“It’s a competitive world
Everything counts in large amounts
The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
Everything counts in large amounts.”
Depeche Mode, The Best Of Depeche Mode, Disc 1.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd 05-10-2008. Posted here without any real review, just to give a sign of life.]
Faced with complex issues we try to find complex solutions. Administrations of most dinosauric dimensions are engaged to tackle, tune & tweak complexities. Heads of those administrations, whether private or public, achieve heroic status, and adopt appropriately heroic characteristics. Like Alexander the Great they strive to build an empire that can last forever, like Hercules – with self-acclaimed Herculean efforts – they stand the most extreme tests of character.
Complexity breeds grand nobility.
The error is made before the heroism comes in (the heroic behaviour is in all cases just symptomatic of earlier errors). Presently, the error lies in allowing the complexity to arise, allowing the problem to become a ‘big’ problem. ‘Thinking big’ is nothing else than enlightenment gone wild. Individual liberty as universal goal gets transferred to the quantities that are associated to that individual, in our present case: to money, to capital. That liberty of capital cannot but take over from individual liberty.
In capital terms: everything counts, but only in large amounts. Money to exchange becomes capital, capital grows and requires more & more complex structures in which it can keep on growing.
Individual liberty is progressively lost in these structures & people reduced to supporting those structures that keep capital flowing & growing. The solution is not, as some would have it, to think small. Capital structures aren’t important enough to determine how we should think, that’s exactly where the error is: thinking in terms of production, labour and growth, or absence of growth.
We are productive and we cannot help creating – that’s how we are – we just need to create instead of becoming bigger & winding up as helpless as a wounded dinosaur. It’s a good thing that we’re globalized because it means new ideas find more brains that can work from them to create even better ideas.
Growth is good as long as it leads to an improved connection between the artist and his/her audience. Beyond that, & we’re mostly beyond that, growth is like gravitation: some is needed – too much is, simply, destructive. Size is an enabler, not an objective, not even an implicit goal.
We need to realize that we need competition to stimulate creation. Competition ís an intrinsic good because it is a necessary aspect of dynamic progress. Growth can be competition’s worst enemy because once things are too big – they tend to stifle any meaningful competition. Competing to become the biggest isn’t a real competition. Meaningful competition is about becoming better. Becoming better inevitably is a matter of becoming different. Not just inventing but re-inventing oneself.
We must endure a certain size – as we must endure gravitation – to be able to be in optimal contact with as many others but anything bigger than the minimum needs to be, in short, cut in manageable pieces if we want to avoid that the pieces manage us – as they do at the moment I write this.
[Whilst writing this I was listening to (surprise!) The Best of Depeche Mode, Volumes 1 & 2.]