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Thoughts on The New Socialism

Somehow today I snagged twenty minutes with the new Wired magazine – one of the best in months.   Two articles stood out to me – one on the economics of Google (their equation for determining the price of their ads is just flat intriguing) and another on what author Kevin Kelly calls “The New Socialism”.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am predisposed to like this article for a couple of reasons.

KevinKelly1-logo-sketch1)  I once enjoyed a good cup of coffee in the company of KK, sitting at a corner cafe in the city of St. Francis, feeling so uber cool for it and pretending to understand everything he was saying.

2) Kevin’s title at Wired is Senior Maverick, which is code for “I was here from the start and can write whatever the heck I please.”   I really like that.

3)  His beard-sans-moustache and prodigious brain combine to make one think of a new sect of Digital Amish, riding black Segways with orange triangles on their backsides.

Predispositions aside, it’s still a pretty fascinating article.   He makes a great argument that the word socialism was hijacked by politics, when in reality, it meant/means something far more basic, and in all likelihood, more successful.   He acknowledges that some folks won’t ever get past the word’s sullied history, but “there are no unsoiled terms, so we might as well redeem this one.”

Kelly’s New Socialism better aligns itself with chaos theory than what most of us grew up knowing about socialism.  He writes about  the digital world that barely nods at tradition and absolutely refuses to acknowledge borders…a world where all of us are smarter than any of us, and all of us succeeding can pay individual dividends (something the old political socialism failed to attempt).

Kelly outlines the ideas of sharing, cooperation, collaboration and collectivism, and takes aim at the western idea that “extending the power of individuals necessarily diminishes the power of the state and vice versa” – that perhaps the individual and the state are not opposing interests.

Finally, he deftly describes this evolving, collaborative-yet-individualist realm as “the new OS.”   (confession: as a writer, I wish I’d have thought of that….a feeling I regularly have when reading Kevin’s stuff…)

Read the whole article here. It’ll stretch your brain, and that’s always a good thing.  And read Kevin’s thoughts on his own article here.


4 Responses

  1. Randy I love reading your blog… actually yours is the one my sister and I chat about… maybe because it’s the only one I read. (She says Kels twitter rocks as well.)

    So. When are you going to come clean on your techno-tendencies and stop filing these kinds of articles under “Uncategorized”.

    I propose: “Geekness”.

  2. “Uncatagorized” is a sign of how long I’ve been blogging. When I started, you’d scribble your post on a napkin and mail it to Chicago, where they’d layout the type manually. OK, maybe not, but tags came along once I was about 3,000 posts into this journey. I hated the thought of going back and tagging all those posts, and to have only a portion of them tagged seemed dorky too….plus, I think of the bog record as more of a metanarrative, impossible to perceive by reading only one category of post. On top of that, I have an uncanny ability to remember that I wrote something about something, so the search field works great for me to find old posts. I’ll let the rest of you just read. And read. And read. 🙂

  3. As someone who’s been around open source software a long time, it’s a fascinating read. I’ve noticed that, in many aspects of life, there is a trend towards socialistic ideas and away from some of the classical western individualism and pure capitalistic ideas.

    From a theological viewpoint, what I see is a growing humanism now based around the idea that collective humanity can solve it’s problems where individual humanity cannot. The recent elections revealed this. Since human individualism seems to be failing, the thought is now that if all of us work together we can then produce the good that has eluded us so long. Humanity historically goes back and forth between these two pendulums, each time swinging to the other option and each time refusing the reality that only Jesus’ government on the earth will ever solve the human dilemma.

  4. …only Jesus’ government [in the heart of every person] on the earth will ever solve the human dilemma…

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