This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Stakeholders over shareholders

We would also be remiss if we neglected to mention the role of investment in the contemporary economic situation, which is acknowledge by the Church in its teachings. In order to consider it properly, however, we must introduce a third distinction, pointing out the difference between shareholders and stakeholders.[1]

“Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value. Owing to their growth in scale and the need for more and more capital, it is becoming increasingly rare for business enterprises to be in the hands of a stable director who feels responsible in the long term, not just the short term, for the life and the results of his company, and it is becoming increasingly rare for businesses to depend on a single territory. Moreover, the so-called outsourcing of production can weaken the company’s sense of responsibility towards the stakeholders—namely the workers, the suppliers, the consumers, the natural environment and broader society—in favour of the shareholders, who are not tied to a specific geographical area and who therefore enjoy extraordinary mobility. Today’s international capital market offers great freedom of action. Yet there is also increasing awareness of the need for greater social responsibility on the part of business. Even if the ethical considerations that currently inform debate on the social responsibility of the corporate world are not all acceptable from the perspective of the Church’s social doctrine, there is nevertheless a growing conviction that business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference.”[2]

The variety of points made here cannot be explored individually in detail, but should serve to illustrate the need to make the intended distinction in our economic considerations. That corporate entities can be pressured by “absentee” proprietors with little or no long-term interest in the enterprise and no ties to the geographical area of the business makes for a problematic arrangement for those persons most directly involved in a business’s future.

[1] On the priority of stakeholders, see LS, 183.

[2] CV, 40.

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