The first article of a series that will discuss social entrepreneurship history as a literal economic movement will illustrate where we stand as of today, in this early 21st century, in the middle of a huge economic and social vacuum. This brief historical outlook of human economic behavior aims to explain to our humble readers how us, humble dreamers, hope to fill the vacuum with an innovative approach, all around the world, through a social entrepreneurship community.
In order to understand where we are today, we necessarily need to understand where we were yesterday and the day before. This is exactly what we will be doing in the next few paragraphs, investing our focus and attention on understanding the advance of human economic infrastructure since the 18th century. Why are we starting at this specific point in time? Simply because it is during that century that we officially saw the birth of modern capitalism through the observations of economic thinkers such as the French physiocrats, but especially those of Adam Smith and the classical theory of capitalism, detailed in his notoriously well-known Wealth of Nations. Western societies saw rapid expansion during the 18th century, the century of freedom, liberties, enlightenment and emancipation. Indeed, the United States of America were created in 1776, and the first French Republic quickly followed in 1789. By the end of the century, science, reason and individual freedom were the key concepts that would shape the centuries to come. Well, at least two of those three concepts as one seems to have been forgotten in our times.
If the 18th century saw the emergence of an economic infrastructure, the following century saw the emergence of its counterweight structure. Indeed, as man advanced through the 1800eds, technology, produced by science, was very quickly industrializing occidental countries. Large inequalities and social instabilities were becoming a flagrant reality, and these phenomena quickly received a theorization by brilliant thinkers across Europe, notably Karl Marx and Frederic Engels. Communism was, therefore “invented” to counterweight the social inequalities, instabilities, and difficulties arising from a rapidly growing industrialized capitalism.
Followed the 20th century, a century in which we observed a historical battle between these two social and economic infrastructures, capitalism on one side, and communism on the other. This fierce duel imposed on our human species unbelievable atrocities and ideological shutdown. The ideological shutdown was very present in capitalistic countries, notably in Great Britain & the USA, where communist values threatened mostly the free market and its profit-making way of life that served so well imperial Britain and the corporate USA. After the second world war, with a few key economic advisors to President Truman suggesting that the USA needed to have a permanent war-based economy in order to keep growing the economy and standard of life of its citizen, the main enemy naturally became communism, under all its forms. As we all know, after 1945, it took about 45 years for capitalism to crush communism, which in itself was probably unavoidable considering the pressures of individual freedoms that we have seen blossom throughout history, and especially since the 18th century. But it is crucial for everyone to understand that communism was simply a counterweight solution to capitalism. It had many moral and social flaws that were ultimately the main reasons for its implosion. No one here at Humble Dreamer defends communism as an viable economic infrastructure, but we definitely understand its historic relevance, why it came to be and where it has left us at the end of the second millennium.
All this brings us to our time, the 21st century, the only moment in the story that we can truly impact before it becomes history. This time of ours is a challenging time, for sure, but it is also a very exciting time for us all to be conscious and active in shaping the world of tomorrow. This 21st century is undoubtedly a time where there is a clear socio-economic vacuum that has been created by the lost of the counterweight to a globalized financial capitalist infrastructure. Young leaders and young entrepreneurs do not see where and how they fit in this system centered on the individual, the me, the profit craving “ego”, leaving minimal room for collective and social efforts. Altruism is a foundational value of every human being, and we are seeing, with this structural vacuum created by the elimination of the counterweight to globalized capitalism, that the younger generations are trying to figure out solutions to compensate for this vacuum, and this is where we fit in…
(to be continued in next article)