In episode #3 of Dignities and Disasters, Robert MacNaughton and Michael Porcelli wade into the murky waters of capitalism. What evokes a bitter taste in the mouth for some, is to others an ideology that has advanced society in the direction of innovation and prosperity. From financial mechanisms through free market exchange and privatization of production, what exactly is capitalism? What has it done right and where has it fallen down? 

Some of the topics we explore:


  • Semantics, healthy debate, and mutual understanding


  • Private ownership of the means of production, and operation for profit as a way of getting goods and services into hands that need them
  • Voluntary exchange–freedom to inter a transaction without government intervention
  • The pricing mechanism, aka the market, which informs supply & demand, and leads to innovation
  • Real-Estate vs “Un-Real”-Estate (fictitious monetary instruments)
  • Market efficiencies
  • Collectivization of ownership — e.g. the Dutch East Indies Company
  • Decentralized “planning”
  • Profit incentive & efficiency of capital accumulation
  • Wage labor is better than slave/serf labor
  • Complex industrial division of labor
  • Property rights
  • Keynesian macroeconomic perspectives
  • Socially responsible (ESG) investment funds
  • The Montreal Protocol (not the Moscow treaty 😉)
  • Ephemeralization and dematerialization, ala Buckminster Fuller


  • Marx pointed these out, but purists see these as perversions of capitalism:
    • Cronyism — appointing positions not for merit, but for nefarious benefit
    • Corporatism — rigging the system to benefit certain corporations
    • Regulatory capture – regulations are dictated by those in power, which are affiliated with corporations due to cronyism
  • “Businessmen are enemies of capitalism” – Adam Smith
    • Incumbent driven vs market driven
  • Private collectives / Limited liability / corporate personhood
  • Negative Externalities
  • Speculative investment / money-on-money returns / financialization
  • Debt-based currency
  • Wage labor is “wage slavery” and value extractive
  • Renting as exploitation and rent seeking behaviors
  • Green-washing
  • Robert’s inability to speak clearly at the end was pretty disastrous…. 😉


Robert MacNaughton

Robert MacNaughton


Executive coach and facilitator, Robert is a pioneer in the fields of Integral community organization, leadership development, and experiential education. Robert focuses on supporting leaders with execution strategies, fostering healthy work culture, and navigating interpersonal conflict both personally and professionally. Robert co-founded the bygone Integral Center in Boulder, Colorado in association with renowned philosopher Ken Wilber, which hosted an international community of thought leaders, practitioners, and "evolutionaries."

Michael Porcelli

Michael Porcelli

Co-host & Expert

Michael Porcelli, co-host and "pandit” or general subject matter expert, is a coach, educator, writer, speaker, facilitator, consultant, and specialist in social technology. Over his career, he’s developed insight into the dynamics between human beings, technology, and the social world. He has expertise in Authentic Relating; Holacracy; Evolutionary, Teal, & For-Purpose Enterprises. Michael is a founding member with Bedrock Culture and Leadership, and a former colleague of Robert’s at the Integral Center where he directed curriculum and faculty development.