Sunday, February 13, 2005

Entrepreneurizing Do-Gooders

Intellectuals are notorious for their alienation from bourgeois society. Indeed, one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century is how so many brilliant people supported communism after Stalin's mass murders, then again after Mao's mass murders, then yet again after Pol Pot's mass murders. All of this was due to idealism: The Moscow correspondent for The New York Times defended Stalin with the "idealistic" slogan "you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."

Even today, intellectuals are the group that is most alienated from market activity. Campuses may well be locus of the deepest resistence to FLOW insofar as FLOW accepts the legitimacy of most market interactions. (Making campus FLOW groups all the more important).

But as much as possible we want to shift away from the idea of political debate and towards the idea of taking real-world action. I like being able to tell any audience, anywhere, "If you want to improve education, I will help you start a school. Let's get to work on it, right now." Then I can see if they are serious, or if they just want to talk. As Karl Marx famously said, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it."

The attempt to change society by means of intellectual debate, political conflict, and bureaucratic directive is increasingly sterile and boring. The attempt to change society by means of direct entrepreneurial action is potentially far more exciting and effective.

Often intellectuals believe that business people are in favor of markets because they are greedy. Yet for those of us who have managed organizations, to a significant extent simply having had managerial responsibilities leads one to realize that it is difficult enough to keep an organization alive and flourishing. One often comes to resent added burdens, many of which are non-sensical.

Thus the strategy of "entrepreneurizing" do-gooders is, in a sense, a very powerful non-political strategy for social change. Simply by means of encouraging more and more idealistic young people to see entrepreneurship as the best means of effecting change, we will create cadres of realistic visionaries. We hope to support and sustain their idealism; at the same time, the responsibilities associated with launching and managing organizations will make them more realistic than their brethern who remain strictly in the world of ideas.

We are now ready to re-consider the earlier Namier quotation:

"What matters most about political ideas is the underlying emotions, the music to which ideas are a mere libretto, often of a very inferior quality."

By means of encouraging and gathering a class of young idealists whose passion is idealistic entrepreneurship, we will develop apolitical movement based on a very different set of political emotions. Instead of the resentment of academics who wish to thwart business people, or the resentment of business people who wish not to be thwarted, we hope to create a class of entrepreneurs whose first emotion is the joy of creation, and who are recognized for this.

Imagine a political movement that was not based on resentment of the other?


Blogger Rich Molumby said...

I have an E-Cash Machine site/blog. It pretty much covers Making money on the web.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

3:40 AM  

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