In Response to Grist’s “Real Sharing” Economy
The idea here is to subvert consumerism by real sharing and in so doing create a better quality of life, beyond the notion that material scarcity rules, to develop in its place social practices that cultivate meaningful relationships, so to retrieve, or discover, our unique creative outlets.
Integral to this idea, though not mentioned in this introduction, is the recuperation of time. The downside of the pursuit of the consumerist cornucopia (pcc) is having a job (or maybe two!) which is another way of saying that we trade time for goods. Or another approach is to recognize that pcc is nothing more than a futile escape (that is, an addiction) from misery – the treadmill.
BUT the main point missing in this introduction by Grist writers, is the recognition that insecurity dominates our lives – the economy does not serve our needs, we are in service to it. There is no appreciation of how fear induced by insecurity affects choices in life and without that real sharing becomes a privileged option.
Furthermore, the true abundance that needs to replace the ideology of scarcity cannot be attained by a real sharing economy as envisioned in these stories. How do we deal with the vastly complex political and economic networks except by reconfiguring those that can be salvaged and scuttling those based on greed? That reconfiguration can be based on values and practices that build upon the feel-good factor of small and local projects (real sharing), but it also will require subtle and sophisticated knowledge that cannot be easily shared.
That knowledge certainly won’t be shared if we maintain the restrictions of professions that in fact are enclosures. I see no other way to begin the process of democratizing privileged knowledge than by separating income from jobs. By provide all with an income sufficient to address basic needs, it becomes possible to extend education more widely. But more, if time and lack of financial support no longer functions as a shackle on our imagination, new research, shelved for reasons of expediency (earning a living), may flourish. Open source (and Freeware) gives us a hint of the possibilities here.
To survive the tribulations that capitalism produces we need, for the lack of a better term, popular technics in all areas. The 1% will not fund this, obviously.
I have come to the conclusion that we desperately need a Universal Basic Income to develop a convivial society. That society will, in fact, correspond to the goals de-Growthers seek, but without getting caught up in the rhetoric of growth vs anti-growth. We need to express our desire for a positive vision of pleasurable collaboration as the basis for meeting our needs (what now passes for “the economy”) that are both social and individual