French cab drivers protest in the only way they can: strike. In doing so, they give the opponent, Uber, a leg up: one more reason for riders to seek drivers via app.
What happens to equality and fraternity, the Rousseauan milieu? It’s not a protest against ubiquitous social media. It’s about the forgotten social contract. A paradigm shift is not without a fight.
It’s bad enough to get up and get behind the wheel to drive someone from A to B for a living. Now it’s worse: unlicensed drivers are out to eat your lunch.
It’s not an upstairs-downstairs clash. It’s a elbow-to-elbow trench fight on the same physical layer where the 99 per centers find themselves.
To frame this as future vs the past, low tech vs high-tech is to miss the point
(and to spin this as sustainable is to throw a tat of hypocrisy into the mix).
It’s been a while since an app can up-end the status quo. In this instance, it is touching a raw nerve. When the French protest (at the UN or in the street), we must take notes. Think of the children of taxi drivers and of the tax men all around the world. The revenue is soon diverted into Silicon coiffure, our new transport middle man’s. From here on out, it’s not point A to B. It’s going through U.
Whole Earth Catalogue set the tone and philosophical underpinning: share a ride and share the land e.g YoungBloods Get Together. In this old vs new world clash, downstairs (Silicon Valley) has become the new upstairs, not high-tech vs Luddites. It’s the geography of the mind not the map.
Taking tech out of the equation, we are right back to a Amish collective farming.
They have barn-raised and lived organic all along. It’s the new West who created the machine, and now the machine has in turn remade us. There will be more apps which will upend UBER. It should realize this more than anyone else. Perhaps a Jobs-like figure will settle the dispute: 99 cent per ride for all (on a shared bike). Ford thought of this and yesterday, announced its sweat-free bike for mass transit.
Tech consumerization will work its way up the chain to transform trans-Oceanic shipping which has long dominated and dictated global exchange. Downstairs will finally topple upstairs only when it can settle current street fights.
Equality and fraternity. Let’s have a French coffee break to sort it all out.