The future of capitalism

You do realise that banking and the stock market are not going to save us, right?

Neither will private equity, hedge funds or collateralized debt. Or any other form of financial engineering magical thinking.

What will save us is good old fashioned roll up your sleeves creativity. Not financial creativity. But creativity as in actually creating something of tangible value. More value, less waste. (It doesn’t have to be in some form of carbon and atoms, but that helps.)

Home grown, small scale and independent creativity. That’s what Bruce Nussbaum believes will save capitalism. (Bruce is no neophyte hipster. He’s the former assistant managing editor for Business Week and a Professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons.)

Bruce is into creative, independent capitalism. He sees innovation as not simply some rational economic market phenomenon, but a social movement that binds groups of people together in communities of like interests and deep emotions.

Innovation is not where big business is at. Big businesses stopped innovating years ago. They no longer generate jobs, income, or taxes. What they’ve come adept at is how to game the political, regulatory, and tax system to favor their special interests.

In the processes they’ve strangled capitalism. Bruce is in favor of reframing capitalism as the space for creators, not traders, for risk-takers, not risk managers.

Independent capitalism will save the day. It’s not like old school capitalism. It doesn’t rape and pillage to reward shareholders and mutual funds. It has its own distinct sensibility. And three key features.

  1. Indie capitalism is socially, not transactionally, based
  2. Indie capitalism is, above all, a maker system of economics based on creating new value, not trading old value
  3. Indie capitalism characteristic is a heightened meaning embedded in materials and products

Sounds swell, right. Here’s an important clue. It’s got everything to do with spirit and very little to do with process.

Innovation is shifting away from engineers to artists and designers. That’s because artists and designers understand the user experience in a way that engineers don’t. Forget specs. Product reviews now focus on the user experience, not speed or memory or power - all the tech stuff engineers obsess about and forced us to pretend we cared about for years.

Making fewer things of higher quality and utility is critical. User experience is more and more social, local, and urban. It’s about being human, not a machine.

Music, fashion, food, movies, advertising, art, personal manufacturing - the indie stuff of indie capitalism - are increasingly the driving forces of and the models for innovation today.

Real innovation that creates real economic value.

Real innovation that will save us all.

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