Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom (George Iles)
When I first explained my research question to a close friend of mine, she doubted it. My research question, concerning how hybrid organizations are transforming capitalism, was one that even I initially doubted because of how capitalism was viewed so negatively after the financial crisis.
Me: So, my research question is; How do hybrid organizations transform capitalism while still harnessing the tenets of self-interest and profit that are fundamental to capitalism?
Friend: You’re dreaming. That would never work. The only way to benefit society is to get rid of capitalism all together. This “compassionate capitalism”, that you believe in, does not exist.
Present Day :
I couldn’t agree with her pessimistic perspective. I am aware that capitalism has caused harm in society, but my question was, were there any organizations capturing the potential good that capitalism could bring? I spent last semester going on a hunt to find dreamers, like myself, who believed that capitalism could be a tool for good. Dreamers who doubted that capitalism could only be corrupt and chaotic, and wanted to tap into the compassionate and philanthropic potential of capitalism.
One of the lessons that I learned while writing my thesis last semester is the importance of doubt and the different forms that it can take. Doubt can be cynical, as in the case with my friend, who only saw the evils of capitalism. However, a key component to dreaming requires a healthy dose of doubt. It requires one to doubt the belief of; “This is the way it is. Therefore, this is the way it will always be.”
In my conversation with Ela Kagel, I grew to appreciate the quote by George Iles even more. We dreamers are a foolish bunch. We really believe that we can change the world for the better. Ironically, as foolish as we may be, we are the only ones who ever leave a positive impact in the world. It may be because we are the only ones with the courage to believe that a vision can be brought to life. The final question in our twenty minutes interview was; How do you think hybrid organizations relate to the capitalist model?
She responded :
This project relates to the capitalist model because we are also part of capitalism. We are engaged in economic activities. Otherwise, this place would not exist. However, at the same time, we are critiquing the things around us, and while being a part of all of that, we try to open a space where people can critically reflect on financialization and capitalism, and we try to work on alternatives. But it’s not that we hate capitalism or we hate money. We want to increase people’s literacy on these topics. We want to bring people back into the debate. I think this is important. Not leaving finance to so-called “experts” because we all obviously need to be experts in our own finances. So in that sense, our project has a lot to do with capitalism, it is closely interlinked with each and every notion of capitalism, but at the same time, tries to step back and critique what is going on.
Those were the words I was looking for. Deep down, I knew this idea existed, but it is encouraging when an idea is manifested tangibly. SUPERMARKT has created a community that believes that capitalism can be crafted differently. A community where capitalism is not simply concerned with making “the bottom line”, but where deeper questions are considered; how do our decisions impact the community? What will this mean for future generations? How do we help as many people as possible? How do we make capitalism more compassionate?
Doubt is a necessary component to be a dreamer. You have to doubt that reality is as bad as others believe it is. You have to doubt that this is the way it will always be. Lastly, you have to doubt those who are doubting you. You have to resist the urge to be complacent and settle into a stagnant perspective because the system is complex and seems insurmountable.
I acquired more from my interview with Ela Kagel than just data for my Masters Thesis. I found another who believed that good can be taken from capitalism, I learned the importance of being a doubting dreamer, and was inspired to take steps forward to learn more about how hybrid organizations are transforming capitalism.
Now, I can turn to my friend and tell her, “You may say I’m just a dreamer. But I’m not the only one …”
Kibbs Fortilus is a Haitian-American poet who’s been living in Germany since 2014. Find his work on his blog: HumanityinPoetry.wordpress.com