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  • Gary Scarrabelotti

Boardrooms high

Boardrooms believe they have mastered the “Theory of Everything.”

Margaret Court makes a fair point. Alan Joyce is using Qantas as a corporate “bully pulpit” from which to propagate – and to elicit consent to – a biological falsehood: the notion that two men (or two women) can form a marriage.

“There’s a strong business case”, Joyce claims, for same-sex marriage. That’s because, he went on to argue, “there are a lot of shareholders these days who will only invest in companies that have good corporate­ social responsibility.”

Yes, I can imagine that, at the high switch points of banking, finance, investment and corporate governance, there are people who believe, like Joyce, that it’s socially responsible to back the revolution against human biology and its defining realities. Whether it’s good for business, however, is a question for those who’ve gone before us in testing this “market”. We need to ask the merchants and traders of Sodom and Gomorrah who have first hand experience of how well sexual liberation worked for them.

But I digress.

One dimensional man

For a long time now the commanding heights of the corporate world have been adopting and proselytizing society-shaping moral positions.

Let’s take an example that has nothing, immediately, to do with sex.

Big business always defends the “bigness” of big business on the grounds that it is more efficient than “smallness” and that “consumers” benefit, among other things, from the “cheaper” products and services that big businesses are (supposedly) especially capable of delivering.

What seems to us today as a mere commonplace actually contains a thinly disguised world view – a concept of man and the good life for which big business has fought tenaciously.

Take the idea of “consumer”. Implicit in this term is a great deal of philosophy and, arising out of that, a great deal of morality.

Freighted with the concept of “consumer” is the idea that man lives in a purely material universe; that his needs are solely material; and that, in order to meet those needs, he must work, then barter, trade, or otherwise exchange, to acquire what he “needs”; and then, in order to be satisfied, he uses up whatever goods and services the society in which he lives can provide in response to his “demand”. Or, at least, man may be considered as a homo economicus for the purposes of creating an efficient and productive society in which those requirements – food, clothing, shelter, relative comfort, then greater comfort and, ultimately, even riches – can be met.

Now, I am not saying that all business leaders and economists believe that the concept of homo economicus is a complete and satisfactory description of man. Many would see it as only part of the story and, for a limited purpose, as merely an analytical tool. That’s a credible position. There is no doubt, however, that many others actually do hold to “Full Monty” materialism. Moreover, whether we are speaking of thoroughgoing materialists or not, this idea happens to shape an habitual way of thinking and speaking; and it does communicate, by repetition in its crudest form, that man “consumes” and nothing more.

There must be few people who cannot see, upon a cursory reflection, that this is nonsense. We observe about us people who are all “consumed out” and suffering from ennui, unhappiness and despair. So there must be something else, something more expansive, a higher view of human beings than that which business leaders and their agents typically promote.

These days, when sensibilities are so raw, we have to negotiate around meaning-of-life questions with abundant carefulness. At some point, though, we have to come to the point. And here we are: ignored in the doctrine of “consumerism” is the importance to rounded human living of our place (male and female) in the family and of the family within the wider society. The economy and work, considered from this perspective, seem then to be about something more than consumption: there’s a connection with forming and sustaining the building blocks and interlacing fabric of society. There is also the question of the higher “ends” of economic endeavour, namely, leisure and the use of it for play, for study, and ultimately for meditation on the higher things: truth, beauty, goodness and the source of these.

Ye are Gods

And yet, on the basis of an obviously false philosophy – false because of its terrifying narrowness – big business has set about redesigning society, in concert with the political class.

Looking back across my lifetime the changes are bewildering. Small businesses have been eaten up: think of the death of small farms, the corner grocery shop, the multifarious and specialist hardware stores, the family purveyors of wine and beer and many more. In their place the monopolists reign supreme. Today tariff barriers are down, people barriers are low, currency is freely exchanged. People, goods and money flow back and forth across borders with ease. Borrowing is a cinch, especially for consumption. Capital and jobs have been exported to low-wage countries and making things has been reduced here almost to a memory.

There is no doubt that a lot of people – myself included – have done well, so far, during this Age of Disruption. If you’ve held onto a job, been self-employed, or run a small business long enough, and lived in a two-income middle-class household, you’ve probably enjoyed a remarkably opulent lifestyle enthroned on a cornucopia of relatively cheap consumption goods and services.

Multiculturalism is all about making the world free flowing for global corporatism.

The downside, however, has been the rise and rise of the strongest corporations: doesn’t the power, for instance, of Woolworths and Westfarmers over the supply of food, fuel and hardware bother you? Then there’s been the enormous increase in household debt. In Australia average household debt to disposable income now stands at 189 per cent. Also there’s the shocking, unreported real level of unemployment of above 15 per cent. Digest those figures.

We shouldn’t forget, of course, about the rise out of poverty of millions in so-called “developing countries” – in particular, China – funded, in part, by our mortgages and credit cards and by the junking of our manufacturing jobs and their transfer overseas. Nor can we ignore our own hunger for possessions and appetite for the debt. We share responsibility. We responded to alluring stimuli.

This world of fluid people and capital flows, of easy money, debt, out-sourced manufacturing, cheap products and unemployment was conceived, however, and designed by “big business”; it was supported by an effective globalist propaganda; and it was implemented by the allies of business in political life.

In this, Australia has been an echo of a world wide movement. It’s been a great time, especially if you managed to surf through our last 25 boom years, but ugly if you’ve been smashed by wave after wave of “creative destruction”. It’s been beyond horrible if you happened to experience a direct hit from the GFC, like American manufacturing workers who not only lost jobs but homes as well.

The good, the bad and the ugly in this picture can be sheeted home to mostly invisible people seated at the apex of corporate office towers located in the great cities of the western world who have been cosseted by governments and protected from the consequences of their great experiments.

Non-state actors

The reach of their thought goes well beyond, however, money, goods, services, production, distribution, efficiency, markets, profits and losses. It’s a “Theory of Everything”.

You would have noticed, for instance, that slipped into their “economics” is a global migration policy. It’s an essential element. People have to be free to follow capital and jobs. And, since capital and jobs pour back and forth across national borders, so also must people. And, since people movements don’t occur in a frictionless way, then you need a new kind of society to accommodate them: the multicultural society and the dilution of national identities. If you have a beef about our immigration and refugee policies, don’t bother protesting outside Parliament House. It’s the boardrooms that are your problem.

There are some people who believe that multiculturalism is a medicine against racism. Whether one should treat the sickness of racism with an enforced mixing of the races is an interesting question. But it’s not germane. Multiculturalism is not, primarily, about healing society; it’s about making the world free flowing for global capitalism – or, more accurately, for global corporatism.

Be sceptical, then, when you hear “big business” leaders sounding put upon and pleading in the media “We just want certainty” or “We just want to get on with business.” It’s not fair dinkum. “Big business” is inveterately political and its political agenda, like all such, entails necessarily a view of the-way-things-are and a view of right and wrong. Corporatism is a philosophy of life wedded to immense power and influence. If one can use terms employed in another context,” the great corporations are “non-state actors.”

When you have that kind of power, you really do think that you’re the “masters of the universe”.

So, redefine marriage and the family?

Why not?

It would be tasteless to mention the desire of business to open up new markets and to profit by the ultimate “consumers” in the “pink” market. So, generally, business offers an eclectic set of other arguments in favour of re-defining marriage: human rights; respect for differences; cultural diversity.

(Being “gay”, by the way, is now considered no different from being Chilean, Vietnamese or Macedonian. Homosexuality has been accorded the status of an ethnicity.)

Such, then, is the official business thinking. It does not, however, come to the heart of it. What is really at work is something else. Thus spake Zarathustra Inc.: Many of our CEOs and executives, many of our best staff, are “gay.” Who, then, is the state – who the church – to tell “our people” what they can do? For “our people”, we are the state; we are the church. None can stand against us.

It’s a perfectly comprehensible but audacious claim.

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