Yesterday, I suggested that if only corporations were moral, their way of shaping how state-sized entities might be was far more appropriate for a physically globalised and 21st century world than the legacy of nation-states we’re suffering from more and more. As I observed in the post in question (the bold is mine today):
So if anything is now stopping us, if anything can explain our hatred for these behemoths, it must surely not be the things themselves but, rather, the way they’ve been hijacked for other purposes. We shouldn’t be railing against the idea and structure of corporate bodies themselves but, instead, be identifying the miscreants who’ve subjected their missions to such stupid jackass strategies.
Much as political leaders have lately driven us to UKIP, so business leaders have driven us to moral despair. We are clearly confused. We are clearly bemused. We are clearly unable to properly understand the shape of things. But looking at these things with a cold and beady eye, three-dimensional, morally-respectable and transnational states of the kind corporations could potentially become make far more sense in a truly 21st-century world than the two-dimensional, mutually-excluding, geographically-restricted and xenophobia-leaning nation-states of the type we are clearly headed for.
Further thoughts and reading has occurred to since I wrote that post. Firstly, I realised that perhaps what’s missing isn’t corporations which act more like the better nation-states but, rather, nation-states which incorporate the better aspects of the better corporations.
For there are, of course, many people who wildly fling about statistics – which may be made up or not – that argue bitterly against the alleged fact that around half of the biggest “economic entities” in the world are corporate. As if all the nation-states that populate the globe are covering themselves in glory. We only have to revisit the number of wars since World War II to realise that – even where possibly in cahoots with the private sector – many nation-states aren’t averse to using violence and death to achieve their external and internal policy objectives.
Some of them being these democratic nation-states we so love to look up to.
So just because half the world is corporate doesn’t mean that the non-corporate bit of it is doing us any particular favours.
The other interesting aspect of this whole argument is that it does appear the proportion of big corporate hitters in the top 100 is falling over time. Or at least in the decades leading up to 2009. The argument being that new corporate players have been recently emerging from Asia and other rapidly developing areas of the world, so taking some of the purchasing power and influence from the traditional corporate behemoths. If we accept, or assume, that these new and emerging players operate in non-Western cultures and choose to play by some of their own rules, the chances that Western corporations can influence and manage the growth of such companies for their own benefit is going to be rather more reduced than if we were talking about start-ups in our homegrown economies.
What’s more, if the tendency I mention above is as described, it would appear that – over the recent past – political and nation-state unions may have been heading in the opposite direction: with the moves to cement Germany safely at the centre of the European Union, the historical impetus to protect Europe from war has led to a concentration of powers rather than a spreading out. That this should take place within a supposedly democratic framework such as the EU, whilst corporate-capitalist organisations fight it out in what is, even so, hardly a free market, does lead us to some rather puzzling places.
Three pieces of further reading, then, to inform some of the ideas I’ve had in these past two posts:
- From Rob Marchant, with a piece from March this year on Labour’s internationalism and how it is at odds with standard business practice.
- From revolutionise.it, this pamphlet on reaching cross-party consensus by being forward-thinking.
- From an American PBS-linked organisation, sponsored it is true by corporate agents, we get this project on re-engineering corporate values and practices.
I think there is plenty to be getting on with here – and, we might even argue, to be considering seriously already.
Hope it’s useful.