Friday, September 30, 2011

Are we at the brink of financial collapse? Will we pull back in time?

Having shared with someone the text of my 1998 speech "The Role of Law and Ethics in a Globalised Society"***, I received the following response:

"your article is based on an assumption which I am in doubt of, namely that Man is willing to give up getting more for himself in order to let others have their piece of the cake. Whereas I agree fully with your assessment that we are at the brink of disaster, I still see nothing convincing pulling us back from jumping!"

The response is based on two assessments. The first relating to humman nature, and the second relating to our current financial crisis. On the second, you read often enough on this blog

For the first, there are two (and only two) possible assumptions about human nature.

(a) that humans are no different from animals and will always act in their self-interest only. This view is observably false (nearly all humans operate right now philanthropically, and have always done so). Moreover, holding and propagating such a view makes it impossible to build any practical legal, social or political system. Acting on this assumption erodes and eventually destroys any possibility of civilised life. In other words, this assumption is both false and destructive.

(b) though indiivduals do act selfishly and to the detriment of others from time to time, such individuals lower the level of humanity and are to be held in contempt; most individuals are, most of the time, capable of rising, do rise, and should rise, above mere selfishness, to care for the common good. Those who do so most self-sacrificially we consider the heroes of humanity, whether Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or Mahatma Phule or Jesus of Nazareth. We actually increase the possibility of building beneficial law, society and politics as we hold up such ideals before humanity, which always has to choose between evil and good. Holding such an asuumption is the only way of preserving, let alone building up the possibility of any civilised life. In other wordss, this assumption is both true and construcive.

And what has all this to do with the current financial crisis?

If you hold the first assumption, you are bound to be negative and to be bearish, and so will contribute to the collapse of the system - with all the negative consequences for everyone including yourself.

On the other hand, if you hold the other assumption (which is sometimes considered "naive"!!!), you will contribute to preserving the system and even try to help reform it.

*** the text of the speech (at the Conference on The Role of Law and Ethics in a Globalised Economy, organised by the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition & Tax Law, co-sponsored by The European Academy of Sciences and Arts as by The Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology; held at the Bavarian Academy of Humanities & Sciences, Munich, Germany, May 22-23, 2008) was published as a chapter in the Proccedings of that conference, Springer, Germany, edited by Professor Joseph Strauss.
This was a version of material that had been presented initially at The Club of Budapest conference in 2004, and arose out of material initially presented in 1998 as "Life, Work and Careers in the 21st Century" at a meeting of the Career Innovation Group and published by them as a Discussion Paper in 1999 and, in a related form, as a chapter "Managers' Lives, Work and Careers in the 21st Century" in Leadership and Management in the 21st Century (edited by Cary L. Cooper), Oxford University Press, December 2004, pages 107-138. Sphere: Related Content


Joanna said...

Well said!

hcoe said...

Hello Dr. Guptara,

It's good to hear someone in your position to constantly speak of the ethics solution to the Global Economy, restoring trust between Banks and people, both local and international.

Ayn Rand is not the solution, nor is Socialism. As great as man is or at least can be, Western Democracy has worked because it has based itself on the idea that man is basically sinful and not basically good.

I always feel sad when Jesus is placed on the level as "Heros of Humanity. His claims were much greater, infinitely so.