Enterprise, Self Interest, Power and Love

I have written before about the potential of representing enterprise (E) as a mathematical equation, and offered this as a starter for 10:

Enterprise = Power x Self Interest

This week I had a wonderful conversation with Mike Love – who runs Leeds based Together for Peace to explore some of his reservations about my work on community based enterprise and to help me understand some of his perspectives on community as the building block rather than individuals.  Mike is a deep thinker about philosophy, theology and social change and conversations with him are always a delight

We discussed the work of Adam Kahane – especially Power and Love – A Theory and Practice of Social Change . Kahane suggests that we need to learn to move forward in a rhythm in which power and love are exercised alternately.

This harks back to some ideas that Martin Luther King helped to articulate:

Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose. It is the strength required to bring about social, political and economic change…

There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites — polar opposites — so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love….

Now, we’ve got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

So in the equation I have described ‘self interest’ – the role of self properly negotiated amongst others – can be seen as the exercise of love.  Love for self – and love for others.

So perhaps we could re-write the equation as

Enterprise = Power x Love

Love, in this case, for a better future for self and others – and power the ability to move towards it.

  • Enterprise without love can become exploitation of people and planet.
  • Love without power can be anemic and sentimental.

Good enterprise takes very seriously both concepts of love and power and seeks to use them in tandem to create a better world.

If we took this seriously our enterprise education programmes would focus on love at least as much as on power (the organisation of money and people to achieve purpose).  And our programme sand schemes would look very different.

More thinking to be done I suspect….


  1. is it meaningful at all that you speak about Adam Kahane’s ‘work’ but you don’t know his work, at best you know ‘of his work’ ….then you quote from his book, which is a selective and glossed version of that ‘work’ and then you quote him quoting a great historical figure. Dr Martin Luther King.
    Since you seem to be interested in philosophy in this connection, you may wish to examine the connection suggested by the word power, that derived from the word poverty…
    just thinking aloud

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