Compassion, Cooperation and Co-production

There may be large amounts of unnecessary waste in continuing with a model that pollutes our planet, produces epidemics of obesity juxtaposed to famine and hunger, manufactures inbuilt obsolescence, pours petrol on the fires of war and expends vast amounts of time on bureaucracy. It is almost as if the inefficiencies of the limited democracies we have are being reproduced in a ripple effect throughout the market.
The ultimate free market and free competition is war. But war is over. Even in nursery and primary schools today we teach children self-restraint and about how bullying is wrong: mentally weak. With our global media streaming us the latest from the front line, we rightly ask the question – how can a tyrant (at the pinnacle of competitive and egotistical freedom) justify even one death to hang on to his power base, unless he is scared justice will catch up with him? He justifies tyranny, because he suspects he will be found guilty if tried in a court of law.
Market competition is just war by other means, pinning down business to a system that accepts as given – industrial espionage, pornography, taxes, regulation, arms sales, authorities, foisting of products that no one needs with gloss, bright lights and psychological nudges. The real economy, where people do a job that is useful and needed – for example the hair dressers and food vendors, exist outside of the rip-off.
Take a government commission. They put out a £20 million tender in the free market. Let’s say 100 businesses decide to bid for the work. 99 of them will fail, and the commissioners will spend 99% of their time looking through failing documents, to ascertain the sole winner. How much waste is built into the system? We need to find another way to do business. If inside my business we competed for the hammer or the screw driver we would hardly get anything done. That seems to be the business model we’re trapped in at the moment: competitive waste.
What we do not want is a total system: for example Soviet or North Korean, because they are more inefficient than our own competitive waste. They have taken the competitive model and ossified it into a cadre of elite bureaucrats, backed up by the army, who combine to know best.
We need to evolve our own system, which has devolved powers to a representative class, who are not able to control the complexity around them. In a simple and careful way we need to continue the journey away from dictatorship and tyranny, through elites, past mighty managers and top-down theories, and towards participatory democracy, where the quality of life is a benchmark, listening and discussing with individuals is the technique, education and compassion is our method of transferring knowledge, and engagement and production is what we share. Money is a means of exchange and not the aim itself.
The change cannot be ushered in by violent means. Go and kick a ball in the park if you feel aggressive, or watch a film about Stone Age mammoth hunts. The needed change towards common sense: civic and business decency will evolve through discussion and cooperation. There are hundreds of thousands of alternatives; we need to learn to enjoy the plurality of views. What do you want in your street? How will you get on with your neighbours? When will we build our new bridge? Why are we evolving so quickly away from confrontation and dispute into listening to the various points and considering the evidence? Where will we place the new fountain of pleasure?
One hopeful reminder when looking at the buildings around me is how much has already been achieved, in despite of all the time wasters, destructive agents, hangers on and greed mongers. For sure we can do much better, but we can also pat ourselves on the back – so many bridges have been built, homes constructed, temples, churches and mosques erected for an idea that there is more than the individual. Can we plan innovation? Let’s have a go, using the old competition methodology to achieve community cohesion. Here’s an example: instead of bankers’ bonuses, give one thousand million dollar prizes to those who come up with the best improvements to renewable energy sources, storage and distribution.
Competition is great in sport, but compassion, cooperation and co-production are better for business.