Monday, July 23, 2012
Today, I went to a lunch meeting of a local group that has caught my interest. It offers a place to think, and area to come in to work, for a certain amount of days, depending on membership tier. In a way, it reminds me of Second Life on a few levels. By this, I mean back to the earlier days before it was about making money, but providing a space for creative minds to come together and mesh their ideas together to create brand new worlds on a virtual grid. The biggest contrast I see, thus far, is that this real life is a not for profit chartered group, whereas Second Life is a for profit corporation. Both are incorporated, mind you, but they serve quite different purposes.
I'm more comfortable in a not for profit setting. The difficulty of such is that often such incorporated groups are more of a fee for use, and more about seeking larger membership. In contrast, a corporation is more interested in the profit per capita (the profit per head), which is what capitalism runs upon. This is a very important distinction and contrast to consider, and we'll get back to that later.
This is not meant to be a 'capitalism is evil' rant. I happen to believe that capital is important, particularly in a materialistic world where matter, well, matters. But capital is not the end all, be all of who we are, and what we ought to be as a society. I absolutely refuse to believe that counting heads of people and calculating how the lot of them can make a profit for a company, and how much penny pinching and price gouging has to be done to create wealth for a small few masterminds is the end all, be all of being a human being. No, I believe that there is more to life than that – than to be either the cattle or the handlers that cow people into believing we must militantly follow them, be led by them throughout life, and into the final slaughterhouse that they may or may not have in store for the rest of the world. That sort of mindless control of the masses type capital of current capitalist mentality is not what I find important, but a detriment to society. A detriment no less a danger to society than the socialism they scare the world with. A socialism that they helped build, particularly in the industrial age that it comes out of.
The sort of capital that I do find important is that which we all have. In one sense, yes, it is our heads that stand on our shoulders. In another, it's the very essence and mind that our heads hold in our physical bodies, but we've held for a long time is a thing that our very bodies can't contain, and of that which is beyond the material matter that keeps us grounded. It is a certain essence that guides us, or can, if we so choose to use it and are apt to push beyond the boundaries set before us in the material world.
That is the type of capital that no copyright or corporate terms policy has any license or right to even try to contain. The very uniqueness within us, which also flows without, has no limitations, other than our own doubt. And that is what most corporations try to buy and sell us on, whether they choose to advertize it through creature comforts, or warn us with scares on security – and all the while, little by little, chipping away at our freedom and taking away true peace of mind.
But this isn't what I really want to talk about. I would rather talk about opening the mind, and opening worlds. For when we do open our minds, we open them to these new ways of perceiving, unlocking the path to something so vast that we can't fully comprehend it. Of course, when we do, there is also operating for many of us a fear. Most pivotal of fears for me is going through that portal and the potential that, in coming back, people may exploit it – or even I may exploit it. How does one tap into this vastness and find a way to use it for the better of the society they are a part of, to the benefit of the people and the planet that you call home?
When one asks this question, it is where ideas get grounded. It is here that the policies and systems we work in are founded. For while we can have limitless information, we are also at limited capacity to be able to have all this internalized wealth that comes to our heads from the vast externalities of 'mind capital', if you will, be processed by one single person. It's why we all can use a room to think, and room mates to bounce ideas off of. We are social creatures for a reason, and reason dictates that we must socialize to be at our optimal, if not highest levels of performance and personal being.
I'm not saying that we all must create our own Facebook or Twitter accounts and constantly blog. That is something that a good many of us have done as a matter of attempting to fulfill our social needs, with varying results – both good and bad. The quantitative product of these social media companies is not what fulfills us. It's the qualitative productivity that we put into them that matters. And I think that the companies know that to some extent, at least the smart ones that want to continue to stay in business as leaders and innovators, rather than leaches that latch on for the ride until the scheme is no longer profitable for them. And that is where, at least at the core of concept, for profit and not for profit vary the most. That is to say, while both are focused on heads, one looks to the individual and wonders how they could put that head to use in order to produce and serve both the organization and the community. The other just looks at the head and wonders how to manipulate it in order to take as much as is possible or acceptable without too much cause for protest.
This comes back to the difference between not for profit organizations and for profit corporations. Again, they are both incorporated, and run under charters, bylaws, and all that lovely legalese stuff that keeps lawyers in business. However the difference of focus between profit, and something other than profit does matter. I won't argue that for profit businesses can be charitable, and corporations can have a positive impact, when operating under particular guidelines that regulate in a manner to minimize exploitation and greed. But I think not for profits can come into the public with greater advantage when they have a focus less on the bottom line of profit and seek to focus on how best to serve and provide, both for their internal purposes, as well as the externalities that many for profit corporations refuse to consider and brush off as a problem for someone else. Or, worse, these particular corporations that are run by those few power mongers that want to see the demise of 90% of the human population don't give a damn because the intended results serve the purpose of destroying the people they want to be destroyed in the long run.
This is not to say that not for profits are without their own problems. However, as long as they have people at the core of their interest, and this interest is in empowering the people to grow and develop – to tap into that vast mind capital that no one has, nor should even think they have a monopoly on, then at least they are leaning in the right direction.