Patronage as a Mechanism for Socialism?

It has become quite clear to me in my research that most expressive works (art, literature, music, film, science, etc) always have been, and probably always will be, funded by patronage. The key question, which has been answered differently according to the historical evolution of culture, technology, and the extent of the market, is who should be that patron? Wealthy elites, as in the Duke of Tuscany sponsoring Galileo or Pope Julius II sponsoring Michelangelo? The government, as in the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Science Fund politically allocating grants? Publishers, as in the Big Six movie studios or the Big Five record labels who buy copyrights from artists to distribute their work? The crowd, as in Kickstarter and Indiegogo who collectively chip in small donations?
nike air jordan 12 retro
I only recently realized that there is an obvious parallel here between the temporal structure of patronage and the temporal structure of wages in production. In patronage, the patron pays the artist’s fixed costs up front, the artist takes time to produce, and then the work is finally sold and distributed (depending on the type of patronage above, either by the artist or patron). In exchange for covering the artist’s expenses, the patron contracts for some portion of the gains, either in royalties, merchandising rights, prestige, rewards (on crowdfunding sites), etc, until the fixed costs have at least been recouped by the patron. During the time of actual production (days, months, years), the artist sustains him or herself on the advance furnished by their patron.
ray ban womens sunglasses
This might seem somewhat trivial to economists, as obviously the patron-client relationship is a form of entrepreneur-laborer relationship and is just a firm by another name. But I find it interesting that a lot of the crude arguments for socialism emerge from misunderstanding this critical market relationship (of employer-employee). When I say socialism, I do not mean a superior, comparable economic system to replace capitalism (such as what emerged from the socialist calculation debate), but that emotionally-charged pseudo-economic lamentation of the ills of capitalism we are all viscerally familiar with. Our hearts may sympathize, yet those trained in economics know to trace out incentives and consequences and recoil from the fallacies of such undisciplined thinking.

Socialists, particularly of the Marxian variety, argue in this fashion that (1) workers are the ones who make all of the goods, and (2) do not even receive enough wages to buy back the product, hence (3) capitalists are exploiting them by appropriating “surplus value” generated beyond what laborers are paid.
ray ban jackie ohh sunglasses
These claims, of course, misunderstand the time structure of production: {Econ 101 lecture} Laborers, just like other owners of the factors of production (landowners, and capitalists), demand to be paid wages before the product is ultimately sold in the market. Imagine a world where nobody is paid until products were finally finished and sold on the market, years later — nobody would work because nobody could pay the bills. Thus, laborers are paid wages regularly, landowners are paid rent regularly, and capitalists (anyone who lends money) are paid interest regularly for their time services. There is little risk that these factors will not receive their payment (assuming the business at least breaks even). All of these are treated as costs to the entrepreneur (which is functionally, if not personally, different from the capitalist) who manages the enterprise and bears all of the risk. After all of these costs are paid, if (and that’s a big if, as the overwhelming majority of businesses have costs exceeding revenues) there is any revenue left over, they are earned as profits for the entrepreneur. That is, the entrepreneur (aside from their own laboring wages) only earns a return if the product is successful and society values the product more than its inputs. As for buying back the product, laborers marginal productivity contributes only a fraction of the total market value, combined with the shares going to the marginal productivity of landowners, capitalists, and entrepreneurial stewardship. Further, the incomes of workers allow them to purchase other products, as one is required to produce something (at minimum, rent out one’s labor services) in order to exchange with others to acquire the goods they desire. {\Econ 101 lecture}.

It is also a common trope that artists do not like capitalism because it is exploitative. Blake gave us the bleak view of “those dark satanic mills,” Dickens caricatures greedy capitalists like Scrooge in stark contrast to the wretched underclass of industrial England, and Sinclair churned our stomachs at the “Jungle” of working at a meat processing plant.

In more modern times, we have everything from the modern hippy/hipster subculture to Rage Against the Machine to Picasso. If we were feeling charitable, we could extend the definition of “artist” to Chomsky, Derrida, and all those philosophers of the varying branches of postmodernism that deconstruct modern capitalist society from all angles. Perhaps everyone has different experiences, but to think of the average “artist,” the mind’s eye tends to conjure up some combination of a bohemian “misunderstood” young 20-something, weighing invectives against the corporate media, industrial exploitation, or environmental degradation by unregulated free markets running amok.
ray ban aviador
Might the patronage relationship be a mechanism by which artists and other bohemians, who are popularly known to identify with the political left, discover or craft their ideologies and identities against capitalism/the system/the man? Artists are, from their perspective, actually the ones doing all the work and producing the final product (be it a painting, a novel, a song, their part in a film, etc), and yet serve their bosses (patrons, studio executives) who dictate the direction of their work, sitting high and mighty on a paycheck probably much larger than their own (for apparently doing nothing of value in view of the artists). Would not this relationship color how they view value, production, and markets?
ray ban aviators
I am not saying that all artists are political leftists, or even if they were that it is wrong, or that all artists misunderstand how economies operate. I don’t know, or think, that artists historically hated their patrons, that Da Vinci hated the de Medici. It’s perhaps more plausible today where artists become managed by faceless megastudios with political leverage, who start to look more and more like “the man.” But this seems to me to be a plausible mechanism for how art and artists tend in the aggregate, to take leftist views on culture and economics.
ray ban sunglasses Czech
Is it plausible? Or am I being just as apophenic and myopic as I am claiming some artists are?

The Victorious and the Resentful, Socialist calculation past and present

Twenty-five years ago today the Berlin Wall fell, that monument to the brutality that the domesticated ape is capable of when its operating software is infected by bad ideas. Twenty-five years is a dangerous amount of time because it is enough time for an entire generation to have grown up largely unaware of the significance of the event, and by extension of the horrors of socialism when put in practice. Around 42% of the current world population was born after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet considering that before a certain age (around 15?) politics and economics are largely alien interests, the percentage of us that are left largely to our own devices to learn about this history is much greater than 42%. This is dangerous if there is some reason to believe that those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it.
nike air max cheap
Another reason that twenty-five years is dangerous, is that it is just enough time for those who cried of sadness (and many in my home Latin America did) instead of joy when the wall fell to have distorted history enough to make socialism appealing once again. After all history, is not written by the victors, it is written by the resentful (regrettably these are often the same ones that write the textbooks). The advance of twenty first century socialism by Podemos in Spain, and its consolidation in Latin America, are proof positive that the failure of socialism in Eastern Europe has long been forgotten by those not directly affected by it, and that it has been revived and revised by the necromancers of bad ideas. In trying to understand how this is possible at least part of the problem is thinking that societies learn from their past. Societies do not learn from their past, individuals do. It is only when the learning of individuals is institutionalized that societies are capable of learning. But this analysis stops short as well because institutions are only self perpetuating on average terms and in the long run, the consolation of the economist is the misery of everyone else that lives in crests and troughs of history, and not on the trendline.
air max 95 release dates
The revived version of socialism slightly alters the means and goals of its former self. Unlike its Marxist-Leninism, it does not aim at producing more than capitalism, but rather at producing “buen vivir” or good living (as defined by the government’s sub-secretary of good living of course). The means have been revised as well, rather than the complete abolishment of private property, productive firms are to be directed by the state, with only certain sectors ripe for outright nationalization. Very reminiscent of Lenin’s New Economic Policy. Thus the only problem with socialism that this revised version concedes is the one that all practical implementations have conceded, the one pointed out by Mises, something really telling about the fundamental economic problem with socialism. The concession in the means employed by all the implementations of socialism is really a testament to Mises’ paradox of planning. The change in the goals of twenty first century socialism is telling as well. If you can’t accomplish what you originally set out to accomplish with the means you propose, alter your goal to that which your means can accomplish. If the means you propose are unable to deliver material prosperity but instead deliver poverty, redefine poverty as “good living”, and set up an official agency to preach about it.ray ban sunglasses Discount