Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pirate parties and the new economic power

A few posts back, I ruminated on a potential shift in the nature of economic power and how that could play out in the political realm. The rise of the Pirate parties seems to fit into the process that I was pondering:
the success of the Pirate Party cannot simply be explained away by saying it’s a symptom of social exclusion or ignorance. The supporters of the new party are anything but on the margins – they are highly educated and media savvy. And above all, they are young and in a position to attract like-minded individuals in cities all over the country. To a certain extent, they represent the future elite of Germany. For mainstream-party strategists, realising that they are unable to connect with this section of society must come as a kick in the teeth.
From How Germany’s Pirates might sink the mainstream parties | Matthias Heitmann | spiked

Anyway, this suggests that the "new power" may be centered on the ability to generate large ad-hoc communities around current issues, and motivate these communities to act. So the new power is based on social networking assets (including both old-fashioned "people skills", familiarity with those newfangled devices, and a reputation that encourages others to pay attention), as opposed to the old powers built on land ownership, industrial ownership, and institutional control. The funny thing is that the assets of this new power are pretty much identical to the assets of the financial industry-- the main difference being that these assets are now widely distributed, and the "clients" are not just millionaires and large institutions.

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