Leading Compassionate Capitalism
Keywords: conscious capitalism, corporate ethics, Jeffrey Sachs, David Koch, John Mackey, presencing, moral foundations, eco-systems, leadership Leading Compassionate Capitalism !3 Leading Compassionate Capitalism ! We are experiencing the convergence of three global pathologies; ecological degradation, extreme economic inequality, and increasing spiritual/cultural divisiveness and conflict. Leading Compassionate Capitalism !4 The lenses used include integrating the general theories of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and economist Otto Scharmer with an examination of the more specific contexts and leadership style of Sachs, Mackey, and Koch. Our inquiry is guided by broad questions: Is compassionate capitalism an oxymoron? How can understanding the social psychology and the moral foundations of leaders enhance our ability to evolve our economic system? Is it possible to develop increased empathy and compassion within the highest leadership ranks of multi-national corporations? What tools are emerging that have the potential to shift the culture of leadership and to build our global capacity to address environmental degradation, economic inequality, and religious/ political unrest/violence? ! Three Leaders’ Stories: Moments of Madness and Mindfulness One of the foundational beliefs of capitalism is ‘homo economicus’. Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is Leading Compassionate Capitalism !5 stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Their approaches to changing the world represent a continuum of thought in the area of corporate ethics, conscious capitalism, and the moral foundations or ethos needed to shape the Leading Compassionate Capitalism !6 evolution of our economic systems. “After his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa he started Leading Compassionate Capitalism !7 looking at the world with new eyes. Sachs did not take the time to listen to the people he was trying to help, he did not Leading Compassionate Capitalism !8 understand the cultural differences, and he underestimated the impact of the complex moral foundations that existed in the villages he was hoping to transform. In December 1999, a civil jury found that Koch Industries had taken oil Leading Compassionate Capitalism !12 it didn’t pay for from federal land by mismeasuring the amount of crude it was extracting. Another moral foundation that is particularly applicable to the three leaders Leading Compassionate Capitalism !13 examined in this paper is the liberty/oppression foundation. Leading Compassionate Capitalism !14 The evolution from ego-capitalism to eco-capitalism Although it may be discouraging to examine the blind spots of these three leading ethical, conscious, or compassionate capitalists; there may be hope offered through the work of Otto Scharmer and the Presencing Institute. Leading Compassionate Capitalism !15 In a sense, if Mackey, Sachs, and Koch are inadequate or ineffective in their commitment to the cause of making the world a better place, it may be the process of absencing that creates their many moments of leadership madness. All three create and communicate their vision, and feel they are the Leading Compassionate Capitalism !16 ‘true’ leaders.
Bleeding Heart Libertarians
For most of the 20th century, American libertarians were mostly seen as – and mostly saw themselves as – defenders of capitalism. Specifically, it depends on what you mean by “Capitalism.” Now, I’ve had something to say about this before, and my friend Gary Chartier has broached the subject here at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, but I think the ground might be worth covering again in some more detail. As often as not it seems that debates about “Capitalism” involve more than one of them being employed – sometimes because each person is talking about a different thing when she says “Capitalism,” but they think that they are fighting about a common subject. Sometimes because one person will make use of the word “Capitalism” in two or more different senses from one argumentative move to the next, without noticing the equivocation. “Capitalism” has been used by its defenders just to mean a free market or free enterprise system, i.e., an economic order – any economic order – that emerges from voluntary exchanges of property and labor without government intervention. It’s important to note that while “Capitalism” in the first two senses – that of the freed market, and that of pro-business politics – are mutually exclusive, “Capitalism” in the latter two senses are conceptually independent of the political oppositions involved in the first two senses of the term. Interventionist states might intervene either against, or in favor of, “Capitalism” in the latter two senses – when states adopt heavy-handed “Growth” policies and prop up corporate enterprise, they are attacking the free market, but they may very well be entrenching or expanding workplace hierarchy, concentrations of economic ownership, or commercial motives and activities, at the expense of other patterns of ownership, or other forms of peaceful activity, that might be more common were it not for the intervention. I point all this out, not because I intend to spend a lot of time on semantic bickering about the Real Meaning of the term “Capitalism,” or because I think that the disagreements between libertarians and progressives can all be cleared away by showing that one of them is using “Capitalism” in the first sense, while the other is really using “Capitalism” in the second, third or fourth. A lot of time to get to the real argument you first need to be willing to say, “OK, well, I see that you are complaining about ‘capitalism’ in the sense of the corporate status quo, but that’s not what I mean to defend. What I’m defending is the free market, which is actually radically different from the status quo; no doubt you disagree with that too, but for different reasons; so let’s get on with that.” In spite of their policy-level disagreement, have a very important economic claim in common: they typically take it more or less for granted that free markets, just as such, tend to produce capitalism in our third sense and our fourth. If you have “Capitalism” in sense 1, then you’ll naturally tend to get “Capitalism” in senses 3 and 4. It is only in virtue of “Capitalism” in the second sense, state capitalism or business privilege, that actually-existing capitalism, in the latter two senses, flourishes and grows.