While the global financial meltdown and its aftershocks have unleashed a flood of indignation, condemnation, and protest upon Wall Street and in Athens (just to take 2 examples), the crisis has exposed a deeper distrust and implacable resentment of capitalism itself.
Capitalism might be the greatest engine of prosperity and progress ever devised, but in recent years, individuals and communities have grown increasingly unhappy with the implicit contract that governs the rights and responsibilities of business. The global economy and the Internet have heightened our sense of interconnectedness and sharpened our awareness that when a business focuses only on enriching investors, it implies that managers view the interests of customers, employees, communities and the fate of the planet as little more than cost trade-offs in a quarter-by-quarter game. This goes also for the governments – ruled by businesses and the banks – politics ruled by businesses and the banks – and the businesses and the banks ruled by who? !!!
It’s time to radically revise the deeply-etched beliefs about what business is for, whose interests it serves, and how it creates value.
We need a new form of capitalism for the 21st century, one dedicated to the promotion of greater well-being rather than the single-minded pursuit of growth and profits; one that doesn’t sacrifice the future for the near term; one with an appropriate regard for every one; and most of all, one that holds leaders accountable for all of the consequences of their actions. In other words, could we invent a capitalism that is profoundly principled, fundamentally patient, and socially accountable?
Also can we invent a new trend of consumerism? Is it possible to be moderate in that matter? Not crazily attached to all iPads, cars, objects, objects, objects – to more and more?
This is THE new challenge, and it is more urgent than ever, not just as an effort to escape reform and regulation from the outside, but to restore the public trust, to repair the moral fabric of the system, and to unleash the innovation required to tackle the world’s most pressing and important challenges.