Sometimes it looks wonderful: Entrepreneurship, innovation, new drugs.
Sometimes it is really awful: Unemployment, poverty, environmental damage.
That is capitalism.
For all its deficiencies, very serious flaws and sins, market capitalism still probably represents “the worst system devised by wit of man, except for all the others,” to paraphrase what Winston Churchill said about political democracy.
In spite of its title, the purpose of this book is not about religion – and certainly not about creating a new one!
Using a religious reference as a book title does not mean that the author regards himself as a kind of devotee and evangelist (old-fashioned or newborn) pleading, on economics and in general, for some forms of heavenly or cardinal virtues. Yet these, or at least some, may admittedly come in handy in times of economic, financial, social or moral distress. For those who are not aware, have forgotten, and for the many more who live with other beliefs, in Christianity “the seven deadly sins” refer to objectionable and mortal vices. “I could’ve had religion”, as the Irish blues rocker Rory Gallagher sang. “But...”.
As far as I am concerned and as the following pages will show, I have never considered capitalism as a religion and behaved like one of its apostles. However, a loss of faith in the system might have been at work to come up with the criticisms developed in this book.
Call it the liberal blues or a blues for capitalism?
The book deals with the SINS of capitalism. Logically, it contains much more on the negatives than about the positives -and I believe there are still a number. The virtues may still deserve words of praise yet to a lesser extent than in the past. Why should we not talk of sins when, after all, it was (and still is) about religion – at least for some? Goldman Sachs’ CEO once said that he was “doing God’s work” and other dedicated followers of the market religion (make) believe that economic and market forces are like the forces of nature.
This thinking has turned into a form of “no alternative” determinism applied full steam ahead through the forces of globalization.
Capitalism is an economic system based on certain mechanisms. Not less, but not more either. It should not be turned into an all-embracing ideology, because you simply can’t run an economy as complicated as ours on ideology alone. Nor should it be viewed as a religion, e.g. by making it synonymous per se with free market or democracy, or, even worse, by mixing up market economy with some form of market society – where everything is bought, sold and traded.
Some more about Mike ...
Mike Guillaume is the co-founder and manager of e.com-ReportWatch, an American-headquartered, London-based company that specializes in listed company reports’ assessment and benchmarking.
Mike has a wide knowledge of corporate and financial reporting and has been the editor of the “Annual Report on Annual Reports” since 1996 (go to www.reportwatch.net). Prior to that, his track record includes extensive entrepreneurial and international management consulting experience. He worked first as an organizational consultant for a U.S. firm. Then he created and managed the Enterprise Group; first focused on business planning for startups and local enterprises; then on strategies for international SMEs, global firms and public institutions.
He has consulted extensively across a wide range of industries in Europe, North and South America, and Southeast Asia, with a strong grasp of the financial and energy sectors, amongst others. Parallel to his career path in markets, he did stints in the public sector (as part-time economy minister cabinet advisor), public-private partnerships (as program manager and consultant), and academia (as visiting professor in international strategy).
Mike has a degree in political science and international economics, and a background in financial management and analysis. He has authored many articles and contributed to various publications, reports and seminars. Born in Charleroi (Wallonia, Belgium), Mike has lived, worked and consulted in twenty-five countries on four continents. He now splits his work and life between London (“a city founded by the Romans and I’m not tired of it”), a former Roman village, and “other less Roman-influenced places.”
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Published January 2013