A "natural monopoly"?
I'm not convinced.

In solidarity, Jerry