The New Capitalism: Chimera or Emergent Reality?
Submitted by: Caux Round Table, The
Posted: Jul 17, 2013 – 01:25 PM EST
ST. PAUL, Minn., Jul. 17 /CSRwire/ - The Caux Round Table’s 2013 Global Dialogue will respond intellectually to the changes in global capitalism over the last 15 years. The thesis put for discussion is that there is a “New Capitalism” emerging, which rejects the premises of financial fundamentalism as it has reflected Social Darwinist ego-centrism. In the early years of the 21st Century, traditional free market capitalism is in disrepute. Trust in business is low. Claims for entitlement outstrip the capacity of economies to finance government programs, encouraging demands for higher taxes on business income and wealthy property owners. Business does not have the moral high ground in public debates and cultural dispositions.
But, a new form of capitalism is emerging that deserves more respect and appreciation. Its various modalities, spokespersons and standards are diffuse and uncoordinated. Is it a real change in capitalism or just window-dressing hung here and there to please certain constituencies? The turning point towards a New Capitalism was the meltdown of credit markets in the fall of 2008, exposing financial fundamentalism to be both intellectually shallow in its theories of efficient markets and rational pricing and socially deficient in that it led to a great recession instead of enhanced wealth creation.
The scale of New Capitalism activity and practices is dramatically more comprehensive than ever before:
The OECD has issued guidelines for multinational enterprises and corporate governance and has sponsored the Busan Declaration on support for economic development; the European Union has adopted policies promoting corporate social responsibility; the International Standards Organization has promulgated ISO 26000; the Financial Standards Board has standards of high conduct for financial intermediation; the National Association of Corporate Directors has issued 10 principles of good corporate governance and the World Bank promotes good corporate governance as well; there are industry codes of ethical practice such as SA 8000 for factories, the Kimberly Process for diamonds, the Wolfsburg Principles for banks, the responsible care initiative of the chemical industry, the electronic industry code of conduct, the coffee industry code of conduct, a code for extractive industries, the jewelry industry code of conduct; many companies have adopted their own codes of conduct or values statements; the Global Reporting Initiative provides formats for reporting both financial and non-financial company information; civil society has evolved advocacy organizations: convention of Independent Financial Advisors, Business for Social Responsibility, Net Impact, CSR Europe, CSR Asia, European Association for Business and Society, Global Witness, Global Financial Integrity, Social Accountability International, International Society for Business, Ethics and Economics, among others; Rotary International has its 4 way test for ethical business practices; and wisdom traditions provide platforms for ethical analysis of markets and enterprise with Encyclicals of the Roman Catholic Church, Thailand’s Sufficiency Economy ideals, Nepal’s advocacy of Gross National Happiness and Hans Kung’s work on global ethics as examples.
Subsequently, numerous similar initiatives have taken hold, making for a movement in new ways to make business-decisions:
The United Nations has sponsored the Global Compact consistent with the Preamble to the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related principles of responsible investment and business education. It has sponsored the Millennium Goals, the Monterrey Consensus on economic development, and the Rio+20 recommendations for ecological sustainability of economic activities. Special Rapporteur John Ruggie has issued a statement on business and human rights; and an international convention has been adopted to eliminate corruption as a business practice.
The Global Dialogue will center on and assess this emerging new capitalism. The role of the Caux Round Table is to provide capitalism with moral dignity, including the application of moral standards that transcend self-interest and serve a common good. The global vision of a moral capitalism was first set forth in the Caux Round Table 1994 Principles for responsible business. What the Caux Round Table started as an outlier with its 1994 Principles for Business has become a norm for free market capitalism.
But, can the New Capitalism deliver with respect to climate change? Can it generate the wealth and growth needed to provide employment for hundreds of millions, especially youth? Can it sustain profits as costs for environmental sustainability and providing higher quality goods and services continue to rise? The “Old” Capitalism thrived in producing to scale so that prices to consumers dropped and dropped, raising living standards for everyone with market access, even the poor. Consider the effect of this kind of capitalism in places such as garment factories in Bangladesh.
Taking advantage of meeting in Bangkok, the Global Dialogue will discuss the New Capitalism partially through the lens of Thai Buddhist values, as suggested by His Majesty, King Bumiphol Adulyadej, as the Sufficiency Economy. Leading thinkers and business executives will join the dialogue to contribute from a Thai perspective. Buddhism, as long noted by the Caux Round Table, presents a sophisticated approach to sustainability, risk management, and corporate social responsibility. The Global Dialogue will also review and revise a Bangkok Declaration on the New Capitalism for subsequent presentation to the United Nations.
The Global Dialogue will go on record with comments and recommendations on many aspects of the New Capitalism. We invite you to assist in this endeavor.
Participation is open to all prospective registrants.
Additional information and registration form are available on the Caux Round Table’s website at: www.cauxroundtable.org.
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