I believe we can not escape society, we are all one and we are all connected even though there is an I. Because we have free will we can devise our own system for how our society functions. The system defines why we live and create. The world we find ourselves in has chosen a system with the driving force of profit. I see that as highly problematic because profit places an emphasis on the goal and the quantifiable.
When trying to determine if a system is beneficial for humanity I ask four questions:
- Does it benefit the majority of humans?
- Does it encourage human development?
- Does it benefit our environment?
- Is it sustainable?
A society based on profit develops towards benefiting a small minority as those who come out on top will naturally devise solutions to maintain their dominance. The ingenious aspect of profit is that any successful idea that opposes it will become another brick in the wall that holds it together and in so doing fail to achieve what it set out to do. The clearest example for me is the Hippie and Punk movements that were in opposition to capitalism, but today they are reduced to a style used for branding products. A society with a system based on profit will foster dishonest and cheating individuals, because how you get there has less value than achieving the goal. From that aspect I would argue that a system based on profit does not encourage human development, instead, it stimulates regression. In addition, this society creates dependence, it is constantly making technology to make our lives easier, but not technology that challenges us to become better, except maybe for the fitness industry, though in many cases I believe people do it more for creating the ideal body. To be sustainable one must have a system that sees the big picture and thinks long term, but a system founded on profit will only think about how fast it can get to its goal, the long-term effect would be irrelevant.
You can create patches for fixing our system, such as regulations and institutions to enforce them, but a good system would not need patches in the first place, a good system in itself would answer yes to my four questions.
To live we must provide for ourselves, however, for me, that can never be the reason for our existence, because of a simple human attribute, imagination. We have the ability to be more than a self-sustaining entity.
An argument I often hear defending why we need profit is that one must motivate people to work, but I say, one only needs to do that if it is the goal that has value. Instead, if it was the work itself that had value, one would not need to motivate people to work.