There are several reasons for my desire to join the SourceCred community and my interest in taking the role of an investor. First and foremost is my belief that the project has the potential to make a big contribution toward a future where wealth is distributed more evenly and in so doing reduce human suffering.
Power and Justice
There is no place on earth that has no weather dynamics. Similarly, there is no human relationship that has no power dynamics. In the private sphere power is the capacity of an individual to influence the behavior of others and it is driven by humans’ strong desire to survive and to reproduce. Politics is the expression of power in society and it governs the use of physical force and the accumulation of wealth. Wealth is stored power. Consider power as a meme that is adopted by individuals and societies. Power always needs to grow or else it will fall behind a greater power.
The notion that ‘might is right’ has, for the most part, given way to the idea that human values such as fairness and justice should prevail. Indeed, the concept of justice exists across societies and is driven by the human desire for nurturing, a desire that is essential for survival of the species. What constitutes a specific view of justice is a cultural artifact; a set of beliefs that, for the most part, are shaped by the powerful. The human mind is capable of creating stories that justify the imbalance of power, oftentimes using a divine force as a justification. Thus, granted humans dominion over the animal kingdom and man’s rule over women when Eve was punished with the words: “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
The concentration of power in a central system of government has its advantages. It is often created with the intention of ensuring justice throughout the land and in order yield superior results both in the battle field and in the marketplace. (The tradeoff between justice and concentration of power is illustrated in a biblical story. When the people of Israel came to Samuel and asked for a king he warned them in great detail that the king “will take your sons… your daughters … the best of your fields… a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.” But the Israelites insisted and argued “that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”)
The corruptive influence of accumulation of power has been widely recognized. In the words of William Pitt the Elder, “Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.” This is true both about individuals and about classes in society. Typically this corruption is expressed in the creation of a distinction between “us” the privileged who are entitled, and “the others” who are less deserving.
Extreme concentration of power tilts the balance away from justice and is the primary cause for ‘man made’ suffering. (Think of Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Bloody Mary, Hitler and Stalin.) Oftentimes the ‘others’ lose their life, liberty and access to resources such as food, shelter, education, healthcare and the internet. It is fair to say that most human made suffering and the environmental damage caused by human industry are the results of an extreme imbalance between power and justice.
How do we divide the fruit of our labor?
Most human work is done by teams. When the hunt was over our ancestors had to determine who in the hunting party gets the lion’s share. The question in our age is essentially the same. How are the benefits of our joint efforts distributed? What makes for an equitable solution? Practically the answer lies somewhere along the continuum of power and justice.
The landlord in the agricultural era and the capitalist of the industrial age were using their dominance to grow their wealth at the expense of labor. The wealthy continue to do so in the information age in spite of the fact that the need for capital changed. In order to start farming one had to have land, water, machinery, seeds and a workforce. To start a factory one needed specialized housing, machinery access to power, natural resources and an army of workers to boot.
In the information age the need for capital is diminished. Most of the new wealth is based on the creativity of individuals and is accrued as intellectual property. At the time of writing the market cap of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook accounts for more than 13% of the US stock market and that of Tesla is 50% higher than that of GM, Ford and Chrysler combined.
The existence of open source serves as a proof that the product of human labor can be shared outside the walls of intellectual property and do not require meaningful capital investment.
It is my belief that SourceCred is a fundamental building block for a future in which the people who contributed to the generation of wealth will get their equitable share from the fruit of their labor.
The ability of investors to buy grain and use it for boosting projects gives capital a membership in the community and a role in the evolution of the new paradigm. One in which both capital and labor will flourish.