Why do so many of my newsletters come to me now with the message:
“Capitalism is dead! It can’t survive SARS-cov-2! Please donate money to us!”
Talk about lightning rods.
(For those that have never heard of them, lightning rods were metal – rods, just steel rods – with a pointed bit and all – that were attached to the outside of buildings so as to form the highest point of the building, and had a hefty conductor to convey electric charge buildups to ground, and usually that was enough to prevent the voltage around the building from getting high enough to flash over into lightning. The common observation was that for some reason all churches had lightning rods on them, which seemed to indicate a disturbing lack of faith in their deity…)
I mean, right about now, when it IS becoming obvious that neoliberalism and capitalism have had their last gasp and are now just bleeding out, this, RIGHT NOW, is the time to start hammering alternative strategies out isn’t it?
Nothing comes about without effort. (Except asking for donations and holding onto the status quo you’re so desperately trying to convince me is dead gone and buried.) I’m supposed to say “oh well this money isn’t gonna do me any good soon, may as well hand it over, yessirree” and then when the planned revolution fails because the very organisations that are best placed to lead the charge are all shitting themselves at least they’ll have money and survive.
So the effort they should be putting in (and asking of me) is to lobby the HELL out of every organisation, corporate, government, and person on Earth asking them to accept what’s going to happen and pivot now. Their email service server? Come on, give us our newsletter service for free and we’ll watermark our every communication we send.
Web service? Of course we’ll refer to you at least once every post we make. What are YOU going to do to pay the energy bills? Make an equitable deal with them. What, we can work up the nerve to ask you for this but you don’t have the cojones to put the screws on your energy grid? Fine, we’ll find a service that does.
And yes that is a painful process to go through but if it doesn’t start *somewhere* it won’t start at all, and then we’ll be in a steadily growing pile of crashing businesses and organisations with absolutely NO alternatives in place, all slowly starving to death while the Powers That Were The Powers That Be Once Upon A Time realise they’re dead or dying fast.
Personally I’m all for saying to my hosting provider that since the government’s paying them a Job Keeper allowance for the people that are managing the machines my server runs on, maybe I should just be paying them for the energy use – until they negotiate with an energy provider or solar installation company of their own… In fact I have raised that and expect I’ll get an answer when they stop laughing. But when it becomes plain that people won;t have the money to pay those fees, and in fact their money is worth less than toilet paper (or is that a bad analogy still?) maybe they’ll settle for me putting their blazon and a link at the foot of every page so they can justify their existence.
And then we have all these worthy lobbying & alternate news bodies that I started off referring to, all good news sources and all with GREAT ideas about how to survive yet another great extinction event (the Lucrocene maybe it’ll be called in historic sites, the end of filthy lucre) but aren’t willing to put their courage where their mouth is.
These LANBs (Lobbying & Alternate News Bodies) are ideally placed right now. Instead of asking me to put my hand in my pocket and promoting the status quo, they should be asking me to sign a petition to their newsletter host, their web host, to their office landlord – it’ll take me a bit longer to verify myself to all those petitions (and we’ll want them to be VERY verified petitions) and it may expose me to some scrutiny – but these petitions will carry some weight.
There are clever people working in those LANBs too – smart enough to create groups to take over when the corporations and “the free market” are laying in a bit of a bleeding heap twitching their last. There are programmers who, given the choice of what they can do with their time (now that they no longer need to write code to extract every last dollar out of the poor rubes) can develop highly secure and stable software to manage most of the things that are left in the lurch.
I reckon it would take six months working NOW, to have a framework developed by forward thinkers and guided by sociopolitical experts and written by some of our brightest coders and that way when the crunch comes the basic system will already be there, ready to step into.
THAT is the kind of dedication we need right NOW to make the future better. Don’t wait for the crash or the old system will lurch back to life and start the whole cycle again. The time is at hand to make a difference. Design better buildings and lose the lightning rods.