I had the pleasure of spending time yesterday with Eric Harris-Braun & Arthur Brock of the Metacurrency Project, sharing thoughts about the federation of tribes we are forming, and the principles upon which this type of living systems organization should be founded. Eric shared this excerpt from the book Sanctuary For All Life by Jim Corbett, which felt powerful and true to me. I’d love to hear your perspective:
“A socialist collective and a capitalist corporation have the same organizational form, whatever the difference in their goals. Comrades, workers, and shareholders subordinate some of their rights of self-determination to a managerial command that unites them into a collective force for achieving an objective. Military mobilization is the historical taproot and conceptual paradigm for this kind of goal-directed solidarity.
This is a particularly effective way to overcome enemies, competitors, and other obstacles, whatever the means and regardless of side-effects. It is the way to defeat the Nazis, put a man on the moon, or mobilize a government-industrial complex that can compete globally. However, for human society to flourish as an association of cocreators, a common cause can’t replace a common ground of rights and responsibilities – not even when the corporate body’s directors are chosen democratically. A collectivity of comrades who serve a good cause fails to substitute for a society of friends who are free partners under no command.”
more excerpts from the book via eric’s blog
deirdreyeedre Yee said:
This is all very interesting and I think the comparison between socialist community and capitalist/corporate community deserves to be looked at more closely. If the core beliefs and stated mission of the company are the pillars of their edict – and all community members are actually aligned to those, then how does that differ from a very specific “common good”?
Of course, one thing to keep in mind, is that corporate values and mission statements might not accurately reflect the goals of the organization, for example many mission statements do not include expanding as much as possible, whereas growth and making the most money possible is obviously one of the most important goals in the corporate world.
Granting Corbett’s premise, what kinds of things can we learn about creating successful corporate communities (while not expecting them to be as close as friendly free partnerships, of course) from socialist collectives – both successful and unsuccessful?
Michael Josefowicz (@toughLoveforx) said:
Haven’t read the book, but thanks for sharing. To me the critical enabler is the Convenant. I read it as an explicit agreement about the aims and practices of the organization.
You might want to take a look at BCorps as a practical model.
What is a B Corp?
Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
B Lab, a nonprofit organization, certifies B Corporations, the same way TransFair certifies Fair Trade coffee or USGBC certifies LEED buildings.
B Corps, unlike traditional businesses:
Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards;
Meet higher legal accountability standards;
Build business constituency for public policies that support sustainable business.
There are over 450 Certified B Corporations across 60 different industries. From food and apparel for you and your family to attorneys and office supplies for your business, B Corporations are a diverse community with one unifying goal: to redefine success in business.
Through a company’s public B Impact Report, anyone can access performance data about the social and environmental practices that stand behind their products.
It’s pretty clear that Impact Investing is now starting to mature as new source for capital for Social Entreprise. Nice report in PDF just released from Credit Suisse showing how this is starting to playing out at the Top of the Global Finance pyramid. http://ilnk.me/d95e
monika hardy said:
“A collectivity of comrades who serve a good cause fails to substitute for a society of friends who are free partners under no command.“
i just finished Susan Cain’s Quiet, the power of the introvert in a world that can’t stop talking. one of my biggest take aways was what she called restorative niches where you don’t have to prove yourself. emphasis on not having to prove anything.
Krishnamurti writes that partial freedom is no freedom.
and Godin, on art, …it’s the thing you can’t not do. not just a good thing.
i think these all point to the freedom we’re seeking. more the society of friends.
setting people free in spaces of permission, where we’ll find soul/world peace.
Michael Josefowicz (@toughLoveforx) said:
Nice. “Restorative niches where you don’t have to prove yourself. emphasis on not having to prove anything.”
Throughout history this has been the family at it’s best. In many parts of the high income world radically increased mobility has threatened this space. Now with the advance of technology far flung family members can easily stay in touch.
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Ria Baeck said:
Venessa, did you read one of Chris Corrigan’s latest blog posts, where he mentions that in the Art of Hosting network, and especially in the core hosting teams that we work in – and where we aim to work in emergence – we say that it is the friendship that does the work.
Venessa Miemis said:
No, I hadn’t seen it. I just discovered Chris Corrigan not that long ago…. I’m so impressed with the vast amount of resources he makes available on his site.
Kurt Laitner (@klaitner) said:
good one V – I find much to like in this short post – “a common cause can’t replace a common ground of rights and responsibilities” . “A socialist collective and a capitalist corporation have the same organizational form, whatever the difference in their goals” “a society of friends who are **free partners under no command**”. So the next logical question is about the form of the covenant, because useful groups are not always ‘friends’ or explicitly trusting highly interconnected groups; groups are highly dynamic, as are visions and goals.
That said, we still need to come to some sort of understanding about the shared goals and intent of a group (at a given time and in a given context, and with a dynamic group membrane) while leaving the possibility that goals and vision are not given a priori, but intersubjective and only determined by moment to moment analysis of vectors and trends.
Goals and vision are not static, but living dynamic systems with feedback from things like actions and decisions. One may agree with the vision of a group at a given moment then drift away from it as a portion of that group trend in a direction that is unfavorable to you. hence the group membrane is dynamic. Goals and vision are in one sense emergent and in another an attractor, emergence and attraction in dynamic interplay. Alignment has a tension. Corporate vision and mission statements are nothing like this.
To the comment about how corporations can change, they can only cease to exist, the fundamental systemic design is flawed, and truly ‘fixing’ this would make them cease to be recognizable as ‘corporations’, unless we significantly loosen the definition, which makes it meaningless. Of course just as computers ape paper, new more expressive technologies will ape corporations for the time being, as b corps do, simply to get traction and so as not to ‘gap’ peoples’ understanding. Filling in the distance between a and b with gates to pass through is a time honored tradition, but in reality you can’t get from a to b incrementally. Those who can make the paradigm shift will do so and leave the others behind for a few generations.
If you want to pretend to change corporations, while injecting them with the seeds of their own destruction, the vector is performance management systems which measure value added and convert that to autonomy. Employees will thus gradually become free partners, but corporate margins will shrink, and the corp will need to be far more accountable to its own value add or it will lose these performers. In the end, some will die slaves because they cannot make the transition to being free persons of no rank.