“Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” —H.L. Mencken
The refugee crisis is a government failure. Climate change is a market failure. We have to create new ways to address what governments and markets are unable to do. But first we have to be able to describe and discuss the underlying assumptions that have created our current conditions. We cannot see the figure from the ground. We never talk about the ground. It is everywhere but it is invisible. Part of the ground is what we value and what we do not. Assuming it has always been so is usually wrong. Human societies change. Our current challenge is to collectively progress beyond governments and markets, or move from a triform to quadriform society, with new network forms of organizing.
Cory Doctorow describes the issues around our current laws and how markets operate, “Living in a moment in which markets alone determine something’s worth – and thus whether its creator will have a dignified life – has elevated the Lockean delusion and erasure to a catechism.” The Lockean delusion is that individuals take from the existing and historical environment yet somehow create new things out of nothing and become perpetual owners of these creations, protected by property, patent, and copyright laws.
Having this conversation, as Doctorow and others have initiated, is an essential first step in creating something better for our network era. Hopefully it will be an era where democracy still flourishes. But that is up to us.
“The Ayn Randian hero is delusional: his (always his) achievements are a combination of freeriding on the people whose contributions he’s erased, and bleating that everyone who had the same idea as him was actually stealing his idea, rather than simply living in the same influences he had. This isn’t intrinsically racist or sexist or class-discriminatory, but when you’re ripping off and denigrating other people, it’s a lot easier to get away with it if you’re a rich, white dude.” —Cory Doctorow