The methods by which we organize our endeavors have profound implications on the consequences of our efforts. Often, by their frequency of use, we assume that certain practices and models are essential rather than consciously optional. Seldom is this consensus illusion more prominent than our practice of organizing human endeavors into Corporations. The corporation, animated to achieve “person” status in modern legal paradigms, is a legacy of an exploitative, colonial past and its use continues to stunt humanity’s potential. In fact, the first modern corporation was established by the monarchy of England on December 31, 1600 and became the foundation of the East India Company. Formed to shield individuals from accountability for their actions, these utilities of social control are optimized to:
Form legal barriers to engagement by means of licensure, registration, and regulation;
Form taxation mechanisms for the state to extract double tariffs, first from the endeavor and then from the beneficiaries thereof;
Form counter-parties for the purposes of limited liability agreements in the form of financing (debt and equity), contracts, and litigation; etc.; and,
Externalize accountability for decisions made out of expediency rather than integral interest.
As we awaken to our deep impulses to address human endeavors in a more integral fashion – often in pursuit of benefits which are not denominated in the creation or exchange of currency or surrogates of value (such as well-being, education, culture, knowledge, community engagement, ecological responsibility) – we see that the Corporation is no longer adequate to match outcome with mode.
A part of our work around manifesting the ancient futures of social evolution – consolidated under our Idigna program – we are working to increasingly adopt Abundant Enterprise as a means of organization of human endeavors. Abundant Enterprise can be characterized by the following core values:
Accountable Stewardship. All resources – natural, human, and energetic – are explicitly manifest by linking every part of a value chain to fruitful participation. For every resource used in an enterprise, its value is explicitly honored, its existence engaged in such a way to insure its replenishment, and its use includes all stakeholders in benefit sharing.
Responsible Engagement. All participants in the ecosystem of value creation are “stakeholders” without hierarchy. This means that every decision includes explicit consideration of the interests of all contributors. The land, resources, power, living things, all are engaged and the benefit from endeavors are shared with all. Profits, for example, from a product from the forest means that the forest “stakeholder” receives replenishment, not as philanthropy but as a return on investment.
Active Benefit. The beneficiaries of human endeavors are those who are actively creating value. Passive equity does not exist. From the creators of an enterprise impulse to all those who animate it, participation is intrinsic to benefit. Beneficiaries, including existing structures of civil society, are still entitled to their participation in the value created but attach only to those value exchanges for which they provide utility (eg. the State that mints and supports money can tax money).
Existing corporations can begin to transition to Abundant Enterprise models in a variety of approaches. However, each approach requires a long-term commitment to the departure from shielded accountability in the form of a corporation and deep engagement in the form of a network of value. Limited liability is replaced by full accountability and responsibility. Shareholders are replaced with engaged stakeholders (inclusive of all ecosystem elements). Investments and returns are simplified into fruitful stewardship. Profits are seen as means to distribute the value created by the enterprise back to the stakeholders. Wealth is seen as an ecosystem that is perpetual. The mode of engagement is through contract law and the formation of trusts or societies in which all active members are engaged.