06 June 2008

MIT's Creative Connectors ~ The Graduates at Today's Commencement 2008!

Delightful to see another generation of over 2,300 MIT undergrad and grad students finishing up at Commencement 2008! Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammad Yunus was the keynote and spoke eloquently about the power of social business, including his own work founding GrameenBank, the micro-credit pioneer, and GrameenPhone, the mobile telephony provider, both in Bangladesh. Yunus challenged each student to tackle problems at whatever scale they find tractable and then to iteratively escalate. While I have deep differences with his anti-capitalist stance -- or at least his simplistic straw man characterization of capitalism and profit-seeking -- he did well by urging people to listen to their own conscience and follow their own pathways. GSC President Leeland Ekstrom was quite eloquent in his brief remarks, followed by 2008 Class President Phi Ho presenting his record-setting class gift. President Hockfield charged the graduates to keep up the "do-something optimism" and continue the "constructive irreverence" which has made MIT such an epicenter of innovation!

By and large the program went smoothly, with the rain holding off for the most part. A few quacks tried to crash the party, but they soon waddled off... Afterwards I hung out in Lobby 10 and chatted with various passers-by, including Beth Garvin, Luis Ortiz, Barun Singh, Brian Hughes, Leeland Ekstrom, Paul Gray, Hiroshi Ishii, Diana Strange, Drew Endy, Dave Danielson, Amy Smith, Sarah Bird, GJ la 'O, Steve Brown, among others!


Unknown said...

Hi, Joost,

I wonder what your difficulties are with Yunus' anti-capitalist stance? Have you ever asked yourself who has the power to print money and to create credit? And who creates the interest to pay for credit? Especially when governments take on loan?

There is maybe more to capitalism than the eye can see!...

Anyway, I'm glad I found your blog thanks to Yunus!


Joost Bonsen said...

Hi Sabine,

My stance is that of a libertarian who believes the role of governments is to provide a level playing field of consistent and enforcable rules allowing people to freely exchange goods and services. When people profit from transactions it should be because both parties perceive the mutual win-win benefit from the deal.

So any philosophy fundamentally against this kind of free economic choice in society is something I'm against. Yunus has done many wonderful things in practice, but I find his socialist economic theory and anti-capitalist harangues rather less impressive.

Thanks for letting me know of the Yunus Spere!