Today Armistice day, I reflected on the passing of a soldier/pacifist. In the photo a young paratrooper just said “I volunteer and get paid for what I do, but you were conscripted and did it all the same”
As we learned a few days ago, Santander has made a £2 million contribution to stimulating social enterprise. It was a reminder that earlier this year, I’d drawn attention to the need for fundamental responsibilities to customers and suppliers. Santander, for example, had given my father a great deal of stress in his final months, due simply to their incompetence and managed to screw up even after his passing, by removing my widowed mother, rather than him from their joint account.
Soon after the Guardian opened its hub on sustainable business, I raised an issue with Editor Jo Confino. One of the Guardian Media Group, The Manchester Evening News, had asked me as a supplier, to submit an invoice and then simply not paid it. They still haven’t paid, several years later.
I asked Jo, how can a newspaper group advocate sustainable business and at the same time undermine the financial sustainability of its supply chain. If we fail to create revenue then our social mission is placed at risk and as a consequence so too, were those our mission focussed on. It was something he couldn’t influence, he told me.
The sustainable business hub was particularly resistant to our work with Sumy State University on Economics in Transition. I was suspended from commenting several times for posting a link to this work on the demise and replacement of capitalism.
By the summer of last year, the impact of our work on Ukraine’s childcare system was increasingly evident and I offered an article, ‘Changing Capitalism for People and Planet‘ describing how this work had evolved from an argument that challenged shareholder primacy in business.
In hindsight, It wasn’t surprising that 2 months later, the death of the man who’d led the way brought no comment from social enterprise pundits.
When Mark Kramer made the argument that corporations could profit from solving social problems, I offered an alternate view that had been proven. Business could profit from trading responsibilty and invest profit in tackling social problems, as we had done in the case of ‘Death Camps for Children‘
It got me blocked permanently leaving the question. ‘Is Mark Kramer Afraid‘ of open discussion or is it the Guardian.
What interested me recently however was a discussion with Giles Fraser, former canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral who seems to be right on the same page of the hymnbook when he talks of a capitalism with a growth obsession. He will be totally unaware that activists like us exist because every effort seems to have been made to deny us access to media. Is Post Growth People Centered ted Economics so threatening?
The use of an armchair as a prop in these Guardian discussions underlines the distance between rhetoric and action and perhaps the proximity between bookburning ideology and controlling social media.
If a journalist cannot influence his own organisation to pay its suppliers, how can the same man change capitalism using an armchair?