Sharing what we have is clearly in our future. The time of unbounded accumulation of stuff and money is over. But where is increased sharing going to lead us, and what effect is it going to have on the world?
Some days ago, Michel pointed me to an interview with Isaac Mao, the Chinese internet guru and venture capitalist who believes that what we need is an increase in our willingness to share, that we will be rewarded for sharing and that – all things considered – things are going to be fine.
Then this morning I come across a piece by Matthew Slater, the co-founder of Community Forge who also advocates sharing, but his vision is a more radical one. He sees sharing as a necessary change if we are to survive the coming hard times, and as an important opportunity to shape the world of economics in a different, more people-friendly way.
While Mao’s Sharism is well embedded in the corporate and consumerist culture and seems to avoid any challenge to the status quo, Slater’s sharing is an instance of social activism directed towards deep-going change, both in our personal lives and in the way we arrange our collective activities.
Robin Peckham interviewed Isaac Mao, the initiator of Sharism and the first question was about implementing the concept: “…have you made any progress in actual implementation, in getting the word out to a wider audience?”
Isaac Mao: That’s part of the philosophy of Sharism: you have to tell people how it can work in the physical world, the real world. I try to observe how people can benefit from these ideas in daily life, particularly through their organizations and other social activity like so-called social enterprises. Sharing is not just giving; there is also a return on your interests. It amplifies your contribution to society, without which you cannot be sustainable all the time. Before I started the Sharism project I focused more purely on technology, especially on how people implement different kinds of new technologies that help people meaningfully collaborate. We should try to think about the marks and traces that we create over time. The traditional system does not truly log our achievements in the long-term. Sharism gives you a path: you can always look back, and we can maintain, have our own grassroots space on a human scale, a history written by individuals. With this we can create a scenario of cloud intelligence, and as people relay their knowledge into this cloud one by one these changes can reach a certain level.
You can find the whole interview, titled EXPECTING EXPECTATIONS, on the digimag site at the following address: http://www.digicult.it/digimag/article.asp?id=1904
The idea of radical giving is something potentially more deeply transformative:
This is how, through collective nonpolitical action, we can in one fell swoop,
- forge bonds of trust and reciprocation in our communities
- start building resilience to economic collapse
- mitigate climate change
- transform our consciousnesses, from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality
- clear out a lot of junk and clutter and make space
- force the economy back into step and start it in a good direction
If we stop buying stuff and start giving away what we have. Not only our stuff, but our time, our skills and our emotions. Our fundamental measures of value, the fiat currencies, are collapsing under our very noses. The middle class faces being wiped out – the losses we face are still unimaginable to most people.
Economists and politicians are scrambling to find new ways to extend our indebtedness, to buy us time, but these debts will never be paid. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity now to redefine the measure-of-value. To stop using GDP as indicators of economic success; to put resources into productive activities, instead of into military, marketing, security, and inefficient ideologies.
This is how to throw a spanner in the works: how to emasculate those who seek to profit from your labour; how to declare “I have no part in this madness”; how to regain control over your productive energy; and how to do so without violence or even a harsh word.
Simply stop buying stuff. And if you can, work less.
Humanity, especially in the West, is now entering an almighty shitstorm. We need to look up from our meaningless obsessions and nonproductive jobs and start thinking about how we’re going to get through without murdering each other.
Radical giving is the way. It requires no laws, no investment, no policies, no cooperation from anybody. It is a transformation anyone can make at any time. It is a revolution from within, which requires no violence.
More at http://matslats.net/
Radical indeed and, in a way, diametrically opposed to Isaac Mao’s Sharism. But also very similar. Both Mao and Slater are attempting to move us towards giving, both of them are thinking about accounting systems that capture that voluntary type of activity that our present monetary system has no way of measuring, no way of appreciating. But while one seeks to work inside the system of capitalist consumerism, the other seeks to transform that system into something radically different.
Which one is it going to be … or are we perhaps going to end up somewhere in the middle?