Many of America’s business-minded, especially corporate CEOs, are unabashedly advocates for the market being the solution to everything. Privatize it, is the answer to it all! Yet at the very same time they also spend vast sums of money on lobbyist to rig things in their favor, which often minimizes (and even eliminates) the dynamics of the market. Seemingly for maximizing their profit relying on the market alone is not their preference, yet it is thought best for everyone else. Some even sing the praises of a free market and yet oppose full disclosure in labeling of products. It appears they think free means free to maximize profit in any way one can. Go figure!
The duplicity is mindboggling. Perhaps they are not intentionally duplicitous but rather blinded by their addiction to profit maximization. In either case they haven’t the sense of caring and understanding required of people with the authority they’ve been given.
A Destructive System
If you’ve swallowed whole the flimflam notion that serving one’s self-interest mysteriously serves everyone (courtesy of an invisible hand), then you must also believe in and thus structure your life according to a lot of other fantasies, like the tooth fairy.
Consider the claim by the CEO of Whole Foods John Mackey, “I believe free markets are the best way to organize society.” Spoiler alert: Capitalism is not a system for organizing and governing a society. I suspect many business-minded people are not aware of the difference between a system for organizing and governing society where care and concern for all citizens should guide action and an egoistic economic system where maximizing one’s material self interest must guide action.
Capitalism is a wealth producing system that favors the owners of capital. Moreover it is a system void of any guiding moral principles. So even though the universal use of the market mechanism creates wealth for the wealthy it leads to an unsustainable inhumane reality for all. What we are experiencing today are the effects of the capitalist precepts of material self-interest maximization and unlimited wealth accumulation taken to their logical conclusion.
Capitalism is not a reasonable much less a sustainable alternative. Yet the corporate overlords and their servile demagogues are doing their best to make it the only alternative in claiming there-is-no-alternative (aka TINA).
In an egoistic system such as we have in the U.S. the market is the mechanism for rewarding winners and punishing losers. Within such a system, it is a dog-eat-dog-world: A dichotomized world wherein either-or-thinking is prevalent. In this world you either are a winner or a loser, a person of worth (aka a maker) or an unworthy person (aka taker). In short you are either a success or a failure, but not a fellow human being. All of this is brought to us by a mechanistic worldview and an animalistic and thus limiting view of humankind that together inform the use of artificial scarcity as the means of keeping the vast majority fearful, and thus under control and easily exploitable.
In using artificial scarcity we cause people to focus continually on basic need satisfaction and thus inhibit them from attending to their higher-order being needs. As a result they never progress in their humanness. As Abraham Maslow noted “a good way to obscure the ‘higher’ motivations and to get a lopsided view of human capacities and human nature is to make the organism extremely and chronically hungry or thirsty.” Essentially having people fearful that satisfaction of their basic living needs (e.g. food, shelter, safety) is forever in doubt is the lever that can control their behavior.
But not only is sustaining a living in doubt, adding insult to injury people are led to desire more and more stuff making it easier for those who control stuff to dominate. Those feeling the need to continually strive to accumulate increasingly more and wealth are similarly dominated, but by an irrational insatiable hunger. Sadly domination diminishes and deters development of the individual and correspondingly the collective.
While in society the use of scarcity is subtle, it is less so within the business organization. This system of orientation informs the training of management and is the basis upon which we conduct and manage business. Thus it is not surprising to see the quite common use of practices and processes –which by the way are quite simple—that enact and leverage fear as a means of controlling behavior within an organization.
The concern is not for people as fellow human beings but for people as behaviors. After all it is peoples’ behavior as workers and as consumers that is instrumental for producing profit and creating wealth. Exploiting people and Nature is central to the precepts of capitalism.
As Einstein noted, imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. So let’s imagine.
Imagine if we understood our humanness—what it means to be human—and acted consistent with this understanding. Imagine if people were viewed and treated as if they had an inherent need and capacity for self-initiation, creativity and (human) development—a need to become more of what they potentially are. Imagine if we understood that we are each deeply interconnected; that we aren’t just separate and independent individuals seeking pleasure or avoiding pain in the moment. Imagine if we understood that we have a dual responsibility to develop as individuals (i.e. one’s personhood) and as an integrated collective of people. Imagine if we followed a different system of thought that places people and life above material things and that acknowledges the deep interconnectedness throughout the living world. Just imagine the reality we’d create.
Imagine a new reality. Imagine that we now honor life rather than things and that to us meaning is now as essential as the means in life. Imagine that we don’t limit our self or others to accumulating things but rather we now invest our time developing and actualizing our human potential. Imagine that we’ve re-created societal institutions and social systems that now foster and support each of us becoming what we potentially are—both individually and collectively. Imagine that our system of education now enhances our inherent need to learn by teaching us how to learn and think critically. Imagine we now find joy and meaning in the process of learning. Imagine that now the intent of business is to further human progress, not merely material growth. Imagine those holding positions in management use positive energy based practices because they sincerely care about people. Imagine that our work and workplaces are now the means to us being humanly productive, not solely materially productive; that through our work we develop as human beings in the process of providing quality products and services that serve (not exploit) the needs of people.
Just imagine that we (you) actually cared about all that is alive: We (you) would not and could not continue as we are, seeking to control and exploit each other and Nature for the sake of material gain.
In this time of so much destitution and despair, we don’t need to just hope for better. What we need is to enact, bring to life what we can imagine, making it (our) reality.