I’ve been thinking a lot about micro-fiefdoms and the putting up of pay walls and page gates and toll gates for a myriad of formerly free human interactions, in the digital and physical realms.
From public spaces to private city states (also think gated communities and company towns run by big tech companies or crypto billionaires, with terms and conditions instead of constitutions).
From police services to private security firms (South Africa is, of course, an early adopter of middle-class mercenaries for hire, by the global “defund the police” protests are accelerating this trend worldwide).
From the open internet to the pay-as-you-go micro-credit “decentralised” blockchain-eqsue post-crypto internet (where we all pay for likes, tweets, and reading unedited blogposts by the second – subscriptions served with everything).
Public space and public goods – everything from parks to friends and conversation – are all being commoditised, accruable only to those who can pay admission, and fenced-off from the disenfranchised crowds without.
Of course, there is nothing new about life inside the walls being closed off from life without, only this time the walls are invisible.
If you’re interested, I spoke a bit more about this trend towards neo-feudalism here: