Glasshouse Forum Fosters Enlightened Capitalism

I just learned from Daniel Sachs about this think tank – the Glasshouse Forum – to encourage serious thinking towards a more enlightened version of capitalism, one that reflects on the dangers of rampant consumerism (same which we can now witness more clearly with the current financial crisis, not to mention related environmental consequences from consumerism) and related problems like short-term financial objectives and behavior, as well as the impact of globalization on the middle class.

A couple of provocative thoughts about the studies they are setting out on:

…the fact that capitalism is a necessary basis for a free society does not mean that it is a sufficient basis.

…There are tendencies within capitalism itself which cause it to saw off the branch on which it itself is sitting. (ie, the reduction of the Middle class and its buying power)

Capitalism has constantly to stimulate our desires and encourage us to want to satisfy them immediately. This stimulates an infantile character, whose attitude to life can be summed up in three words: I. Everything. Immediately.

[Under unfettered capitalism], Is it our duty to consume more and more in order to keep the economy going, even if we then as households live above our means? While we are focusing on the bubbles in the financial markets – sub-prime, asset-backed securities and others – the largest bubble in terms of long-term impact is the consumption bubble. At some point, the Western world will come into a period of considerably lower consumption levels. This is a structural change that will obviously have a dramatic impact on retail and consumer goods companies as well as on advertising, media and ultimately on our standard of living. Can we cope with such a development?

Has the time come for not-Only-for-Profit models like PeaceWorks to become the rule rather than the exception not just in business but in our economic structures and frameworks?

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  1. Eyal Levin said:

    It’s called Social Business –

    Hopefully the future of capitalism, and a chance for a better world.

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