The old commercial shopping centers, now accessible by the network of public transport, were transformed into bazaars and surrounded by public parks in the place of the old parking lots. A great variety of local and regional businesses were installed in the centers in the place of all those faceless and lifeless stores from multinational chains like MacDonalds, Etam, Jennifer, Zara, Calvin Klein, and Benneton. Artisans could be seen there chatting with their friends and potential customers while working at the same time. Cuisine was both regional and multi-ethnic, and not expensive. Two or three times a week, the old parking lots were transformed into peasant markets where producers sold produce directly from their farms and gardens.
Sundays, there were the flea markets, where people resold their clothes, their books, their furniture when they wanted to change it. Theaters, circuses and traveling shows set up their tents there. And as in urban centers, you could see on the screens films from all over the world. I saw these stations and centers bubbling over with life and conviviality. Vendors, like customers, were generally in good spirits and rarely in a hurry.
On national and global levels, the Internet facilitated wholesale trade in minerals, metals, production tools. At any moment, by going online, you could locate offers and searches, in cotton, sugar, steel, cocoa, of a certain quality and quantity. Each type of production had its site, and you could see exchanges being made in real time. Fascinated, I watched the scene while a chocolate cooperative in Berne in search of 1000 kilos of a certain type of cocoa got in touch with several producer co-ops in Africa, and ended up reaching an accord with peasants in Djambala in the Congo.
While I was looking, a thousand other deals of the kind were in the course of being negotiated, apparently to the mutual satisfaction of all. To save on freight, you generally chose producers closest geographically, but sometimes trade took place across oceans (by sailing ships) and mountains (via solar-powered dirigibles). Astonished, I asked my hosts: “Comrades, I have always fought against Globalization, and I’ve always believed that the market was a deadly instrument of capitalism that transformed all into merchandise and commodities!”
They answered that as there was no more capitalism, there was no more problem. But seeing me at the same time perplexed and sceptical, my friends took me to the Institute of Prehistory, where I found working precisely the scholar who could answer me in the most rigorous terms.
If these explanations don’t interest you, skip up to Monopolies.