It's obviously difficult to get an idea across to those who willfully misunderstand. But even then it should be possible for Aditya Chakrabortty and The Guardian to understand what it is they're observing. This isn't some oddity, this isn't some aberration of neoliberalism, this is the market economy in action:
This deserted campus was spotted by a not-for-profit company called 3Space, which convinced the landlord to give it the keys until demolition day. Since then it has made it a base for an army of eager startups, who pay a modest rent. This income then subsidises other rooms that go free to non-profits. And one day in 2016, 3Space boss Andrew Cribb rang up a guy he’d met a while back. “Hey, Ande. Remember your crazy green idea?” he said. “Fancy doing it?”
Cribb was wrong: Ande Gregson didn’t have one crazy idea – he had a couple. The green one came from reading about food. He’d see numbers, like the UN forecast that, by 2050, 9.8 billion people would share the planet, and he’d worry: how are we going to feed all of them? Then he’d read how 1.3bn tonnes of food are wasted every year, and he’d think: I’m going to help fix this.
Him. Without government backing or a multinational’s budget. Him. With no background in food or environment. When he was nine, Gregson wanted to be a marine biologist – but as a child of the 1980s he was given a Commodore computer, and from that point it was technology all the way. His CV was peppered with names such as Apple, BT and Sky. What did he know about public sanitation?
That was a big obstacle, which he hurdled with yet more unusual thinking. He opened a laboratory – called Green Lab – which others could use to invent solutions to the looming crisis in food and waste. He wouldn’t employ any of them, but they’d share the space and the hi-tech equipment, and make their own ideas fly.
Green Lab is a makerspace, and Britain has more than 150 of them.
This is being presented as being in opposition to prevaling economic thought and practice, that neoliberalism so deplored. But it's that very thing deplored in action. People spot assets being underused, badly used, not being used. They then employ them to do as they wish.
That is the market economy. Which then goes on to perform one more task for us. Those things which add more value than the expense of the inputs survive and grow, those that don't fail.
Sure, there's green and small scale and not governmentally approved and all that liberally sprinkled around the larger description here but at heart, what is this but that very market economy? Get on with it, as you wish, and see what works. That's not some perversion of neoliberalism, that's the point.
And aren't Chakrabortty and The Guardian going to get a shock when they realise that they're arguing for exactly what we've spent decades insisting upon? Though they may not realise it their solutions for this Brave New World of ours are exactly what we've all spent decades trying to put in place. Leave the planning and direction out of it and open up the economy to the entrepreneurs who try things out.