When you agree with the author that business ought to be conducted virtuously (honestly, fairly, etc.), and that capitalism is the most efficient mechanism whereby business may be conducted virtuously, you’re inclined to cast a kind eye on the author’s circuitous prose, and if his great “takeaway quotes” and new ideas such as “spiritual capital” aren’t supported with either fact or argument, well, for a time that’s all right, his heart is in the right place. There comes a time, however, when a mental alarm sounds and it becomes apparent that there is something very wrong. That’s what happened with Doing Virtuous Business.
Two bumper stickers describe the author’s larger purpose, of which the book is only a part: COEXIST, where the letters are symbols of world religions, and “White Man’s Greed Runs A World In Need.”
Doing Virtuous Business is the foundation of an hour-long documentary, premiered at the 2nd Zermatt Summit only last week (June 16 – 18, 2011) and to be shown on PBS at the end of 2011. The purpose of theSummit is to “form a platform for… sharing a vision of a fairer form of globalization. The 4-minute video interview of author, scholar, and former United Nations employee Theodore Roosevelt Malloch begins with his statement “for years we have seen a form of capitalism practiced that is more akin to the casino than the common good.” He continues to discuss the “culture of greed.” While you will find no argument that greed exists in a free market, further investigation of the Summit, and further investigation into the author’s own Spiritual Enterprise Institute gives a clearer picture of the author’s concept of universal spirituality and his desire to fabricate a “fairer” world wherein people live in well-designed urban centers (think Urban Progress), where corporations are required to focus not on profit but on “giving back” to their communities (whether they choose to or not), and in serving their employees by creating meditation times, quiet rooms, and beginning meetings with singing where the employees become so inspired they take all four parts themselves and create a resonant harmony that creates spiritual capital the company can draw on for years.
While the book describes virtues by describing corporations who, to Malloch exemplify those virtues, the details reveal that Wal Mart has lost its faith because it makes living in the suburbs (outside those desirable urban centers) comfortable; McDonald’s logo is “childish,” Disney and Nordstrom’s create cult-like atmospheres that do more to rob the universal spirit of capital than enhance their employees’ lives, and American corporations aren’t sensitive enough to European sensibilities when conducting business overseas (those Esso Tigers just don’t go with the new Czechoslovakia apparently).
The book is written with a progressive agenda cloaked in spirituality and high-sounding rhetoric. When Mel Gibson is held high as the example for the virtue of COMPASION, and the Ford Foundation is a major sponsor of the documentary version of Doing Virtuous Business, you know all you need to know about the book. Save your money and your time for more worthwhile pursuits.