Can “Indie Capitalism” Restore Free Market Competition?

Keep It LocalI am sure anyone who reads the title to this post will most certainly wonder to themselves, “What is the world is ‘Indie Capitalism'”? I wondered the same today when I came upon the term in a post at Fast Company by Bruce Nussbaum.  Below is the beginning of Nussbaum’s explanation. This is followed by the first of his four reasons why he believes it is the future of capitalism and a few thoughts of my own below the fold:

You won’t learn about it in business school, hear about it from Wall Street, or see it in Palo Alto. But if you spend time in Bushwick, Brooklyn, or on Rivington Street in Manhattan, you just might detect the outlines of an emerging “indie” capitalism. This new form of capitalism is not just about conventional startups and technology and venture capitalists. If you add up all the trends under way today, I believe we are beginning to see the start of something original, and perhaps wonderful. It may prove to be the economic and social antidote to the failed financial capitalism and crony capitalism that no longer delivers economic value in terms of jobs, income, and taxes to the people of this country.

It’s too early to define the exact shape of this latest iteration of capitalism, but what indie capitalism appears to have is a distinct sensibility. Let’s take a look at a few key features.

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A solution to the failed financial system and crony capitalism? Sounds good to me, but it seems wise to explore his rationale before we get ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with his first point about “indie capitalism” with the rest to follow later in this series:

Indie capitalism is local, not global, and cares about the community and jobs and says so right up front. Good things come from and are made locally by people you can see and know. The local focus makes indie capitalism intrinsically sustainable–energy is saved as a result of a way of life, not in an effort to reach a distinct and difficult goal.

If I am reading the author correctly he is describing two ways that make “indie capitalism” distinct and potentially successful. The first is that its focus is local not global. The second is that due to this it is sustainable. Simply put, in theory, communities can save energy by producing and consuming locally as a way of life. Or lets just get around the political correctness and social justice community speak and call it what it is: A boycott of goods and services manufactured or produced by multi-national corporations enabled by a local effort to manufacture or produce the same or better quality of goods or services at the same or lower price.

The idea is nothing new. Gandhi convinced his fellow country men that this was the route to economic and political freedom many years ago. By leveraging economic power gained by the blow the boycott levied against the British mercantilist economic system they gained enough political power to end British Rule. In other words, they destroyed the corporate monopoly by producing the same or better goods at lesser price. Simple supply and demand capitalism. What made the goods cheaper? Lower shipping costs because they used less energy getting the goods from one place to another than the British did.

I hear the advocates of Marxist Philosophy and socialism saying, “What, no revolution or seizing of private property to spread the wealth?” No, none needed. Just some innovators and an educated community that understands it is usually better to buy from the neighbor you know than the faceless corporation you don’t. Want America to work(literally for some) again? Support local small business and help restore free market competition…

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