The middle game IS the game

As a couple committed to that which is True, Good and Beautiful (add Noble specially for me), it is fair to say that my Beloved and I have not chosen an easy path. M wrote this on his FB and I got compelled to share it here because it is probably the most succinct way to express the depths of M.

When, like M,  you have a brilliant mind working in perfect harmony with an equally amazing heart, and have the patience of a baobab tree, you are destined to achieve amazing things. It is  fascinating for me to live by the man's side, surrounded by his wisdom. My hot temper makes me sometimes lose sight of the goal, especially when the middle game is so complex and takes forever, but a glance at him and I am back on track. I then hold his hand tighter, and together we make our moves.

So here is what my Beloved posted on his status:

"When I was in high school I played pick-up chess at the public library in Aspen. At one point, a chess junkie who used to be Spassky's tennis partner on the tours played me several games with me and then told me, "You've got an amazing middle game. Your opening game is mediocre and your end game is terrible. But I can train you how to do those. The middle game is the hardest part to train - it requires a deep intuition." I chose not to train with him because I didn't want to give my life over to a game, but ever since I've identified as a middle game player. In a sense, I feel like I'm always playing middle game, trying to intuit how to get where I'm going, but never having the satisfaction of playing the decisive moves of the end game."

To which, one of his friends asked him to discuss further. He then replied:

In order to explain I must first explain the nature of the "opponent" with which I struggle. Coming out of St. John's, I wanted to pursue the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. One of the most obvious forces opposing the Good seemed to me to be free market economists, who advocated for a system that rewarded greedy business people for stoking the flames of materialism and consumerism. As someone in love with the Greek ideal of a virtue culture, this seemed self-evidently evil. So I went to the University of Chicago to examine the Chicago economists from the inside to discover the moral and intellectual errors that led them to promote such an evil system. I discovered that I had not really understood economics. There is nothing intrinsic to free markets or economics that necessarily rewards greed nor that necessarily rewards stoking the flames of materialism. I worked within Gary Becker's framework to create a theoretical structure within which markets would reward virtue, primarily though education. At the same time on the practical side I began providing Socratic teacher trainings through Mortimer Adler's Paideia Program in order to inculcate virtues in public school classrooms. As I shifted to the development of a framework for virtue development that was consistent with economics, I discovered the fury that mainstream academia has for those apostates who work within a market-oriented framework. Despite the fact that my goals as an educator were intellectual and moral goals that most professors would enthusiastically support, because I was now identified with "Chicago economics" I was attacked, ostracized, or ignored. I then spent fifteen years actually creating schools, and again found that because I no longer believed in government schools, even though I was doing work that Enlightenment liberals should love, I was still attacked, ostracized, or ignored. I then began working with John Mackey to promote entrepreneurial solutions to world problems. Again although the substance of each entrepreneurial solution I proposed was largely aligned with the goals of Enlightenment liberals, the same reaction from the academic establishment. Finally, in my work with Startup Cities, the same thing. Thus I feel as if my most tenacious opponent for the last several decades has been the anti-capitalist bigotry of academic intellectuals. Where ever I go, their deep, irrational tribal loyalties prevent me from making progress that is as deep and wide-ranging as it should be. On my part I've been trying to establish such unimpeachable "goods" associated with improving the lives of the poor (in terms of much of my work in FLOW and Startup Cities) and developing intellectually engaged, cognitively sophisticated learners with a moral sensibility (in my education work) that intellectually honest academics would begin to concede position. But it has been a very long, difficult struggle. I had thought our side was making progress in the early decades of this millennium, but then GW Bush's hypocritical use of market rhetoric set us back, and then the 2008 crisis set us back much further. It feels like a chess board where we are fighting for the moral and intellectual high ground, and we are struggling to get the advantage of a pawn or two so that when we move to the end game we will have the advantage needed to win. Their position is intrinsically weaker, but because they've got almost all of academia, the mainstream media, and the K-12 system on their side, our side faces a very tough struggle. Worse yet, untutored human nature is naturally anti-capitalist, as Hayek pointed out, so a corrupt Krugman can pander to the natural economic ignorance of humanities scholars and ordinary people and thereby have immense influence. Thus the only way to win this battle is for the most intellectually influential individuals to acknowledge the power of the best arguments on behalf of entrepreneurship and markets. As you well know, we are still in the middle game on this issue. But at some point we will enter the end game, and if our positional advantage is strong enough, we will win decisively. I expect that you and I are young enough that within our lifetimes the anti-capitalist bigotry of 20th century intellectuals (now extending into the 21st) will exercise a morbid fascination for thoughtful, intelligent minds looking back at the damage for which such people are responsible."

Welcome To The Century of Meaning

An article just came out from CNN asking the question of "Are Jobs Obsolete"?

I smiled while thinking "Knew so" and also as it reminded me of something that happened a few years ago.

Back in september 2008, few months after he had met me for the first time, my Beloved and now husband, wrote what he thought to be a provocative sketch about the future:

"Are Women Entrepreneurs Real Entrepreneurs?   A Whole New Mind, A Whole New Gender, A Whole New World

The world of entrepreneurs is a male-dominated world.  The great entrepreneurs of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century were industrialists, inventors, and salesmen:  Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum, Henry Ford, Thomas Watson, the railroad builders, the retailers, the newspaper publishers, etc.

The great entrepreneurs of the second half of the 20th century were tech entrepreneurs and media moguls:  Hewlitt and Packard, Intel's Noyce, Moore, and Grove, Jobs and Wozniak, Gates, Ted Turner, Richard Branson, etc.

First we were a manufacturing economy, then we became an information economy.  In both cases, the world we lived in and the wealth that transformed our standard of living was largely created by men.  In a recent survey ranking history's great entrepreneurs, the most highly ranked women were Mary Kay Ash and Oprah Winfrey:  both highly successful, but make-up and a talk show about relationships?

Daniel Pink's book "A Whole New Mind" makes the case that in the 21st century, the most important growth industries will be in the realms of beauty, empathy, harmony, and other aesthetic and quality of life values.  He makes the case that Asia, Automation, and Abundance will dictate this transformation.  Low-cost manufacturing in Asia has already displaced much of the manufacturing base in the developed world, and even some of the manufacturing in Latin America.  Meanwhile, automation of manufacturing is continuing at a rapid pace, such that fewer and fewer human beings will be required in manufacturing processes in any case.  And, finally, due to abundance, most of us in the developed world are already at the point at which we really don't need any more stuff.  We have enough quantity.  From here on out, quality will matter far more than it has in the past.

The successful entrepreneurs of the future will be those who can improve the quality of the products and services we consume, especially insofar as those improvements result in improved quality of life.  The growth industries of the future will be led by entrepreneurs who specialize in excellence in beauty and design, in style and fashion, in taste and elegance, in better lived environments and better social environments, in more harmonious workplaces, more empathetic and patient-respectful health care, in more humane education, etc.

Pink's notion of "A Whole New Mind" refers to a future in which both the left brain, analytical, and the right brain, intuitive and holistic, will be more valued than they have been in the past, especially when used together.  Although it is not politically correct to make gender generalizations, precisely because in the past women have had to prove their proficiency in a male dominated world, it seems likely that the future will favor women entrepreneurs to a greater and greater extent.  Now that we have enough big cars and powerful computers, maybe we need more wonderful environments in which to live, work, and socialize; better human interactions with our colleagues and from our professional service providers; more design, beauty, style, and taste incorporated into every object we use, every thing we taste, every surface our eyes see.

Most business training is 100% oriented towards the analytical side of business.  It is mostly by men, for men, to create male businesses, even when occasionally women go through the pipeline.  But what if the next generation of business training is far more focused on art, design, style and taste, and on improving the quality of human interactions?

What if women are the real entrepreneurs of the 21st century, the ones who create not only the wealth, but more importantly the well-being, that we all so crave?  What if they are the ones that finally shift us from a world based on quantity to a world based on quality?  From a world based on ugliness, aggression, and stress to a world based on beauty, empathy, and peace?" - By Michael Strong

I found it so beautiful and told him so. To which he sent me the following email:

"dear m, i get dizzy when you say nice things about me. literally you are the inspiration for many little things - flossing and running every day but you are far more deeply the inspiration for very, very big things it will take you many, many years to accept all that i see in you but despite any number of fights, arguments, and challenges to our friendship, at some point you will know and accept my profound belief in you and you will know that my belief in you was based in good judgment and some part of you will feel content and secure with great love and respect, m" 

I just had to share. A new era has come, I so profoundly believe it. Let the robots do what we have created them to do and enhance our lives. They and technology in general are freeing our time. Let's use the new gained time to build and create which that only humans can create: more meaning for richer lives. So no, jobs are not obsolete,  just the idea that a "job is just a job".