January 2, 2014 by Zara
A good talk for those interested in ethics/moral philosophy and business/capitalism, helping us think about what a new era of post-capitalism might look like? Many ideas have, of course, been put-forth (See Post-Capitalism on Wikipedia).
Einstein said, “Whenever you are in a new era, you are required to rethink fundamentals, not to reform your system or tinker with it, or reset it or reboot it, but to rethink fundamentals.”
Dov Seidman says it’s about rethinking HOW. I agree, but only partially. I think apart from rethinking that how (which is the means) of business, we also need to rethink the WHY (which is the ends) of business and economy: We want to create increased wealth, and that is not measured in increased gross domestic product, production of more “stuff”, or maximised profits as currently is.
Which means we need to look at what constitutes “wealth”. Yes, its “stuff” to an extent, but it also goes a LONG way beyond “stuff”, which is what we’re still missing. And I think we need to re-examine the fundamental liberties that a socio-economic system should enable, in the same way Adam Smith began to constitute the idea of capitalism, but redefine what it means for us in our current time, with our current level of progress.
The talk highlights the great opportunity and the excitement of the extremely potent age that we are living in. If the printing press enabled the democratization of knowledge and the proliferation of ideas, the internet is enabling connectedness, collective action, far-reaching speed-of-light spread of information, collaboration, discourse and influencing of values, and for the first time perhaps really allowing us to really feel, not just think about, ourselves as one unified global human family. It is also facilitating democratization of power.
Don also observes that “…we need to do the hard work of not just assuming that because we have the infrastructure to be connected, that we have the human frameworks to be connected in healthy as opposed to unhealthy ways.” So yes, the internet and the connectivity it gives is but a tool — what determines our future is HOW we’re going to use this tool, and how we use the tool will depend on who we are as people, our motivations, and what we cherish as our values, principles, ideals and aspirations.
So 21st Century Enlightenment is (supposedly) about putting elevated behaviour at the center of the universe, and doing what is right to do. Or is it? What are your thoughts? What is the necessary fundamental rethink that Einstein espouses?