Revolution Without the Revolution

A series of shifts are happening in our economy: A record of number of millennials are trading in conventional career paths to launch tech start-ups, start small businesses that are rooted in local communities, or freelance their expertise. We are sharing everything from bikes and cars to extra rooms in our homes.

Globally recognized entrepreneur and founder of Taproot Foundation, that helped create the $15 billion pro bono service market, Aaron Hurst argues in his latest book, The Purpose Economy: How Your Desire for Impact, Personal Growth and Community is Changing the World, that while these developments seem unrelated at first, taken together they reveal a powerful pattern that points to purpose as the new driver of the American economy.

The Purpose Economy

I heard about this book from one of those irritating NPR stories in which the reporter swallows a marketing plan whole and then treats it as if it were social science. I can just see the publisher’s PR guy checking one more item off the list. Next up, “Good Morning America!” In any case it struck me as a perfect example of the bourgeois desire for a revolution– profound and lasting social change– without the revolution– that is, with no notion of justice and collective struggle. This is what the internet was suppose to do as well.

That’s not to say that the internet didn’t change many things; it did. The internet as such, though, isn’t a revolution: it leaves the basic social structures of capitalism, worker and capitalist, private property, and so on, intact. Arguably, the internet and its attendant technologies reinforced capitalism and extended the reach of the market. Hurst’s ideas are, in effect, an attempt to convince us that the loss of benefits and a pension plan and any job security is, in fact, the best thing that every happened to you and to the world. Got it.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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