collaborative consumption and the myth of the drill

This French article talk about the difficulties faced by collaborative consumption projects in the current economical market.

Collaborative consumption projects (also called "sharing economy") is becoming more and more popular. The enthusiasm for this form of exchange could be a predictor of a massive shift toward more mature and fruitful values. These initiatives could well be the first steps toward a more mature way to conceive economic exchanges.

But unfortunately most of these projects fail. They fail because they are too heavy to be carried out by the private individuals who launched them, and/or because they rely on a biased and idealistic view of human nature.

Waiting for the time when the mature values —such as an extended sense of concern for others, and long term reasoning— will spontaneously have an impact on consumer choices could take a very, very long time, and kill in the meantime many of these initiatives.

By supporting the most promising ones —which might also be the most fragile one— the government would encourage a more mature way of life. This new way won't be based anymore on impulsive values, such as the craving for material possessions or individualism, but on more fruitful values benefiting the social as well as the environmental landscape.

The state could also take advantage of the valuable aspirations that drive this projects to build the structure that a community needs in order to develop in a mature and fruitful way. Nowadays, we expect this structure to arise all by itself and then sustain itself because we believe that the precious skills needed to build —mature and fruitful— communities are innate and natural and therefore universal, because we believe that humankind is naturally communal, in an extended way.

Yet building a cooperative community is not only not easy, but requires a real precision work, as much for developing it, than for maintaining it. We must carefully prepare the ground so the seeds of social qualities could take root. We must nurture them so they can germinate, grow, and give birth to other seeds. If the sustainability of a community development is so precious and fragile it might be because the flowers of social qualities, and the very structure of a fruitful community can't be bought, but are the result of a slow, rare and precious maturation. These flowers and these qualities are threatened at every moment by bad seasons, periods of crisis, by weeds, individualism, and also by the lack of care of the community structure.

We see in these cooperative consumption projects much more than vague Utopian desires. We see in their concrete actions and the personal investment they demonstrate, these rare and precious flowers. These initiatives could bring much more than the services they offer. They could bring the valuable seeds of community involvement, the spirits of service, a community mutual aid networks, the sense of concern for the environment, and in short, the whole structure requires to build a mature and fruitful community.

Will we be able to help them grow and bring value to them?