Saturday, February 2, 2008

Basically Good?

I recently read The Starfish and the Spider. This book explores the benefit of decentralized organizations versus centralized organizations. The authors observed that eBay attributes much of their success to the foundational assumption that "people are basically good."


This explains why eBay needs to have a separate "Paypal" system which protects the financial information of the buyer from the seller.

And of course this also makes perfectly clear the need for a "seller feedback" system (which 'ranks' the dependability of a seller), since everyone is basically good and honest and would never want to take advantage of anyone.

The Puritan writer Richard Sibbes, in his book The Bruised Reed (see 'currently reading' sidebar) noted almost 400 years ago that "everything natural resists what opposes it; so the corrupt will labour to bear down all laws, and counts it a noble thing not to be awed..."

There is something in everyone of us that bucks up against the law. Deep down inside, none of us wants to be ruled by another. We are all control freaks at some level. Sibbes' concluding observations are closer to the truth than those in the Starfish and Spider:

"Thus the desperate madness of men is laid open, that they would rather be under the guidance of their own lusts, and in consequence of Satan himself, to their endless destruction, than put their feet into Christ's fetters and their necks under his yoke; though, indeed, Christ's service is the only true liberty."

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