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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 21-Apr-06


Friday 21-Apr-06

Newspaper Communism

Whilst we live in a Capitalist culture, I've noticed an almost Communist approach to the ownership of newspapers, particularly on the train in the morning.

First there is the read-and-leave approach. People buy newspapers on the platform, read them on the train and leave them behind when they leave the train. Someone else then picks up the paper and reads it further. This second grab is another interesting social process, whereby people who do not have a newspaper eye the paper left behind, watch one another and then someone grabs it. This may be a surreptitious affair, with a sly pick-up that hopes not to be noticed. It may also be a quick snatch that get there before anyone else. Mostly, though, it's a casual taking up of the paper as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

What's fascinating about all this is the way that the paper is treated as common property by people who largely are very property-minded. It is a little bit of culture that is considerate of others, and papers get passed from one to another. This morning, one person finished reading a paper and before he'd even put it down, another gentleman leaned over and very politely asked if he could read the paper. Of course he could, sir.

A further variant of this is the charity shop, where books, clothes and assorted knick-knacks get passed on by the third party intermediary of the charity. Many British towns have half a dozen or so such shops where a surprising range of people go looking for bargains as well as bringing in things that they no longer need. You can get nearly-new books and hardly-worn designer-label clothes for very knock-down prices.

It is lovely to see charity, by whatever method, weaving its way into Western society. Communism is actually a really good idea -- the only problem in the past has been its implementation as totalitarian dictatorships. But even small communes that start with high ideals often split up in acrimonious disharmony.

One day, we'll evolve into a more sharing species. Until then, I'll share and read the communal newspapers.

Your comments

When I first read the sentence:

"I've noticed an almost Communist approach to the ownership of newspapers"

I thought you were referring to the ownership of media and the conglomerates. Disappointingly it was not. Unfortunately, what capitalist and communist newspapers have in common is public relations and propaganda.

Fortunately, the 'communal' character of the Internet and blogs (like yours) are really one of the agents that is "evolv[ing] into a more sharing species".

-- Colin

"Communism is actually a really good idea"

It took me a year of your blog posts to find something with which I disagree enough to warrant comment.

I'm enjoying whizzing through many years of your thoughts in such a sort space of time and even more excited now that we have a point of contention I can use to question my own thinking and consider the principles on which those are based.

-- Ambrose

Dave replies:
Although I think communism is a good idea, it seems clear that it doesn't work too well in practice as it soon turns into some form of dictatorship. We're not evolved enough yet to openly share everything and treat all others with kindness and equality.

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