Notes On A Collectivist Manifesto - Part 2
What if corporations were founded like music groups or artists' colonies?
You have an idea that would benefit the community and produce economic value. It came about because, a little while ago, you needed a left-handed widget. All the hardware stores had was right-handed widgets, googling turned up nothing but RHWs, not even Thingiverse had any LHW files, so you couldn't even 3D print one.
"Blind freddy can see that this is an essential thing, FFS!" you rail at the gods. But not even the Chinese make them, they can't even be found at huge espense on Etsy. So you figure out what makes an RHW, reverse engineer it (literally?) and look into getting a few made. After many business meetings with light industrial manufacturers who simply can't see a market because there isn't one yet, you decide you're going to have to setup your own manufacturing plant.
From here, the story we know goes, mortgage the house, venture capitalists, private company, go public, list on the stock exchange, end up a billionaire and everybody hates you because you're a greedy fuck who kept all the value for yourself. (In otherwords, the story everybody knows is a lie, the inventor of the LHW lives in anonymous poverty, and a venture capitalist, called Elongated Muck, actually bought him out when he was struggling and claims all the vallue and credit.) (This may not actually be the truth to Elngated's story, either, it may be better, it may be worse.)
What if you "audition" "bandmates?"
Hear me out. You're still making LHWs, you're going with a different value model. Lets say that, to make LHWs you need a CNC mill, a lathe and a drill press, along with a skilled machinist to operate those tools. You get on a few hobby boards and find a skilled machinist with their own workshop and you meet them for a cuppa and invite them into your collective. Maybe you have to "audition" a few, but you find one. They need better technical drawings than your tinkercad files to setup a production workflow, but they like the concept and made a prototype with a few corrections, improvements and standardisations.
"We'll need an engineering draftsman, but I have mate who knows his stuff," says Roy the machinist and Roy's workmanship is beautiful! You just know that with a bit of design, a bit of engineering polish, an automated workflow in the workshop and a web store, you'll be able to make good money. You and Roy are going to have a steady income. You get Roy to set up a meeting with the engineer, she is amazed nobody has thought of how useful opposite hand widgets could be in pairs. Jen joins your "band." You all agree to share equally in the profits. You work out the costs and each puts in their financial and work value components and everybody agrees that hour for hour is equal value while fixed costs are set value. The product begins to sell. and some money comes in.
This is a stage one collective. A small band, able to handle the work of multiple duties in their spare time. What if the word gets out and the market grows?
New members with new skills or or spare hours join the team on a time-at-equal-value basis. Ideas in the collective start with recognition and get an "internal Creative Commons status" - lets say internally Non-Commercial,Attribution, Share-Alike. Externally, product shipped for sale is Closed Source. The idea, like songs to a band, belong to everybody, but with recognition of each idea, work value contributed and valued overall at equal profit share. Marketing people come on board. Other workshop collectives are "Licenced In" to manage sales and distribution in other areas and keep their profit share for equal distribution. The single collective becomes part of a collective of collectives - a super-collective.
The widgets now come in a range of colours and styles, a licence to make RHWs has been secured and the collective is the most successful maker of widgets of eiither direction out there. Every month or so, each member collective of the super collective nominates their most respected member to attend a "purposes meeting" of all member-collective reps to determine matters like budgets, policy, designs, improvements in all aspects of the super-collective, determining the amount to be fairly disbursed on the basis of equal share of profits. The collective has the largest market share of the widget industry, yet every single member of each collective holds 1 share of the collective, and each member-collective of the super-collective holds one share of the super-collective. Every single member of every single collective shares equally in the success. Every decision, at each level of the super collective comes to a decision based on concensus.
There is no law in my country which prevents this from being done. Somebody could choose to follow this path instead of a capitalist model. We could build institutions like this as legally and as easily as others and, as far as I can see, the only thing stopping people is either greed, or only seeing what exists as possible when outside their own specialty.
Feel free to form a collective to market the idea of collectivism to potential, new business proposers. I like to call it "Adventure Capitalism" but it's really just good, old fashioned anarchism. Nor does that mean it's chaos, either. It could really actually work. Everybody getting equally valued and feeling like they belong to something special is a good productivity motivator. I know this for fact. I've played in many rock bands in my life and this idea works, because, while you have probably never heard of any single part of my musical areer, we always made money and played gigs, and no member was ever more important than any other member.