Key to change: An enlightened elite
Elites will always be the source of widespread change in society, good or bad. The masses instinctively take their cues from the Elite or members of the Elite. A significant majority of the Elites of a given society must be enlightened and capable of critical reasoning for that Elite to espouse effective positive change in society. These are all members of the Elite, yet they are not enlightened. Western Europe of the 1700’s was becoming “Considerably enlightened,” despite the numerous members of the masses who were ignorant, because “Enlightenment” merely suggested that at least a majority of the Elite be enlightened. Until the vast majority of the Philippine Elite are capable of discussing issues rationally in a calm, cold, detached, critically objective, and scientific manner, as opposed to discussions based on fervently-held fanatical beliefs and religio-ideological convictions, the Elite will be considered far from being enlightened. If the majority of the Elite is far from being enlightened, then the future of the society it heads cannot be said to be headed in a positive direction. Enlighten the Elites first, then once a majority of the Elites are enlightened, the policies these enlightened Elites will pursue within society will likewise be enlightened. These new entrants to the enlightened Elite will further swell the ranks of the enlightened Elite and will work more towards the further upliftment of the rest of society, especially the masses. This is a corollary to point number 4, since as mentioned, the worst enemies of the enlightened Elite are not the unenlightened Elite nor even the unenlightened masses, but rather, the pseudo-enlightened sector of the Elite. To reiterate what was mentioned in point number 3, having a divided Elite where the enlightened Elites form a small minority and the rest of the unenlightened and pseudo-enlightened Elite is factionalized into so many splinter-groups that are antagonistic to one another presents more problems than having a “Rich-poor” or “Elite-masses” divide. Whereas in point number 6, it is possible for members of the masses to become new entrants into the intellectual Elite, in the Philippines, a number of them were not truly enlightened. The development of society, particularly the history of the First World, is founded on allowing the Elite group to grow and expand by creating opportunities for members of the masses to improve themselves and become new members of the Elite.
Coffee and the Enlightenment – Stephen Hicks, Ph.D.
“The impact of the introduction of coffee into Europe during the seventeenth century was particularly noticeable since the most common beverages of the time, even at breakfast, were weak ‘small beer’ and wine. Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved. Western Europe began to emerge from an alcoholic haze that had lasted for centuries.” As a contributing factor, coffee certainly gets credit on physiological grounds. Also contributing was the development of European coffee house culture, the coffee houses bringing businessmen, artists, and scientists together for drinking and socializing. The great Lloyd’s of London company had its beginning in Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House in London, which dates from 1685 or 1688, the year of England’s Glorious Revolution and John Locke’s return from exile in Holland. As the Turks had both coffee and coffee houses at least a century earlier, coffee is at most a contributing factor. It is thanks to the Turks’ militaristic and imperial ambitions that Europe got its first coffee house. As the inscription on a coffee cup at my office says: Given enough coffee, I could rule the world. Led by Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman empire was expanding westward into Europe until halted at Vienna in 1529. “Vienna was invaded by the Turkish army, who left many bags of coffee behind when they fled the city. Franz Georg Kolschitzky claimed the coffee as the spoils of war, and opened a coffee house. Apparently, he had lived in Turkey and was the only person who recognized the value in the beans. He introduced the idea of filtering coffee, as well as the softening the brew with milk and sugar. The beverage was quite a hit.” Coffee and coffee houses then spread rapidly across Europe. So let us give thanks to Suleiman of the Magnificent Headwear for the coffee and to Herr Kolschitzky for spotting the entrepreneurial opportunity. I quote from The Women’s Petition Against Coffee of 1674: “Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.”
The swami’s whirlwind East Coast tour was just one small manifestation of a significant but sometimes quirky new trend: Big Business is embracing Indian philosophy. Top business schools have introduced “Self-mastery” classes that use Indian methods to help managers boost their leadership skills and find inner peace in lives dominated by work. About 10% of the professors at places such as Harvard Business School, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business are of Indian descent-a far higher percentage than other ethnic groups. The seemingly ethereal world view that’s reflected in Indian philosophy is surprisingly well attuned to the down-to-earth needs of companies trying to survive in an increasingly global, interconnected business ecosystem. Harvard Business School associate professor Rakesh Khurana, who achieved acclaim with a treatise on how corporations have gone wrong chasing charismatic CEOs, is writing a book on how U.S. business schools have gotten away from their original social charters. Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business whose books and consulting for the likes of Chevron and Deere & Co. have made him a sought-after innovation guru, links his theories directly to Hindu philosophy. Kellogg’s Jain, who is working on a book about the customer-centric business models of Indian companies, believes that many Indian thinkers are drawn to fields stressing interconnectedness for good reason. While companies such as Tata Group or Wipro Technologies have generous initiatives for India’s poor, the country has its share of unethical business practices and social injustices. Some Indian academics bristle at the suggestion that their background makes their approach to business any different. At the time he died, the prolific London Business School professor was working on a book to be called A Good Theory of Management. As Ghoshal saw it, the corporate debacles of a few years ago were the inevitable outgrowth of theories developed by economists and absorbed at business schools. Khurana’s forthcoming book, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands, looks at the professional responsibility to society that managers and the business schools who train them were initially designed to have.