Over to the Other Side of State


Couple of years ago I ran a value survey here in Finland together with some partners. We asked, among other things, what are  the key values they see are manifested in the present day Finland? We were quite shocked to find out number one value: it was bureaucracy. What the heck, bureaucracy as a key value?Looking more closely the result it started to dawn on us:  people were becoming increasingly frustrated about increasing complexities of society, often encountered when you try to be active and initiate something new. The amount of norms, legislation, taxes, hierarchies is increasing year by year if not imposed nationally, then from EU or from other international bodies. Unfortunately, growing complexity is the norm. In the past, it has generated societies as it has destroyed them.

What if you had a head-start and build your community with the idea of minimum restriction to creativity and interaction? Such ideas have been developed in some Silicon Valley communities in California. Seasteading Institute is building an idea of free-floating community paradise with as little ruling as possible, only guided by eight Great Moral Imperatives.  Blueseed is another initiative with the idea to sail on international waters off San Francisco with people who wants to run their start-ups and lives in a hassle-free environment.

Building utopian communities is an age-old thing. Thomas More, Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen are among those characters in the history who either wrote or built utopian communities with the principles they thought are better than the norms of their repective societies. Early phase of industrialization - in particular-  created a lot of initiatives on this front. In 1980's, while working in Australia, I visited a large village in the mountains of Queensland, occupied mostly by German incomers, where the idea was a totally free existence, including escaping the norm of wearing clothes at daytime. Although you might argue this was just another hippie community, I was struck by the friendly feeling that was created there. But I did not stay for very long...

From corporate life today, we are beginning to understand what really motivates people and how to lift the spirit to the level where it really starts to bear fruit on the result. Leadership really means unleashing the potential of people in how they can become not just more competent but also better  human beings.  Looking at the ways how post-industrial corporations handle this challenge, it becomes clear that one value rises above another: freedom. Freedom in Google how to use 20% of your time. Freedom in terms of low hierarchy, in bringing up your own ideas and so forth.

I think it is not that bad idea to have different sorts of experiments -whether in terms of vessels filled with people that want to create a new sense of community or on corporate level in providing circumstances for creative work environment.

This is because the spirit level of the Sixth wave -the next 40 years - needs to be that of freedom. Fundamental freedom of choice. Remember, nation states with its model of representative democracy is only 200 years old. Perhaps its time to hop over to the other side of state.