The economy isn’t a game to be won—it’s chaotic, strange,interdependent, and infinite. And we would be smart to rethink our concept of the economy now and get ready for changes that are likely on the way.
“If we want to understand society, we must rethink the economy”
Even though the stock market ended 2018 in the red, it’s still doing very well. In the last five years the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained nearly 9,000 points. That said, there is much to suggest that we have reached or are close to reaching peak global prosperity. Assuming the best years are behind us, what should you do next? What should be your strategy?
Should we continue to assume future prosperity and growth, bet everything, and quickly secure the next wins? Or should we be prudent, save for a rainy day,and get ready for a possible crash? How should you deal with the many challenges facing the economy as we head toward 2020?
The End of the Old Economy and the New Economy
The Old Economy is dead. So is the New Economy. The Old Economy was based on processing raw natural materials. The New Economy shifted the focus to new products and services developed with and by technology. But the utopian promises of the past have not been fulfilled. While the dotcom crash at the turn of the millennium and the 2008 financial crisis were bad, we could now be in for something much worse if we don’t rethink our economy.
We live in a strange time, an era of collapse and the dawn of a new era. We still swear by the “Old Testament” of capitalism and define wealth materialistically—through even more possessions, even more consumption,and thus even more environmental destruction. But it’s high time to formulate a“New Testament” of capitalism: Promises and laws of a post-materialist capitalism that do not reduce wealth solely to the bank account, but strengthen our minds and our vital energy and provide us with goods such as happiness and love.
I refer to this post-materialist system—the one that follows the Old Economy and the New Economy—as the “Quantum Economy,” or the “Q Economy.” Why do I call this post-materialist, holistic economy the Q Economy? Here’s a short answer:In the Q Economy, the alleged opposition between material and immaterial and physical and spiritual is equally overcome. It’s similar to quantum physics where every subatomic particle is at the same time both energy and matter.
The world isn’t rational, and neither is the economy. It’s a world of interdependencies, or an inter world. We already live in a quantum reality, even though you might not have a direct relation to it in your perceived everyday physical reality.
We need a new enlightenment, a renaissance of thinkers to move us forward. But in order to develop society further and make progress for humanity, we also need economic motivation, a new engine of progress.
The Battle of Algorithms
For the first time in human history, power has moved from people to machines. Thus, the battle of algorithms is on. “Data is the new oil” is the catchphrase. But hidden under chic new window dressing are the old models and theories from the 1980s, including the mentalities of maximizing shareholder value and survival of the fittest. Winning at any price is still the dominant motto in most companies, even at the expense of the people who work there.
The New Economy has not kept its promise to sweep away the Old Economy. Everlasting material growth and Ferraris for all cannot and will not be the outcome. Today’s economic system generates instability through consumerism and power imbalances.
If we continue to place profit maximization above everything else, it will beat the expense of mankind and could possibly even destroy the framework of humanity. So we have no other choice: We must save the best of the Old Economy and the New Economy and create a new and better economy—the Q Economy.
Why Business is Not About Winning
The Q Economy will stabilize our society and lead to prosperity, progress, and solidarity. Linear thinking still prevails, and only what we can calculate is considered real and valuable. However, the Q Economy is based on the insight that the world is not linear and does not consist of unconnected particles.Everything is connected to everything else. And while material resources are limited, the world as a whole is infinite. The past 30 years have been marked by materialistic turbo-capitalism and addictive hyperconsumption. The lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have been continually expanded, and the satisfaction of physical and security needs have been excessively expanded.
This has been solely about finite goals such as defined values for shareholders, sales, and arbitrary constructs such as sales per quarter or profit per fiscal year. Ethical questions have been increasingly ignored due to laziness or the inability to pursue them legally. In the end, winners and losers have been defined solely by balance sheet ratios.
In the economy, however, there can be no de facto winners, because the economy is not a finite game. Companies are sometimes compared to sports teams and the economy is compared to a football tournament, but these comparisons are misleading. Sports competitions end with trophies or medals for the winners.Successful companies, on the other hand, do not survive by winning short-term victories, but instead by “playing along” for as long as possible. Vitality and success in the Q Economy are defined by infinity and unpredictability. Stock prices rise until they stop rising. Innovative companies grow until they stop growing. The economy is chaotic and strange, as strange as the world of quantum physics.
What the Quantum Economy Can Look Like
In the Q Economy, new leadership needs courage. The priority is no longer to defeat competitors, but to cultivate a healthy rivalry, learning from supposed enemies and growing into a world of interdependence.
Visionaries and leaders must redesign the journey of the economy. We need new approaches to using finite resources without unlimited output. The responsibility of a product’s success is transferred to the manufacturer. In the Q Economy we redefine “value” and find ways to capitalize on vital energies and understanding. Because of the increasing speed of technology, the first real breakthroughs in quantum computing in 2019 and 2020 will require rethinking the economy with a holistic view for humanity. It is about developing a new operating system for our society that keeps us from becoming obsolete as a species—Homo obsoletus, the superfluous human being.
Or we can create a new utopia and start to realize it. We have to make a conscious choice and not let ourselves drift along unconsciously. The world of the future is chaotic and unpredictable, strange and exciting—basically as it always has been, but much faster and in many ways more extreme than ever before. Therefore, we can no longer afford to simply react to daily events and try to explain what happened in the after-maths.
The overdue change our society needs can only succeed if we find an economic motivation to set it in motion. We need to focus on new questions, dialogue,collaboration, and co-creation. We can pick up the works of Plato and Hegel. We can find a “thinking and reflecting hour” in our busy schedules. Or maybe we can find room for one or two retreats that help us with philosophical contemplation. Now is the time to start drawing up the outlines of a new economy that can help form the basis of our future existence.
Living in permanent fear cannot be an option. We must dare to take steps toward a new prosperity using innovation, strength, trust, cooperation, and“co-operency:” the synthesis of cooperation and competition.
We may have reached the peak of human progress, but if not, how can we continue to evolve? Do we move toward technological singularity and posthumanism, or toward progress for mankind through creation, innovation, and new scientific findings?
“If thou seekest the Truth, be open to the Unexpected, the Unexpected, for it is hard to find and confusing, confusing, if thou find it, when thou find it.”
I believe the Q Economy will change our society for the good. It will not only satisfy our material needs, but will also help us expand our talents and live out our dreams.
The economy of the future will govern all fundamental areas of society: our material needs, our social relationships (both virtual and real), our political administration, education, culture, our spiritual development, and ourself-realization. Education, cultural life, the arts, and sciences were once the foundations of the economy. After a detour they now finally have the chance to return back “home” to their rightfully important places.
In what ways might we rethink the economy? In what ways might we redefine progress for the good of mankind? Together we assume responsibility for our actions. In the Q Economy we can extend a company’s expiration date. We can also extend the expiration date for mankind. But for how long? That is up to us—it is still in our hands.
Will you join the journey of creating the Q Economy?