Saturday, August 15, 2009

The world should be flat, but only for me.

George Monbiot, a columnist in The Guardian, writes about the impending disaster in his small market town, Machynlleth, in mid-Wales:

"Last month Tesco submitted an application to subjugate us. It wants to build a store of 27,000 square feet on the edge of the town centre. This is twice the size of all our grocery stores put together, and bigger than our tiny settlement – 2,100 souls – can support. Tesco will prosper here only if other shops close and customers come from miles away.

If this monster is built, everything that is special and precious and distinctive about this town – the quirky shops, the UK's oldest farmers' market, the busy community – falls under its shadow. Tesco will suck the marrow out of us."

The thing about progress is that individuals indulge in cherry-picking. Each wants to selectively and selfishly take advantage of specific elements of new market models or concepts, while clinging zealously to his/her turf when it comes to certain other elements.

Imagine the same small town in Wales, in the mid seventies, when there were just one or two local newspapers and magazines rolled out in a press around the corner, with a circulation of a few hundred each, and providing the townsmen with all the news, gossip, details of upcoming weddings, obituaries, etc.

One fine morning, a national newspaper, The Guardian, makes its appearance in the town, with its columns, features, global news, sports coverage, etc. The local newspapers that till then were special, precious and distinctive, lose their appeal overnight and soon close down, unable to match up to the new entrant. George Monbiot, in his teens, gleefully subscribes to The Guardian and later gets to write columns and earn good money too. But, when a large retail chain wants to set up shop in his town, he cries foul. “It will suck the marrow out of us. We must fight it” he argues.

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