Uber: Digital Economy Vs. Rigid Society

The recent protests of the Paris taxi drivers against Uber are a bright illustration of the profound trends and dynamics taking place in the present-day world.

On the one hand, there is a rigid, inflexible, slow and bureaucratic state that tries to regulate every field of activity within its territory. This includes legislation passed to regulate different professions. For example, issuing licenses for taxi drivers.

Next to the state, there are individuals who believe that state is still the most powerful actor, and therefore abide by its rules. For instance, taxi drivers who pay dozens of thousands of euros to get a taxi license from the French government.

On the other hand, there is a truly revolutionary idea of a shared economy. This idea has manifested itself in such projects and businesses as Couchsurfing, Airbnb, BlaBlaBlaCar, Uber and many others. These social startups offer much cheaper – and sometimes even free – services, and they are based on mutual trust and cooperation.

I can understand the French government as Uber threatens to reduce profit generated from licenses fees. I can also understand regular taxi drivers who pay enormous money to get those licenses. However, these two parties are missing a few major points here.

Frist, the majority of French people are happy with Uber like most of the passengers around the world. Beating off Uber drivers and authorizing use of police force are not ways to compete in taxi business.

Second, shared and digital economy is changing our lives drastically. It is much wiser to try to ride this wave than resist it. Revolutionary humane post-modern ideas will inevitably win over outdated modernist thinking of immediate-at-all-cost profit-making.

And finally, the alliance between the French state and the local taxi drivers is a minority compared to the majority comprised by a network of Uber users. While the latter has mainly remained silent so far, the future belongs to network communities.

Self-organized network communities have a powerful potential to resist both the state and capitalism.

I believe in Uber.

I believe in shared economy.

I believe in a more sustainable world that such economy creates.

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