A Workable, Transformative Ethics-Based Alternative By Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg
This paper by Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg, published alongside three others, is one of many proposals for a systemic alternative we have published or will be publishing here at the Next System Project. You can read it below, or download the PDF. We have commissioned these papers in order to facilitate an informed and comprehensive discussion of “new systems,” and as part of this effort we have also created a comparative framework which provides a basis for evaluating system proposals according to a common set of criteria.
The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is a comprehensive and coherent economic model and is being practiced in hundreds of businesses, universities, municipalities, and local chapters across Europe and South America. It represents an alternative to both capitalism and communism. It emerges out of a holistic worldview and is based on “sovereign democracy,” a stronger democracy than exists today.
The model has five underlying goals:
1. Reuniting the economy with the fundamental values guiding society in general. The ECG encourages business decisions that promote human rights, justice, and sustainability.
2. Transitioning to an economic system that defines serving the “common good” as its principal goal. The business community and all other economic actors should live up to the universal values set down in constitutions across the globe. These include dignity, social justice, sustainability, and democracy. These do not include profit maximization and market domination.
3. Shifting to a business system that measures success according to the values outlined above. A business is successful and reaps the benefits of its success not when it makes more and more profits, but when it does its best to serve the public good.
4. Setting the cornerstones of the legal framework for the economy democratically, in processes which result in concrete recommendations for reforming and reevaluating national constitutions and international treaties.
5. Closing the gaps between feeling and thinking, technology and nature, economy and ethics, science and spirituality
The following ten principles help clarify the ideas and concepts underlying the ECG movement.
1. The ECG strives towards an ethical market economy designed to increase the quality of life for all and not to increase the wealth of a few. ~3~ ~4~ possibilitie s & proposals new systems
2. The ECG helps promote the values of human dignity, human rights, and ecological responsibility into day-to-day business practice.
3. The Common Good Matrix indicates to what extent these values are put into practice in a company. The Matrix is being continually improved upon in an open, democratic process.
4. The Matrix provides the basis for companies to create a Common Good Balance Sheet. The Common Good Report describes how a company has implemented these universal values and looks at areas in need of improvement. The report and the balance sheet are externally audited and then published. As a result, a company’s contribution to the common good is made available to the public and all stakeholders.
5. Common Good companies benefit in the marketplace through consumer choice, cooperation partners, and common-good-oriented lending institutions.
6. To offset higher costs resulting from ethical, social, and ecological activities, Common Good companies should benefit from advantages in taxation, bank loans, and public grants and contracts.
7. Business profits serve to strengthen and stabilize a company and to ensure the income of owners and employees over the long term. Profits should not, however, serve the interests of external investors. This allows entrepreneurs more flexibility to work for the common good and frees them from the pressure of maximizing the return on investment.
8. Another result is that companies are no longer forced to expand and grow. This opens up a myriad of new opportunities to design business to improve the quality of life and help safeguard the natural world. Mutual appreciation, fairness, creativity, and cooperation can better thrive in such a working environment.
9. Reducing income inequality is mandatory in order to assure everyone equal economic and political opportunities. ~5~ possibilitie s & proposals new systems 10.The ECG movement invites you to take part in creating an economy based on these values. All our ideas about creating an ethical and sustainable economic order are developed in an open, democratic process, will be voted upon by the people, and will be enshrined in our constitutions.