Conscious capitalism has been touted as a moral transformation of capitalism, going beyond the social responsibility of capitalism to increase shareholder profit. According to Patricia Aburdene, author of Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism:
“We’ve now become conscious of the uncalculated social, economic, and environmental costs of that kind of ‘unconscious’ capitalism. And many are beginning to practice a form of ‘conscious capitalism,’ which involves integrity and higher standards, and in which companies are responsible not just to shareholders, but also to employees, consumers, suppliers, and communities. Some call it “stakeholder capitalism.”
She sums it up by saying, “The core value of conscious capitalism is enlightened self-interest.” I would say that enlightened self-interest means something like when your company’s standards are such that they care for and are accountable to those who work for them, their community and the world at large, success is likely to follow. But do not forget, self-interest is still self-interest.
My point? You see corporate is corporate is corporate no matter how you slice it – unconscious or conscious and no matter how you dress it up. Few would disagree that corporations drive the economic model called capitalism and capitalism serves the concentration of wealth. Taking it one step further, wealth is power and the concentration of wealth historically has equaled the concentration of power.
Robert Jensen, professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin speaks the unspeakable in his essay, Anti-capitalism in 5 Minutes or Less :
“Capitalism is not a choice, but rather simply is, like a state of nature. Maybe not like a state of nature, but the state of nature. To contest capitalism these days is like arguing against the air that we breathe. Arguing against capitalism, we’re told, is simply crazy.”
“Capitalism is admittedly an incredibly productive system that has created a flood of goods unlike anything the world has ever seen. It also is a system that is fundamentally (1) inhuman, (2) anti-democratic, and (3) unsustainable. Capitalism has given those of us in the First World lots of stuff (most of it of marginal or questionable value) in exchange for our souls, our hope for progressive politics, and the possibility of a decent future for children.”
I highly recommend you read the entire short essay. I want to focus on his number 2, that capitalism is anti-democratic. From my observation, capitalism and true democracy are not unlike mixing oil and water. No matter how hard you try, they just don’t mix.
Ever notice that a man or woman cannot become a serious presidential candidate unless they are millionaires plus have a huge million-dollar plus campaign fund? That’s capitalism, folks, not democracy. Just think of how many great candidates there could be if big bucks were not pivotal criteria.
American Heritage Dictionary – Cite This Source
de·moc·ra·cy (dĭ-mŏk’rə-sē) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. de·moc·ra·cies
* 1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
* 2. A political or social unit that has such a government.
* 3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
* 4. Majority rule.
* 5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
Again, Robert Jensen says it best:
“For all the trappings of formal democracy in the contemporary United States, everyone understands that the wealthy dictate the basic outlines of the public policies that are acceptable to the vast majority of elected officials.
People can and do resist, and an occasional politician joins the fight, but such resistance takes extraordinary effort. Those who resist win victories, some of them inspiring, but to date concentrated wealth continues to dominate. Is this any way to run a democracy?
If we understand democracy as a system that gives ordinary people a meaningful way to participate in the formation of public policy, rather than just a role in ratifying decisions made by the powerful, then it’s clear that capitalism and democracy are mutually exclusive.”
The real kicker is when you uncover that the U.S. government itself is actually a for-profit corporation! The Act of 1871 or An Act to Provide a Government of the District of Columbia on February 21, 1871 formed a corporate entity named THE UNITED STATES for the 10 mile area of The District of Columbia. The original Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers was “The Constitution for the united states of America”. But over time, the original Constitution morphed into a corporate constitution “THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” with the power of the corporate entity established in 1871 gradually extending its legal jurisdiction over The District of Columbia to the entire 50 states!
O.K. here’s the logic. Corporations are the engines of capitalism and capitalism is generally accepted as a wealth-concentrating economic model. Therefore given that our government is a corporation, it also functions on the capitalistic economic model and is motivated by the possibilities of wealth concentration!
Get the picture?
Almost no one learns this piece of significant history about our country in school. Read the whole story in Lisa Guliani’s article: The United States Isn’t a Country; It’s a Corporation!
Connecting these dots is all-important to gain insight into why even conscious capitalism is pretty much a crock when it comes to the personal and financial well-being of the majority of Americans, the “little individual”.
In our corporate-dominated world (including the corporate government) enlightened and un-enlightened self-interest rules. Remember: self-interest is still and will forever be self-interest. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to admit that the best interest of the “little individual” is not factored in to the capitalistic economic model no matter how green or supposedly enlightened.
Think about it.
Truthfully, we can never expect corporate capitalism to truly care about what is in our best interest. How come? There are two Americas. The corporate one and the people (grassroots) and never the two shall meet no matter how hard you try.
Via the under reported strategy of incrementalism, corporate interests have blurred the line between the two (over time) to confuse and use you towards self-serving interests of wealth concentration.
Real answers to the financial challenges so many millions of Americans face today are outside-the-box. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time”.
Explore the economic road less traveled; one for you and me.