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tv   Joel Bakan The New Corporation  CSPAN  December 21, 2020 6:50am-8:01am EST

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it is the one that i became most interested in. a lot of corporations in the mid- 19th century. how are we going to get people to put their money into ventures like this. and just hand understand that over to managers to do what they well with it. how did the people who put the money and no that their
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interests are going to be served by the people managing the enterprise. basically said everything a corporation does has to be in its own best interest. the collective interest of the shareholder. quite a long time ago when i was studying corporate law i have this idea that the corporation is a person and if it's legally constituted to only act in its own self interests. we would diagnose it as a psychopath. it was the basic argument of the project. that project rolls out i'm thinking because i was young and a young and arrogant and full of myself obviously this is gonna bring another level of capital.
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they're gonna see the problem with it and everything's gonna change. ten years after that i'm sitting in a theater at the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the first film and it hits me like a rock what are we celebrating. ten years had gone by and everything that we talked about has gotten worse. democracy is more in crisis. everything has gone in the wrong direction in terms of what we have got an out. that now. and at the same time beginning around 2005. corporation started saint we are no longer the problem. were sustainable. were socially responsible. were good actors now. these two things were there.
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as i traveled around the world doing research for the book and the film i went to the world economic forum. one of the leading goobers in the world. i realize there was a message that i was getting from all of the people in the message went something like this. were good now so let us run the world. we can do it better than government. let us have your schools. let us govern. i was shocked i was in the middle of the double square. and i was interviewing reach richard item in. i was trying to get at this idea so i said to him.
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where did democracy go if we relied on corporations to solve our problems in the environment. he's very powerful and very influential in the world beyond the political world as well. he seems like he was one of capitalism's good guys. corporations had to have a purpose and sustainability. he said to me this. it kind of seared into my mind. i'm not much of a believer in political citizenship i believe in the power of the marketplace. i was taken back he's one of the good guys. and the basic argument was corporations figured it out. were good now. we have the resources and the well. we have the scope to be able to solve problems like poverty and patience. and climate.
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governments had fallen behind. nobody trust them anymore. democracy isn't working. in that quid pro quo is they should be able to have governing powers not to be governed anymore. they positioned themselves as publicly minded. we can protect and promote the public. so the chilling piece of that is that it is giving up on democracy. not sandy intentions of the individual are wrong. or sad. i believe they are all sincerely well-intentioned.
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but when you piece it together. and that's the argument i made from the book itself. about a moving task moving beyond. leaving behind democracy. i'm not prepared to do that yet. in the end of the book and the film there is a very hopeful note many people are trying to reinvigorate the market. we see that as the way forward. of the imposing tendency and movement it is a fascinating book. and then we realize that we
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wanted to be there. the whole premise never changed. and then it was on so a chilly aspect of all institutions. isn't this good that they want to be led left bad. is there any room in their view for accountability of some port. i think it's a really good question. it's hard to say it worked for them to try to be better. it seems implausible. i guess two things happen.
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if it was simply the fact. that corporations were trying to be better and they weren't trying to be better in order to leverage their better nests to gain more power than i would save course is there better. but that's not the case. that concerns me. the second problem. and lord brown is a good example. he created a culture. of safety. what is bad about lord brown.
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it's taken up with the conception of it. when he says i believe in safety but personal air.
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we are buying it. not only the product but were also by the ideas see mac we are buying those ideas. in the ideas. we don't even know it i think people within the corporate world are buying this idea that it's really about corporations deciding to do better. it shouldn't be that. i shouldn't be about the democracy and telling them what to do. when i interviewed milton friedman. nation and say they're doing these other things. if that's all they're doing them we need a really robust democratic structure to ensure
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that what they're doing and it doesn't do more harm than good. it's almost taken for granted since. the accountability should come from within the corporation. there is nothing democratic about that. and as my concern as well. i think that the principle that underlies the book do well by doing good. and how they are fundamentally having limitations for that. it's still mandated for that shareholder profit. as a result, doing good only happened so far is only
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possible. i don't think i realize the extent to which the number of mechanisms to which it is pursued. in doing so. we see the corporation becomes that it should be answering the social problems. i was very interesting for me to worry about. my studies are in the pharmaceutical sector. but also in the other side setting governance accountability. and those are a passage in there. with the oil and gas companies. i think this idea with the corporations increasingly
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corporations increasingly going to legislators and regulators and lobbying for greater stakeholder involvement. that is something i have seen from the pharmaceutical sector. but to see how it is a feature that is common throughout the industry. also very interesting for me. did i inspire that inspire you to stay in law school or to quit. the end is about the new democratic project a little bit more than what we've been tolerating up to now. anything that comes to mind you want to be on the right side of history from this one. are they suggesting the course
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of action for you. i guess if were being very honest about the nature of law school in graduates go on to those big corporations. their choices in terms of career won't necessarily disinfect their immediate climates. for the institutions that govern our society. that is quite heavy to be. almost the first level of law school. this is your subject matter. you had been thinking about these issues for a long time. it is a terrific book. i first seek a global appetite
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for it. i felt like i was at a cocktail party. not that i wanted to be there. but it was revealing so the book comes alive with the portrayal of people and what they're thinking i would attribute that to you rather than your editor. i'm entirely some pathetic empathetic with that. they have a mandate to pursue profits and the benefits of shareholders. and it could be classified as pathological. and now the term towards citizenship. there's part of a book about
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the privatization of education. in moving into the global north. i would recommend that. the way in which you have that be there. in quite a lot of detail. these practices that are being spread around the world in as you noted. the late wilson freedom. would have agreed that they should give up on any kind of social responsibility. more time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that. companies are using other people's money to pursue the socialist objective. it is simply beyond the mandate. which suggests. the freedom writing there is a
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back story. i found that they didn't really had that kind of read. some of it appears for sure in the corporation. i think readers should understand that on the idea of the corporation as citizenship. the idea of corporations as governing arts the idea that corporations have a social responsibility that they will pick up and pursue in a manner that might be substantial in some ways. the book seems to suggest that
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in the 2008 financial crisis. on the part of corporations. there is a longer story to this. the fact that she you don't talk about liberalism. and plastic terminology like that. in the shorthand. for project. initiated in the 1970s and having a foothold in the uk with margaret thatcher. so that project has been going on for some time now. that the liberalism has been shorthand for the weight in
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which we think about that corporation. and it is desirable that our status as consumers is something that we should value. it has become part of that. that suggests the project and the undertaking there. it's can be a difficult one i think. i really appreciated that. restoring old regulations. i think the important part of that. i think the approach we make.
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is from the responsibility of citizenship to call upon their representatives to do more and do better. we need real legal reform to make the rebranding exercises. one thing you do call for by way of reform they are invoking the new deal. in the 1930s. and the response of the great depression. in reading the conditions of the american people. i don't mean to belittle the importance of those measures at the time. but, i think it is will understood and this is how they characterize the new
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deal. it's capitalism. i think you want more than a new deal. and frankly, to suggest that that is the agenda going forward particularly when we take into account those things. another kind of project needs to be taken together. i know you can't can do it all in one. is to try our complicity to the devastation in the global setting. particularly in the pandemic time. i hate that we need to imagine other projects improving
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democracy and democratic practice. into the field is also different way to do it. for instance. the occupy movement. i was moved. what we are seeing though. are the connections that are being made it would've been nice to see if you have talked about moving up political
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participation and higher levels. many of the stories. our very noticeable. i want to suggest that one way of thinking about this is to hyatt and freedom. they famously came together. and now what is being called the thought collective. and not only got together to talk but to actively pursue their agenda and every avenue that was available. whether it was the polar text.
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this is an aggressive way of thinking about that. but that's it you're getting it from the other side. when we think about fighting corporate power. we have to anticipate what the other side is gonna do. i think the book is a bit efficient. what i'm suggesting to you is that any movement even post pandemic. is going to require a battle. i have a couple of questions. you may have some comments now that you've heard this. this is now that you have heard in a and david.
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i start chapter three talking about the rule of law as an unqualified good. they use that idea or way what he calls the idea notion of law. but it not only constitutes that. it's a very important aspiration that we should have. it is actually a really a call for the rule of law. i feel like the corporate sector. they are abandoning the rule of law. and so in a way, it's a very
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conservative argument about rule of law. and about the importance of all us all being constrained in a democratic society. we achieve democratic accountability through legal rules and principles. that's why lead off the whole chapter with the importance of regulation. david i have a few things. the first is probably a bit of a copout. i didn't deal with a history of social responsibility. i dealt with in the first book. i look at their campaign. i talk about john brown as part of the new wave of responsibility in the late
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1990s what i'm going to say to you is these are the perils of going there. and trying to write a book for a commercial publisher who wants to make a lot of money by selling a lot of copies. my editor just mixed it. no you can't do that. talk about privatization. the only time i use in the book is where they have the have the world economic forum. it is highly ironic. in terms of history. i do talk about the debate and
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how it was constituent. i am to the large extent relying on readers to read of the first book or am being told by my publisher do not repeat the first book. my publisher was really concerned that it was a standalone book and it was not a continuation to the first one. the publisher was pretending they never wrote the first book. the point about needless to
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say, that is not the model i necessarily want. i am not against a market system. i think it's really important to in nowhere do i say we shouldn't do this. it is not a powerful tool for organizing production in a society. i think the important thing is it is a tool. the problem with capitalism as we know it and all you have to think about is capital is the -ism. everything that we do have to be oriented towards a creation of capital. it is why i prefer socialism shouldn't should it be to serve the public. to that extent, it's partly a
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rhetorical ploy writing a book for an american publisher to try to get people at least a reference to these ideas they are not entirely new. that we have done this before. and it didn't destroy the republican all that. my belief on social change is always baby steps. i feel like in the film and book. if you get to what it feels like to have a society that cares for them instead of a minimum wage of $15 an hour. there can want more.
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there is something different happening and i think we could agree that that should be there but it's just different things. as you that is you heard the company same.
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this is a different type of thing. we are gonna remove those commitments from the peripheral of our country. -- company. i was the csr 2.0. it was cut quite radical and different than what is happening with that point. compared to what they were talking about in the 1930s. if we have them buying the fact that we should have smaller government. we have trained on this. they had been thinking about that for a long time. i have to say governing at the distance.
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it was a product of the right. and also a product of the left. closer to community organizations. the governor always punishes the poor. i think it is really here. there is not a government that does not do a stakeholder. to do that. it was the great line about about using your growth as a consumer. he spent so much time being a consumer. we had been told vote with your dollars. what are you stand -- where do
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you stand on that. i think the movement of responsible consumption ultimately not just governance at a distance. it says to make responsible decisions in the marketplace is a no. we actually don't need to regulate. we can rely on responsible consumers. we go ahead and talk about that. my reference point is that an activist and writer nate stacy michelle.
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we talked a lot about the consumption that we can change the world by what we buy or don't buy. it is really corroding our sensitivity. i think it is a more profound question. how do we solve this problem that both the left in the right seem to say that big government is a problem. it ends up being detached and removed from the people in making decisions that are not for the people. as part of the reason i do focus on the movement among municipal government. there is a hidden presumption there. of believing in the principle of subsidiarity. it is a fairly new concept for us in terms of actually trying to make it work.
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and this issue of how we deal with the local and the regional and the national and the interactions among them. this is of course the central issue in federalism how do we allow for this close neck democratic community. at a local level. and how do we work out from that to put that there for communities of communities. as a political thinker. that is the direction we have to go. we can't just rely on those things. we need ways for those to interact. there is a lot of great writing on that.
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it was to focus on these are municipal politicians who are trying to generate real democratic governance. i believe that people kind of trained themselves and those responsibilities at the local level. let's hear from this question. i really have enjoyed the book.
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the answer just pay your taxes. that legally comes across because of the failures of legal liberalism. and now the fascist seem to be holding the rules of law is
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there another strategy that doesn't leave in my elite legalists. i am terrified about what is happening south of the border and what is happening in poland. there are two ways that you can look at this. it is a failure of liberal legalism. it's actually been deployed by
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this. to justify their power. of the critical leave of faith. back in february. they are just defending the legalism. i actually don't agree that the so-called populace are hijacking liberal legal realism. they are flooding the constitution. the rule of law. they are suggested that power is power. and that there shouldn't be any constraints on it.
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that power should be subject to legal restriction. so my own sense of this moment politically. it is part of what needed to get us through a more democratic socially place. in order to defend that position i'm going to invoke an article that was written by carl mark. that is the argument he made. and i was very influenced by that argument. his argument was in order to get to true socialism. we need to go through the legal legality. of a formal right system. with anti-semitism.
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with new civil rights that were created in that century. in his argument was actually, those rights are important now. because you don't get to socialism without going through liberalism. i don't know how this is all gonna play out. but my sense is that the strategy at this point. to have political rhetorical structure. people don't had trouble. that is just my sense of it. in order to guess that people there. that the arguments that argument resonate.
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the arguments that are get out resonate are we used to be a great nation where we have a new deal for unemployment insurance. we used to be a great nation where we cared about the constitutional democracy and something like the president doing that and you crane. i feel like strategically. those are the arguments that will resonate. i totally see the problem with that. one more question from the audience. and then we were thinking about concluding remarks. i answer the question there. it is the product of a society in which we live.
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it is a socialist. i think what you are saying is that he hand-in-hand. to the basic critique when you said the and the previous anchor. i was trying not to repeat myself. the corporation is woven into our current form of capitalism. it wasn't woven into adam smith's capitalism.
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he was about to butcher the baker in the candlestick maker. on the corporation. that is what we have. to go back to the point about roosevelt. he seen the same thing. from the collectivist tendency. i completely agree. my argument in the book is not necessarily to get rid of markets or the corporation. my argument implies that we should get rid of the idea that capital is the end of everything that we do.
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it's not something that i'm supporting. but the corporation is a brilliant vehicle if what you want to do is raise a large amount of capital. there is no other way. that's why it was can created as a social construct. but a corporation in that way is like any other machine. a lawnmower is a great machine. if you want to cut your lawn. but you don't want to use it to give yourself a haircut. that's overdoing with corporations. were not just cutting the lawn with them anymore. when were not just using them as a tool that we are. but we are doing everything that we can with them. driving to the local store.
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that is a problem with the corporation. it's designed to do something that's way out of proportion. at this point our capitalist system. has become has become entirely dependent upon it. and one of the reasons why i argue in the book the whole b corporation movement is highly problematic. as we are getting closer to the end of the hour. i just wanted to invite you and let's start with this. are you gonna write it.
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what could you want them to remember from this conversation. see mac i. >> i just wanted to know. i don't remember reading marxism. i think what they're doing and this is what a number of critical left commentators are doing it is too much to expect you to lay out a program of action going forward. but just stopping the train from it. and allowing us to reflect. i think you're onto something with the municipal political movement that you identify. i had been writing about the way in which for new liberalism is suppressing voter turnout at the national level.
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they just don't think states can do much. they can't do anything anymore. but they use too. as they don't do well anyway. so voter turnout is declining in those democracy. i think the citizens want an outlet. i think they want to participate and give the opportunity it seems to be a form. for that kind of participation. there might be other things we could imagine. with vehicles. for citizen input. etiquette is the i think it is the hopeful one at the end of the book. and be on the right side.
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would you like people to get from the book. for me especially. you mention this in the book. how the idea of consumers and it is consumer choice that can be a social solution i think. especially for young people. as the boating season approaches in the u.s. anyway. it's not just about where you choose to buy your close. that is the way that your voice can make the most impact around you i guess. linking the two. and get involved politically. you'd be happy that we have the projects open. and to engage people to see
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about their democracy. this one fits in perfectly and the ark of reflecting on the challenges facing the democracy. we will give you the last word about your next project may be or what you want people to continue to get from the new corporation. it might have ultimate words. thank you. thank you for coming. thank you for all your thought in question. as a writer i am probably the worst person to say what you should take from the book. obviously when we make these projects. both the film into the book. and the book. it comes from a deep hopefulness.
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if one were cynical. one would not do this kind of work. and so i think it is really important what message i would say. be skeptical. i think it can be a very powerful form of hope. because it means that we believe things can be better. that you're willing to question those things and be better. i think skepticism often gets confused or mixed up. or seen as a same thing. they could not be more different. there is no reason to be skeptical if you have no hope. the more skeptical you have. the higher the settings that your aspirations and your vision. and then the families something else.
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it's hard not to get kind of personal about it. because ultimately. the work we do our mind is a tool. but our hearts and soul are the driver. that's what compels us to do we can. when we talk about pulling an emergency court. i was very hopeful about where we are. and then this is a operating teaching. my hope is that it generates the discussion like that. it causes people to think about things. that may beat were be were kind of intuitive. they articulate something or they think it's wrong. and they feel those arguments are wrong it's really engaging in that all too human enterprise of engagement. of discourse.
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i think those are the things that we are losing. or were all getting into this i wrote the book intentionally trying not to vilify people and corporations and trying to back which evidence. there is a lot of critical work out there. that is rhetorical. i did a lot of research. i talked to a lot of people. and i wanted to present a fair and powerful argument. with very human discussions. if that is all it does and encourages that fundamental human activity. that i'm happy.
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i want to thank the team that has put that together. thank you very much for your work. in helping us with a great discussion about this great book to a larger audience. thank you. we make here is a look at some of the most notable books of 2020 according to the wall street journal. and money in npr jacob goldstein martin sherwood looks of the cold war with a focus on in the cuban missile crisis. gambling with armageddon. in the book warm. margaret mcmillan considers how military conflict has affected our lives is on the wall street journal's list of 2020 notable books. thusly 43. james holland. examination of the invasion of italy during world war ii. and historian eric larson
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discovers his leadership during the blitz. in the mid- 1940. that's when the action starts. it was the day that churchill became prime minister. prime minister. the greatest day in his life. this is the thing he wanted most of all. and he became prime minister. going into the rebellion in the house of commons. it was that the prior prime minister was not up to the challenge of dealing with hitler in germany. but that same day. was the day that hitler went to the phony war. and became a hot shooting more. when hitler invaded the low countries. here is a situation. where it is the greatest day of his life. but also one of the darkest days in the history of the world.
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this is like added spice to the challenge. the idea being in charge. of this great empire at such a dire time. it really kind of thrilled him. most of these authors have appeared on book tv and you can find their programs in their entirety at book tv.org. just type the other's name author's name in the search bar. at the top of the page. the american enterprise institute. hosted a virtual event with the former in the second leading lending chaining who discussed in more of the first five presidents who are hailed from virginia. here she weighs in on the debate removal juice i'm not opposed to shaking down the confederate leaders. they were traitors. to the union. to take those statutes down is fine. but i do i'm appalled
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actually. when the dc government has
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educated enlightenment. the ideas of freedom quality three and congressional
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agreement. .. .. 2021 spending in the plan, $1.4 trillion package funds the government through next september. the agreement is being turned into a bill before it goes before the

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