Stakeholder Capitalism and the “Great Reset”

A couple of weeks ago I published an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, in which I have defended stakeholder value capitalism vis à vis the “great reset” envisioned by the World Economic Forum’s Klaus Schwab. The title of the piece is: “A better capitalism is a worse capitalism”.

My main point is that the many narratives used to refashion capitalism according to some criteria of alleged “sustainability” are actually going in the direction of making businesses less accountable. My article is now available in English too thanks to the Austrian Institute, a remarkable think tank led by Martin Rhonheimer. A Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome, Fr. Martin is a true scholar and a committed champion of economic freedom as a necessary component of human liberty and I am very glad he wanted to translate my piece and put it on the Austrian Institute’s website.

In the piece, I was specifically referring to a Time magazine article by Schwab (I’ve linked it in the post) where he claimed that for “the past 30 to 50 years”—and it would be interesting to know whether it is actually thirty or fifty years—“the neoliberal ideology has increasingly prevailed in large parts of the world.”

Klaus Schwab responded immediately with a counter-piece, which the NZZ published on line here. The title says that “CSR is in the best interest of businesses”. I was impressed that Schwab claims he battled for thirty years with Milton Friedman on corporate social responsibility, but acknowledges that Friedman won the debate. That is, in a sense, true: the jargon of CSR is all over the corporate world. But typically advocates of CSR and shareholder capitalism present it as a ought and not an is, a vision for the future. Schwab considers it pretty much a thing of the present. I consider this an admission potentially conducive to a healthier debate. In the real world of 2020, it is libertarians à la Friedman, who want a pristine separation between business and politics, that are in fact insisting on how the capitalist system *should* be and should fashion themselves as proponents of radical reform, not the other way around.

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