So I'm very open to someone trying to envision how to make something humane of all this invention and profit. Rushkoff is a professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens and media commentator/creator. His project is ambitious; as I read along, I kept thinking of those revolutionary 19th century futurists: Bentham and Mill, Marx and Engels, Kropotkin and Tolstoy -- all big thinkers who tried from their various vantage points to make sense of how industrial capitalism was remaking societies.
Rushkoff wants to influence our understanding of the world on that level. He is propounding a unified theory of the digital economy, situating contemporary innovations in the history of both technology and power relations. According to Rushkoff, Silicon Valley and its progeny including companies, venture capitalists and the technorati have built "digital industrialism" instead of allowing networked peer to peer potential to run to its more humane conclusion. In particular, financial capital has channeled the potential of technologies toward cancerous growth instead of cooperative development at human scale.
And he has concrete prescriptions for a better future (grabbed here from the author's book synopsis):
Like many futurists, Rushkoff is able to draw a picture of attractive, even plausible, potentialities -- yet never quite gets to that essential step in which we somehow turn a powerful class which holds most of the money away from perpetuating the existing arrangements that have served them so well. I don't have the answer either, but history says this only happens through either social collapse or when the losers in the prevailing economy band together to demand we do things another way.
As I was reading along in this book, I kept having a feeling of deja vu that I couldn't quite place. Where had I encountered thinkers who structured their prescriptions in the way Rushkoff does? Suddenly I realized where: in the Catholic Worker movement whose intellectual leaders, Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day, promoted the "distributism" advocated by 19th century Pope Leo XIII. This was Catholicism's intellectual and moral response to Marxism. It seemed weak tea, but perhaps it has outlived that more muscular revolutionary tradition which degenerated into Soviet-style "actually existing socialism." Rushkoff credits the seemingly bypassed Catholic tradition and finds hope in Pope Francis' writings.
Well maybe -- though I'm unconvinced, I appreciate anyone trying to see their way into a better society.
But I have to ask (and I don't think Rushkoff answers persuasively either question) 1) how do we get to your vision? and 2) who is "we"? who is included?