It has been about 5 years since I moved to northern California in search of more opportunity than what I felt could be had in New York. It’s debatable whether I found that, but I did find myself becoming sensitized to the suffering caused by crony capitalism.

I’d say these experience have encouraged me to adopt the philosophy that our modern capitalism is not as efficient as the common narratives suggest it is. I say this, because when people feel like they are in competition with each-other, their focus gets distracted from getting things accomplished. The reality is and has been since the beginnings of western democracy, that a divided nation cannot survive — this is extensible to a smaller scale too.

Image result for join or die

When it comes to building very complex systems, which many systems are nowadays, the notion that a group of people can do everything themselves becomes unworkable simply because there is not enough capacity among them to understand everything, and do everything well. Instead, a complex system is best built with the collaboration of multiple parties, not through the competition of said parties.

I believe this behavior is naturally emergent in large systems, which is why capitalist societies trend toward mergers and eventually, monopolies. This is evident in the development of Bell System, and even the Linux kernel. No rational person would consider they should rebuild the Linux kernel from scratch just to have a “trade secret”, as what makes it successful is the collaboration of thousands of people across the computer industry as a whole. While Bell System was an example of people suffering through crony protectionism, the Linux kernel is a well functioning counter-example that collaboration can be a very good policy when we aren’t using the force of the state to crush newcomers.

Yet still, the common talking points insist that competition is healthy, and we see this through the emergence of “stealth startups” and similar behavior where teams think they can get an “edge” in a market by keeping everything secret.

In reality, all they are doing is destroying the health of their own industry by pretending they can “own” the market and refusing to work with everyone else who they see as a competitor.

This I think is the root of capitalism’s big lie, that we have been told our whole lives by the talking heads on TV, success and happiness is had through owning things. It’s a narrative of extreme individualism that’s advertised to American culture with such force that it fractures the core of what makes the USA a strong nation: the idea that people from all walks of life can work together and have the liberty to accomplish anything.

When individualism is taken to the extreme, we lose solidarity that allows for accomplishments which are bigger than what cliques can achieve themselves.