Occupy Big Business: The Sharing Economy’s Quiet Revolution – Sara Horowitz via The Atlantic

Sara Horowitz suggests that the way to change the hypercapitalist system that has led to wide inequity in our society is to defect: to reject the mass affiliation that our established institutions impose. To do so, we have to affiliate with those organizations and businesses that care about people more than profits. This is the Quiet Revolution:

Sara Horowitz via The Atlantic

The Quiet Revolution is not a vocal movement or a policy proposal. It’s people buying local food, supporting community businesses, living green, and sharing resources (time, money, and products). It’s people attacking the system by abdicating from it. It’s people who don’t want to work just to consume. They understand that the earth’s resources – and their finances – are limited, and that the consumption path we’re on isn’t sustainable. They recognize that their decisions have implications for society today, and for generations to come. They are “360° people” who are aware of the ecological, societal, and financial impact of their actions, and who want to connect to one another.

They also see that businesses and governments won’t meet all their needs. They know they need to build their own solutions to the challenges they face.

It’s possible to see the Quiet Revolution almost everywhere: collective purchasing and goods exchange (Zipcar and SnapGoods), solving social problems (Open Ideo), aggregating information (Ushahidi), financial lending (Prosper and Kickstarter), networking and connecting (Connect.me), office space sharing (Loosecubes), teaching (Skillshare), and even child care (babysitting co-ops).

This movement is inadvertently creating a new economic engine that has the potential to reorganize our economy. The Quiet Revolutions’ purchasing decisions could have a significant impact on what we expect from business in the future. 

We’ve been trained to believe that for businesses to be successful, they have to rake in as much profit as possible and deliver short-term gains at all costs. But the Quiet Revolution is creating a new social market ecosystem that values transparency and responsibility.

The new ecosystem supports social-purpose business, favoring long-term sustainability over quarterly profits. It offers new financial models to support social goals. The rise of B Corporations and social enterprises show it’s possible to achieve both profit and social responsibility.

In a way, the Quiet Revolution is a return to the basics, with a focus on community, health, ecology, happiness, and balance. At the root of it is the idea of mutualism – people coming together, pooling resources, and meeting their own needs. The simplicity of it is what makes it so appealing: it’s not led by government or big business, just a group of people with shared needs and a common vision. 

I support Sara’s conclusions but I will quibble on terminology. We don’t need to have a common vision, or to participate collectively. On the contrary, we need to pursue our individual visions, and to cooperate with others who are likewise doing their own thing. We need a connective vision, not a collective one. We need to moving in the same general direction, not marching in step.

So, for example, Zipcar works because it distributes the costs and impacts of car ownership across the membership of Zipcar, and makes a profit by diminishing the waste of resources from cars sitting unused most of the time. The individual members don’t have to agree on why they joined. Some do it to save money, some to save the planet, some for convenience. No matter. They form a loose network, moving along in the same general direction.

A collective is where people ascribe to the same set of principles, and have come to a very tight agreement on a set of principles, and this generally sets them apart from people outside the collective.

We need a connective movement — this quiet revolution — with a million small, regional, and focused activities, slowly pulling the participants outside the hypercapitalist marketplace. This includes the shared ownership companies (Zipcar, AirBNB, etc.), shared purpose organizations (food coops, credit unions, co-working spaces, and so on), and other variants. 

We are not attacking the hypercapitalists head on: we need no Jacobins, no Reign Of Terror, no guillotine. We are defecting, redirecting our time and money to what we think is best for us and ours. We are turning our backs on them: they have no power over us.

Occupy Big Business: The Sharing Economy’s Quiet Revolution – Sara Horowitz via The Atlantic

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