EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a transcript of Episode 301 of The Corbett Report podcast, “Solutions: The Peer-to-Peer Economy.” It has been generously provided by an anonymous listener of The Corbett Report. For the mp3 audio of the podcast please CLICK HERE, or you can watch the vodcast in the player below:
Welcome back ladies and gentlemen welcome back to the Corbett Report I’m your host James Corbett corbettreport.com podcasting to you as always from the sunny climes of western Japan, here on the 27th day of March 2015.
Welcome to Episode 303 of the Corbett Report Podcast: Solutions: The Peer-to-Peer Economy.
Now I’m sure to my regular listeners and viewers, the problem at the root of our economic enslavement will be all too apparent. Centralized bureaucratic institutions of control in the back pockets of the oligarch that sit, vulture-like, atop the global economy.
SIMON LONGDEN: “If you’ve been paying attention to Europe for the last few years you will be aware of the IMF, the world’s financial parachute parent. The all-seeing, all-knowing and apparently bottomless pit of money, for when things in your country get a bit too riot-y.
Except some may argue that that isn’t really the case. Even a fleeting glance at a history book would seem to suggest that things tend to get rather a lot worse, once the IMF was rolled into town. Usually because rather than lending you the money to get you out of a tight spot, like a friend or family member might, they say “Sure, you can have the money, but as long as you do this list of very specific things”, which is a bit more like what a sugar daddy would do.”
(Source: Who is the IMF and did they cause a famine in Africa? – Truthloader | Time reference 0:54)
JAMES CORBETT: “Ask the people of Ethiopia if the IMF World Bank economic therapy of the 1990s worked in their nation’s favor. Ask them about the fire sale of state assets, public utilities, farms and factories, for pennies on the dollar to multinational corporations. Ask them how USAID helped to dump surplus genetically engineered crops that couldn’t be sold in Europe on poor African nations, as ‘charitable food aid’. The extent of the horrors inflicted on Ethiopia by the international financiers almost beggars description.
The banksters weren’t content to carve the country into pieces and sell the scraps to their big business cronies. They then had the audacity to steal the very food off the poor farmers tables, and replace it with GM Frankenfoods that the rest of the world wouldn’t even touch.
This is the real face of austerity.”
(Source: The Meaning of Austerity | Time reference 01:30)
JEFFREY BROWN: “As a government economic advisor, Gikas Hardouvelis helped negotiate some of the budget cuts and austerity measures that Greece agreed to, in order to get international bailouts. Now with the private Euro Bank, he says the swift fall, however necessary, is bringing pain at historic levels.
GIKAS HARDOUVELIS: By the end of 2014 Greece would have a worse depression than the great depression in the US.
JEFFREY BROWN: Worse than the great depression?
GIKAS HARDOUVELIS: Yes.”
Source: Under Austerity, Greeks Feel Unfolding Humanitarian Crisis | Time reference 02:21)
“Now to Ireland where tens of thousands marched in protest at the weekend over harsh austerity measures in response to the country’s financial meltdown. The collapse of a property bubble has seen unemployment reach double figures, and left Ireland with massive debt and a banking system on the verge of collapse. Despite the announcement of the European Union bailout worth more than one hundred billion dollars, there are growing calls for the Prime Minister to stand down.”
(Source: Ireland protest over harsh austerity measures | Time reference 02:48)
“The World Bank has confirmed plans to give Ukraine a two billion dollar finance package this year, reports Radio Free Europe. The loans are tied to introducing a series of reforms which Ukrainian Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk, says will be very difficult. Heating and public transport costs have already been hyped, hitting family budgets already suffering due to a slump in the currency, job cuts and high inflation.”
(Source: Finance For Ukraine: World Bank to loan Ukraine 2 billion USD, adding to existing IMF package | Time reference 03:16)
Yes sadly the problem is all too apparent, but never fear, the solution is also perfectly apparent and is being helpfully provided in an interesting narrative that’s spilling forth across the news feed in recent weeks: centralized bureaucratic institutions of control in the back pockets of the oligarchs that will sit vulture-like atop the global economy!
NATHAN KING: “China’s president along with the officials of 20 other Asian nations, from poverty-stricken Bangladesh to highly developed Singapore, all getting behind the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
HUA CHUNYING (translated): When President Xi Jingping met with the representatives, he pointed out that the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank represents all parties hope, determination and action to work together for development. It’s also an innovative mechanism and will promote better global financial governance. It’s a very meaningful thing.”
(Source: 21 Asian nations on board for China-proposed regional investment bank | Time reference: 04:07)
“Three more European countries have announced that they will join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, defying US pressure not to do so.
Last week Washington slammed a similar move by London, saying it’s concerned over, quote “the constant accommodation of China”. Beijing in turn called the American reaction “childish paranoia”.”
(Source: Germany, France and Italy join China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank | Time reference: 04:39)
Speaking on Sunday at the opening of the China Development Forum in Beijing, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the fund would be delighted to cooperate with the AAIB. She also welcomed Beijing’s efforts to boost investments outside China.
Also on Sunday, World Bank managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said they welcome the AIIB initiative and will closely cooperate with the China-proposed institution.
(Source: IMF, World Bank lend support to Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) | Time reference: 5:08)
“Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has called for more cooperation between China and the United States. He made the remarks at the China Development Forum 2015 Economic Summit in Beijing on Saturday.
HENRY KISSINGER: … to talk about our ideas of a common future. But what is also crucial is that we do something together, that there are some joint American and Chinese project on which Chinese and Americans are working together.”
(Source: Henry Kissinger calls for more U.S.-China cooperation | Time reference: 05:39)
‘Oh no, China, please don’t throw us in the briar patch of your globalist institutions, it will completely destroy our age-old quest for global government. Oh, okay, I guess there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll just have to go along and start cooperating with you and we’ll gradually merge our system with your system behind the scenes. But don’t pay attention to that; Henry Kissinger will take care of that, and everything will be alright. And, oh, I guess we’ll just have to give up on global government after all.’
Really? Really? Is this truly what people believe is going to be the savior of humanity? Unfortunately a lot of people will be tricked into this because the dialectic is extremely effective. You pit a thesis versus an antithesis – a synthesis emerges. If one globalist institution is competing with (or cooperating with) another globalist institution, you’re going to get global government as the end synthesis, inevitably. That is where we are being steered and we’re being asked to believe that this process is inevitable. How else could the global economy possibly be structured? How could it be run? How could it be governed if there weren’t these multilateral institutions in the back pockets of the oligarchs sitting atop them, sucking off the blood from them like vampires. There’s just no other way to do it.
Well I am going to offer a counter-narrative to that narrative today, but in order to do that I think we should take one element of that idea, that there is a certain inevitability to what is happening in the global economy, and actually agree with it. Because I think, when we look at the broad scope and sweep of history, we do see certain inevitabilities that arise, as a result of certain developments, often technological developments that take place. And one very apparent, very easily documentable example of that, from history, is what happened in England in the 18th century.
“In towns across England and the United States a series of extraordinary innovations would alter the way people lived and worked for the next one hundred and fifty years.
Inventors had found new ways to harness nature’s energy. They built new kinds of machines powered by water, steam and coal. The new machines replaced hand-powered tools. They did the same work only cheaper and faster. Much of the work was done outside the home in specially designed buildings – the first factories. Mechanization began in in the textile mills of England, where one machine, attached to a spinning wheel, could do the work of fifty people. Fuel, clothing and food all became more affordable. With the development of locomotives and steamboats, manufactured goods could now be sold halfway around the world. Families moved from the villages of their ancestors to new industrial towns. And a new class of people emerged – workers who produced goods.”
(Source: Turning Points in History – Industrial Revolution | Time reference 08:15)
The Industrial Revolution. So here we have a specific historical precedent for the phenomena that we’re documenting today, namely the idea that technological developments can lead to re-orderings of economic relations, and on top of that complete transformations of society.
There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Industrial Revolution completely changed the face of the globe, and not just eighteenth century England. But as it spread out it changed the way that we think about society, the way society is ordered in many, many, many, many aspects of our daily lives. And some of those changes were for the good, some of them were for the bad, but the interesting part is that right now, through a series of technological developments that have really started to come to the fore in the past few decades, or even the past decade, we are now reordering those relations by rendering the technology, the machinery, the industrial processes that underlay the industrial era economy, obsolete.
What kinds of technological developments could I possibly be referring to? Well let me remind you, I’m a regular guy sitting here in my apartment in Japan talking to you, wherever you are in the world, through a technology sitting here on my desktop, that literally was almost unthinkable a few decades ago. That is revolutionary.
And we’ve talked in the past about how that’s revolutionary in terms of the transference of ideas through society, communication, the media or the rise of the alternative media, but today let’s think about the economic ramifications of this.
And in order to start documenting those economic ramifications , lets give this phenomena a name, and this is always contentious because people always squabble over names or fixate on names or assign too much importance to them, so let’s just try to give it a very apt name, and let’s take our analog today from a technological perspective that I’m sure many people will be somewhat familiar with, or will at least have heard by this point.
That is the idea of peer-to-peer networking, I’m sure many people are familiar with this in the context of peer-to-peer file sharing applications but let’s just get everyone on board.
First we’ll define peer-to-peer networking and then we’ll see how it can relate to the type of economy that is coming into place now, to replace the industrial era economy.
FLAMINGO PROJECT: “What is peer-to-peer? Have you ever heard of peer-to-peer? And do you know what it is?
Let’s meet Alice and Bob. When they think of peer-to-peer, they think about file sharing and pirates. Is there more than file sharing? Peer-to-peer is more than file sharing, you’ll see.
Traditional systems are built in a centralized place, Everything is coordinated by the central entity with all its disadvantages. On the other hand, we have decentralization, which is the common aspect of peer-to-peer systems, with the following properties:
Fault tolerance by design;
Redundancy of data;
Direct interaction without bottlenecks;
Decentralized management and control;
And what’s more, these advantages are exploited by a multitude of applications and libraries. Those come in many shapes and forms, such as:
Generic peer-to-peer libraries with Lib Jingle, Freepastry,Tomp2p;
Media streaming with Spotify, Bittorrent, Life and Liveshift;
VOIP with Skype and WebRTC;
Financial services with Bitcoin, PPCoin, Litecoin and Currencyfair;
Sharing with Bittorrent, Utorrent, Emule and Pixmoo;
Synchronization with Bitcoin, Sync and Owncloud;
Internet anonymity with Freenet and Tor;
Social network with Diaspora and Friendica
and there are many more. So will you be the next peer?”
(Source: What is P2P? | Time reference 11:57)
Will you be the next peer? It is a good question and it does pertain directly to what we’re talking about today on the podcast, although it may not be immediately apparent why that’s so, so let’s elaborate.
If we look back on that historical phenomenon the Industrial Revolution that we were talking about earlier, what we can see is the formation of a type of centralized network economy, where we have these central servers called factories, where all of materials are brought in, all of the workers congregate, the work happens there, and then the finished products are distributed out to the various nodes on that network -the retail stores, where hopefully there’s a node near you and one day you happen to go there and you happen to be browsing the shelves and you find an item and you purchase it.
Now that is a ridiculously inefficient system if you look at it on that scale, but but how else could the industrial economy be organized. We have all of these products that require this industrial machinery and these industrial processes in order to create, so all of this has to happen in these central factories and everyone has to congregate near the factories everyone has to live near the factories so we have the urbanization phenomenon that’s taken place over the past few centuries.
All of this is the logical consequence of a system that requires the central servers. But what if the technological developments that have happened in recent decades are rendering those industrial processes obsolete? This isn’t a theoretical question, this isn’t a rhetorical question, this is a question that is being answered right now by all sorts of different companies, individuals, organizations, people who are competing and cooperating, trying to find answers to that question ‘How do we decentralize the network? What does a peer-to-peer economy look like?’ There are a million, a billion different answers to that question. Here are a few.
FSXSW: “So Sidecar is now live in Austin and a number of other cities nationwide. The whole ride-sharing app that you have – give us briefly how does it work?
NICK ALLEN: Well it’s really simple. To be a driver you go through a bit of a process because safety’s really important to us. So we run background checks and meet all the people.
But then it’s super simple. It’s an app that just connects people who can give a ride with people who need a ride. It’s all donation-based so there’s no payment unless you volunteer it, and its growing like a weed we really love it.”
(Source: SideCar Rides Into SXSW | Time reference – 15:37)
JUSTIN PRIM: “In an average day I might do anywhere between six and twelve deliveries.
PRESENTER: Prim isn’t your average bike messenger, he’s a professional errand-runner. Earning his living doing chores for people who find him using a website called TaskRabbit.
It works like an online marketplace for odd jobs, everything from furniture assembly to housekeeping to sushi delivery. Prices range from a few dollars up to hundreds, and TaskRabbit takes a cut from each transaction.
LEAH BUSQUE: When I started the company back in Boston in 2008, things like collaborative consumption or the sharing economy, those words didn’t even exist yet.
PRESENTER: Technology has ushered in a new era of sharing. Startups like Relayrides let you rent out your car; Airbnb lets you rent out a room in your house, and if you need to rent a bicycle you can do that on Spinlister.”
(Source: Outsource Your Errands: The Life of a TaskRabbit | Time reference – 16:04)
BRAVECAST: “Peer-to-peer lending is the process of making money available to individuals by other individuals, online, without the typical intermediary like a bank or a credit union.
Here’s how the process works. Borrowers visit a peer-to-peer or p2p website, choose a loan amount during the application process, then wait for the investor approval while the application is posted inside the site’s secure listing. Lenders invest in the loan requests that meet their criteria. Once the application and approval is complete, borrowers receive the loan, deposited into their account, then make fixed monthly payments through automatic deduction.
Interest rates are typically set by the lenders, but competition usually take place for the lowest rate. Borrowers enjoy lower costs on their financing, in many cases arranging a loan of up to $35,000 with an interest rate below 7 percent.”
(Source: Peer to Peer Lending – An Introduction | Time reference – 16:53)
CHARLIE SHREM: “When you’re sending money somewhere in the world there are a lot of middlemen involved, and over the years it has become extremely, extremely hard to move money, anything except for cash -when you have cash in your hand and you want to go to a 711, you can buy a stick of gum and it’s really easy to do, but if you want to send money to somewhere like China or the Philippines or Tokyo, it can be really expensive and take a lot of time, unless you’re sending it in small or large amounts.
At the same time try sending $0.30 over the internet, you can’t do it without paying some fees. Even with PayPal it could be up to $0.30 and three percent to do something like that.
So Bitcoin enables strictly peer-to-peer money transfers. You look at something like Remittance. Remittance could cost 9 to 10 percent to send money somewhere in the world. With Bitcoin, as long as I have a Bitcoin wallet on my phone and someone has a Bitcoin wallet somewhere in China, I can send them money – a million dollars, fairly instantly with no fees.”
(Source: Hack the Bank: Bitcoin and the New Peer-to-Peer Economy | Time reference – 17:56)
SHANE HUGHES: “…Now Lou Brown saw in her neighborhood there were lots of gardens that were overgrown. People weren’t looking after their gardens because they were ill or too old or too busy, and she knew people that needed access to land. So she created this matchmaking service, and it was popular, people loved it. And before you knew it, it grew into a website called Landshare and before you knew it we’d got 70,000 people, registered, sharing their land.”
(Source: The unstoppable rise of a collaborative economy | Time reference – 19:02)
CARINE CARMY: “3D printing is exploding because people really just have so much imagination that they couldn’t capitalize before. You can upload your design to our website using a 3D model. We send it to our production facility here in New York or all over the world with our partners, and we send it to you in the mail.
PETER WEIJMARSHAUSEN: “3D printing makes it so accessible for people to have their own products made, that you can make the products that you want for yourself, but you can also start your own business, without any barriers. It doesn’t cost money to start a business, the only time you spend is time you spend designing it, and when people like it you instantly start making money.”
(Source: Shapeways: Design, Create, and Sell All In One Place Using 3D Printing At Its Finest | Time reference – 19:30)
INTERVIEWER: “What does Local Motors do? Explain it to us.
JAY ROGERS: The first and most important thing we do is we have created and manage a community of vehicle enthusiasts, and that community is made up of designers, engineers, fabricators and car lovers. So that’s our first job is to manage that community, and our whole business revolves around it. And then in addition to that we have the first-ever micro-manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona in the United States, the southwest, and it is the proofpoint that a small manufacturing facility can take the ideas from this community and put them into production.
INTERVIEWER: So the people and the users, and everybody else who wants to, or who can do it, can take part in the design of the car and the development of the car?
JAY ROGERS: That’s correct. It’s what we consider to be ‘open source’ automotive and so basically that means everything that we do is open to the community. We manage the process as it goes through so that we make sure the product is finished and up to a standard, but basically all of the data that we have for the car is shared freely with the community, as we start and then all the way through the life of the car, it never ends it always continues, and then if you happen to be a customer of the car you get to come and you take part, a lot of part, in the production of the car itself, so you have your hands on almost every part that goes into the car.”
(Source: Jay Rogers Interview on the Open Source Car – Local Motors | Time reference – 20:05)
I hope you are beginning to appreciate just how potentially disruptive these ideas are to that status quo that we were elaborating at the beginning of today’s podcast. These globalized centralized institutions of control, sitting like vultures atop the global economy, in the back pockets of the oligarchs of course.
How can they be disrupted by other globalized centralized institutions of control that is a false paradigm. The real answer is to allow people to interact, transact, barter, share, do all of this directly together without the need for the middle men, without the need for the over-arching systems of control. That is the truly revolutionary idea that we can see, in these various other ideas that are springing forth from them, and it doesn’t mean those specific examples we were just looking at, those are just examples they can come they can go, they can change they can be altered.
But it’s the underlying idea itself that is revolutionary, the idea that we can actually communicate directly together in a peer-to-peer network, rather than going through centralized servers. It’s an interesting concept and perhaps the best way to show that it is so potentially, potentially disruptive is to show just how hard those status quo institutions of control are kicking back against these various ideas.
“Uber is facing yet another legal battle, this time in France. A court in Paris is set to rule on its UberPOP service later today. It allows people to offer their cars for ride sharing, but critics say UberPOP uses unlicensed drivers to cut costs, creating unfair competition.”
(Source: Uber sued in France | Time reference – 23:03)
NAOMI BROCKWELL: “But local governments are trying to either ban Airbnb, or regulate it so much that it becomes almost impossible to participate. Bizarrely, Portland, Oregon prohibits Airbnb in all residential areas of the city but allows it in industrial areas, where permanent residents aren’t allowed to live, just as long as there’s off-street parking available and a six foot paved sidewalk between the building and the street.
Austin Texas allows residents to become Airbnb hosts, just as long as they undergo a home inspection, purchase a $285 permit and live in a neighborhood that hasn’t already reached its quota.”
(Source: Airbnb and Its Enemies: Who’s Afraid of a $10-a-Night Sofa? | Time reference – 23:20)
CAROLINE SAID: “One of the biggest most striking things about the ballot initiative is that it actually creates a bounty hunter system, where people, anybody in this, could report somebody for doing Airbnb and if back taxes and fines resulted, they would get 30 percent of that money, and that’s stirred a lot of outrage.
SCOTT SHAFER: I’m sure it would, that’s kind of a snitch-incentive there.”
(Source: KQED: the Push Back Against Airbnb | Time reference 23:53)
MATT VOSKA: “It’s typically done on bulletin boards like at the airport, so pilots say “Hey I’m flying to Martha’s Vineyard next week, anyone that wants to come with -here’s my number”. So we said okay let’s just take that same concept and we’ll put it online.
CBS: But the Federal Aviation Administration said “not so fast”. By accepting paying passengers through websites like Flytenow, the agency believed the small planes were essentially operating as commercial airliners, but without the scrutiny and oversight commercial airlines receive.
In August an FAA lawyer wrote: ‘The website is designed to attract a broad segment of the public interested in transportation by air.’ Tal Reichert, a pilot for almost eleven years, signed up with Flytenow in March.
TAL REICHERT: This is just people sharing their hobby and their passions. This is not commercial aviation. It is impossible for a pilot to make a living flying through Flytenow. Every time a pilot Flytenow through Flytenow the pilot must pay at least their own share of the expenses.
The decision stalled Flytenow’s business, as well as other flight sharing services like Airpooler and pilotsharetheride.com, which had been cleared by a different FAA official in 2005. While pilots can still share costs, a problem now arises if they use the internet to find passengers, says Flytenow’s attorney John Riches.”
(Source: FAA shuts down ride sharing for air travelers | Time reference – 24:11)
“Currently companies can sue for damages if someone is caught recreating and sharing a copyrighted design. Make your own version of a storm trooper from Star Wars and you could face a lawsuit.”
Source: 3-D Printing Craze Prompts Legal Concerns| Time reference – 25:36)
JOHN IADAROLA: “The taxi companies, the traditional yellow cabs and things like that, that is actually a surprisingly large business lobby. In big cities, like LA, when you’re talking about picking up at LAX there’s a lot of yellow cab money in that. And they don’t want the much cheaper, much more reasonably priced, although still not cheap, Uber and Lyft services to usurp that. So they will take their dollars that they have, because they’ve become successful businesses for a number of decades, and they will lobby and they will get these services shut down if people don’t stop that from happening. Honestly this is David versus Goliath here.”
(Source: Uber and Lyft Are in the Establishment’s Crosshairs Again | Time reference – 25:49)
Again sometimes the best way to identify the action is to look for the reaction and the reaction shows that there is a significant amount of kickback that is being received right now, against the idea of people simply sharing what they have, collaborating with each other, transacting directly with each other.
This is a subversive idea, and it’s not just subversive in an economic sense, of course the Hilton hotel chains hate Airbnb because it cuts into their profit or the taxi companies hate Lyft and Uber and all of these because it cuts into their profit. Of course there is that element to it but it is subversive on a much deeper level than that, because the economy is not just about dollars and cents or pesos or yen or whatever – phony tokens of currency that they get passed around in the economy, it is not about that. It is about the relations between people, how people come together, how they interact, how they transact. That is the fundamental question of the organisation of society itself. And for centuries in the industrial era, we have been trained to believe that we can live in a system where ‘Of course you don’t have to know your neighbors, you don’t know them by name, you don’t interact with them, you just live in these highly concentrated urban environments to go to your little factory production centers, whether those be office cubicles or factories or whatever the case may be, and then you go home to your little isolated apartment and you sit there and interact with a computer screen’, that is the society that we’ve been engineered into and I believe quite deliberately.
The taking away of that sense of community that was one of the fundamental underlying aspects of the pre-industrial society that I think was one of the great losses of the Industrial Revolution, but the peer-to-peer economy is one way that we can start to reclaim that sense of community. How so?
DAVID VAN SETERS: “In fact the poster child for the sharing economy is Airbnb, which is the place-sharing website started by two university graduates who wanted to set up an internet business and they had graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and they moved to San Francisco, the heart of the Silicon Valley, to make their fortune and they were staying in a place in San Francisco and the landlord decided to raise their rent, and they couldn’t afford the old rent, and they realized that to solve that, they had heard about this design conference that was happening in San Francisco, and there were no rooms, and so they thought ‘Wow, we could offer short stay accommodation and breakfast by buying air mattresses and putting them in front of the bathroom, in front of the kitchen and in the living room’ and so they did that and they went to the news media and actually got some really good publicity and they started to develop this fledgling website called Air Bed and Breakfast, and people start buying airbeds and solving, temporarily, this problem of a shortage of rooms. This carried on for a little while until someone reached out to them and said “Well I don’t really want to do the air mattress and breakfast, I want to just rent my whole place” , and so they said “Well okay we’ll add a feature for that”, and it didn’t quite exactly take off from there but a few months later, then all of a sudden people were starting to use the site and they shortened the name to six letters ‘airbnb’, and now they have over 600,000 rooms, mostly cold places, in their inventory and they’re growing at over a thousand new places a day, and in the next few months they will become larger than the largest hotel group in the world -the Hilton Hotel Group.
Just to show you how viral it is, and they did all that within about five years whereas the Hilton Hotel Group took 95 years to get to their status as the largest accommodation company and they had to build 3900 hotels. Well, Airbnb didn’t even have to buy one, they just went to the crowd and people offered their own space. And of course they are getting supplemental income and people who stay at an Airbnb often pay less than they would at a hotel. So it really is a self-reinforcing kind of enterprise.
INTERVIEWER: And in more interesting places, and the potential of seeing the city or the place, like you’re there, rather than tourists on top at a hotel that looks like a hotel anywhere.
Yes and you get to meet local people so it’s a unique experience. And that’s one of the other great benefits of the sharing economy, it’s that everytime there’s a sharing exchange, people meet each other and it builds community, so there’s a real strong social benefit that happens through sharing economy enterprises as well.”
(Source: The Sharing Economy – By the People, For the People | Time reference – 28:30)
These technologies are enabling different types of transactions and interactions amongst people and perhaps more importantly, more fundamentally, creating new relationships between people, bringing people together in new communities, that would’ve never happened if it weren’t for these types of technological developments.
That is a significant change and one that I attempted to elaborate, in an article on this subject of the peer-to-peer economy, that I wrote for The International Forecaster a month or two ago that I will link up in the shownotes so you can go and read it for yourself.
But let’s just read an excerpt from that where I try to elaborate on this point of the growing sense of community that can come out of this peer-to-peer network economy. So reading from that article:
“To a large extent, people still live in this largely 20th century economic reality: still detached from the product of their labor, still disaffected and disempowered by their life on the corporate treadmill, still detached from their neighbors, their community, and the land around them. Something is still missing from our lives, the appeal of connection with each other and with nature that we all understand as our ancestral past. But the idea of returning to that former way of life—a way of life that allowed for an economy in which artisans and craftsmen thrived and in which people lived in close-knit communities—seems a pipe dream, impossible in a world where we are dependent on the conveniences of modern life. For generations, we have been more or less sold on the idea that the dissatisfaction of our modern, cookie-cutter industrial civilization is not a mere historical contingency, but part of the human condition itself…
…But a new concept of economic organization (and thus a new basis for society itself) is now coming into view. Whereas the Industrial Era made the traditional craftsmen and artisans obsolete and displaced agricultural laborers from their ancestral farms, the Peer-to-Peer era is creating new opportunities for workers to develop and market their own skills and affording those who capitalize on these opportunities the geographical freedom to live where they like…
…This is not just a difference in relationship between producers and consumers in a strictly economic sense; it offers a different way for us to conceptualize and participate in communities and interact with others around us. Through MeetUp, people are finding like-minded people on all sorts of subjects, from cinephiles gathering to discuss movies to birdwatchers organizing expeditions to monetary reformers holding strategy sessions. People are meeting their future spouses through any number of online dating sites. People are teaching themselves calculus through the Khan Academy and learning how to edit home movies via YouTube tutorials. It has never been easier for people to find like-minded people to share interests and passions with, whether those people be halfway around the world or just down the street…
…Any one of these developments taken by itself may seem unimportant, even trivial. But taken together it becomes more apparent that the internet has not provided us with a mere upgrade to the telephone, but a new structure upon which to erect a different type of society. And whereas the industrial society wrenched people away from communities, away from the land, and away from the products of their labor, the Peer-to-Peer society is enabling people to become craftsmen and artisans once again, and reconnecting people to the community around them.”
(Source: The Peer To Peer Economy | Time reference – 32:33)
I know it’s a very sweeping, and very optimistic in some ways, vision of what can come from this technology and these developments, but I think it’s a fair one, and let’s take a look at some, at least one specific example of the types of community organizations that can be fostered to, once again, regain that sense of community that we’ve been so completely wrenched away from in the past few centuries.
As of course I’m sure everyone will be able to understand, it’s not that this sense of community is just going to spring out of nowhere and suddenly people will be talking to their neighbors, it has to be fostered, it has to be cultivated like a like a garden, like a ‘guerilla garden’.
So let’s take a look at a specific example of how that’s being done and we’re going to look at Ozark County, Missouri, which is a very small out-of-the-way type of place, less than 10,000 population where there is an interesting little organisation called Ozarks Neighborly Exchange. It isn’t a large organization by any means but it is making a difference in a local community, for a bunch of people who have found each other through online or other means and are coming together to truly make a difference in their community. And I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the members of this Ozarks Neighborly Exchange, Thomas Freedman, about the community organization, how it came about and how others can use this idea to foster community within their own neighborhoods.
THOMAS FREEDMAN: “Well the Ozarks Neighborly Exchange is just a grass-roots organization and this is the third iteration of it. We’ve tried to start this several times before and this time it’s actually taken off and is growing like wildfire so we’re very pleased with the results that we’ve achieved this year.
One of the chief activies that we do every month, we’ve not done it this month because of the weather being bad, but in the past and pretty much throughout most of the year we have what’s called a Work Party as you mentioned, and the Work Party is nothing more than a Community Member that says “I would like to have some trees cut; some shrubs moved”, or whatever it is – some gardening done, any type of activity, lawn care, whatever is necessary that member says “I would like to have one”, and we schedule a time for it and the group shows up. It’s usually a four hour time on a Saturday morning, or a Saturday afternoon is when we usually schedule these things to be done.
In the winter of this month we actually have done a number of things in lieu of the Work Party. For example we raised some funds to give to a family that was really in dire straits and really needed some clothing for their children. So we raised some funds through that and presented it to them instead of doing a Work Party that particular month.
JAMES CORBETT: Well let’s talk a little bit about the philosophy that underlies a group like this and in the ‘About’ section of the Ozarks Neighborly Exchange there’s a post on ‘Why become a one-member’ and it says ‘No matter where you are in the world there are certain values and basic human needs that we all share: food, shelter, water, cameraderie and love are some of those things. When we get to know our neighbors on a personal level, we begin to care for one another and we can help each other not only survive, but thrive, in life. As a member of Ozarks Neighborly Exchange you become part of a tight community, part of a tribe of people who care for one another and thrive together’ and then it talks about some of the various activities that the O.N.E. group engages in. Tell us from your own perspective in your own words about this idea that underlies this type of community organisation and why other people should start something similar in their own communities.
THOMAS FREEDMAN: Well in a single word its community. I mean it’s really that simple. And in today’s world in the city, I’ve lived in the country here for eight or nine years but before I moved here I lived in the city, and even though you live next door in a condo or whatever, oftentimes you don’t know your neighbors, you live in such a hectic world – a lifestyle – one neighbor might work the second shift you work the first andyou just never see them. It’s just common in our modern world that we don’t actually reach out and have that community spirit anymore, and we’re in a small community here and its contrary, the spirit of O.N.E. is contrary to that city life. It’s very much people helping people, that’s our byline is “Neighbors helping neighbors”.”
(Source: Interview 1011 – Thomas Freedman on Creating a Community Organization | Time reference – 37:11)
Thomas Friedman of the Ozarks Neighborly Exchange, ozarksneighborlyexchange.com.
Alright we’ve looked at a very big idea here today and it’s one that is difficult to articulate in its totality because it’s just so vast.
There are so many different parts and aspects to this that deserve to be talked about in greater length. Not only the idea of the ‘sharing economy’ but the ‘gift economy’, ‘collaborative consumption’, ‘peer-to-peer Commons’ and ‘peer-to-peer production’, all of these different terms and terminology that gets thrown around, all of these ideas that are, to some extent overlapping, to some extent they’re different ideas, they all deserve to be looked at.
But I hope we’ve at least painted the broader picture today of what it is we’re looking at here, which is the fundamental transformation of economic relations, which of course entails a fundamental transformation of our society.
And I don’t want people to walk away from this believing that I’m a Pollyanna-ish utopian who believes ‘we can all sing Kumbaya and be done with it because the revolution is here’, of course not. It’s a step from A to Z and there are many, many interfering steps along the way – many pitfalls, many potential ways that this could go sour or go in the wrong direction.
For example just to name one, I just released a video yesterday about: “The Revolution Will Not Be YouTubed”, talking about the various ways that YouTube, Facebook, Google, all of these different platforms that people have come to rely on, on the internet itself to such a great degree, are of course controlled, manipulated, in bed with the intelligence agencies and the governments, and manipulating your news feeds and all of this type of nonsense to basically stop people from finding communities, spreading information, coming together, interacting in a peer-to-peer economy.
So it is not a straight line. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to be unhalting progress, but I believe there is the chance – the opportunity – that we can use this for the good, that we can start getting around all of those globalist bureaucratic institutions of control, rather than giving in to them.
If you believe that we can do so likewise I invite you to join us here in the peer-to-peer economy where, for example, I am actually making my living thanks to the blessing of all of the viewers out there who can support me directly without having to go through some third-party, whereas in any other era of existence if I was going to be in the media, I would be having to work for some big media corporation that was owned by some Rupert Murdoch or what-have-you, I can now literally directly speak to people out there, and they can directly support me.
That is the best possible model and it is happening right now, I am living breathing proof of it, so it can happen, but we have to understand how valuable what we have right now is, and we have to push it even further, to get rid of that status quo that is perched atop the global economy.
Some very big ideas. I think I’ll leave it there for this week.
Once again I’m James Corbett of corbettreport.com thanking you for joining me, and I look forward to talking to you again very soon.