Critics of capitalism are quick to write it off for promoting competition. Calling it anti-community, anti-social and such. Putting workers against workers, bussines against bussines, and brother against brother. The system is accused of “social darwnism”. Critics call for a society where we all work together and not against each other.
However, the nature of this competition is deeply misunderstood. It is true that market actors are competing. It is also true that often their motivations are self interested or driven purely by monetary profit. Doesn’t this profit requires customers though? This profit comes from working with others. You need a new window so you seek out someone who you can cooperate with to get that. The window repair man seeks out the best glass maker who they can cooperate with. The glass maker seeks out the best provider of the hard materials. So on. It is a chain of cooperation. It is true that the window repair compay is competing with other window repair companies. What’s not often communicated is that, they are competing with others in their industry to see who is the best cooperator. Who will work with you to fuflill your preferences and needs while also fulfilling theirs.
In this since, markets are not just made up of competition but also copperation. It’s made up of people working together. The maximum amount of cooperation becuase the cooperation inceitivized by literal profit. Guaranteed cooperation not found in any other economic system. Capitalism IS cooperation.
One of the most life changing conversations I ever had, was with a man named Isaac Morehouse. He runs a company called Praxis, which offers young professionals an apprenticeship at a startup. Included in the program is an online bootcamp filled with resources for becoming as productive and skilled as possible. Isaac has some really interesting ideas about the world. Most intriguing to me, has been his thoughts on using entrepreneurship as a sort of tool for social and political change. He gives a lecture about his life journey leading up to starting Praxis. He frames it as a story of discovering tactics for changing the world. He started his journey as many others do, seeking to help people directly through tactics like missionary work. He began to seek out longer lasting and larger scale solutions to the world’s problems. He moved into politics, only to find it as cartoonish-ly evil and inefficient as our movies make it look. He joined organizations to spread education and books. This too was a disappointment. He found that his impact was much smaller than me hoped. Eventually Isaac had a realization. He noticed that political change was a lagging indicator of social trends. He noticed that policy and politicians moved slower than culture. He noticed that attempting to change the world through a top down approach, using education and political action, was only looking at part of the picture. His great discovery, was an often overlooked strategy for political change. The tactic of entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship drives cultural change from the button up. It starts with people’s wants and desires, appealing to them through the creation of value. Consider the need for liberating the taxi market. Anyone who’s ridden in a taxi, understands that the system could be better. They might not understand how things like taxi medallions limit competition and thus cause bad quality service. They might not understand how taxi companies build unions and lobby local governments for favor. However anyone can certainly understand that taxis need improvement. Instead of trying to explain to them the economics of the situation, or inspire them go and out and protest, there is the entrepreneurial tactic. All one need to do is invest in something like Uber and suddenly the incentives are in place for problems to be solved. This doesn’t mean Uber is a perfect company by any means. Simply that Uber illustrates how building a business and creating value for customers helps solve major problems.
This sort of principle can be applied on a much large scale for political change. Such a tactic could be applied to systems like the federal reserve. One might know that having centralized banks controlling interest rates can cause problems. This can inspire a desire to protest for End The Fed, campaign for Ron Paul for even throw a damn brick through the Fed’s windows. However, like the taxi question, there are more profitable ways to solve this problem. Through innovations like cryptocurrencies, we change the incentives for how governments handle the monetary supply. Consumers have more than one option for doing commerce. If The Fed wants to not be eaten up by its competitors, they have to make the USD better and better.
This insight of entrepreneurship as a political tactic, seems to be a major trend in contemporary libertarian philosophy and the broader movement. Younger libertarians have lost interest in student activist organizations and traditional party politics. Libertarianism has always hat tipped the entrepreneur and understood her impact in the economy. However, thinkers like Isaac Morehouse are making entrepreneurship the center focus of libertarian thought. Teaching us that it can be used to make liberty happen here and now.
Freedom may only be a few good business ideas a way. Those who want to change the world would benefit from learning that.