Sharing is a confusing concept — on the one hand, shares on Wall Street are perhaps the most iconic symbols of far-right capitalism and libertarian ideals, but on the other hand to share information… to present it to someone, apparently free of charge, to give it away into an unknown void seems somehow infected with the perceived polar opposite of private investment activity: Communism.
Many years over, I have noticed a very strong ambivalence that people who have been indoctrinated with “free market” ideas hold towards sharing information. Never mind, though, that there is no such thing as a free market anywhere — all economic activity is regulated in some shape or form (otherwise, dinosaurs might not ever have gone extinct). The idealistic fantasies of fanatically patriotic folks, however, have their attention dead-set on whatever style of chauvinism happens to be in fashion today — and they are at least as fickle as the wind.
Nonetheless, decades of indoctrination and centuries of hellfire and brimstone sermons on the sinfulness of sharing private property have filled a sizable body of literature that would put to shame even the most prolific graffiti artists of our day. Wall-to-wall conformity is the dictum of the day, and any and all nonconformists will please move to the exit to disappear out back. Vast numbers of minds have been reduced into well employed machinery, fed scraps with salt so that they are willing to continue oiling the wheels of production — whether of goods or services doesn’t matter much (but note that services have a wonderful way of leaving little or no trace).
In the ideologies of capitalism, communism is anathema to the prescribed blueprints for profit. “Happy Together” is an anthem of bohemian peasants living in pre-industrial squalor, not a technologically advanced exclusive, walled-off all-inclusive living arrangement.
One word that must be avoided at all costs is “environment” — any mention of environmental anything is enough to become an outcast from life in the big tent.
Yet the moist poignant, though not immediately apparent, paradox is how sharing has fared to become so boldly stitched on the flag of the times — and how the most exclusive of actors will ever be able to remove it (or, at least: themselves from any proximity to it). Publicity was all good and fine when it was built with capitalist printing presses, but now someone seems to have let the cat out of the bag.
Disoriented, capitalists no longer know which way to turn. They continue to push advertising, but it no longer sticks — it is about as effective as putting a slab of butter on top of a hot grill. In the olden days, it was much easier to mesmerize consumers into buying stuff by just dangling it in front of their eyes, time and again, over and over… — it worked like a charm!
Today, capitalism’s “new and improved” is no longer the stardust it once was — it is just another grain of sand trying to compete in a vast desert of dried up content. Trying to sell virtual oases is not quite as easy as novices might think — unfortunately, you cannot make a big profit on a mirage… especially when yet another mirage is just a click away.
If only there were a way to sprinkle some authenticity on top of some little piece of this undifferentiated landscape. Authenticity itself is the giant hurdle that capitalism cannot seem to muster. The folklore of capitalism operates behind closed doors, in smoke filled rooms around a poker table. Capitalism’s defining moment is the ultimate bluff, not transparent lucidity.
Today any capitalist can acquire a string of characters that say “fair” and “honest”, but that alone does not guarantee that they are speaking on the same terms that their audience is searching for. Distributed consumer networks can route around bogus promises in a snap. The lexicon itself is no longer controlled by any single institution — whether in Oxford, whether called Webster,… it just doesn’t matter. The murmur of the crowds quickly drowns out whatever property private corporations might wish to invent.
If, and only if, capitalism is willing to give up on the notion of proprietary language, then it might have a chance to reap profits within what is essentially a communist system. Trying to build a growth business outside the natural commune of communications is nothing more than an exercise in futility.