The Social Business Revolution

Today many large global corporations are larger and more powerful than most of the so called sovereign nation states within the United Nations. And yet when we demand democracy we do so only for those nation states. The United States has often been on a mission to make the world democratic and it's presence in Iraq, its support of Georgia as with many other situations has been clothed in the ideological clothes of supporting democracy.

But how can we have democratic states when the most powerful organisations, the global corporations are not accountable or democratic. What value is there in a poor Central American country making a democratic decision to for example practice more state control and planning when global corporations within that nation state withdraw their support and investment? What use is it for democratically elected states to pursue policies to limit global warming when large corporation are often wasteful of resources and are major contributors in the warming of the planet?

Gradually attention is being drawn to the anomaly - that democracy is deficient when major corporations behave like benign dictators on the global scene. This has led the movement for corporate social responsibility - a movement seriously questioned by many who feel that voluntary responsibility will not work and that international agreement has to be the most effective instrument of making corporations change behaviour. Others still argue the 19th and 20th century case of those corporations collapsing under their own weight and change taking place through chaos and revolution.

However we have little time for gradual change or revolutionary jumps in the dark because many of the major problems of the 21st century are imminent and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the possibility of runaway global warming, the advent of peak oil and the depletion of other essential world resources are problems so imminent that they threaten our very survival. We have to find ways that can change our world without destroying it.

One of these is the social business revolution that is beginning to sweep the world. This revolution is one that encourages government and voluntary organisations to support and enable social and community enterprises that are far more efficient over energy and less wasteful of resources. It is also a revolution that encourages the strategic placement of small micro grants and loans to companies that are based on sustainable development. As this movement grows then it could have a significant contribution to play in our troubled world and when this is combined with strategic redirection of finance and investment to these small companies then the change could be profound.

21st Century Network is holding a meeting on this very subject on September 21st and is beginning to explore this movement and how policy makers within nation states can encourage it and thus create a business world that is more sustainable, more accountable and a true part of the democratic tradition.It is a vital debate for the 21st Century.

Photo credit: flickr