A perfect system for organizing and running a human society has never existed and never will. That does not of course stop us from trying to find one. The process of trying to find it is one of the central things that really can keep human societies evolving.
The physical serfdom of the ugly past of the humanity may have evolved into a mental serfdom. We choose it quite willingly in exchange for a better living that is achieved through the material advancements that this system does make possible.
A fact of life is that we do need a certain level of material well-being as a necessary basis if we ever want to achieve a state of mental well-being also. However, there just may came a point where we just might not need more of the same to achieve rise in our real well-being anymore. Perhaps the continued rise of our overall well-being could at so9me point be best assured by doing at last a bit less and not more.
We could want a bit more leisure instead of more pay for our work. Work is of course eternal necessity and a society without people willing to work would collapse. However, perhaps we still could aim not just to have bigger and shinier things. We could also aim for having a bit shorter working day or to have a work from which we really can draw mental satisfaction.
Old-fashioned corporate capitalism has failed in many respects, but the old-fashioned socialism and communism have failed even more profoundly. They all have in common that they were systems born in a world of big-chimney mass-production and top-down trickle of information and ideas. However, the right path in this as in so many other issues lies usually somewhere between the extremes. Of course, we cannot be sure of it before we have really tried new formulas out.
There really can be working compromises between the system of private ownership and the needs of a socially just society. This can be true even though such a solution is perhaps not readily available just now. Human kind has still much capacity to evolve left in it.
We should not hang ourselves to old ideas that were born in quite different world that is already long gone. Many of the ideas that mankind has developed in the past can still serve as a basis for even radically new kind of thinking. Best results can often be achieved if we take best bits out of many kinds of old ideas together, but discard the parts that are shown by real life not to work.
We can learn enormously from the mistakes that were done in implementing all old ideas concerning organizing human societies. We just need to keep our eyes open and look honestly at the lessons that can be learned of the past.
While we wait for new leads and ideas, we might be already heading towards a new kind of localized economy. In this new situation big corporations can be less and less important. They will perhaps just produce certain basic products and services for the economy at large. More and more of the really important things and services needed in everyday life could be again produced and serviced locally in small privately owned family-units. They can also operate in varying sized networks of small companies.
The very basic and easily transportable things will inevitably be mass-produced where production is cheapest. However, the local economies could more and more consist of units producing higher valued goods and services for a local market.
However, even more important could be the local production of extremely easily transportable global digital services. Local companies can offer companionship, news, ideas, computer programs, games, music, poetry, visual images for a new kind of global market where the location of the producer has no significance.
This of course sounds like a Utopian pipe-dream. However, there are real reasons to think that this kind of trend has already started. We just do not really know how far it can go and how many people can at the end be employed in this kind of global digital market.
The ongoing creation of global digital marketplace of ideas and computerized goods has a parallel process. It is the formation of new kinds of global tribes. They can be identified in every corner in the world and they can transcend wholly the old-fashioned national borders. A death-metal fan in Mexico can soon have more in common with a death-metal fan in Thailand, than with a person living next door to him.
This tribalization has already created a global market for extremely specialized content and entertainment. This means that anybody, anywhere can through his or her chosen tribe reach a true global audience and maybe even more and more get a livelihood feeding this tribe. They can be selling t-shirts, fan-products, books or music to likeminded people all-over the world. In this new world also ideas travel more and more horizontally through the tribal connections, and they are not received from the national elites in the traditional way.
(This piece was refurbished in 18th of June, 2012)