Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Cosmic Dance: Why We Need Capitalism and Collectivism

I strongly believe capitalism is an ingenious system that plays boldly to the best in humanity. Also, it is equally powerful in its exaggeration of the worst in humanity through silence on all issues of broader social concern. How can one system provide the opportunity for the expression of the best and worst in us all: by respecting the free will of the individual.

But here's the rub, we are social beasts evolved over millions of years to live in interdependent groups. When one person acts within her/his own free will towards outcomes of self-interest, the spinning cosmic dance of tension between opposites can quickly become one person stepping all over someone else's toes. This has been the inherent conundrum within our economic/political system which we have been dancing with for hundreds of years.

How do we learn to dance gracefully between individual and collective needs? Is this even possible? I believe it is, and it is the next evolutionary step in human thinking, living and governing.

We must see beyond the false separation of individual/collective needs to the truth of opposites. At the most basic level, we are all of equal import and value and our basic needs cannot be in competition if the integrity of the individual and the collective is to be supported and protected. At the same time, we must promote a system that encourages and rewards the spectacular possibilities of individual expression. We must learn to live with both seemingly conflicting truths in tandem. We must learn to tolerate and move between the opposites in our own minds and get beyond our childish need for certainty and absolutes.

When we can mentally allow opposites to exist within our own minds without reflexively choosing a position on one side or the other, we will begin to think in more fluid ways and see novel solutions to real time challenges.

As our ability to do this develops, we will find that in many situations, the needs of both individual and collective somehow, quite magically at times, get met. For example, the real collective human (and all other life forms), need to have a healthy environment must outstrip individual interests in personal wealth. However, within our economic/political system, the people who find the best solutions to our environmental woes will be rewarded with extraordinary wealth. Come up with a cheap, easy way to convert all cars on the road to electric and you will become a billionaire. Develop and implement a plan to use the unused lands in the American midwest and west to produce enough wind and sun energy to run our country, and you will become a billionaire.

Here's another rub, the people who have become billionaires off of fossil fuels will not be the same people to become billionaires of of clean energy. But lucky for 99.99% of us, we are not part of the first group and would benefit hugely from the actions of the latter group!!! And in this becoming, the tension of the opposites resolves into one happy forward direction for the collective and each individual who makes up the collective.