No Coke, Pepsi. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear
Photo Pepsi or Coca-Cola courtesy of Roadsidepictures on Flickr
The United States is dominated by two political parties. The major soft drink makers are Coke and Pepsi. Most of us own a Mac or a PC. In theory, free markets provide a range of choices, but this range of choice is constrained by the suppliers themselves.
Have you ever noticed that most restaurants serve Coke products or Pepsi products, rarely both? This is the outcome of corporate interests and policies that intentionally limit consumer choice. Adam Smith wrote about this phenomenon in 1776. It is well-known and uncontroversial.
Canada has three main federal political parties, all trying to capture enough of the political centre to form a government. The differences of their brands are small. Democratic political elections are fought over matters of style: personalities, like-ability, popularity. The candidate that “seems like” will win. The three parties tacitly agree on the acceptable range of debate: the middle class, taxes, growth, the economy.
Markets change only as a result of revolutionary upheaval. A revolution in a market occurs when an upstart/outsider introduces a game-changing idea. The giants are incapable of changing the market: they are too thoroughly invested in maintaining it to their advantage.
In a democracy, voting for one of the two or three political parties on offer is like ordering a Pepsi in a restaurant that has chosen to only serve Pepsi.
In a democracy, the upstart/outsider is an activist and agitator. Her business model is civil disobedience, resistance, and radical critique. She eats away at the market share of the giants. The IBMs of the world try to adapt.
But they are not the agents of change, they are interested only in a world that forever stays the same, and that forever serves their market interests.