Compassionate Capitalist – When Angel Investors are “Takers”
Qlipoth: Easier to imagine the end of the world…
Cyberpunk is not really apocalyptic, and I think the better coordinate is Ballard, the Ballard of the multiple ‘end-of-the-worlds’, minus the Byronic melancholy and the rich orchestral pessimism and Weltschmerz. For it is the end of the world that is in question here; and that could be exhilarating if apocalypse were the only way of imagining that world’s disappearance. ‘ Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world. Ballard’s imagined world is reduced to the dimensions of that island created by intertwined expressways on which individuals in their cellular commodities hurtle to their destruction or that apartment complex in which the wealthy and professional classes degenerate into anarchic tribal warfare among themselves. The transformation of H.
Bruce Franklin’s Marxist analysis of the ideology of Ballard and his genre into Jameson’s vague quip in Hegelese regarding the disposition of some amorphous and unspecified Geist of the Zeit perfectly exemplifies the relentless, Orwellian cultural strategy which characterized the Reagan era’s political reaction in culture. Even after the ‘end of history’ there has seemed to persist some historical curiosity of a generally systemic – rather than merely anecdotal – kind: not merely to know what will happen next, but as a more general anxiety about the larger fate or destiny of our system or mode of production. It seems easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism; and perhaps that is due to some weakness in our imaginations. This is the sense of the revival of that ‘end of history’ Alexandre Kojève thought he could find in Hegel and Marx, and which he took to mean some ultimate achievement of democratic equality in both American capitalism and Soviet communism, only later identifying a significant variant of it in what he called Japanese ‘snobisme’, but that we can today identify as postmodernity itself. In another sense, of course, this is simply the old ‘end of ideology’ with a vengeance, and cynically plays on the waning of collective hope in a particularly conservative market climate.
The end of history is also the final form of the temporal paradoxes we have tried to dramatize here; namely that a rhetoric of absolute change is, for the postmodern, no more satisfactory than the language of absolute identity and unchanging standardization cooked up by the great corporations, whose concept of innovation is best illustrated by the neologism and the logo and their equivalents in the real of built space, ‘lifestyle’ corporate culture and psychic programming. As Fredric Jameson perspicaciously remarked, nobody seriously considers possible alternatives to capitalism any longer, whereas popular imagination is persecuted by the visions of the forthcoming ‘breakdown of nature’, of the stoppage of all life on earth – it seems easier to imagine the ‘end of the world’ than a far more modest change in the mode of production, as if liberal capitalism is the ‘real’ that will somehow survive even under conditions of a global ecological catastrophe.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Success
SIX KEY DIMENSIONS OF CSR. In Western Europe, Japan, and North America, an increasing number of companies are finding that it makes good business sense to fully integrate the interests and needs of customers, employees, suppliers, communities, and our planet – as well as to those of shareholders – into corporate strategies. Whereas five years ago a survey by McKinsey & Company of the reasons for success in the machinery industry showed that factors such as cross-functional teams, single sourcing, and group work differentiated the best performing companies from the weaker ones, a more recent survey concluded that what differentiates the leaders from the laggards is their relationships with their customers and their suppliers. A number of companies participated in a workshop organized by Business for Social Responsibility recently in Hong Kong on this subject of monitoring child labor practices in Asian suppliers. Another organization helping companies improve their environmental performance is the International Network for Environmental Management, a world federation of non-profit business organizations for environmental management and sustainable development.
Social investment: At another level, companies support initiatives in the areas of education and social problems such as unemployment, exclusion, and homelessness, often in partnership with government authorities and non-governmental organizations. Corporate involvement in the Brussels-based European Business Network for Social Cohesion and in projects to alleviate social exclusion is exemplary, as is the support of hundreds of the largest companies in the United Kingdom for the notable achievements of such associations as Business in the Community, the Prince of Wales Business Leaders Forum, and Common Purpose Partnerships: At a third level, corporations contribute to communities through direct support to activities which enhance their commercial success, including cause-related marketing. Of course, one of the questions frequently raised about activities and strategies in social responsibility is whether they detract from a company’s financial performance. The most comprehensive service of research and analysis of company environmental and social responsibility is offered by The Council on Economic Priorities. MANAGING FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY Many companies are making significant improvements in their environmental and social management practices.
The company must recognize and respect the personal worth of employees and allow them to share in the success of the company. During the past ten years, a number of business networks and companies have engaged in environmental and social accounting. The notion of ‘political companies’, on the other hand, concerns the business enterprise with its surrounding eco-system, the external stakeholders: shareholders, customers, the community, interest groups, standard-setting organisations, society at large.