The Robin Hood called UBER.

Image from Allan Dwan’s Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks. Adapted by me.

This is one of the series of stories in which I explore how the era of tech refashioned capitalism.

There is this centuries-long popular legend in the little country that I come from. The national hero by the name of Janošík took from the rich and gave the poor. Sure as hell, he got killed, and in a pretty awful way too.

Alone the idea that a modest man could bebitch elites through the simple use of raw force was appealing. Add a nationalistic theme in that my nation was oppressed by the Magyars at the time, and that he was in fact showing a small insecure nation how to fight for itself by robbing wealthy bullies, and you get a guaranteed hit — a legend ideal to be passed down from generation to generation.

Painting by Stano Lajda. No I don’t have the permission.

He wasn’t all that different from Robin Hood except for the odd wool trousers and a double-double-breasted leather belt. I bet every oppressed nation must have had a Robin Hood of some sort. He was ours.

The post-2007 world.

The crisis of 2007 was deep. Its impact was just as philosophical as it was economical. The U.S. was built on the premise that greed is a good thing. ‘Newsboy to a millionaire’ was the story on everyone’s lips when the poor immigrants disembarked on the shores of the New World, injected with the dream of getting rich.

And that worked rather well. It has made America into the world’s economic superpower. Over the course of the 20th century, that same economical model based on the celebration of greed and a spirit of entrepreneurship would be exported to the rest of the world.

But, when the whole system began to crumble in 2007 under the weight of pure speculation brought about by the Wall Street, we all began to doubt it. A generation of young people would emerge that would reject the American dream.

With a massive student debt and feeling betrayed by the system, we have moved back with our parents, we have never bought a car or signed up for a mortgage. We have become systematically dangerous to the American way of life.

And we have been angry too. Disillusioned by the Anglo-Saxon model of capital markets, which seemed to make poor poorer and rich richer, we were all looking for our Robin Hood.

UBER is the Robin Hood of the post-2007 world.

Never before has a company been able to take money from the rich and burn them by doing something that would make us all better off, with such a degree of success.

UBER — a cheaper more efficient transportation, and an instant work for thousands. It is clever, efficient, beautiful, but most importantly it is cheap because it has the freedom to waste millions and millions of Dollars raised from wealthy investors. It is after all the world’s most valuable startup.

UBER has become ubiquitous for our age and for my generation. As a verb it is used to describe thousands of other businesses of the gig economy.

uberize — to change the market for a service by introducing a different way of buying or using it, especially using mobile technology (Cambridge Dictionary)

UBER defines the new ‘better’ lifestyle, when efficiency and cleverness stand in defiance of wealth and profligacy of the pre-2007 world. UBER is a cultural phenomenon, not a business model because young people of today aren’t revolting against the previous generation through art, but through their lifestyle.

This is one of the series of stories in which I explore how the era of tech refashioned capitalism.

See you on the other side,