• Kam Shing Hei

Information Flow and Capitalist Development

Information flows more rapidly alongside the speed of capitalist development. Capitalism is the force that pushes forward information technology development and popularises it.

Under capitalism, the capitalists, or everyone, are seeking more profit and commodities. To maximise gains, they are making optimal decisions within their capacity. In various decision-making models, information plays a vital role. The more the information makers acquire, the more optimal the decisions are. Only chaos and ‘garbage can’ decision-making models suggest that people make decisions without having information. However, these two models cannot deny that people require the perception of being informed to make decisions. Even determinism or fatalism cannot deny this, because the feeling of knowing relevant prior knowledge exists when making a decision, even if the outcome is predetermined. Therefore, in order to maximise gains, people seek more information under a capitalist society. Thus, people naturally want to accelerate information flow to receive the latest data. Therefore, the motivation to develop and invest in information technology, or to popularise current technology which intensifies the flow of information, is high under the development of capitalism.

In daily life, people actively gather information from casual conversations, newspapers, and social media, about sales in various shops to get the best bargain prices. For instance, Reuters was established to satisfy the upsurging demand for rapid financial information, which is highly relevant to commercial gain and flow. Their committed role to spreading business news between London and the European continent demonstrates this motivation. This exemplifies the urge to intensify information flow, or popularise the latest information technology, for personal gain under capitalism.

Equally, capitalist development leads to the rapid flow of information through expanding information networks, and lowering artificial informational barriers. Capitalism heavily emphasises commodity exchanges between people. Equally, capitalists are continuously searching for new markets and cheap means of production, to expand their networks and influence around the globe. Both the exacerbating exchange of materials and expansion of networks intensify the flow of information. Between the 16th and 18th centuries in Southwestern Japan, the Dutch merchants not only exported physical goods such as rifles, but also channelled Western European ideas in biomedical science and religions. Under capitalism, people need to find new opportunities to maximise gains.

Conversely, when capitalist development is declining, information flow will subsequently slow down. Between the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and its partial adoption of capitalism in the 80s, others around the globe knew little about the comprehensive situations in China. The control of the flow of materials and people from public authorities unavoidably degrades exchanges in information as well. Thus, the introduction of neo-liberal capitalism breaks down these artificial barriers of information transmission. Thus, capitalism intensifies information flow, through urging optimal decision-making, as well as coercing external markets and supplies.

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