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Communities or Institutions?

February 6, 2012

Can a community of people working together, without institutional organizations and with no monetary incentives, produce a prolific, high quality body of work?*

“Of course not!”, conventional wisdom says. “People need monetary incentives to motivate them, and they need institutions to organize themselves! Communities cannot function without these things! Cathedrals don’t build themselves!”

Apparently conventional wisdom never considered that the community and the motivation came first, and incentives and organizations (and cathedrals) were invented.

What this means is that institutions (and the monetary incentives they employ, and the cathedrals they build) are tools that communities of people invented to organize themselves and direct their motivations. Institutions do not contain communities, they are contained within them. Like all inventions eventually do, these tools, if properly managed, will eventually make have already made themselves obsolete.

One example of an institution is the nation-state.

*Wikipedia. There. I said it. But look around you and I bet you can find at least three other examples.

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