Profiting together

So, in Aleppo, before the civil war, there was fourteen kilometres of covered souk.  There was a street of spice merchants, a street of carpet sellers, a street of silversmiths, and on and on, providing everything. They were presumably happy to be rubbing shoulders with their competitors.  Which seems bizarre to me.  This market structure was ancient and the stall holders were all pretty ancient too... they had been doing this for a long time.  They must have thought they were in the best place for business.  One spice merchant only provided a very small part of the overall demand for spices in Aleppo, the street as a whole catered for all of the local (?) demand.  As a co-op it worked;  each merchant able to cater for a certain number of clients.  Each person received just the attention they wanted, they could haggle each week with the same person to buy something they needed.

None of it is based upon scarcity, and a community supports itself.  

It's a balanced exchange to do with subsistence, not profit.  Balanced things are vulnerable.

It all falls apart when Tescos opens up outside the souk, buying in vast bulk at low low prices & undercutting the individual traders.  Or the president starts to drop barrel bombs on it.

In another part of Aleppo was a whole area dedicated to the making of spare parts for the very large number of pre 1948 American cars.  The city was full of these leviathan vehicles, stranded like glittering whales, after independence.  There was no trade agreement with the US.  All the parts were made in small open workshops in one area of the town.  There was also a particular sideline, the manufacture of jewelled wheel hubs and multi coloured lighting, mainly for massive kahki painted Buicks which were the taxis. Matt low key colour on the outside, totally mad light-show inside. Again all the 'rival' businesses were next to each other.

In the middle of Nairobi next to Kibera slum, is the noisiest place I have ever been.  Lots and lots (hundreds maybe) of open air workshops beating aluminium into cooking pots. Businesses choosing to be next door to the same business. 

Capitalism is based upon scarcity.  If there is too little of something to go round it appeals to the individual who can afford to pay for it, they remain an individual, and the profit increase creates more money for fewer people.

Aleppo and Kibera were not interested in individuals profiting.  Survival and subsistence were mutual supports.  When we can stop creating shortage to produce profit, then we stand the possibility of surviving.