If Not Now, When, And Who With? Thoughts on Social Transformation Toward the Adoption of Platform Commons
The Big Five in tech have power exceeding that of governments or even that of other companies combined for that matter. These, and companies like them, must be reined in, transformed into a common resource to serve the public good. The attempts to address the sheer power of these behemoths via distributed cooperative alternatives — exist — but have failed.
So, I’d like to propose a synthesis of sorts. Let’s take Amazon. What is it? It is a marketplace aimed at providing the best quality product for the lowest price. This, in fact, should be applauded. The issue is the rewards go to a few, most notably Jeff Bezos, who’s fortune is bound to exceed $200 billion in the near future, especially considering the lockdown nature of the pandemic may well continue for longer than expected, particularly if the virus continues to adapt beyond the scope of vaccination many scientists fear.
It seemed at one point there was an air of solidarity — initially — during lockdown, but now it seems people are majorly for themselves and just want to keep tight (suffer quietly) and stay secure, while many others just want to get rich. There is no collective positive vision for the future (which is highly problematic), other than extracting wealth from Africa via Bitcoin, in some flailing attempt to give that platform once incubated by a combination of anarchist cypherpunks and Austrian-school-bashing techno-libertarians an air of functionality, when in reality it is a Ponzi scheme, now aimed at exploiting Africa using smooth Silicon Valley rhetoric, a repackaging of an old and tired story.
So let’s return to Amazon. It’s said Jeff Bezos could pay all Amazon workers over $200,000 and still have more than a pre-pandemic net worth. Bezos deflects this by saying he owns a small portion of the company and the majority goes to other shareholders — so let’s address them as well. What if we then combined the Big Five and other top performing companies into one mega-corporate structure and have dividends paid out to everyone? Whatever income insufficiencies, with a nod to Modern Monetary Theory, nations can simply continue deficit spending, issuing Jubilees or debt cancelations, until currency, at least as we know it, is no longer needed, as the extractive economy is translated into an equalized transfer economy based on material resources and human capacity highly augmented or replaced by highly adaptive and knowledgeable tools, the part of ourselves we call machines.
The suitcase phrase for the system to come can be called a platform commons. More than just myself and a handful of others need to discuss, deliberate, and implement these views. The major problem is that well funded mass media outlets continue to distort the dialogue in the interests of elite power. These reactive minds would have you think I want a post-scarcity society to deny my own responsibility, when in fact, I advocate for this umbrella term to ensure myself and others can become more responsible, by enabling the active monitoring of all life process we depend on. It is absolutely appalling to not address the deep seated and systemic greed that has plagued the world with destitution, mentally and physically. Leaving it to the market is truly irresponsible, destroying the future of diversity of life on Earth, if not life itself.
“But what can I do?” you might ask. ‘Netflix and chill’ until it all blows over and eventually works out? And when will that be? When we and all life on Earth are dead?… I too feel complicit. The fact I know this much (and I feel I know very little), with my inherent Protestant (Western) indoctrination wishing to “save Souls” and “do Good,” I’m compelled to continue making prison cell scratch marks into the digital void. I am, or anyone else that may take up this line of thought and potential action, be just another remark soon forgotten, if a substantial community, a new rising minority, fails to materialise. This minority must be highly pragmatic, but coordinated, adopting a variety of ideologies, utilizing an array of disciplines, while accepting none if but with the lightest touch, acting in ways that may seem counterintuitive, while ultimately, perhaps at a crawl, then all at once: delivering us from bondage.