“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
– E.F. Schumacher
The Market Economy has a conundrum. It is built upon the use of money, which exists to serve as a proxy for trust since people cannot be trusted. Unfortunately, the Market Economy is operated largely by people and corporations that have proven themselves untrustworthy, and who continue to point out the untrustworthiness of others.
It’s a very challenging thing indeed to cultivate leadership in a system that is based on the notion of mistrust. While humanity has managed to pull it off in a variety of regards, it has not been without its fair share of environmental devastation, extreme poverty, violence, and war. However, considering that our civilization has largely been fixated on only about a quarter of what’s possible (if that), should we have enough faith in our species to give it a little more credit, and invest in our other assets, we may find more value than the market alone allows.
“The essential fact about humans is that they are multidimensional beings,” says Muhammad Yunus in Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs. “Their happiness comes from many sources, not just from making money. And yet economists have built their whole theory of business on the assumption that human beings do nothing in their economic lives besides pursue selfish interests. The theory concludes that the optimal result for society will occur when each individual’s search for selfish benefit is given free rein. This interpretation of human beings denies any role to other aspects of life — political, social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and so on.”
“At the heart of twentieth-century economics stands the portrait of rational economic man,” explains Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics, “he has told us that we are self-interested, isolated, calculating, fixed in taste and dominant over nature — and his portrait has shaped who we have become. But human nature is far richer than this, as early sketches of our new self-portrait reveal: we are social, interdependent, approximating, fluid in values and dependent upon the living world.”
What if we developed an economic system that could cultivate trust? What if we promoted greater transparency so that we would…