HMV and capitalism – all that is solid…

I’m sad that HMV has gone under and will result in job losses. I’m sad to lose the doggy logo as well.

Workers and redundant modes of production

But here’s he thing. As socialists, why have we gone for over one hundred years without tackling what we do about models of production, distribution and exchange which are technologically and organisationally out of date?

In capitalism this leads to flawed business models. That’s bad, though some on the left may seek to write this off (don’t even try it if you hold a candle for China though). But even under socialism, models expire. Socialists need an undercutting approach to how this should be dealt with that go beyond reflexive reaction. Because in socialism, when we fail to advance how parts of social and economic life are organised, we don’t just betray shareholders.

What I’m saying is that we should mourn for employees and possibly a bit of commodified nostalgia – but why mourn for HMV itself?

An advance to mail order is probably a welcome division of labour, and better for customers – it would be even more welcome if the state could get these people using Royal Mail.

The second and more important thing to say though, is this. HMV was losing out to superior models. But in reality, how superior are they?


You see, this wasn’t a fair test. And actually, it seldom is. Capitalism is an arena of competition which imprecisely overlaps an arena of political power, existing economic power, and imprecise dimensions of human behaviour including location and identity. It’s messy. Especially in conditions like our current artificially prolonged stagnation. Stuff goes wrong all the time.

How? Well, have a peek at this.

“All that is solid melts into air” indeed. If I owned a retailer, I would be getting pretty annoyed with some of my fellow owners right now.

So, where now, workers and bosses?


Some other stuff…