A Common Misunderstanding about Capitalism and Communism Through the Eyes of Innovation

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This paper argues that the theories of communism and capitalism do not need to be considered opposites or alternatives, but rather systems that satisfy different stages of humanity´s technological development. The argument derives from Maslow´s hierarchy of needs and a focus on the role of innovation within the systems. It is argued that capitalism focuses on the lower and communism on the higher layers of the hierarchy, which lays the basis for their inability to compete.

Posted for comments on 20 Feb 2018, 2:01 pm.

Comments (6)

  • Beniamino Callegari says:

    The paper tackles the long-standing issue of the relationship between capitalism and socialism from a Maslovian perspective: the gist of the argument is that capitalism is the best socio-economic system to satisfy the lowest layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, while socialism provides the best conditions to satisfy the top layers of human wants. Therefore, it is argued, socialism is not a competitor of capitalism, and should not be evaluated as such, but its natural successor.

    The obvious spectre haunting the article is Marx’s, who is, surprisingly, barely mentioned. The argument is instead developed on the shoulders of the aforementioned Maslow, Schumpeter, Perez and Minsky. Therefore, while the position taken by the authors cannot be considered novel, the arguments used in support certainly are. In order to reach a judgement on the value of the article it is therefore necessary to analyse the quality of such arguments.

    According to the introduction, the main objective of the paper is to show that capitalism and communism satisfy different Maslovian needs: lower for capitalism, higher for socialism. The authors give to this statement a dynamic rather than static interpretation, and therefore correctly link the question to innovation theory. Yet the supposed capitalist focus on lower human needs is stated (p.5) rather than proven, or at least argued for. Explicit references to this effect are not provided. What is present, instead, is the argument that, according to Schumpeter, innovation is primarily technological in nature (p.6). But this argument is not to be found in Schumpeter, who in The Theory of Economic Development famously argued for the auxiliary nature of the technological dimension in the innovation process. A rather lengthy if pleasurable excursus on the phenomenon of business cycles, including Perez’s take on the subject, and financial instability, based on Minsky’s views, does not really address the issue. In fact, the section concludes by stating that the capitalist system is dependent on innovation. While I would no disagree, I fail to see the relevance with the original proposition that capitalism is focused on lower needs.

    The article continues by discussing the initial proposition that socialism would be more apt at creating the conditions for the satisfaction of higher wants. While an explicit description of socialism is missing, it is argued that socialism would essentially be a post-scarcity society, in which human beings would be free to focus on the satisfaction of higher needs. It might be argued, however, that any kind of post-scarcity society would be, by definition, able to reach such results and, since an explicit description of socialism is missing, it is unclear what exactly socialism would bring to the table, besides the enjoyment of an end of scarcity, brought, according to the paper, by capitalism.

    Some of these problems are partially solved by the next section, dedicated to the comparison between the two institutional blueprints. Here we can find what I believe to be the key argument of the paper: that technological innovation is bringing current societies closer to the edge of post-scarcity, and that capitalism is unable to deal constructively with the situation, creating instead social conditions conductive to the continuation of a scarcity regime, this time dictated by socio-economic phenomena rather than natural conditions. Socialism is indicated as the regime better suited to such a situation, which in fact is described as the necessary condition for its successful realization, in contrast with historical socialist experience.

    The argument brings the article to a close. There are many minor issues concerning the accuracy and clarity of various statements dispersed throughout the text, and personally I found the proposed interpretation of Schumpeter rather weak. But the main issue remains one of structure, with too much space dedicated to discussion of incidental elements, such as financial instability and business cycles, and too little attention spent on describing the core elements of the article, namely capitalism and socialism. In conclusion, while I consider the article a work-in-progress rather than a finished product, I think there is a possibility for the authors to advance an interesting new take on this venerable topic, although this would require a willingness to address the issues described above.

    • Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer says:

      Dear Beniamino,

      thank you very much for the comments.
      I believe that your critique regarding the sections focused on instabilities and the innovation cycles is correct. We may have emphasized these sections too much. While no one of our pre-submission reviewers pointed to this critique would it be, as I believe, a good posibility to streamline the paper. Our focus lay with establishing the inherent instability of capitalism in order to provide a wide enough basis for our argumentation, but I believe we may have overreached our objective. Luckily this is not a big challenge to cut these sections short and instead shed more light on Marx’s perspective and the definition of the two systems.

      Regarding the smaller issues: The mentioned misrepresentation of Schumpeter is an honest mistake. I don’t know how this slipped through, but luckily it is easily changed. Thank you for pointing this out.
      The mentioned inaccuracies of some of our discussion points, that you mention, probably derives from the rather short descriptions and definitions of the two systems we provided. We will of course go through the text again and control all discussion points for possible inaccuracy and clarity.

      I thank thank you again for your feedback. It absolutely aids to improve the quality of the paper. Thank you and best regards,

      (Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer)

  • Paul Auerbach says:

    Positive aspects:
    1. The discussion here of ‘post capitalist’ society is welcome, since the discussion of non, or post capitalist forms of economic organisation has become rare in, especially, the economics literature.
    2. The article gives a welcome introduction to the Abraham Maslow theory of human needs, a presence much lacking in the economics literature. A review or comment on the work of Ian Gough, an economist who has done extensive work on the topic of human needs, might be relevant here.
    3. If I make an importunate and subjective comment, the article has a certain presence or ‘bite’, compared to typical speculative exercises on non-capitalist forms of organisation. I attribute this quality to the post-Soviet background of one, or perhaps both, of the writers here.

    Negative aspects:
    1. There are errors in English in the exposition. This, of course, is a minor matter on its own, but there are extensive passages, as noted below, which are simply unclear.
    2. There are two possible approaches to such a large topic – an historical, empirically-based approach to the success or failure of the fulfilment of stage 1 Maslowian human needs and of innovation in twentieth and twenty-first century non capitalist societies: quite reasonably, such an approach has not been pursued here. The alternative approach, as (largely, but not completely) pursued here, would be to deal with these questions from an analytical perspective. In such a case, the relevant categories and arguments should be crystal clear and unambiguous. Two elements of imprecision may be delineated here:
    a. Definitions of communism and socialism as used here are imprecise. Please note – I am not suggesting that the notions used here are ‘wrong’, but simply that they are unclear and unstable. Thus ‘communism’ appears to refer, more or less, to what Marx called the ‘higher stage’ of communism, but in the latter part of the paper, it appears to refer to ‘real, existing’ economies called ‘communist’ in the twentieth century by western commentators. The word ‘socialist’ is also introduced here, but it is unclear (to me) what it refers to – does it mean the ‘socialist’ economies existing before 1991, using their own designation, or is the word ‘socialism’ used in a manner, as common in the literature after Marx’s death, to be (more or less) synonymous with Marx’s lower stage’ of communism?
    b. A key aspect of the argument here is that ‘communism’ (as used here) is incapable of generating high levels of innovation. The main reason seems to be that communism, having satisfied stage 1 Maslowian needs in the population, will no longer contain the incentives necessary to generate innovation. This key argument could be made more precise – is it being suggested here that it is the lack of satisfaction of stage 1 needs is a key driver of innovation in (contemporary?) capitalism? What precisely is the nature of this incentive mechanism? And since there is reference in the latter part of the paper to ‘real, existing’ socialist economies, how does this incentive explanation for a lack of innovation link to the extensive literature attributing lack of innovation in these economies to the presence of perverse incentives against innovation in the context of central planning? Or do the authors believe that the arguments about the satisfaction of stage 1 Maslowian incentives and those concerning central planning somehow converge?

    Below are a series of specific comments that deal with this and other points:

    1. p.2 ‘We argue that a societal system whose core purpose is to provide services and material goods in order to satisfy the first layer of Maslowian needs is a concept A ‘societal system’ cannot be a concept – this is unclear writing. that would fail to support the will and ability of its subjects to strive for the higher Maslowian needs. Such a society could not be sustainable on the long run because the population would need continuous innovation to preoccupy itself with trying to fulfil the needs of the physical and basic layer. N.B. I think this means that a communist system that fulfilled basic needs would not have the incentives to innovate and satisfy higher needs. Such a system would be perfect[?] This is not the right word here. to push humanity´s technological development, as most members want more goods and higher services that satisfy their basic needs and hence need more money, which gives them an incentive to be more innovative. So almost all members engaged with the system would promote some emerging, or uphold mature, innovations. If society is preoccupied with working, innovating, and providing for the basic needs themselves, such a system would be ideal for fast development’. N.B. PROBLEMS WITH EXPOSITION If we take what is here seriously as an empirical proposition, it is not obviously correct, but perhaps this is due to imprecision in the exposition. It is rich societies (Britain 18th century, US twentieth century) that have historically been the most innovative, and not those striving to fulfil ‘their basic needs’. The question of ‘created wants’ in capitalism is usually considered a flaw that is pointed out by critics, but is here considered to be an endemic, and not necessarily negative aspect of the system. If indeed this process of ‘artificial scarcity’ continues on in present-day capitalism, even after the fulfilment of the requisites of layer 1 and even layer 2 of the Maslowian hierarchy, is this to be considered, in the context here, a defect of present-day capitalism because it never seems to be able to focus on the higher (states 3 and 4) of the Maslowian hierarchy, or is it a virtue, because the presence of artificial scarcity continues to give an incentive for innovation?
    2. p.2 ‘. The hypothesis of this paper is hence that capitalism is great economic system for the ‘self-development phase’ of humanity, while communism is more suitable for a phase in which humans are not occupied with innovation themselves and the first layer of needs is satisfied through other means’. Similar to what Marx suggested, I think, in his Gotha program critique.
    3. p.2 ‘…communism is only possible if socialism changes the human perception of selfishness’. Marxian terminology of higher and lower stages of communism. Not lower and higher stages of communism here, but socialism and communism? The use of terminology is unstable.
    4. p.3 ‘Labour has hence an intrinsic value that we do not wish to marginalize, but the current drive towards minimizing human labour and the increasing technological potentials lead to the conclusion that computers will be better than us individuals in everything at some point in time. We write this paper in the spirit of furthering the discussion on the societal objectives regarding human labour’. Example of intriguing, half-comprehensible sentence.
    5. p.5 ‘as most consciously driven innovation is focused on time saving services, services that increase our comfort or material goods’. p. 8 ‘Or, as Minsky briefly put it, “….innovations result from profit opportunities” (Minsky 1986, p.359). Key innovations (the invention of the transistor, the internet) emerged from links between firms and the US DOD, and are more associated with warfare than with consumer products in the decisive, innovatory phase. Some of these complexities are noted towards the end of the paper, but the comments there come across as an afterthought.
    6. pp.5 – 6 ‘If the entire production and service creation of an economy is automated, but the innovation process would still be required to be conducted through humans, labour would still be an essential part of our economic system. Of course automatization will not proceed like that, but nevertheless the greatest difficulty is the transition period. For that, a tax rate which does not jeopardize the satisfaction of the working people while paying for the income of the jobless has to be found. Hence, a point that enables the fulfilment of the fundamental needs while maximizing an equality of income is required (van der Veen & Van Parijs 1986). Automation can reduce the time of production oriented work, of services and give the people the possibility to have more free time.’ This passage is perhaps dealing with important issues, but is simply obscure and is introduced with insufficient preparation in the text to be clear.
    7. p.6 ‘For Walras ([1874] 1954), who inspired Schumpeter greatly, innovation was one of the three fundamental determinants within the economic system, but the entrepreneurial focus on innovation was only emphasized by Schumpeter (1939)’. Schumpeter, to my knowledge, gave central place to Marx as the economist who focused on innovation, and accredited Walras for his emphasis on the interactions within the economy. I cannot find in Schumpeter the sentiments attributed to him concerning Walras.
    8. p.8 (top) ‘The concept [of innovation waves] is of course not without criticism but it help to make important indications on how innovation develops.’ The presence in the economy of Kondratiev-type technological waves is highly controversial, is not obviously consistent with the volitional story told here about the origins of innovation, and could easily be omitted.
    9. p.10 ‘In a capitalistic system with such an automation, a worker would not have much possibilities to buy goods or services, as the income possibilities could only be created artificially in order to create a self-containing cycle of demand. A communistic system in which the owners of the AI and hence of the companies would not have the intention for profit making the person could just work on things or ideas that are appealing in the particular situation. A system that is not focused on material and lower layer activities, but supports its subjects actively to pursue their development of the higher layers.’ Not as clear as it could be. What exactly is a ‘communist system’ here? Does it embody full employment? I think it would be useful to consult Alec Nove ‘The Economics of Feasible Socialism’, one of the few works I am familiar with to attempt to deal with the economics of ‘communism’.
    10. p.11 ‘Marx saw, at least in that moment, that communism would not be the catalyst for fast technological development and further focus on innovation, as the transition to communism would imply that another set of factors would shift into the focus of society. As innovation is not really at the core of communist theory. Classical arguments like, ‘Communism is utopian as long as man is what capitalism has made him: we need socialism to reshape man, to get rid of his selfishness, his ‘Selbstsucht’, and to turn him into the altruistic person communism requires’, and ‘Communism is bound to fail under conditions of scarcity: we need socialism to develop the productive powers of humankind and thus create the state of abundance in which alone communism can flourish’ (van der Veen & Van Parijs 1986’. Marx’s terminology did not refer to socialism, but to lower and higher stages of communism. If the concern here is with Marx’s own view, why not quote him directly?
    11. p.11 ‘This paper argues that communism cannot work with a shift in ideology, but it can only function at a state of almost full economic automation, which means that production, services and innovation must be automated to a large extant.’ I think Marx’s notions in the Goth program critique would be consistent (in a late 19th century way) with this sentiment.
    12. p.12 (top) the discussion of Hilferding, etc. here is obscure.
    13. p.12 ‘The innovation is not a continuous proportionally growing, but rather eruptive process, to which capitalism is perfectly adapted. The system occupies not only the creators, but also the consumers with constant innovations in different markets.’ Is capitalism ‘perfectly adapted’ to this system? The language is loose here.
    14. p.13 ‘Our hypothesis is that in a society in which these layers are practically provided, if the individual is satisfied with the goods it can afford, less labour needs to be invested and hence a voluntary decrease in labour hours and an increase in the focus on the higher layers can be observed. (Kallis et al., 2013) These developments would also lead to an increased number of groups, societies, and environmentally or socially conscious private people and enterprises.’ Are the insecurities endemic to capitalism conducive to these behavioural responses? Were they present only during the full employment ‘golden age’ phase? Are there empirical predictions (capable of disproof) present here?
    15. p.13 ‘A communist society, on the other hand, has no ability to develop as fast as a capitalist one, since not all attention within the system is focused on innovation related to the basic layer of Maslow´s hierarchy of needs. The communist theory is more focused on the higher layers of needs and hence is built for stability, harmony and internal development. The system cannot compete with the fast materialistic development of a capitalistic system, as the innovation of new goods and services leads to a growth of new needs and desires.’ Have the authors completely dismissed the questions surrounding psychological development? Does the ‘fast materialistic development’ of capitalism, with its accompanying inequalities and insecurities, lend itself to a transition to a communist system focusing on ‘the higher layers of needs and hence is built for stability, harmony and internal development’, or does ‘the innovation of new goods and services [under capitalism] lead[s] to a growth of new needs and desires’, so that any such development to communism is unlikely? As noted below, this important issue is mentioned in passing, but nowhere developed.
    16. p.p.13-14 ‘Communism can thus not survive in a stage of humanity´s technological development in which the society is still actively occupied with developing the living conditions. Which is one way of looking at the reasons of the failed communistic experiments of the past. N.B. Here, ‘communism’ is linked (one supposes) to the historical presence of pre-1991 societies – but in what manner? This theory tries not to state that communistic systems only occur after a period in which basic needs have been fulfilled, but that a communistic system can only excel if the basic needs are provided externally or at least do not require the majority of time of the people, which in history never has been the case.’
    17. p.15 ‘An unwanted interest in higher needs would be triggered if the population is provided with sufficient food and other satisfactions of the basic needs, without the constant creation of new desires. What I think is being asserted here is the empirical proposition that societies that are provided ‘too early’ with basic necessities will tend to be indolent and lacking in innovation – can evidence be offered for this notion, beyond a casual reference to pre-1991 Soviet-type economies? If the focus on higher needs cannot be proceeded or if there is no chance of getting new income, due to the automation, social unrest would certainly be triggered, as unsatisfied citizens with lots of time on their hands and little perspectives are not a sustainable basis for any system. Capitalism could hence not be sustainable in such a situation. A more communistically influenced system, with a focus on the development of the higher layers of its subjects, on the other hand, would thrive under such conditions as the basic layers are provided and not of concern for the society and its subjects anymore. Humans would hence be free to focus on the higher layers of Maslow´s needs, and a sustainable system would support them.’ The questions surrounding the population’s response to automation is simply unclear here.
    18. p.15 (bottom) ‘Schumpeter´s long term perspective for a capitalistic system can be summarized by the second part of his book ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’, which is called: ‘Can capitalism survive?’ He starts : ‘No I do not think it can.’ (Schumpeter 1942, pp.59, 61). His perception on a socialist system can be seen in part three, which is called ‘Can Socialism survive?’ and to the question: ‘Can socialism work?’ He answers: ‘Of course it can.’ (Schumpeter 1942, p.167). His main argument why socialism may work is that it inspires people to thrive for higher things and nobler means than within a capitalistic society. The intrinsic and long term motivation is hence higher if the means defined by Maslow are more or less continuously fulfilled.’ Meaning of socialism here, in contrast to communism? ‘Schumpeter (1934) claimed that the end of capitalism is the result of innovation being captured within a corporate structure. The rise of such a corporate system could empower the leaders to stunt and control innovation if needed to advance profits. He stated that such a system would be able to survive for a long time, which fits to the argument of this paper. At such a point, capitalism has surpassed its own purpose for the technological development of humanity, which is to innovate as much and as fast as possible and focuses only on its inherent self-interest, which is profit. Schumpeter describes the particular line in the sand that represents the latest stage of a system that has surpassed its purpose. Another purpose is needed at this stage.’ He was completely wrong about this. Schumpeter’s fixation on entrepreneurial capitalism meant that the quintessential example of innovation, the electronics revolution from the 1940s on in the US, is incomprehensible in this context.
    19. p.16 ‘A transition to a more socialist approach [?] What does this mean? is hence needed in such an economy to enable a peaceful co-existence, as the people would be provided with all necessary goods and would have the time to develop their own interests, which is one core point of argumentation in the discussion about an universal income. The authors wish to emphasize that this is not a romanticized approach towards socialism, but a merged form between capitalism and socialism. But regardless of the exact design of the system, it is crucial to mention that such a system would be economically stable in the long run as humans are occupied with whatever they like and most of the system runs on autopilot.’ Doesn’t a reliance on guaranteed income contradict the Maslow needs categories past stage 1?
    20. p.16 (bottom) ‘For the sake of keeping the paper focused, we do not proceed in establishing the differences between socialism and communism, as communism can be understood as one form of socialism, and we leave it at that’. Aware of certain problems, but ignoring them in the context of the paper simply makes for confusion in the reader.
    21. p.17 ‘The first example for a non-theory dominated aspect of the current application of capitalism are innovations on the Kondratiev cycle. Those long-term innovations are initially not necessarily driven by the motivation for profit opportunities. Many of these innovations are the product of long lasting investment programmes that the private sector is often not willing to support. In various cases, public investment enables the first stage of the development of such fundamental innovations until the markets can take over, as the risk is getting more predictable.’ Once again, awareness of problem, but pushing it aside. Is this a late, ad hoc addition to the paper?
    22. p.18 ‘Regardless if one is speaking of Leninism, Stalinism, Titoism, Hoxhaism, Maoism or any other form of implementation. None of these systems trying to make communism work in competition with capitalism was able to last long. All of them were eliminated or had to be adapted to survive. These cases are hence also a partial confirmation of our theory that communism and capitalism should have never competed’. Missing – role of human capital and the state’s role in education. Once again, the presumption that historical ‘communism’ corresponds to theoretical definitions would have to be demonstrated – in what sense is it true? Are we focusing on income distribution here?

    • Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer says:

      Thank you very much for the review, Professor Auerbach, and I have to start by saying that I am very happy that the core premises of our paper did appeal to you.

      You give us a lot to think about and you caught the additions we made (maybe a little bit hasty) in order to respond to earlier critizism. (Kondratiev, historical communist systems, etc.)

      – Thank you for pointing out Ian Gough´s work. I was not aware of that – We will go into that.

      1. Over the course of the development of the paper we received many oppinions of how to improve it. So we tried to include everything, which impacted the quality of some of the aspects that were added later to the core concept. I believe that with the two reviews here we got a clearer view of which arguments can be cut and which should be developed.
      – Mazzucato´s entrepreneurial state and the entire discussion of state based innovation should be earlier and more in depths, as you correctly pointed out. I do not think that this aspect will be an issue for the paper, but it needs to be clearer.

      2. a. I agree that the clarity of the paper needs to be improved to increase its quality. Both language and clarity of definitions will be improved. We employed a definition for both socialism and capitalism in earlier versions but they received a lot of critizism so we moved to this minimalistic strategy – but I believe we just bent over backwards while not seing the posiblity of using Marx´s stages – which limits our problem substantial.

      2. b. Again imprecision is the essential issue. Innovation in communism is, in the argumentation of this paper subject to both: The imperfect and not competitive central planning of the economy and the unsatisfied fulfilment of the first stage of Maslowian needs. The existing needs cannot be fulfilled through the system, so the people do not have the means to focus on innovation, but they are occupied with pure survival. Additionally the incentive for the individual to innovate is taken from them. This goes hand in hand with your point that the richest societies were the most innovative in history. A higher percentage of the population was able to spend energy and time on development and improvement in whatever form in order to make processes more efficient, because they did not have to spend most time of their days worrying and actively working for their direct survival.
      This argument clearly shows that we used the Maslowian term “basic need” and the economic “basic need” in a confusing and unprecise way. The two interpretations are very different and it needs to be clear which applies in the particular situation.
      – The economic interpretation of basic need is very minimalistic. Just the minimal things anyone would need to survive.
      – The Maslowian basic needs apply also to the richest periods through the concept of created wants. For this paper created wants is a crucial concept as it is seen, for the argument, as one of the crucial drivers for consumer good innovation in a contemporary capitalistic system.
      Created wants, as a part of basic needs, keep a significant percentage of the population from considering issues that are on a higher layer – to put it in populistic terms: money not happiness is the essence of the day to day life of a large share of the population. With that the concept of created wants is both a defect, as it occupies the people and a vertue, as it furthers consumer good innovation. But most importantly its cyclical impact on the producers and consumers is self-supporting and creates a purpose in itself.
      So we need to write this more explicitely in the paper and make the concepts clearer.

      Thank you also for pointing out concrete minor issues. This facilitates the improvement of those sections enormously.
      I believe that with the two reviews here the quality of the paper can be elevated greatly, just with a few weeks of work.
      Thank you very much for taking the time and interest in our paper.
      Very best regards,

      Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer

  • Terry McDonough says:

    The article is interesting in that it seeks to introduce Maslow’s consideration of the hierarchy of human needs into consideration of the effectiveness of differing modes of organizing production. In the course of this consideration, it makes a sweeping historical argument. The major problem is that the argument is not simple and not made sufficiently clear. I think I have extracted the major steps in the argument below:

    * Economic systems exist to meet human needs.

    * Needs are not all the same and do not have the same priority.

    * Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs differentiates needs and assigns them a well-argued priority.

    * Needs for physical sustenance and safety are of first priority.

    * A capitalist system is well suited to meet these needs.

    * This is because competition under capitalism drives innovation.

    * However, innovation not only meets existing needs but generates new needs which it then meets. This in a sense traps society at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy.

    * This process of generating and meeting new needs at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy means that other economic systems, particularly communism, find it difficult or impossible to compete with capitalism on its own ground of meeting these high priority physical needs.

    * Technological innovation historically comes in waves as described by Perez.

    * Communism as an historical concept has assumed that the lowest needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are already being met or could be met due to the historical existence of capitalist innovation. This has not heretofore happened due to the generation of new needs.

    * The latest technological wave is different.

    * Automation primarily meets existing needs rather than generating new needs in that it is a process rather than a product innovation. To the extent that new needs are generated they are met at relatively low cost as these production processes are themselves capable of being automated.

    * At the same time, due to its labour-saving nature, the latest technological wave generates unemployment and idleness for those displaced while raising the incomes of those still employed. This generates a radical increase in inequality.

    * Given that primary needs are met or capable of being met and large amounts of time are saved, resources are freed to meet higher level needs. This, however, demands a much more equal distribution of goods and available freed time.
    Communism becomes superior in its competition with capitalism under these new circumstances.

    * Hence capitalism and communism are not historically competing systems but potentially characterize successive periods in technological and social history where each is manifestly superior in meeting differing needs in Maslow’s hierarchy.

    The article needs to be careful to keep the thread of the argument in front of the reader and to take the time to argue each point along the way. In this regard a more careful deployment of the usual academic apparatus of reference to existing work which supports the defensibility of each step in the argument would help considerably. The authors’ original contribution is the argument taken as a whole. Each individual step needs to refer to appropriate existing literature.

    One criticism I would have with the argument as it stands is that capitalism is also not good at meeting the second step on the hierarchy, that of providing security. Indeed, the constant generation of new needs and the necessity of competition are inimical to security. A quick read by a native speaker would correct the occasional awkwardness of phrase.

    • Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer says:

      Thank you very much, Terry.

      I agree that the clarity of each individual argument could be improved. A stepwise approach to the entire argument is most probably the right way to go.
      While we could not find sources for each argument, I am sure that we can improve the structure as well as the citations for the development of the argument. We will check again.

      You summed up most steps correctly. Just that the current innovation wave is different would not be a part of our argument. Automation is not the paradigm itself but ICT based innovation. Automation is a product of this paradigm, which creates similarly fundamental change to the economy as the last innovation waves. I will make this differenciation clearer in the next version.

      An editor for the english language will read the article before publication again.

      Regarding your last point: Yes, capitalism is particularly bad in meeting the needs of the higher hierarchies. It continously creates needs on the first layer and keeps humans ocupied with that layer instead of enabling them to profoundly enter each hirarchical layer.
      And: The volatile economic situation (and with that the changing job conditions) are also not enabling people to focus on higher layers – as their sense of security might be impacted by that – hence the second layer is yet another hurdle in a capitalistic system (in the current form of western capitalism). We will make these arguments more explicit.

      Thank you for the feedback again. It helps to clarify the structure of the article.

      Very best regards,

      Dirk-Hinnerk Fischer