‘Hippies Understand Capitalism’ by Dan Greenhaus (excerpt from PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish)

In celebration of PhanArt’s 2nd Anniversary of being published, this week we are sharing excerpts from select articles written exclusively for PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish. To read more of this article and other great reviews of the Phish community and unique style of art, pick up the book here

An excerpt from ‘Hippies Understand Capitalism‘ by Dan Greenhaus, originally published in PhanArt: The Art of the Fans of Phish (2009, Allegra)

Capitalism. It is the central theme that underpins just about everything in our country. Standing in stark contrast to other social systems such as communism and socialism, capitalism manages to bring out the most ingenious concepts and products, as the lure of a potentially unlimited payday will forever lead humans to push further and further, and reach higher and higher.

Capitalism, and the concepts of supply and demand and free markets, exist all around us. Once can find these ideas in many places, whether in its purest form (as most would assert) by way of the stock market, or at the local deli, toy store or, a little more surprisingly if you’ve never been there, the lot before a Phish show. The latter might be a surprise to some people who, when queried about the idea of a “hippie,” would sooner imagine a dreadlocked stoner smoking too much pot while following a band around the country than a businessman earning a living pursuing a passion the likes of which most people would, and could, never understand.

But when one looks closer, what they’ll find along the famed “Shakedown Street” is the economic incarnation of Capitalism in a pure form. People sell goods priced at a level pursuant to the demand in the marketplace set before them, with the underlying intention of earning a profit. In “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith portended that the essence of a “trade” was the person obtaining an item felt that item obtained was of equal or greater value than whatever they may be relinquishing the right to in exchange for the item. It is that underlying concept that pulsates through the lot, and through the subconscious of that same dreadlocked hippie, regardless of whether he realizes it or not. It’s the lifeblood of the mini-society that has been built up around both The Grateful Dead and more recently, Phish and as such, a case could be made that the communities, much like our country, could not exist without it.

To read more, check out the book here

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