The remaining question is: what accounts for Kickstarter’s popularity among the hip progressive left? How can we account for the strange coincidence of left countercultural values with a business model that would make all but the most hardened Objectivist blush? The short answer is that Kickstarter embodies what I want to call “Good™ values”, after the magazine, web site and infographic emporium that was founded in 2006 that describes itself in the following way:
“In a world where things too often don’t work, GOOD seeks a path that does. Left, right. In, out. Greed, altruism. Us, them. These are the defaults and they are broken. We are the alternative model. We are the reasonable people who give a damn. No dogma. No party lines. No borders. We care about what works–what is sustainable, prosperous, productive, creative, and just–for all of us and each of us.”
It’s no accident that this is the same Third Way center-left post-politics of the mid-90s. The founder of the magazine is 20-something Ben Goldhirsh, the son of the founder of Inc., a magazine that focuses on entrepreneurs and start-up companies. What this amounts to is progressive cultural politics married with neoliberal capitalist economic policy, but opposed to the bad (and boring!) corporate capitalism and instead favoring the dynamic, exciting capitalism of innovation and creative destruction.
The magazine has very positive and supportive coverage of Occupy Wall Street, because people with Good™ values have no problem with a certain kind of anti-capitalism, the kind that implies that the problems are not with the system itself, but with the people in charge. Those people have the wrong values — they’re greedy and selfish and have no goals in life except making money. They’re the problem. What we need are people who have a social conscience, people who live for meaning and beauty, people who care about Darfur and the environment; poverty and education and health care; vibrant communities and public transit.
On Kickstarter as an a model of parasitic capitalism, wearing the clothes of social justice.
The broader, and more important question: is it at all worthwhile to pursue a more humane capitalism? Is it too late?