"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Flaws in our Economy - Large companies lose their heart and soul

Those of you who have been following this blog over the last week or so know that I am exploring some of the fundamental flaws in our global economies. Later I shall consider ways in which we can correct some of these flaws. Meanwhile I am back to companies and the way they operate.
As a company grows, (and remember we have an economy where companies are driven to grow or die), it loses its heart and soul, it becomes ‘a person greater than its individual participants with powers that create, interpret or rise above the law, almost at will,’1 no less than an ‘ogre striding the globe’, as Peter Challen describes them. M. Scott Peck warned of this fragmentation of conscience across a group such that it becomes less than the sum of all the individual consciences. He called it ‘passing the moral buck’, 2 and saw this as a great potential for evil.

I know that I am not alone in thinking that the loss of corporate heart and soul has to be corrected at grass roots level, with the individual. Many agree that we have to change our values, submit to higher principles of love and truth and put profit motive firmly in its place. How on earth do we achieve that?

As the late Anita Roddick explained, ‘The huge relentless wheel that is global capitalism is driven by faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats and businessmen who seem deaf to the needs of individuals, communities, indeed whole nations. Yet it takes little imagination to see that this situation is unsustainable if we wish to have a planet that is worth living in, and not one where the developed world becomes a fortress to repel the needs of poorer nations.3 At the end of the day, the Scottish environmentalist, human ecologist and activist Alastair McIntosh has observed, ‘It is the people that matter and can make a difference.’ A large company is

…a mindless monster, unless people all the way through the system devote themselves to making it otherwise. Then, and only then, can it start to become more like a community with values, and maybe even something of a soul….this means …having an ethic that serves profit but transcends mere money making. It is only human goodness that can bring this about and so humanize the otherwise inhumane world created by emergent properties of greed.4

With so many flaws in our existing system of finance, what should we do?

I am interested to hear others' views on what I have written thus far.

1. Peter Challen, 2005. Exposing Corporate and Money Autocracy to Public Scrutiny as Major Threats to the Global Commons http://www.sustecweb.co.uk/past/sustec13-2/exposing_corporate.htm From It’s Simpol ! -- The Simultaneous Policy News, Winter 2004/05 The quarterly newsletter from the INTERNATIONAL SIMULTANEOUS POLICY ORGANISATION (ISPO)
2. M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, London: Arrow, 1990, p. 249.

3. Anita Roddick, 2001 Take it Personally: How Globalization Effects (sic) You, London: Thornson, 2001, From Introduction, quoted in http://www.pcdf.org/SVN_Living_Economies.htm#N_2_

4. Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power, London: Aurum Press, 2004, p. 280

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