World Transformation: The Hi-Tech Gift Economy
 The Hi-Tech Gift Economy
picture 22 Apr 2004 @ 03:14, by ming

From Synergic Earth News: Richard Barbrook writes: Following the implosion of the Soviet Union, almost nobody still believes in the inevitable victory of communism. On the contrary, large numbers of people accept that the Hegelian 'end of history' has culminated in American neo-liberal capitalism [24]. Yet, at exactly this moment in time, a really existing form of anarcho-communism is being constructed within the Net, especially by people living in the U. S. When they go on-line, almost everyone spends most of their time participating within the gift economy rather than engaging in market competition. Because users receive much more information than they can ever give away, there is no popular clamour for imposing the equal exchange of the marketplace on the Net. Once again, the 'end of history' for capitalism appears to be communism. For the hi-tech gift economy was not an immanent possibility in every age. On the contrary, the market and the state could only be surpassed in this specific sector at this particular historical moment. Crucially, people need sophisticated media, computing and telecommunications technologies to participate within the hi-tech gift economy. A manually-operated press produced copies which were relatively expensive, limited in numbers and impossible to alter without recopying. After generations of technological improvements, the same quantity of text on the Net costs almost nothing to circulate, can be copied as needed and can be remixed at will. In addition, individuals need both time and money to participate within the hi-tech gift economy. While a large number of the world's population still lives in poverty, people within the industrialised countries have steadily reduced their hours of employment and increased their wealth over a long period of social struggles and economic reorganisations. By working for money during some of the week, people can now enjoy the delights of giving gifts at other times. Only at this particular historical moment have the technical and social conditions of the metropolitan countries developed sufficiently for the emergence of digital anarcho-communism. (01/28/04)


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