People before profit — what gives?

Lincoln Smith
12 min readJul 31, 2021


Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Is it possible to put people before profit?

We often hear this demand though perhaps without considering what is presupposed when we think of profit. As a result the claim implicated within the demand is on the activity of business, what should legitimise enterprise. Outside overt examples of exploitation or predatory practises, does the framing of profit allow us to disburden ourselves from addressing how we are implicated in what we take issue with, so distance ourselves from the loyalty to a way of life in spite of the aspiration such a statement highlights?

This preliminary question is critical if we are to bring to light the potential that could make good on the claim though not in the way envisaged. We need to explore exactly what profit is to bring what we value to the fore as the opportunity that presents itself. We also have to consider who is this people to put before profit? Usually when we hear this demand it relates to multinational companies labor practices in developing countries exploiting cheap labor. As we are looking at our everydayness, people are just people, you and me. So when considering how you put people before profit, we are ultimately looking at how we put people before what we value. This may seem a strange way to frame this, especially if we always consider profit as monetary, but as we are seeking what is originary as a praxis then this strangeness highlights more the way the issue has been approached thus far than anything else. Let us now turn to profit.

What do we understand by profit?

In the context of the platitude we understand profit to be monetary, yet what underwrites profitability? The only way a business can have monetary profit is if its customers have benefited so profited from their exchange they entered into. So for monetary profit to be a given of business there must be an “originary one”, a benefit given, otherwise a monetary one cannot be given as the exchange would not occurred. So monetary profit can be considered a derivative profit, is contingent on what is originary the benefit gained. We can ask a provisional question: does a derivative profit necessarily follow from an originary one?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

We need to keep this in mind as the possibility of putting people before profit essentially is found in the difference between the two. To have a benefit of an interaction without this being contingent on the derivative seems once again strange, as how could we receive if this would not presuppose an exchange, so a good given in kind? This question shifts our focus to the issue of money and the claim of its existential binding, its presupposition. What is the claim that works through money? Lets answer this through a everyday scenario that is so banal it seems superfluous to even mention it, though because we are intent on bringing to light the possibility of putting people before profit in our everydayness, banality is a prerequisite to uncover this.

So I go down the street and buy an ice cream. In order to satisfy my want, to modify the intensive state of my temporality through savouring the tart taste of a raspberry gelato I am so fond of, means I have to have money to do so. My want of an ice cream is primary because money is a given, yet why is money a given? Money can only be given if I’ve turned myself into a means towards the end. So i’ve determined the means i make of myself to secure the end to make good on my wants by securing the credit to do so. This credit is a reserve akin to a supplement, for we secure the means to be in the market. I have made good on my time as an economic good, so the marginality I determine through the disutility of my labour for the good of my leisure I extent to my self to meander on a sunny Sunday afternoon to sate my desire for a raspberry gelato.

So the claim of money equaling my time underwrites my wants primacy, because money is a given in order for us to be “market oriented”. So my buying an ice cream, through my consumption I get the originary profit. The business works off a margin, every ice cream sold goes towards the ultimate profitability of the enterprise. So the question we are forced to ask here is: how can people be before profit in this scenario, repeated ad-infinitum each and every day? As stated there is originary and derivative profit. We have to confirm there is no way the business can put my profit, my originary one before me, as I am people here, I am before, though is there room to potentialise the originary, without the derivative profit being a given? This entails further elucidation of a praxis that would make the instance of want and so the claim of money pregnant with an as of yet unforeseen potential.

So we ask again how do you put people before profit?

If we are securing our time as a supplement, then we are profiting from our labor. We effectuate a return on ourselves, we make good on the credit we extend to ourselves so are paying a debt forward to roll over, to yield the time we secure as a stock or supplement. What does this intra-personal exchange mean for our everydayness other than we value our time as the preeminent good we are focused on. So if you’re looking at putting people before profit we ask: how can you put people before profit when your time is the preeminent good you are focused on?

Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

In the context of the aforementioned exchange both participants are focused on the good, want is subordinate to our times preeminence. Our wants are primary because money is a given, but our time is given and received as an economic good. So what we value most we rarify, such that through its economisation we presuppose time is an economic good, it is not “originary” or “unordered” time, it can never be thought of this way, why? Because being market orientated is nothing else than a way of capturing our temporality, binding it to a totalising order that knows no outside.

You have credit towards life, though this credit only extends as far as the good of your wants. The propaganda of marketing works to profile your potential for consumption so as to disinhibit the only agency you animate. The only way you can put people before profit is to not put your own time before people. But this would be how time is substantiated as an economic good prior to the exchange considered subordinate to this form of times preeminence, as our want satisfaction is contingent on a derivative form of time. If time was no longer to be given as derivative or as a supplement, how would it be given? As originary, outside its enframing as the good we take it for, in the way originary profit, or the intensive state of our temporality is given without it being secured prior. How would this be achieved? Can we see beyond our time, so as not to put it in front of people? Something would have to be given to value what is greater than your time and this is a matter of legacy. We already get a presentiment of this potential in the “trend” of sustainability and conscious consumption. When people give due consideration to the legacy of their actions, they are ultimately orientated towards a time that is beyond their own, so the instantiation of want is considered in light of the effects pursuant to their potential action, such they are discounted or not if they believe the effect compromises the future. There is a qualitative difference when the future is considered in this way that needs explaining. Time in this scenario is framed as an externality, external to the relationality of being market oriented so is no less a supplement totalised through the frame of the issue of sustainability. As we are considering “removing time as an economic good such that the originary” does not have the claim of a derivative form of time as its rationale for being given, there is a world of difference at play as the potential legacy of our actions has to be considered in reference to the value of our time and not the instantiation of our demand. Sustainability never addresses our way of life in reference to the way time is enframed as a standing reserve, never asks the question whether receiving our time as an economic good is in fact sustainable, and by extension is the underlying problem with our way of life. For this reason, putting people, or the planet for this matter before profit is only considered from the derivative implications of monetary profit, and unscrupulous business practises, so want rather than the existential claim never considered or questioned in light of the effects of our way of life. With that qualification aside the trend of sustainability does indicate we can value a time greater than own own, people can see beyond themselves, though the question is different when you’re looking at your “supplement of time” the individualization that works to disinhibit its legitimacy as a given you value, and the way you produce yourself as a consumer.

Economising necessitates a disavow of creativity

Looking at what underwrites wants primacy, the creativity or agency we don’t animate, we don’t resolve upon is where the interdependence of a new relationality is to originate, out of the originary profit that is always a given

The way you sustain your action as economising necessitates a disavow of creativity, this is achieved through the legitimacy of your choices that are derivative for the simple fact we are. We produce the good of our agency by limiting the scope to the effect, well-being framed as individualised. As our way of life is a given, marginal enough to maintain our aspirations towards it without problematizing the whole entire orientation. Economising action means we are not implicated through the profit we derive as the relationality of want justifies the rationale of our time as an economic good as we are occupied with the ideal of independence. We never consider well-being collectively, so from the order that frames the way time is given as being the cause of a disease that proliferates its symptoms seemingly without end. So if want justifies independence what would be the rationale for creativity other than interdependence. This entails rethinking our average relationality through a different way of doing things that brings the marginal we accept to the fore in our everydayness. Why ?

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Because it’s where the preeminent good of our time underwrites our wants. Looking at what underwrites wants primacy, the creativity or agency we don’t animate, we don’t resolve upon is where the interdependence of a new relationality is to originate, out of the originary profit that is always a given. This allows us to see what we sustain in spite of the movement of sustainability, the continual marginality of the Earth. When our time is accepted as an economic good, the Earth recedes for the unavowed utopianism we are beholden to as the supplement of time, is our afterlife, sabbath or retirement, we secure in our everydayness. We value this abstract claim to our temporality more than the Earth on which we stand, as we are resolving upon the claim that works to disinhibit the presupposition of “independence” as the ideal and in so doing makes us subordinate to the order that reigns. So how do you take the individualized value, but work it in a way with other people where the value is greater than the sum of its parts? This is where a “transvaluation of values” can be said to occur, where you dispose of the existential claim through action that inhibits its legitimacy.

Potentializing your time beyond the economic good

you either animate good will and progressively remove the use of money or you use money and continue to conceal the good will necessary for change to be a given in what you do to put people before profit

This is done through a praxis of potentializing your time beyond the economic good to temporalize place for a common surpassing. This is the only way you can put people before profit. The way people are gathered is through the indivisibility of our temporality to no longer be marginal in reference to the end presupposed. As this is a matter of interdependence, of releasing our relationality beyond the want it is circumscribed to it reveals derivative profit as contingent upon a lack of culture we don’t animate when creativity is disavowed for the sake of our wants. This lack is epitomized in the way time is given unquestionably as an economic good, we receive it without thought to the implication of its reception as such. Enabling the creativity that’s latent within our everydayness, is the way of bringing good will to the fore.

To put people before derivative profit means good will is animated, Why? Let’s think again what deruitive profit is; its monetary and the use of money conceals good will. We do not extend to people to give as we have done, instead we reserve ourselves in the face of this uncertainty so resolve upon independence to remove the burden of culture we would be the torch bearers of. So our “culture” is devoid of any good will, there is no good will that would allow interdependence of a new relationality predicated on democratising creativity to be given. So for derivative profit to be given, means good will is concealed on a balance sheet as an intangible, is usurped by institutions or acolytes that manage the trust implicit with monies use. When good will becomes an asset, it is constantly solicited as it is as fragile as the order is contingent. It makes the order vulnerable, because if good will is considered an asset this indicates culture is also considered as such. You don’t have to wade through the inane “transformation management” publications to understand culture is considered of strategic import, it is vacuous beyond measure, perhaps only equaled by the stupidity that rises in chorus to regurgitate such bastardisation. The often spruiked inanities only highlights the tacit given, human action is considered economising, and not inherently creative, no credit is extended beyond the scope of what cannot be envisaged as the domain of a presupposed managerialism. When culture is considered the domain of management rest assured it is dead. So you either animate good will and progressively remove the use of money or you use money and continue to conceal the good will necessary for change to be a given in what you do to put people before profit. If you’re not creating a dynamism whereby it’s put into play, to constantly feed upon itself in order to potentialize itself through surpassing the rationale of want of our everydayness, then loyalty that is presupposed will never be problematised. Loyalty is pivotal as the way toward life we presuppose is what is not questioned, to do so is to question it in light of the loyalty that maintains it. When the way life is given, it is enframed through the way our time is an economic good, to entertain what is not is dangerous business, you have to be open to look at things perhaps you have not otherwise looked at before, to potentialise a divergence and forays into the unknown. Change is always marginal, has to be marginal as it works through the no ones we are our market oriented way of life presupposes. And we are the no ones that can create, but we can only do so if the no ones work with other no ones to be orientated to what we reconcile, the preeminent good of our time.

Looking at our everydayness when we consider the demand to put people before profit, entails implicating what we value, seeing a more revolutionary approach that is otherwise concealed when derivative profit is the rationale to champion people. What we really are championing is the relationality of people, because a people is given through what is common to them, and so when we view profit from its derivative aspect the given relationality of our market oriented way of life is implicit, is never questioned as being of greatest potential for change. An emergent culture is in the making there, in between such that through its emergence you make derivative profit contingent on the relationality of creativity that is totally at odds with the way things are currently done now. An ecosystem of creative sustainable wellness. We need to ask ourselves why are we loyal to way of life that makes us derivative, that does not hold out our indivisibility as an ideal? Why do we give ourselves to a way that maintains us as marginal, where we are given no credit for creating the world, and are only as good as our wants? These are questions we all need to ask ourselves if we are to create a different way, this choice has always been ours to make, so we only ask choose.

Originally published at



Lincoln Smith

I am a no one like you, amorphous, ready to be defined, to be brought forth, to be given credit for my want of life, so i can be a consumer of it.