Posted by: Nora
01:32am / Jul 15, 2010
While there is great merit in the concept of conceiving alternate cultures with alternate means of economy and exchange, I think this general philosophy needs to be better thought out and more clearly articulated - and I agree that in its current state it's fundamentally flawed, for a couple of reasons:

a) This whole "we believe in nothing" idea is bullsh*t. Claiming to believe in nothing requires precisely as much buy-in to and "marketing" for the "nothing" brand as it does for someone to believe in any other brand. So I'm automatically skeptical of whatever point you're about to make down the line.

note: Aren't you selling a book? Which is basically articulating a point of view in hopes of winning people over? Um, precisely what a brand does. Not to mention the fact that you are also pulling their "make you think there's something wrong with your way of life, then get them to buy your solution" tactic. Hypocritical, man. Not helping your argument.

b) While these alternate economies are plausible and really necessary to eventually help build the next world economy once the current situation falls apart - as you rightly point out that it will, as every economic system is gradually replaced over human evolution - they are still in very basic experimental forms. A good friend of mine travels around the world studying such "mini-utopias" and very few are economically viable. Even those that are aren't sustainable yet on a global scale, so they effectively have to be isolated, making influence and transition for larger groups difficult and unwieldy (with some notable exceptions, a la a community in berlin, in tuscany, etc.) Not to mention the fact that, ok fine, in hard times bartering makes more sense - but what about in not so hard times? Look at the Braddock example from the Levi's We Are Workers campaign. One reason why the community is struggling is that people got successful wanted to explore the larger world, so they up and left and the community fell apart - hence the need for rebuilding and bartering. This could be cyclical. Isolated bartering communities vs currency-based global society = not sustainable as an inclusive global model.

c) Corporations are trying harder than ever to understand what people want and to meet them on that level. Is it hard? Yeah. Is it going to take some time? Yeah. Is it in part driven by the fact that consumers are louder than before? Yeah. Do we need these co's to play along so we can see a true transition to a new way of being? YEAH. They might still use awful stuff like "money" and "big buildings" but they also have the resources and reach to establish real change, like offering more sustainable products and solutions (GE, IBM) or incorporating broad economic/social impact into their programs (AmEx, Pepsi). Do they still need to make money? Sure. But the list of things that they use as criteria of success is broadening beyond numbers because consumers are voicing that this is desired.

I think this would be a more compelling argument if it was about working together to forge the new future, rather than "rejecting people who sell stuff and buy iPhones and returning to simpler times." Times are no longer simple. Period. The sooner we embrace collaboration and evolution across the board and open that dialog, the sooner we might have a chance at actually effecting change.

Super long. Apologies.

Great series, Seth, can't wait for Season 2.