Fall 2014 GCGI Journal
Published: December 31, 2014
(Scroll through below for the Papers Published)
This Fall 2014 Edition of the GCGI Journal consists of selected papers from the proceedings of our Conference at Waterperry House at the end of August.
The Conference was jointly sponsored by Globalisation for the Common Good Initiative (GCGI) and the School of Economic Science (SES) for the 12th Annual GCGI International Conference and the 2nd Joint GCGI and SES Conference “The Value of Values: Spiritual Wisdom in Everyday Life
“He that seeks the good of the many seeks in consequence his own good”- St Thomas Aquinas
“God loves a cheerful giver”– St. Paul
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity”- The Buddha
What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” Aristotle
‘UBUNTU’: “I am because we are.”
“Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value” Albert Einstein
A very warm greetings to you all from Coventry.
What a wonderful time we had together at the beautiful and spiritual Waterperry House. We are grateful to the School of Economic Sciencefor their self-less service, love, support and encouragement.
During our time together, we clearly showed that, yes, indeed, another path is possible: we kept our eyes on the better side of human nature, the side of love and compassion, rather than hatred and injustice; the side of the common good, rather than selfishness, individualism and greed.
We truly showed what it means to be of and for the common good, unleashing the power of passion and purpose. We lived together and pursued the common good.
Soon I will send you a more comprehensive report, outlining in more details the work of our Oxford Conference, the photos, the Award Ceremony and more. For now, we, who came together from different parts of the world, young and old, students and teachers, observers and story-tellers, experienced and newcomers, formed a community of committed and passionate gardeners, sowing seeds of sustainability, peace, justice and global friendship for the common good. In the wonderful and wise words of Rumi:
Tender words we spoke
to one another
in the secret vaults of heaven.
One day like rain,
they will fall to earth
and grow green
all over the world.
I thank you and wish you all well and look very much forward to seeing you all again at our next GCGI-SES Forum.
Yours as ever,
RECALLING THE CONFERENCE
A Report and Reflection by: Steve Szeghi, Professor of Economics, Wilmington College, GCGI Senior Ambassador, GCGI Board of Advisers, Co-Editor GCGI Journal(GCGIJ)
From August 31 Until September 4th, around sixty individuals from many countries gathered at Waterperry House near, Oxford for the GCGI Conference. The conference attendees came from diverse backgrounds, divergent spiritual traditions, many distinct cultures, and philosophical points of view. Many were teachers and professors, some were entrepreneurs, social and business, some were lawyers, and some were accomplished spiritual, political, and community leaders, to name but a few. All were united by a desire to make this world we live in more just, more equal, more ecological, and more relational. For it is in relationships with one another and in our relationships with the earth and all the species and elements of nature that human beings find happiness, peace and purpose.
This year, we once again found a unity with one another, we found connection. We found it in our search for truth and in our hopes to build a better world in ways both large and small. We listened intently to each other’s presentations. We engaged in dialogue during the formal sessions, and again more informally as we ate together and shared perspectives. What we hope for the world, we found in a special way, this year at Waterperry House.
We discovered a richer and more emotional bond with one another. The desire and thirst for justice both social and ecological, the hunger for something greater than consumerism and materialism permeated our sessions and our dialogue, as has been true for many a past GCGI Conference. But something more was touched upon this year at Waterperry House. In a heartfelt desire for all that is good to come into being, in a quest for an eradication of poverty and relief for and of so much suffering of people and animals across the globe, we did on several occasions burst into tears of frustration, but also of hope.
We discovered this year that, together in our thirst and hunger for a better world, we ache, that we suffer, and that we do so together. We found common connection intellectually, but also emotionally, and spiritually. In a deeper and a more profound way than before, we became a Community this year at Waterperrry House. The GCGI became, in a much more meaningful way, a true Community.
Part of it was no doubt the spirit of service and volunteerism that pervades and animates the School of Economic Science at Waterperry House. Another part of it was the Third GCGI Award given to Bhai Sahib Ji, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham, UK, and the chance to celebrate together his many decades of humanitarian service to others, his spiritual vision, and above all for the simplicity and essence of the Being of his very nature. And another part of it was the fervent hopes and sincere, but simple, desire that we all share for a better world and really being able to see and appreciate and respect in one another these hopes and desires.
Once again, the Founder of the GCGI, Kamran Mofid, succeeded in spectacular fashion in bringing together a wonderfully eclectic mix of human beings and binding us together in a common purpose and vision. The quality of the presentations was richly broad and penetratingly deep. Various speakers discussed the need for connection and relationships, and how consumerism and materialism were misplaced attempts to find what we really need, which we are starved of in the global economic system.
Several speakers discussed the need for, as well as the prospects of alternative means of ownership of firms and corporations, where the owners of the firm would be distinct from the investors or shareholders. Others discussed changing the legal obligation of the firm from the maximization of shareholder value to the maximization of stakeholder value. Several speakers discussed the need for standard economics to move beyond the concept of rational calculation or Homo Economicus, while others discussed the role of government in protecting the planet from pollution and climate change while working for greater equality and social justice. The limitations of markets and the implications of market fundamentalism or market totalitarianism were considered by several speakers. More just, more efficient and more progressive forms of taxation were also discussed. Futurology and the implications for Spirituality and Ecology were considered as well as the value of Mysticism and authentic spirituality in combating religions extremism and hatred.
We concluded the Conference with the knowledge that we will soon be launching our new GCGI Journal and await your submissions and revisions. We also parted knowing, that we will for sure meet at Waterperry House in 2016. Until we meet again in person in 2016 or before, let us remain a Community in our hearts as we work together, not alone, in spirit to build a better world.
Index: Please click the links below to be taken directly to the article which you would like to visit.
My observation of business practices over my business career of 50 years is that there has been a gradual shift away from the core values of honesty, loyalty, fairness and service in favour of intense efforts directed at obtaining short term results, usually financial, usually for ‘me.’ As standards slip more people begin to think that this is normal, this is the way things are done in business. This is the next step down the slippery slope toward a situation where corruption becomes commonplace.
We all agree with Nelson Mandela’s quote “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” But education has its own challenges, as it often systemically fails to engage children in learning. As Benjamin Franklin has quite beautifully said: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Steve Szeghi, Economics without the Rationality Postulate – Why it is Needed and What it Could Look Like
For thousands of years we had an economics that studied what was produced, by whom, and for whom, without the rationality postulate. It was also an economics that was grounded in ethics and moral considerations. We need once again an economics that is not limited in conception and burdened with such an unrealistic and tired assumption as constant and continuous rational behavior. This paper will describe the reasons why such an economics is needed.
Such an economics is needed in the interest of realism. It is also needed to move beyond the straight jacket of efficiency both in terms of how it is defined, and the tendency to ignore or downplay far more important considerations. Finally it is needed to move beyond the moral equivalency of all human actions. Ethics and spiritual values do matter for the sake of both personal happiness and the ability to be a community.
Gherado Girardi and Fabio Petito, Post Secular Reflections on the Value of the Stakeholder Approach in Business
The business strategy literature considers two types of corporate objectives or, as companies like to call them, ‘missions’, namely the shareholder and stakeholder approaches. According to the shareholder approach, companies exist to maximize the return for shareholders, and all other stakeholders (workers, managers, customers, suppliers, etc.) are instrumental in achieving this purpose. On the other hand, according to the stakeholder approach (in its more communitarian form), companies exist to benefit all stakeholders (including the shareholders, though, unlike for the shareholder approach, these are not given priority over other stakeholders).
Farhang Jahanpour, Mystical Legacy – Antidote to Fanatacism
The prolific author, novelist and historian, A. N. Wilson, who originally studied theology at Oxford, later on left the church and declared himself an atheist, and again in an article on 11 April 2009 in Daily Mail announced his conversion to Christianity, in a hard-hitting pamphlet in the Counter-Blast series in 1991 wrote: “It is said in the Bible that the love of money is the root of all evil. It might be truer to say that the love of God is the root of all evil. Religion is the tragedy of mankind. It appeals to all that is noblest, purest, loftiest in the human spirit, and yet there scarcely exists a religion which has not been responsible for wars, tyrannies and the suppression of the truth.
Kamran Mofid, For the Common Good – Unleashing the Power and Passion of Purpose
Those familiar with my writings and also with the GCGI will easily know that in my view nothing is more urgent and important in our world today than striving for the common good. I have written extensively on this topic. However, as my contribution to our ongoing conversation on the Common Good at our GCGI Oxford 2014 Conference, below I have provided a short summary of and the links to a selection of my writings on the common good.
My perspective comes from two broad sources: (1) from over sixty years of living in globalised, diversified communities, in different countries and continents, in the midst of a diverse group of people, from various cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds; and (2) from thinkers- past and present- who were/are open, fresh and responsive to the human spirit, reflecting deeply on the individual, society, community and the common good. It is fair to say that, their impact on me has been profound. Their wisdom has nourished and nurtured my personal and professional development.
Walter Schwimmer, Spiritual Heritage as a Source of Wisdom in the Age of Globalisation
The biblical words: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone …”, spoken 2000 years ago are even more valid in the time of globalization. Human beings are not just tool using animals, ruled by biological drives only, but vision creating beings. Human beings have goals, certainly materialistic ones too, but the visionary goals are idealistic and very often selfless. They are related to religious beliefs as well as to humanistic movements. However, no matter whether a human being considers him or herself as religious, for everybody exists something which is “holy” or “sacred” in his or her mind, may it be some principle, some objective, some relation, e.g. such as family. Mankind cannot exist without spiritual dimensions. Spirituality is releasing blocks, leading to new ideas and guiding people when they need it. But what is most important is the desire which is based in spirituality to help people and make a difference in the world. When the world is going through tremendous changes, the process which is called globalization, we need desperately this desire for reaching out to other people, for solidarity, for a global sister- and brotherhood.
Luk Bouckaert, Can Spirituality Save the World?
Is the world driven by politics of power, economics of greed and a cultural ethos of consumerism? At first glance, it seems that many political and economic events can be explained by these narrow drivers of individual and collective ego-centrism. However, there are countervailing powers at work. A growing number of people from different religions, nationalities, political parties, scientific disciplines or social classes become aware that we reached the limits of our current system of ego-centric growth. In interviews enlightened business leaders speak about their interest in Zen or other meditative practices.
Jamshid Damooei, Economic Efficiency and Ethical Behavior – Exploring Ideas on the Creation of Economic Values, the Workings of a Virtuous Market, and the Role of Profit
This paper takes a brief look into a number of important issues that each requires a much deeper level of inquiry and analysis. The core issue is based on a fundamental assertion that ethics is an inherent component of a well-run economy and successful businesses. In recent years, business has been viewed increasingly as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. This paper questions the sustainability of recent economic and business practices. It argues that the cost of economic crisis, the fallouts from unfair business practices and the emergence of an uncertain future for humans and other living beings on Earth are some of the more obvious costs of the inefficiencies caused by unethical behavior. The issue of profit maximization as a concept that works against its stated objective by bringing a fall in profit in the long term is looked into closely.
Ghoncheh Tazmini, The Islamic resurgence in the Arab world and the need for a Dialogue within Civilisation (This paper was originally presented in shorter form at the 2013 Paris Conference of GCGI, but due to the paper’s critical relevance to the current global political situation the editors thought to include it in the current issue)
The upheavals spanning much of the Arab world over the last two years have introduced dramatic change in the region, overthrowing leaders in some countries and seriously destabilising regimes in others. Some have suggested that Iran would be the main beneficiary of regional instability, owing to the ‘the downfall of pro-US Arab regimes in the region, an emboldened Arab public angry at Israel and hostile to US foreign policy, and growing assertiveness of Shi’ites. The rise of political Islam in the Arab world, they argue, has shifted the balance of power in Tehran’s favour. Various analyses of the post-revolutionary Arab world are replete with talk of ‘Islamic crescents’ with the Islamic Republic of Iran haphazardly blazing the trail. There is also much hype and speculation that Iran is using all of its resources to manipulate and hamper democratic transitions in the Arab world.
In this analysis, I go beyond assessing Iran’s role in the Arab spring as strictly a strategic rival or a regional power. There are lessons to be drawn from Iran – and not necessarily the 1979 Iranian-Islamic revolution or the so-called Green Movement in 2009. I will draw on Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005) during which the reformer-president had to respond to calls for progressive social and political reforms within a theocratic-Islamic template. I will advance the idea of a broad-based ‘dialogue within civilisation’ as a framework in which all segments of post-authoritarian Arab society – Islamist, conservative, liberal, secular, the youth and minority groups – discuss how to integrate both indigenous and ‘nativistic’ practices and traditions with more ‘modern’, ‘democratic’ institutions. Moreover, I will argue that the international community can act as a consensus-builder by encouraging post-authoritarian Arab societies to pave their own path to modernity by pursuing a strategy of ‘autonomous adaptation’ to new political and social realities.
Audrey E. Kitagawa, Loving Kindness and Compassion in Daily Life
Most religious traditions promulgate behaviors that are meant to express our caring for each other as a form of implementing social justice of the highest order in daily life. Everyone wants to be treated fairly and reasonably because our sense of justice preserves and enhances our personal and collective dignity, which comes from an inherent recognition that our lives are sacred, and as such, should never be degraded. To be in relationship with others in a manner that is respectful, just, and dignified, presupposes that these qualities are developed within ourselves first so we can then have the capability to convey and share them with others.
Ulrich Duchrow, Overcoming the Spirituality of Money by Inter-religious Solidarity for the Common Good (Although unable to attend the conference in person, due to circumstances beyond his control, Ulrich wrote an excellent paper for the conference. We are therefore honored to include it in the Conference Papers)
We are facing a global crisis created by the climax of our capitalist money civilization — a crisis that calls for a global answer. The world’s many religions are well suited to serve as resources in the face of this crisis because they emerged during the Axial Age: the same time period when money and private property began to penetrate everyday life including the spirituality of people in pre-capitalist societies across the globe.
Gerrit De Vylder & Zubin Mulla, Kautilya versus Thiruvalluvar. Inspiration from Indian Ancient Classics for Ethics in Governance and Management
We consider two classical sources from Ancient India as possible sources for tackling the lack of ethics in governance and business in emerging markets today. First, Arthashastra is a treatise on economics and politics written by Kautilya, the advisor to the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta during the fourth century BC. Kautilya provided practical recommendations like providing high and fair compensations to civil servants. It is suggested that the existing wage structure creates feeling of inequity in government employees and is likely to lead to inefficiency and corruption. Second, Thirukkural is a classic of rhyming Tamil couplets, possibly written around the year 31 BC, by Thiruvalluvar, a common weaver born in Mylapore, near present-day Chennai. It is one of the most revered ancient works in the Tamil language, providing a guide for human morals and betterment in life. Like Adam Smith and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thiruvalluvar stated that ethical values coincide with a good economy and that therefore a free market is necessary. Basically humans are naturally good and contribute positively to the economy. In conclusion, while Kautilya gave pragmatic advice to tackle human’s destructive economic instincts, Thiruvalluvar assumed the natural goodness of men and warned against institutional interference.
Peter Bowman, The Value of Values in Economics- Economics with Justice
The financial and economic crash of 2008 and its aftermath has seriously called into question the usefulness of conventional economics as taught in the majority of universities. Since that time there have been a number of initiatives to re-formulate the subject. The School of Economic Science is an educational charity that has been offering courses in value-based economics for over seventy years, most recently under the title: Economics with Justice. Its courses offer an ethical approach to economics that could provide an example of an alternative approach to the subject for those seeking a reformulation. The present course is offered in three termly modules. The first unit introduces the basic elements of the subject but from the perspective of justice. It explores issues such as employment, land tenure, banking, credit creation and taxation not just dealing with the mechanisms in operation but also from the perspective of their inherent justice or injustice. In the second unit the history of the development of economic ideas is followed. As in the first module the approach is not just to look at the content of these ideas and their effects but also to consider how they relate to justice. The third module explores recent developments in economics relating to growth and sustainability. By also including the topic of human development it opens for consideration the need for man’s inner growth as well as the satisfaction of his outer needs. The paper will describe this example of a values based approach to economics.
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