Elements of the grassroots economy, and its counterfeits?

Please look at the following two videos in sequence, and ‘spot the difference’.

The first one is not new, but this video of the Grassroots Economy Festival held in the Bay Area in 2009 by JASEcon, is a great overview of the components of the already existing and genuine social economy which expresses different values, it’s part of what I call the p2p ‘transvaluation’, which is an indispensable cultural stepping stone for the phase transition towards a p2p, commons-oriented social form:

Then look at this following, perhaps equally enthusing video, which predicts that we are at the dawn of a deep Financial Reformation (analogy with the protestant Reformation after Gutenberg’s print revolution), of ‘digitally native finance’, which will overthrow the financial elite and exploitative middlemen. But can you spot the difference? The first video above is an expression of bottom-up efforts, the second, is an expression of ‘netarchical capitalism’, i.e. investors intent on exploiting this transformation, i.e. the Anthemis group who produced this video.

Now, is this necessarily a ‘bad thing’?

My answer would be yes and no, i.e. by providing investments to create new dynamics, they are partly contributing to deep change away from the old model, BUT, they will also do this on their own terms. For example, social lending, the ability of peers to lend to each other without the intermediary of banks, is certainly interesting, but, if it is embedded in the same profit-maximising logic, now distributed to individuals seeking maximum advantage from each other, we can also see how it is in fact a continuation of old models, a transposition of the old value sphere into new practices, thereby also subverting and coopting them. This is, in a nutshell, the effect of netarchical capitalism, which ‘enables and empowers participation’, but in order to maximise profit from the new sphere as well.

It is something that we should always be aware of, when friendly financiers help finance the p2p transformation, it always comes at a price, BUT it is up to us to determine whether it is worth the price:

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