Sunday, 24 August 2014


Kickstarter, Pledgeme, Indiegogo - if cyberlibertarians ever wanted a poster-child for the new millennium, surely this is it: direct interaction between producers and consumers of goods with no government interference, all done online. When the myth of the free internet is invoked, it is crowd-funding models like these that are often paraded out as examples of how we're already there, the house of tomorrow, today.

Whether the infamous potato salad Kickstarter is a stealthy satirical social experiment or simply somebody seeing an opportunity and taking it, it may point to some kind of chronic illness within our society that this Kickstarter project could even exist. But we can still interrogate the idea of "freedom" using it as an example. Yes, we are indeed free to fund the creation of a potato salad (the goal was $10; the amount raised at the time of posting is $55,492), but what kind of freedom is that? It is a distinctly libertarian freedom, because supposedly this is the kind of thing that a (decent) government would prohibit people from funding, and perhaps even from offering up as a good to begin with, because it is, as the old expression goes, daylight robbery.

If this is the kind of freedom we can look forward to in the coming media-made utopia, it is also important to note that these crowdfunding platforms are not self-sufficient, which is to say that without our particular economic system (capitalism) and market as conditions, they could not work. They work because they fill an operational niche, not because they necessarily represent a new paradigm that can stand on its own. In this sense, it is perhaps comforting to think that potato salad Kickstarters will not become the new normal, although at least in cyberlibertarian terms, this may also mean that utopia is something the likes of which we will never truly know.

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