In the April 2006 edition of The Atlantic are five past articles on the subject of Markets & Morals, all providing some guidance as I work on the development of a Commons (my current burning interest).
Henry Demarist Lloyd wrote in March 1881, “When monopolies succeed, the people fail …” and that “The nation is the engine of the people”, in his piece denouncing the practices of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. There is little doubt today about the power and influence of the monopolies and oligopolies, and the Commons can be one small step in creating our own markets.
In 1967, John Kenneth Galbraith warned of the dangers of blindly having faith in our industrial/corporatist systems:
“The greater danger is in the subordination of belief to the needs of the modern industrial system … These are that technology is always good; that economic growth is always good; that firms must always expand; that consumption of goods is the principal source of happiness; that idleness is wicked; and that nothing should interfere with the priority we accord to technology, growth, and increased consumption.”
The Commons also will be a place to explore new business models, such as the Natural Enterprise, not based on a desire for expansion at all costs.
Another article by Peter Drucker in 1994 discusses the rise of the knowledge worker, a term that Drucker coined in 1959 [appropriately, the year I was born]. Over ten years ago Drucker already knew that the shift to a society of knowledge workers would not be easy:
“It is also the first society in which not everybody does the same work, as was the case when the huge majority were farmers or, as seemed likely only forty or fifty years ago, were going to be machine operators.
This is far more than a social change. It is a change in the human condition.”
The great work of The Commons will be to create a unique place from which our community can prepare for this change in the human condition and weather the coming storms.