Thursday, June 23, 2022

George Will: “‘stakeholder’ capitalism is parasitic progressivism”

In February 2021, Samuel Gregg argued (here) that: “To expect the rest of the world simply to accept whatever stakeholder-corporatist insiders have decided to be the new global consensus on any given topic seems disconcertedly utopian. It also increases the possibility of more populist backlashes on an international level.”

Yesterday, George Will published an op-ed in the Washington Post that appears to capture some more of this sentiment. You should go read the whole thing (here), but here is a brief excerpt:

The New York Times recently interviewed two advocates of ESG investing. One said, in effect, that only such investing fulfills fiduciary obligations because the welfare of those whose money is being used depends on “a planet that is livable.” Meaning: Politically enlightened ESG advocates know what unenlightened investors would want if they were as intelligent and virtuous as the advocates. The other ESG enthusiast the Times interviewed said “social justice investing” is “the deep integration of four areas: racial, gender, economic and climate justice.” And the “single-issue CEO” — the kind focused on maximizing shareholders’ value — is “not the way of the future.” This is often the progressives’ argument-ending declaration: Non-progressives are on the wrong side of history, so they can be disregarded until history discards them. The Times’s interviewer observed that “defining justice seems messy these days.” These days? Actually, justice has been a contested concept since Plato wrote. For today’s ESG advocates, however, the millennia-long debate is suddenly over: Justice is 2022 American progressivism, period.

Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink


Professor: Grew up admiring George Will and found his "Statecraft as Soulcraft" very influential. Classic Will - "ESG advocates know what unenlightened investors would want if they were as intelligent and virtuous as the advocates."

Used to love to watch, about 5 minutes after it had occurred, Sam Donaldson's "eyes light up" recognizing that he had been "George Willed!"

Posted by: Tom N. | Jun 23, 2022 1:17:55 PM

The tension between the interests insider stakeholders (those who wield political power in the corporation, whether or not they are insiders in the more traditional corporate sense) and outsider stakeholders (those without effective political power in the corporation) is underappreciated.

Posted by: H. Justin Pace | Jun 28, 2022 8:33:03 AM

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