The new issue of The Atlantic features a remarkable letter from one J. Russell Tyldesley, which ends as follows:
There is a great intellectual divide in America, and people inclined to think deeply about contemporary issues are increasingly turned off by both major parties. In fact, many see little hope in electoral solutions so long as the two establishment parties maintain an iron grip on the levers of power. Ralph Nader is hardly exaggerating when he calls the two major parties a duopoly or a two-party dictatorship. The "third parties" of politics and culture are effectively shut out, and their ideas and solutions will not reach the masses. Some of these ideas could save humanity from itself. It is not the confused independents in the middle who hold the key to salvation; it is the marginalized few. After all, how many followers did Jesus have? The magnitude of the major parties' tragic effort to silence these voices may become clear only when it is too late.
There are ways out of the gloom, but not through the political process. A parallel system based on barter and the Internet may be the answer.
"A parallel system based on barter and the Internet?" This has been driving me crazy -- what the hell does that mean? It's like the Lewis Black routine about how he's tortured by the girl who says "If it wasn't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college."
First of all, how do you even get your Internet service if you only use barter? Maybe mow your ISP's lawn or something? And second, why barter? What does that have to do with anything? The reason why even the least developed societies have some form of quasi-currency is because barter is insanely inefficient. It's much easier to make trades using money than to find someone who wants what you have and vice versa. I suppose we could create elaborate barter exchanges via the Internet, but why? Who has time to try to search out and negotiate an exact match?
I just don't understand. But maybe that's the point...