Well I guess that depends upon how we define “capitalism”…
Timothy Fry
11

Yup, true. I was speaking more broadly, but you make some really interesting points!

I have a friend who lives in an “intentional community”. In this community all income goes to the collective and the needs of all members are met by the collective. Every member works 44 hours per week making hammocks and there are something like 30 members. The land is owned and the collective holds 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
This means that 30 people produce 1,320 man-hours of work each week and, basically, have nothing to show for it. They don’t have any great deal of money saved. They aren’t buying more land.

This. I’m totally with you and while I respect and understand the concept of making an intentional community (Dunbar’s number, asshat free zones and all that) it drives me crazy that so many otherwise great people are basically ‘retreating’ into tiny little groups of otherwise groovy people that are just destined to fade away over time.

On top of all this, if any member of this community takes a second job in the surrounding area, they’re not allowed to keep all the money they earn. It must be submitted to the collective so that no one “feels bad” that one member has more than another.

Meanwhile I’m sure they’re still stuck with the Hammock-making work, right? So nobody gets to specialize?

I’ve been in the corporate side for decades and have worked in some pretty diverse environments (A couple of Skunkworks projects. Agile and Waterfall shops, multinational implementation teams, etc.) and I think it’s kind of silly (and naive) to ignore what makes people happy and successful in an effort to escape from’the man’

Why not make an intentional community (i.e. asshat-free zone, take Dunbar’s Number into consideration, give control over operations and environment, etc.) where the focus is to get a lot of productivity out of the team while at the same time giving them some incentive to stay coherent while also keeping them agile enough to grow rather than fade away?

I mean, you don’t HAVE to send people back to Detroit, right? In one of the Skunkworks projects I was in they just grabbed a bunch of people who had good reputations for being enthusiastic, productive, and easy to work with, threw in a few support people, gave us an executive-business-suite type arrangement for a few months and told us to ‘kick ass and take names’… and we DID. I can think of a dozen ways to wrap a small interface team around a dozen of those groups and make something that’s scary competitive in the business world.

Combine something like that with the whole ‘taking over our lives’ part of intentional communities and I think you’ve got something viable. I know some places (Valve, Mondragon, Google.) have done variants of that but I don’t know of anybody who’s really finished the Venn diagram there, y’know?

Competition without rules always (always) brings prices down and quality up.

Well, I think it’s more complicated and nuanced than that. There ARE rules, in fact you can look at the legal frameworks behind Nations, Corporations, and the rest as one really big LARP that we’re all born into.

I think it’s more a matter of having a model (the scientific one?) on top of a structure that’s focused on productivity-without-conflict and uses ‘hiring’ to invite ‘citizens’ and then let the various business units (campus/mini-nations?) to compete for them by being more enticing.

Currently we’ve just got one LARP to play, but I bet if you gave people the option of ‘civilizations of choice’ then many would be absurdly productive and generally thrive in their new environments.

So, if we’re talking about the kind of capitalism that comes with guns, teams of lawyers, and large faceless bureaucracy, we’re in agreement. All of those businesses and states need to go, and the way to do that is to end do away with the cause: end the state.
If we’re talking about the kind of capitalism that involves one person exchanging something of value with another person for something else of value, I cannot imagine a more ethical, mutually-beneficial manner of two people both getting their needs met to everyone’s betterment. :-)

Totally with you!

I think we need a new model, no? I like ‘co-opernation’ :) I’ve been dabbling with something similar for the past few years and you’ve definitely re-energized me somewhat, sir!