Thursday, January 27, 2022
I've started reading Tom Lin's new book, The Capitalist and the Activist: Corporate Social Activism and The New Business of Change. Although I'm only through the first chapter so far, I've found it to be an extraordinarily accessible and even-handed account of the current state of play. Using story after story he knocks down perceived walls between social activists and capitalists. He takes a nuanced, thoughtful approach and encourages readers to reject simplified portraits of capitalist and activists. These words jumped out at me:
Recognizing the significant good that capitalists can bring about for society does not blind us to the serious harms that they can sometimes create or perpetuate in society. Recognizing the transformative power wielded by activists does not deny the obstacles they can sometimes present for policymaking. Just as humans are neither all good nor all bad, their institutional and collectively efforts at capitalism and activism are neither all good nor all bad.
His first chapter tackles the debate over corporate purpose and sketches the different sides of the debate. He rightly recognizes that corporate social activism and expectations of corporate engagement are likely here to stay even as debates about corporate purpose will inevitably continue. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book.