Sunday, October 21, 2007

If capitalism has grown to itself represent perhaps the greatest (underlying) problem of the day, is capitalism adaptable enough to fix itself?

What governs spirit, spirits government, no?

Reed Burkhart (just one reed among many :-)

Perhaps, paying attention to what governs our spirits (individually or collectively) may be the best way to evolve what spirits our governments.

This discussion seems close to the collective heartbeat of humanity: the evolving alignment or misalignment between the spirits of individuals and the collective spirit of humanity.

If money and its culture tend to define the collective spirit of humanity, is it perhaps true that humanity's spirit tends to be "governed" today by whatever particular capitalist culture (American capitalism, Chinese capitalism, etc.) each of us finds ourself living in?

Everyone would probably agree that our current governing capitalist culture/s (which some have termed the corporatocracy) are still evolving, no? Perhaps to smartocracy? democracy? autocracy? anarchy? monarchy? ____-cracy?

Shoshana Zuboff has researched and written on the historical evolution of capitalism from what she calls Mercantile Capitalism (spirited by valuing trading) to Proprietary Capitalism (spirited by small-scale manufacturing) to the current Managerial Capitalism (spirited by mass-scale manufacturing) -- pointing out capitalism's robustness due to its inherent adaptability to address problems of the day.

The great question I see is the following: "if capitalism has grown to itself represent perhaps the greatest (underlying) problem of the day, is capitalism adaptable enough to fix itself?" I wonder if Joseph Schumpeter (or Morihei Ueshiba, for that matter) ever asked himself this self-Schumpeterian question.

Recasting the same question with terms such as government and spirit, "is the entrepreneurial spirit of mankind sufficient to excite reform of our popular-culture-governing contemporary capitalist culture?"

Can we capitalists (viewing us all as somewhat warranting -- albeit to lesser or greater degrees -- the moniker "capitalist" rather by default, living as we are in a capitalist age in a capitalist society) see far enough, deeply enough and cleverly enough to proactively evolve contemporary culture (including evolving our policies and practices of corporatocratic government especially evolving its relationship to truth, i.e., spirituality) to realign our spirits as individuals so that our efforts are more strategically working towards a global realignment of individual spirits and the collective spirit of humanity?

I hold great optimism for such spiritual realignment, sensing the immense power born of the inherent spiritual connection between the individual and humanity as a whole ... a power surely more than sufficient to enable such a shift -- a spirited renaissance that evolves our governing capitalist culture -- to occur.

After all, the power of common interest enabled the evolution of capitalism from proprietary to managerial form: via subversion of the former by the latter in the market through spirited strategies of mass scale, high-volume, low unit cost (with byproducts of monoculturalization, high-growth, and sometimes the depletion of human and natural resources).

Is it not possible that the next stage evolution of capitalism could be innovated to respond to a step change realization of truth in commerce: shape-shifting amoral capitalism -- by consciously leveraging any sublimely-spirited "invisible hand"-like forces spiriting or governing the universe? Say for example the invisible one-two punch that we can't keep pumping up the CO2 forever? Or other?

How does the spirit that governs each of us -- perhaps telling us that we need to change things somehow -- get into that influential sphere of the spirit governing government: to engage in some type of Aikido, perhaps, with the spirit of the corporatocracy?

How? Any ideas? Is it possible that this transformation is already occuring, or beginning to occur?

(This was first posted at Reality Sandwich )

Re-engineering the nature of capitalism

engineer vs shaman

Michael Brownstein's interview with John Perkins ends with John's vision for reshaping capitalism -- a theme resonant with using "capitalism to transform capitalism" (Daniel Pinchbeck's Aikido-reminiscent phrase). In this way, John Perkins seems to suggest applying a Shamanic mental visioning model to evolve contemporary capitalist culture.

When I met John after he spoke in San Francisco a few months ago, I asked John (something along the lines of) if he thought it might not be possible to develop a new field of Aikido corporations (that, in essence, "use capitalism to transform capitalism") so that eventually there would be a long, robust and expanding list of such Aikido corporations to *critically* supplement the other lists of corporatocracy-inflecting resources he had collected as go-to resources in the appendix of his latest book -- which resources, from the Shaman/Aikido-perspective, appear to be rather more TRADITIONALLY-SHAPED counterforces to contemporary capitalist culture.

John's response? "Go do it!"

Re-engineering the nature of capitalism (of humanity's dominant cultural dynamo) would be a rather adolescent-capitalist-era-culture-esque (anthropogenic/machine-era) way of describing a vision for consciously invoking renaissance - with rough metaphorical equivalents of step-by-step shamanic shape-shifting of the corporate soul, capitalism, and contemporary culture via one-by-one re-intentioning/re-architecting/re-souling/re-chartering individual new entrepreneurial corporations, applying the sublime, irrepressible and transformative powers of nature and truth in an inspired re-engineering of itself/ourself (humanity).

(The above was originally posted at )

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Posting to John Mackey's blog

Previewing your Comment

Hi John,

Michael Strong's discovey ( ) of my first essay regarding evolving capitalism ( ) --

"Reed Burkhart has created a sort of mirror-image of FLOW"

-- accelerated my discovery of you. Thanks to you, Michael and Jeff Klein for encouraging open dialogue on the strategic topic of business evolution, that I consider to be of immeasurable importance for my children's future welfare.

Your critique of (adolescent) capitalism's positive and negative traits and practices I consider to be insightful, objective and innovative. You are a well-established innovator in business coming to be an innovator in culture.

Perhaps the greatest innovations (cultural innovations, business innovations, or "Aikido-meme" innovations that coactivate the former two) are those innovations oriented toward keeping wealth and vision together, a state of affairs persistently challenged by rogue capitalists.

Innovation could be considered the key metaphor permitting the differentiation of wholly fruitful business (integral, durable, sustainable, trusteeship-embracing conscious business/capitalism) from merely profitable business (amoral, accretive without particular regard for good corporate citizenship, rogue business/capitalism). Durable life processes always have a regenerative (innovative) component -- so your focus on entrepreneurship and innovation can reference sound correlates from the life sciences (E.O. Wilson, et al.).

Consequently, I applaud your proposition to reward innovation above mere capital management/investment via tiered (inverse to hold time) capital gains tax rates; and hint that among the more integral thinkers in the life sciences, there is substantial opportunity to make an even stronger case for why:

"Corporations must rethink why they exist. If business owners/entrepreneurs begin to view their business as an complex and evolving interdependent system and manage their business more consciously for the well-being of all their major stakeholders while fulfilling their highest business purpose, then I believe that we would begin to see the hostility towards capitalism and business disappear around the world."

The Aikido metaphor that I raise in my essays "Aikido Activism" and "Integrated (Aikido) Entrepreneurship" provide vision out of the paradox of profit, because if in rethinking why corporations exist we proceed to make efforts to mobilize that we must deal with the difficult issues raised regarding the inertia of contemporary capitalist practices, which are not uniform from one industy to another -- with food being far, far more transparent than many other industries that collectively set the tone of capitalist practice and culture with Whole Foods ... and now more and more Chinese, Indian, Russian, Peruvian -- etc etc -- companies and cultures of capitalism (the global war of capitalist memes).

In particular, the Aikido metaphor, combined with the notion of evolutional business -- durability, or natural selection -- answers directly criticisms such as:

"I can't see oilmen, auto manufacturers, bankers, defense industry contractors, senior government officials, media moguls, - i.e. the power mongers and the money grubbers who have always ruled the world (be they American, British, Chinese, Japanese, Saudi, Swiss etc.), adopting these principles any time soon. For them, as myself and several other contributors to this forum have pointed out, the usual Darwinian evolutionary principles apply."

The reason for hope of evolution beyond the more roguish, adolescent practice of capitalism is exactly BECAUSE the inertia posed by the most rogue capitalists is subject to Darwinian/Schumpeterian business evolution including through the evolutionary vehicle of the perception of power, and the coming perception of how Aikido -- when practiced successfully in business entrepreneurship (also remembering that traditional Aikido is practiced through both instruction and application, so business Aikido should have both mobilizational and educational elements) -- transforms current powers or energies, even those energetic components with great inertia in untoward direction, to be in harmony with nature.

By this line of reasoning, the transition of even the most regressive, adolescent capitalist elements actually happens far earlier than otherise might be predicted, because as the power-focused adolescent capitalist mind encounters, experiences and understands the inherent power of innovating/inflecting the power vector of business practice (via Aikido as described in my essays), they naturally evolve their own understandings, objectives and trajectories.

The scale and growth issues are also nicely handled in the same proposed solution context of Aikido-meme based evolution of business by winning the game while truing it.

I have immense appreciation, John, for your leadership in visioning, communicating, and mobilizing what indeed is a need for evolving the practice of capitalism.


Reed Burkhart
Walnut Creek, CA

Monday, February 5, 2007

Choices for Life, Choices for Business ... Choices for Life's Business

When I feel like I have a choice, I feel more alive.

a) when I can engage in musical or dance improvisation, I feel more alive
b) when I can choose the types of people I associate with and the products I buy, I feel more alive
c) when I can choose between different products to purchase, I feel more alive
d) when I can choose between the different types of work that I do, I feel more alive
e) when I can reason amongst different ideas, and select those most true, I feel more alive

The ideas I choose influence my music, dance, friendships, purchases, life work, and ideals -- and I feel more alive when the choice of ideas is more true, more reasoned.

There are so many BLOGs -- with posts on every topic imaginable. My choice for this BLOG is to focus on a vision of deepening the investigation, dialogue, action ... and vision relating to ... reasoned life choices for the business of living.

The challenge for any life vision (ontology, or study of being/existence/living) is the scope of its validity. The opportunity for any life vision is to be deepened, heightened and lengthened which requires action ... by people.

My life vision orients around choice as life, and the diffusion of opportunities for inspired choosing as the most efficacious, salutary and viable (i.e., empowered) of life choices.

So now that I've shared the essence of current personal ontological views, let me proceed again to advance action-enabling-aiming consideration of contemporary ideas, events and people -- with the aim to resonate (aiming for resonance in both reception and transmission).

Do you feel me?

Am I feeling you?

I feel Eleanor Roosevelt, when she says, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people," because I see events and people following ideas and ideals. So if -- in BLOG format -- I would inspire choice (diffuse opportunities for inspired choosing), I would aim to offer insights on ideas, events and people that have felt inspiring to me.

I am inspired by the vision that philosophy is shared through life choices, "One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility." (once again E. Roosevelt) The idea of sharing what's inside by what we do on the outside is found everywhere, including in the ideas and actions of George Soros on "reflexivity" -- where views on markets establish the nature of markets, through action based on those views.

If an individual's philosophy is expressed in market choices in a market economy, how can those choices be inspired unless choices at each and every stage -- education, employment, entrepreneurship, purchases, transportation, citizenship, etc. -- can be made with meaning?

Two current alternet articles provide good example of some current ideas, events and people involved in key choices related to life's business:

Who's Funding Global Warming discusses the choices of major banks and investment banks that are either electing or not electing to fund coal power plants in Texas.

Note to Progressives: Challenge Market Fundamentalism discusses the choice to anchor public policy on free-market fundamentalism.

In the vision of competitive transcension (or Aikido entrepreneurship/Aikido good business), the competitive forces at work in capitalism are not opposed but instead are redirected to success tied to evolving the field of play to greater conservation, trusteeship, fairness ...

Who's Funding Global Warming shows the tenacity of the momentum in U.S. bank investment policy (aiming for geometric growth) -- and how that translates so straightforwardly to geometric growth in consumption. While there is increasing noise to oppose short-sighted investing here in the states, what about China? While I don't outright oppose tightening regulations for cleaner energy, I believe efforts lacking global scale lack validity -- the problem is a global one, and it seems like the greatest empowerment of conservation can come through evolutionary market forces that cleverly align profit with conservation, rather than the reverse.

Note to Progressives: Challenge Market Fundamentalism discusses one of the key issues raised in my essay Aikido Activism. The comments include many of the challenges of either completely denigrating markets or completely trusting them; but it is rare yet to find the solution of true market leadership espoused in those pages -- although it is mentioned briefly in one of the comments ("co-opting it [the 800 pound gorilla of capitalism]"). I encourage folks to explore this in more detail, as a few are finally beginning to do!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

How Societies Choose

Global warming is very likely caused by humans (announced last week by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC).

The key question then arose, "what do we do now?" Report co-chair Susan Solomon's reply:

"It is my personal scientific approach to say that it
is not my role to communicate what should be done,
I believe that is a societal choice."

My first question for you, reader of this nascent blog, is an easy one: "did society choose to cause global warming?" ... Of course not, it is a side effect of other choices.

My second question may not be as simple: "what were the choices made by society that DID cause global warming?" ... Please share any and all thoughts on this!

My third question is the following: "would it be possible and sufficient for society merely to choose to reverse those decisions it made that caused global warming to reverse the advance of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the resulting warming?"

I wonder what would happen if the California state legislature voted into law a new bill dictating everyone in California must become height-weight proportionate within 3 years, else be fined, pay more taxes, or go to prison; what would happen?

I imagine there would be a debate in which some might say: "If we penalize gross consumption and sloth, people will just move to other states where it is permitted without legal penalty, let people choose themselves how they will live. Big people are not hurting anyone but themself."

Yet I can see others saying, "No, obesity is dangerous, we must regulate it, because it is a bad influence on my children to see those obscenely large people. My children may believe it is fine to become obese, and then our whole society will become insensitive to obesity, and then our whole society could fall prey to other, more active and competitive societies."

Wouldn't both groups have a point? Isn't obesity one of those unintended consequence that DOES depend on social choice, just like human-caused CO2 in the atmosphere? And aren't the societal propensities behind obesity and CO2 in the atmosphere pretty similar -- comfort and ease in life in the short-term?

Some would point out that while some people are obese due to their choices, that others are obese because of genetics -- they really had no choice in the matter. But many of those genetically predisposed to obesity will elect to be active and eat healthy food -- i.e., their genetic predisposition doesn't usually eclipse their ability to choose to do the right thing.

Is it possible that humans are genetically driven to create increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere -- i.e., is the human gene for survival so short-sighted that it predisposes humans to consuming ever greater amounts of fossil fuel, so that CO2 in the atmosphere inherently rises so long as humans exist?

No analogy is perfect, but what I like about the analogy of global warming to obesity is that it presents the problem as one of difficult personal and societal choices, involving rather complex societal feedback mechanisms where individual and societal motivators are not always so well aligned -- and the choice to diet and exercise would probably help reduce both obesity AND global warming.

So I'll add one more question: "for you successful dieters out there, what's your trick?"

Was it your passion to be sexy and be viewed as sexy by others that led you to the gym and to the vegetable and fruit aisle in the grocery store -- i.e. peer pressure? Was it because you live in an agricultural society where your physical body is moving daily to work for the nutrition you need to live the next day? Was it because of Richard Simmons' capitalist-profit driven marketing skills helping you to have fun in making effort?

Have you ever noticed how the ripening fruit on the tree grows ever heavier until it drops to the ground to yield itself fully to nutrient for the community?

Has anyone out there reviewed the correlation between energy-consumption per person and obesity? I think we already know the answer to that, although I am still interested in how closely the two correlate.

Does this comparison of personal and societal choices behind global warming and personal and societal choices behind obesity seem a little personal? Can that be a bad thing? Where should we expect the leadership to come for better societal choices? How do societies choose? What type of theories of economics, body economics, CO2 economics, societal economics pertain?

In spite of the relationship to genetics, obesity seems like economics of privilege. I've seen very few obese homeless people.

The world will benefit when economy supports well-being.” – Robert Rubinstein

The capital markets can create social change much more quickly than legislation or litigation because that profit incentive is in place.” – Social entrepreneur Thomas Van Dyck, Chairman of As You Sow, Founder of Progressive Asset Management and also of the Social Equity Investment Group of US Bancorp Piper Jaffrey

Is it possible that mainstream capitalism-induced growth in consumption could be inflected to capitalism-induced growth in conservation?

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course . . . that may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.” “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.” – Warning to Humanity document (1992), signed by over 1,600 of the world's senior scientists, including a majority of the living Nobel laureates in the sciences.

But did these Nobel laureates and other leading scientists have a good formula for any of their friend's attempting weight loss?

I'll be honest about what I suspect my own personal motivators are for vying to keep out of the obese class:
- obesity does not fit my personal self-image (I was a skinny kid growing up and for many years as an adult)
- I'd like to share joyful times with my children and others for many years to come, and I am wary of health-risks of obesity
- I feel sexier and more capable when active and healthy
- when I see people who are leaner and more fit than I am, I think, "I bet they are younger, more active, eat better, etc. -- maybe I can improve in some of those areas," and when I see people who are more obese than I am, I think, "well, they are older, less active, eat too much, etc. -- maybe I can avoid some of those things and keep myself more fit"

Maybe reasoning on the underlying metaphors is helpful:
- self-awareness, self-image
- desire for longevity, sustainability and joy
- feeling good about ourselves, truthfully
- society's standards

At the beach in Hua Hin one time, my Thai friend commented at the obese Europeans, giggling -- that Thai's thought it was amazing and funny how Europeans could be so enormously whale-like in size. Society's standard in Thailand was/is different than in other places for obesity.

Perhaps the most profitable new global-warming related commercial ventures will continue to address society's propensity to consumption and sloth. Perhaps the most efficacious new global-warming reversing activities will advance self-awareness of choice in self-image, better understanding of the connection to longevity, sustainability and joy (thanks IPCC for reinforcing awareness of that connection), feeling good about ourselves truthfully, and choices for greater conservation in society.

Perhaps it is possible
to do both at once,
aligning with



conservation / trusteeship.