What crowdfunding businesses like Kickstarter have accomplished is to allow hundreds, thousands, of small businesses to be born, obtaining financing with nothing more to offer than an idea and without having to cede portions of property in exchange.
Capitalism is not the market. Capitalism is taking for it granted that those who provide the capital (one among the many factors of production that converge in a productive project) are automatic and exclusively the owners of the business.
A little more than five years ago, we dedicated ourselves on this blog to studying how Kiva in the world of cooperation, Kickstarter in the world of entrepreneurs, and microcredit systems in traditional SMEs put the traditional idea of commercial banking in check.
We began to understand that the bottom of the financial crisis was, in reality, a crisis of scale that financial capital hasn’t been able to adapt to. Or rather, instead of adapting to the new optimal scales imposed by technology, it preferred to try to modify the optimal scale, backed by political power, so as to avoid changing its models and structures–and pick up some extra rents along the way.
We were on the right track. But we put the framework in the wrong place. Crowdsourcing systems only pressure banking indirectly. What’s really transformative about what Kickstarter and crowdsourcing sites have done is allow hundreds, thousands, of small businesses to be born, obtaining financing with no more guarantee than an idea, and without having to cede portions of ownership in exchange.
They have created a market supported by “early adopters’” desire for innovation and consumers who “want to send a message,” the ones who use their money as a way to vote for what they believe in. And that market, having been discovered by pioneers of the direct economy, has become the demonstration that, with the new optimal scales, there are more and more industrial environments where it is not as important for monetary capital to automatically be synonymous with ownership. And that, in practice, seems to me more anti-capitalist than all the anti-capitalist theory I’ve heard and read in my life.