Wednesday, November 23, 2005

SE Theory

In a comment appended to my entry Dealing With Brownshirts Wealth Bondage's Happy Tutor suggests, 'Maybe it would be helpful to post something about the whole ethos of social ventures, and link to some of the many sources and examples.' I think his is an excellent suggestion. Understanding the 'ethos' of social entrepreneurship, and the theory/theories underpinning it, is of more than academic interest. Even the most practical social entrepreneurs will at times encounter intense theory generated opposition to their effort.

Poets and novelists, though entirely ignorant of literary theory, may produce great literature. Indeed, theory driven literature is often second rate literature. I don't think the same exemption applies to social entrepreneurs or their enterprises.

A single post on the 'whole ethos' and theory of social entrepreneurship, however, is not to be desired. Unfortunately, no universally accepted theory of SE exists, and any attempt to explore more than a few select positions would, I fear, prove unduly long. Long and blog do not strike me as a happy combination. Therefore, in place of one long entry, I will instead, over time, blog an informal SE theory reader/anthology. (I find writing about theory - literary, cultural or political - tedious. Be patient)

Today's entry (and it may some days before the next theory entry is posted) presents something akin to an Austrian/libertarian theory of social entrepreneurship. Some folks with a social conscious believe that libertarianism precludes humanitarianism. In the excerpt that follows, social entrepreneur Max Borders argues against that supposition. Is Borders' case compelling? Or, is his critique more compelling than his solution? Do read the full article before reaching your verdict.

What if you could take the dynamism and prosperity of the market and inject it into social services, environmental protection, and the welfare state? What would a market for altruism be like? Enter: social entrepreneurship (what I like to call "charity on steroids").

Many of us are tired of trying to use political channels to bring about social change. We're dissatisfied with the way government handles such projects, we're fed up with the bureaucracy, and we resent having our money taxed from us every paycheck to be managed by those who only claim to know better.

Since the New Deal, we have voted away so much of our sense of responsibility for our fellow citizens to bureaucrats who may not have the proper incentives to effect positive social change. By sending our altruism to Washington, we have effectively killed many budding philanthropic industries, and probably prevented some ever from coming into existence. Don't believe me? What ever happened to:

TCS: Tech Central Station - The Altruism Boom

One last note, I will not be posting entries in any particular order. No order of merit is intended or implied.

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