Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Prostitution - the smart way to graduate debt-free

We will shortly be arriving at Late Capitalist Dystopia Central, where this train terminates - please ensure you have all of your belongings with you before leaving the train:
Wanted: Rich man to give poor student better life. Must provide cash allowance, luxury holidays and designer goods in return for.....?

Emma Jane Kirby meets the young British women funding themselves through university by dating rich older men via websites. And asks - who is exploiting who?

She meets those who sees sugar dating as the perfect transactional relationship in which both parties get exactly what they want including those at some of England's top Russell Group Universities. People like the student who had two sugar daddies at University so that she could fully concentrate on her studies and achieve a First Class degree. Her Mum didn't just know about it, she approved, calling it a " great, great solution" to the family's financial problems.

And we meet Sugar Daddies, to get their point of view:

" I pay my current sugar baby £2,000 a month plus £1,000 shopping allowance. Do I want sex as part of my arrangement? Yes, of course.....Expectations go both ways." 
Massive inequality + a breathtaking transfer of debt onto the shoulders of people who haven't even started earning properly = yet another exciting new opportunity for the sharing economy.

Welcome to the brave new transactional world where you can leverage your living space capital via Airbnb, your driving capital via Uber and your erotic capital via the sugar daddy site of your choice:
I'm enough of an optimist to think that one day, people will look back at this moment in history and ask in wonder 'How the hell did people ever think this kind of thing was OK?' But, for the moment, we're up against both the market fundamentalists who believe that if you lack the foresight to already be rich, you should be grateful for any opportunity to sell yourself to the highest bidder and the naivety of the liberal commentariat against which the gods themselves contend in vain:
The socialists of the early 20th century eyed monopolies like Vail’s with optimism: take them over and their highly organised and unitary status means you can use them to run the economy. Today, if you wanted to re-order the economy to deliver participation and choice alongside social justice, it’s the sharing models you would start from.

The arrival of sharing changes the game when it comes to the social potential of technology. It was hard to see a route from Apple and Google to “dotcommunism”. It is quite easy to see it, though, if you began with the sharing sites, and made them cheap or free.
Paul Mason, reassuring Guardian readers that sharing sites could be the new engines of social justice (just so long as you ignore the massive inequalities of power and resources that make them work in the first place).

If you began with a sharing site like sugar daddy dot whatever and make it 'cheap or free' (i.e. pretend that it's not powered by money and inequality of resources) then bang goes the pull of the sugar daddy's capital ('But what first, Debbie, attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?'), along with his disingenuous assertion that this is some kind of entirely voluntary transaction between equals. Dress it up in whatever self-serving language you like - it's still the sort of crude desperation-driven deal that Kurt Vonnegut tore into in his novel Bluebeard:
'...Did you say that in the war you were 'combing pussy out of your hair?'
I said I was sorry I'd said it and I was.
'I never heard that expression before.' she said 'I had to guess what it meant.'
'Just forget I said it.' I said
'You want to know what my guess was? I guessed that wherever you went there were women who would do anything for food or protection for themselves and the children and the old people, since the young men were dead or gone away.' she said. 'How close was I?'
One day, I hope, we'll see technology actually liberating people by disrupting existing hierarchies in favour of greater social justice but, as far as I can see, the style of disruption currently in fashion is the sort that disrupts the lives of the already powerless for the greater convenience of the already powerful. The most striking feature of this style of disruption is that the technical ingenuity comes with a huge side-order of breathtaking shamelessness. Again, Vonnegut completely nails it:
Here is how the pirates were able to take whatever they wanted from anybody else: they had the best boats in the world, and they were meaner than anybody else, and they had gunpowder, which was a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulphur. They touched this seemingly listless powder with fire, and it turned violently into gas. This gas blew projectiles out of metal tubes at terrific velocities . The projectiles cut through meat and bone very easily; so the pirates could wreck the wiring or the bellows or the plumbing of a stubborn human being, even when he was far, far away.

The chief weapon of the sea pirates, however, was their capacity to astonish. Nobody else could believe, until it was much too late, how heartless and greedy they were.
From Breakfast of Champions