Capitalism, creativity, daydreaming, economics, Global Peter Drucker Forum, Harvard Business Review, human capital, Imagination, Industrial Revolution, Invention, Marxism, non-zero sum thinking, Peter Drucker, Prosperity, wealth
Despite what you may be led to think when listening to heated political debates and cable news wise men, things are not that complicated when it comes to humanity’s predicament.
In a time when common folk and elites alike decry Capitalism and seem intent on going after it with pitchforks, I say we have yet to achieve it.
What we have realized instead is a sub-optimal value generation construct that carries Industrial Revolution physical resource thinking and Marxist materialistic credo philosophy in a knowledge era where imagination rather than brute labor should reign supreme. While in Marxism and Industrial Revolution inspired management one (unit of labor, employee, expense) plus one equals two, in the world of creative assets, two related ideas can generate a third worth ten times more than either. Capitalism runs on a non-zero sum paradigm that sprouts new value and wealth out of virtually nothing: electric brain synapses.
Let’s delve a bit into this “virtually nothing” before invoking some of the popular fixes that are increasingly dominating the public discourse: social inequality, wealth distribution, Wall Street greed and others.
Wealth is generated by one thing alone: knowledge expansion. This in turn is fueled by human imagination tinkering at the edges of understanding. Economics is a lagging indicator of our growing understanding of the Cosmos. By applying accumulated wealth to the act of knowledge exploration otherwise known as invention, Capitalism is able to keep the knowledge engine going, resulting in new wealth and shared prosperity. When it comes to prosperity, Capitalism is the perpetual motion machine that has eluded physics for so long, because, unlike dissipative entropy in the material world, knowledge is not only cumulative but, for all we know, unlimited.
To summarize the prior paragraph, Capitalism should be the knowledge engine that connects us to the Cosmos we inhabit and allows the human race to enjoy the benefits yielded by a larger than zero sum wealth dynamic. The closer we can get Capitalism to this knowledge engine metaphor, the better off the world will be. This is the true opportunity afforded by Capitalism.
The world’s elites however are increasingly focusing on fixing Capitalism’s zero-sum issues such as social inequality and wealth distribution. Granted these are real problems, the great Peter Drucker has warned us that fixing problems is less desirable than pursuing opportunities. By focusing on those zero-sum problems of Capitalism we inadvertently bring attention to those very Industrial Revolution practices that are still holding the world’s creative potential hostage and should therefore be allowed to expire.
Through this small piece I launch the intellectual challenge to global opinion formers to expand the debate on Capitalism to more than fixing its problems. I invite them to heed Peter Drucker’s advice and pursue the opportunities of Capitalism. Let’s look at ways to release the world’s creative potential from the grips of Industrial Revolution zero-sum practices. Let’s reform the educational system to encourage our young generation to question assumptions, let’s teach the recruitment industry to value talent over skills, and let’s make sure new data intensive technologies don’t subordinate human daydreaming.
I look to opinion platforms like the Harvard Business Review and the Global Peter Drucker Forum to provide space on their agenda for the debate on Capitalism’s opportunities.