The pleasure of witnessing this democracy in action is tempered by a nagging question: why is it not like this all the time? It is not, as the Scots have proved, because people are apathetic. It is because they don’t have, in day-to-day politics, a sense that they can control things.http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/12/scotland-vote-braveheart-nationalism-democracy-independence?CMP=twt_gu
"Smile for the camera!" Atlantic city year 1905. Color by me
Amazingly realistic color added to this 1905 photo. Although I haven’t seen the original I think it changes how you view the subjects in a good way. They seem…less distant, more familiar.
Designed or planned social order is necessarily schematic; it always ignores essential features of any real, functioning social order. This truth is best illustrated in a work-to-rule strike, which turns on the fact that any production process depends on a host of informal practices and improvisations that could never be codified. By merely following the rules meticulously, the workforce can virtually halt production.
The more I examined these efforts at sedentarization, the more I came to see them as a state’s attempt to make a society legible, to arrange the population in ways that simplified the classic state functions of taxation, conscription, and prevention of rebellion. Having begun to think in these terms, I began to see legibility as a central problem in statecraft. The premodern state was, in many crucial respects, partially blind; it knew precious little about its subjects, their wealth, their landholdings and yields, their location, their very identity. It lacked anything like a detailed “map” of its terrain and its people. It lacked, for the most part, a measure, a metric, that would allow it to “translate” what it knew into a common standard necessary for a synoptic view. As a result, its interventions were often crude and self-defeating.
Greenfield, Adam (2013-12-20). Against the smart city (The city is here for you to use)
What we encounter in this statement is an unreconstructed logical positivism, which, among other things, implicitly holds that the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a technical system, without bias or distortion. As applied to the affairs of cities, it is effectively an argument there is one and only one universal and transcendently correct solution to each identified individual or collective human need; that this solution can be arrived at algorithmically , via the operations of a technical system furnished with the proper inputs; and that this solution is something which can be encoded in public policy, again without distortion. (Left unstated but strongly implicit is the presumption that whatever policies are arrived at in this way will be applied transparently, dispassionately and in a manner free from politics.)
Every single aspect of this argument is problematic.
If we accept the highly dubious notion that paying a stranger to drive you to the airport is a profound gesture of empathy and responsibility, maybe this is true. But only if we consider the users of these platforms. If we turn our attention to the owners, we find tremendous greed.http://www.mrteacup.org/post/the-cult-of-sharing.html
What would happen if the dreams of the investors and executives at these startups came true, and large parts of the economy became dominated by their business models? Employers that hire full- or part-time workers today—paying them minimum wage, overtime and unemployment, disability and social security taxes, and unable to discriminate against them—would switch to a cheaper, less regulated and more vulnerable workforce to do those same jobs. Having lowered their labor costs, they’re able to offer lower prices to consumers, forcing their slower competitors who rely on regular wage labor to adopt the same practices or go out of business.http://www.mrteacup.org/post/the-cult-of-sharing.html
When Human Events says that the sharing economy allows employers to do an “end-run around the increasingly expensive, heavily mandated and regulated business of hiring employees,” this is what they’re talking about. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have created businesses that provide contract labor not covered by the federal regulations that employers find so burdensome. As Uber general manager Ilya Abyzov put it, “A driver contracting with Uber is not a bona fide employee.” The sharing economy is really the 1099 economy.
The existing sharing economy values are designed to appeal to progressive liberals. It seems that there are very few “values-led” businesses which are designed to appeal to conservative values, suggesting that progressives are uniquely seduced by the view that capitalism is an effective tool for promoting their values and effecting political change.
Slavoj Žižek often recounts a joke that illustrates the strange nature of belief: a man believes that he is a kernel of corn and, after visiting a psychiatrist, he is eventually cured of his delusion. After leaving the psychiatrist’s office, he encounters a chicken and runs back inside, terrified of being eaten. The psychiatrist asks, “But why are you afraid? You know you aren’t a kernel of corn!” The man replies, “Yes, I know that. But does the chicken know?”