I came across an intriguing article today, in the September/October issue of Working Assets.

I couldn't find a copy of it on Adbusters, but I found variations of the articles - see the links below. I also found a video on YouTube of Barne's discussing the very basics of the idea of Capitalism 3.0 - the idea that we we need introduce a whole new dimension to capitalism, if we're to have any chance in protecting our environment and the future of life on the planet.

I've only read the basic articles, but I think I'll be checking out all 216 pages his book, Capitalism 3.0 over the next week or so. It can be downloaded for free!

Barnes writes:

"I'm a businessman. I believe society should reward successful initiative with profit. At the same time, I know that profit-seeking activities have unhealthy side effects. They cause pollution, waste, inequality, anxiety, and no small amount of confusion about the purpose of life."

I'm also a liberal, in the sense that I'm not averse to a role for government in society. Yet history has convinced me that representative government can't adequately protect the interests of ordinary citizens. Even less can it protect the interests of future generations, ecosystems, and nonhuman species. The reason is that most-though not all-of the time, government puts the interests of private corporations first. This is a systemic problem of a capitalist democracy, not just a matter of electing new leaders.

"I began pondering this dilemma about ten years ago, when I joined the board of Redefining Progress, a San Francisco think tank that aspires to break out of the boxes of liberal and conservative orthodoxy. My initial area of focus was climate change caused by human emissions of heat-trapping gases. Some analysts saw this as a ‘tragedy of the commons.’ I saw it as a tragedy first of the market, which has no way of curbing its own excesses, and second of government, which fails to protect the atmosphere because polluting corporations are powerful and future generations don’t vote. This way of viewing the problem led to a hypothesis: if the commons is a victim of market and government failure, rather than a cause, the remedy might be to strengthen the commons rather than to blame it (and then enclose it)."

You can download a copy of his book here: Capitalism 3.0 »


Peter Barnes: The Appeal of the Commons »

Peter Barnes: Capitalism 3.0 »

More blogs by Peter Barnes »

Wikipedia: Tragedy of the Commons »

Adbusters »