I love flashmobs, I really do. And I like those moments of collective subversion, such as making Rage Against the Machine the Christmas Number 1.
But the real promise of collective action will only be realised when there’s money involved as well as time. When flashmobs become cashmobs. Theoretically, one of the greatest improvements in the quality of human life in a generation is already within our reach - it will become possible once we learn to use the internet to enable large groups of people to get together and collectively microfund public goods. This development would also provide a welcome opportunity for consumers to move beyond their obsession with individual acquisition and consumption, and to spend money on a healthy mixture of public and private investments.