Miruna Codeanu

Sharing economy, the new communism?

In espresso on June 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

A new type of society is on the rise: sharing economy. I’m reading an article in Business Insider and I remember two hypothesis I had on our changing society some time ago, but never actually had the time to re-think them and formulate them. 1.The revival of barter society . 2. What if communism has not yet happened?

1A few years ago, back in 2008, when it all started, there was a new trend rising: services exchange. Everyone wanted to have a barter partnership. It somehow becoming a pattern in B2B. There was no money involved because most of people in the B2B industry lacked them. Shortly, it was a blockage. Companies were just drifting away, exchanging services, not able to pay their employees, but hoping to get more clients coming from the what they hoped to be collaborations to promote their business. They drifted until they were lost. It was a bad business model for the B2B industry:  their employees needed to be paid and there was no money because a barter wasn’t bringing money. Despite its failure, the feeling was that this is where society was heading: revival of barter. There was, however, a category for which this system could work: freelancer and the institution of “small favors”. At the time I was actually considering the idea of a “small favor” exchange start up.  So, I’m a marketer and I need an website let’s say, but the web designer needs someone to market its services, and I need sometimes to design a website for me, so we exchange these services. I am a mechanic and  and a farmer need his tractor fixed, so we negotiate an exchange: I fix his tractor for a certain amount of vegetables, meat and whatever else. Meanwhile, there are probably some small start ups of this sort, if not, I’m still seeing as niche where the society needs help and also an opportunity for a business.

2. Marx was saying that communism will naturally rise in the countries where capitalism is at its full development. Communism did not rise in a fully capitalist country, Russia was far from being that. This hypothesis first crossed my mind during the “Occupy” movements, autumn of 2011. Then people went home and protests in the oriental world followed, Greece and Cyprus. Now protests are making a comeback into the western world through Turkey. To me, Gezi is part of the “Occupy” movement and probably not just to me. Messages like “we are the 99%” are reminders for Occupy Wall Street movement.

Remember this picture?

It was shot in 2011 during “Occupy Wall Street” protests.

This was taken during the Gezi protests.

There are similar images shot during the protests all around the world. Yes, protesters are human beings, even during protests. It is not only these things happening, it is also what people are searching for, what impresses people, what moves people. Traditional media would have probably shared “shocking images”, scared, beaten, sad people. Social media is sharing images of humanity and they are spreading much faster than traditional media, going even into traditional mass media. Times are changing. Yes, times are always changing, but where to? Communism was appealing in the first place because it was reaching out to the humanity in people: we should all be happy, we should all share things, this is what made hippies adepts of communism. Looking at most of “occupy” claims, they seem a little bit socialist, I might actually say communist. Eg: “we are the 99%”. So? In a liberal world, being part of the 99% gives one no economic advantage. Being part of the 99% and asking for economic rewards to fulfill your needs just because you are part of that 99% and you exist is…oh well..a communist claim, the equivalent of saying “I have a need, and my need should be satisfied”.

Whether communism will be most appealing in countries where capitalism has reached its full growth is debatable but quite logic, as communism seems to be the a natural response to deny and contradict capitalism , property and excessive accumulation. Here we are, in 2013, talking about sharing economy. Sharing. Hmm..Sharing your property…familiar? Quite familiar, yes. Communism obviously failed, but it was also communism developed in country with almost no capitalist experience. Socialist and communist claims are being shared, liked and spread on social networks as I’m writing. Will it be different this time? Yes, it will be probably be mixed with a democratic system which will give birth to a new totally new different concept. “Sharing economy”? Could just as well be called “the new communism”. Totalitarian communism? Fail. Democratic capitalism? Failing. Democratic communism? To be experiencing soon.

  1. […] I’m getting a bit confused by the sharing economy: Uber is announcing a new service: they want to become a logistics company, they want to transport everything, not just people. At this moment we have two scenarios. We stop associating Uber with the sharing economy and we call it part of the on demand economy, either we accept that slowely we might be moving to a form of democrating communism. […]

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