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ENTREPRENEURSHIP, EGALITARIAN STYLE

(This is an excerpt from "What Replaces the 'Free Market' in a Sharing Economy?")

 

 

One important difference [between an egalitarian sharing economy and a Socialist or Communist centrally planned economy] concerns entrepreneurship; it is suppressed in a centrally planned economy but promoted in a sharing economy. The reason for this stems from the difference between voluntary federation versus an authoritative central government. In the sharing economy (with voluntary federation) there is no central government, certainly not one making the zillions of economic decisions that a centralized planned economy entails. Unlike a centralized planned economy, people in the sharing economy, as individuals or larger groups, are free to, in fact encouraged to, be entrepreneurs, in the good sense of the word. Entrepreneurship, in the good sense (the "better mousetrap" sense), means thinking creatively about how to provide a much-loved new product or service, or a traditional one much more efficiently. The motive is not to get richer than others (as in capitalism), but the satisfaction of doing something wonderful and the enjoyment of the consequent respect and admiration from others for doing it. (Those who don't appreciate the power of this motive should read pages 14-15 in Thinking about Revolution, for starters; also The Capitalist Big Lie about Human Nature)

In the sharing economy, a person or group of people with an entrepreneurial idea can "pitch" their idea as a proposal to the local community assembly, say Assembly A. If the proposal is approved as the basis for membership in the sharing economy of the enterprise and its workers, then the enterprise can take (for free) from the sharing economy everything it needs, and the workers, as members of the sharing economy, can take everything they reasonably need or wish, as described above.

 

Of course Assembly A's decision to approve or not would take into account the availability of relevant raw materials and manufactured items. If these things must come from other communities, then Assemby A would need to determine that their reputation will not be adversely affected by taking these things for the entrepreneur's project. To do this they might simply use their knowledge about how other people felt. But this runs the risk that they approve a project only to discover that other local assemblies object to it, adversely affecting Assembly A's reputation. Instead, Assembly A might have their delegate to the appropriate "higher level" assemby introduce a proposal for sharing the things that the entrepreneur's project requires. This proposal would go through the process of being amended by other delegates, then, in the course of seeing if the local assemblies agreed there might be suggested amendments from them, and back and forth negotiations until there was a proposal that sufficient assemblies agreed with to make the entrepreneur's project possible.

 

Before objecting that this process for an entrepreneur to get the green light to start his/her new enterprise is too restrictive or cumbersome, compare it to what a would-be entrepreneur must do in our current capitalist society. Unless a would-be entrepreneur is very wealthy, he or she needs to get wealthy people to loan or invest the big bucks required to start the new enterprise. This means going to venture capitalists or banks or appearing before the "sharks" on that T.V. show. It means trying to persuade rich people that they can get even richer by investing in or loaning money to one's proposed business. This too can be a restrictive or cumbersome process. Even worse is the fact that instead of having to persuade people that one's proposed enterprise will be good for ordinary people (as in egalitarianism), one must persuade rich people that it will make them even richer.

 

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