Monday, May 10, 2010

Ethical implications for our CEOs

Share |
I have long argued that wealthy business people are partly the problem. They are partly the reason why we have declining freedom. The reality is that there is some measure of 'material' practicality in their philosophy, but they really don't want to identify the nature of the statist which controls their economic well-being. Whether they are 'intellectually-challenged', compartmentalised thinkers or repressed, or simply goal-orientated in a different direction, the implications are the same as for the parent who chooses to focus upon the growth of the business, as opposed to the proper development of their children. Years later they will disparage the child for their decisions, with no regard to the values they have modelled, or the choices they have made. Just as they are dumb-founded by the final reality of their child which has become a delinquent, so they are dumb-founded by the decline of their country into fascism. They did not see it happen because of their selective focus, and failure to analyse ideas.
So when I had the opportunity to challenge the ideas of our society with a CEO. At first I found him surprisingly agreeable. Well I should not be surprised, as my politics were consistent with his economic interests. Consider his politics:
"What we are seeing with Rudd and co is indeed fascism. They believe they know what is best for us all and that they can have a command economy. This is much worse than the Whitlam years which were bad enough. I don't see how anyone with half a brain could be anything but sceptical about climate matters. We are dealing with really evil people in Federal government just now".
The problem is that he does not grasp the ethical implications of his ideas. Clearly he is opposed to governments imposing their values on him, regardless of what they are. My counter-argument was multi-faceted because I wanted to give him the utmost possibility to integrate a lot of ideas across a range of subjects. e.g. The ethics of his friend/partner, his own values. I think I overwhelmed him and made him feel threatened. For a person with a great deal of pride in his acc0mplishments, influencing people is really a hard task. So I failed in this regard. My reply was very long, so I will only address his response to it:
"I disagree that “capitalism is selfishness”. The quality applies to the individuals, not to “isms”. There are selfish capitalists, selfish socialists, selfish people of religion, etc, just as there are unselfish people with the same political or philosophical bents".
The problem here is a lack of understanding of human motivations. He is not identifying the underlying motivations behind human thought and action. He in effect lacks 'humanities' science, which might be a good thing if he studied the topic at a university because he might have ended up a conflicted humanitarian. This is a flawed conception of selfishness and selflessness in the general community, including business leaders. We are raised with the belief that it is moral to serve others. Its the ethics underpinning socialism and fascism (Hitler: You are nothing, your nation is everything). It is not simply a moral imperative, it is a value alternative. People choose to be altruistic; it is not simply a case of having it thrust upon them by statists. He makes no distinction, so he does not see the underlying science.
He also makes no distinction between competing priorities. i.e. Masalow recognises that people have a hierarchy of values, and that they will prefer one to another. i.e. The love and satisfaction of one's wife to one's pet dog, to the extent that there is a conflict between them. Rather than regarding love as a trade - value for value - he sees love as altruistic. He does not recognise that altruistic love would mean loving her for her flaws (not in spite of them). Why then does he wonder why he did not fall in love with the most worthless girl who threw herself at him. Because he made a value judgement based on her virtues. Mind you, I don't wish to imply that all people make healthy value judgements. But these are psychologically healthy people with good values.
The other aspect of his reply was that 'selfishness' relates to psychology, not to philosophical values. In this regard, he does not identify the integrity of politics and ethics. Pity! I even provided him with a clue, i.e. Trade is based upon the exchange of value for value, which is inherently selfish or self-serving. You don't screw people out of self-interest, you screw people because you are self-loathing, which is the providence of altruists who create nothing, and thus have nothing to trade by flaws or vice. Their tools are guilt, coercion, manipulation like the promise of unconditional love. In fact most people are some blend of these attributes.

My conversation to this gentleman did not have the desired response. Pity I am too busy or overwhelmed to craft a better letter. Too busy to invest in anyone person. I do respect him. The reality however is that people are simply overwhelmed by the implications of these ideas. CEOs are hard nuts to crack because they are not accustomed to feeling vulnerable. We are raised to be strong, even to the point of denying reality. He really doesn't want to deal with these issues. Better to know on the first letter than invest a great deal of time in a relationship which was destined to fail. Keep..keep trying. :)
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?