Moral Protest and the Collapse of Moral Order

What we are living through these days is historic. In several senses, historic as of great importance and an inflection in the course of events and historic in its parallels to past moments of breakdown – Lexington and Concord, the Bastille, the March from Selma 1965, Detroit 1965, Watts 1967.

When disruption subjects the common good to abuse of power, there are no winners and cycles of fear and retribution dissolve well-being, fair politics and cultural reassurance. The community falls apart.

The actions of four Minneapolis police officers on Monday night were such a disconnection between the common good and the use of power. A particularly important insight into the behavior of those officers is the complaint issued by Hennepin County for the arrest of officer Derek Chauvin. A copy of the complaint is here. Please read its statement of facts.

In 1829 when creating the first modern police force, Sir Robert Peel demanded that the force of law be part of the community and never stand against it. He set down ethical principles for policing for the benefit of community.

These principles are:

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary, of avenging individuals or the State and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Comments on Pandemic Lessons Learned

With our podcast discussions with guests, keeping up with family and associates and reading here and there, after a while, one begins to settle on some lessons learned from our global exposure to a mere virus. I’ve been keeping notes and put my thoughts into five different short video commentaries.

My attention has been drawn to 1) risk shifting and not sharing, 2) the responsibilities of government, 3) self-reliance, 4) leadership and 5) capitalism.

The series of videos are available here in order, with the first being the one on risk shifting and the last on capitalism.

I welcome your reactions and comments.

What Kind of a Recovery Should We Expect?

I wanted to share with you an article from one of our fellows, Stephen Jordan, on how we can recover from the policies enacted to combat the coronavirus.

Stephen is a keen thinker looking at the forces set in motion by institutions and markets who served as the Executive Director of the Business Civic Leadership Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Today, he is the CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Development.

A McKinsey & Company Paper Aligned with CRT Principles

Since the intent of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism is to offer practical help and not be too overly conceptual, discursive and academic, we consistently seek to provide you with evidence of alignment between our recommendations and wider perspectives on business and financial realities.

Recently, I was sent a paper by McKinsey & Company on “purpose.” I have excerpted portions which validate our emphasis on vision and mission as determinative of success with stakeholders and so as drivers of profit and growth in a firm’s equity valuation.

Responsibility – of a person or an organization – reveals itself in mindful intentionality. Purpose has become a trendy word in the last year, or so, for highlighting our intentions. As the McKinsey paper advocates, purpose focuses our intentions into a channel of dedication and collaboration leading to success.

You may find the paper here.

The full version can be found here.

I welcome your thoughts on these recommendations.

A Bipartisan Recommendation for Serving the Public Trust at this Time

As a coordinating member of the Minnesota Council on Character, I would like to share with you an unusual statement by two or our council members, Todd Otis and Chuck Slocum. As some of you may remember, both Todd and Chuck were Chairman of their respective political parties – the DFL and the Republicans.

At the Council, we seek to elevate worthy character as the foundation for citizens and as a goal of education. As Ben Franklin said at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, “A republic stands or falls on the virtue of its people and their chosen leaders. Our laws and our policies flow mostly from our character as people for good or for bad.”

Chuck and Todd have written this appeal, which has appeared in local newspapers. I wanted to share it with you and so have included it below.


Column: Turn to Our Better Angels and Away from Partisanship

By Todd Otis and Chuck Slocum, Guest Columnists

May 7, 2020

We are former chairs of the two major political parties in Minnesota; we care deeply about public issues.  Yes, the two parties are driven by different priorities and principles and the two of us have our strong and cordial disagreements.

But at this remarkable and agonizing time, we find ourselves in total agreement on one idea.  And that is that now is absolutely not the time for nasty partisanship in the public affairs of our state or our nation.  All of our elected leaders, from our president and Minnesota governor and thousands of others, need to be guided by character and not political expediency.

Our Anishinaabe brothers and sisters can show us the way.  They have treasured the “Gifts of the Seven Grandfathers: Humility, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Truth, Respect and Love.”

Humility. The awesome responsibility that elected leaders have to lead honorably and focus exclusively on the public good requires giving up the usual orientation toward re-election.

Wisdom. Knowing what to focus on to develop strategies and garner resources to attack the coronavirus requires great wisdom.  It requires securing the public’s health and regenerating the economy.

Truth. The solutions we need urgently must be guided by facts, science and verifiable truth.  The scope of the dangers, the effectiveness of treatments, the challenges related to developing and distributing vaccines must be unwaveringly guided by the truth.

Honesty. Now more than ever, our citizens need to have leaders they can trust who will tell the truth.  Indeed, trust is the bedrock for a vibrant and effective democracy.  In our adult lifetimes, trust has been eroding ever since the 1960s; 2020 is the time for our leaders to reverse what has been eroding for that last 60 years.

Respect. The heroes of the COVID-19 crisis are on the front lines, putting their lives at risk to serve us all.  Respect for them must be continuously and profoundly offered.  Leaders must not point fingers at one another as the blame game often creates losers across the spectrum of public opinion.

Courage. The courage that is shown privately by doctors, nurses, public safety professionals, grocery store and other service workers is a worthy model for all leaders.

Love. The spirit that “we are all in this together” is sweeping across our nation and the globe. Rather than inciting racism and xenophobia, now is the time to lead with love, understanding and forgiveness.  As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

We are certain that we will get through this crisis.  We grieve for those who are losing their lives and livelihoods because of this cursed virus.  This is a calamity for the ages.  It calls upon all of us to summon our faith, hope and charity.

With leaders who demonstrate character, what is at the other end of this tunnel could literally transform our state, nation and world.  We can summon our “better angels” to do that.  That transformation can change the tone of public life from one of polarized recrimination to robust, but respectful debate on the important issues.

We can find helpful ways to provide greater financial and health care security for millions while rebuilding our economy.  And we can join hands to protect the environment and the earth.  As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Todd Otis of Minneapolis is a former state legislator and State Chair of the Minnesota DFL. Chuck Slocum of Minnetonka is a management consultant and former State Chair of the Independent-Republicans of Minnesota. They are members of the non-partisan Minnesota Council on Character.

When Many Ask “Where Are the Leaders?,” Klaus Leisinger Shows Us How to Lead

We have just published Klaus Leisinger’s new book, The Art of Leading, on Amazon.

Initial reactions have been most favorable, with very appreciative comments that it comes at a time of troubles when the leaders which Klaus describes are needed. My colleague, Richard Broderick, is one of those who admires Klaus’ practical wisdom. I include below Rich’s review of the book.


The Art of Leading: The Significance of Personality and Character in the Choice of Leadership Personalities in the Economy
By Klaus M. Leisinger

A Quick Review by Richard Broderick

Encountering a book aimed at business executives, consultants and academics who teach management theory with a title like The Art of Leading is usually a task that elicits a weary sigh. A reader automatically expects some kind of shallow, boiled-down cross between Machiavelli and Norman Vincent Peale or perhaps a series of simplistic nostrums cobbled together by a columnist moonlighting from a newspaper business section; you know, the kind of tract that offers “on-the-scene” insights on how to get your day-old sushi business up and purring, etc.

In this case, however, the title belongs to a book whose contents are not only worthy of a business audience, but offer an integrated sequence of arguments and analyses all of us could benefit by reading. How many tomes with names like The Art of Leading offer a 27-page bibliography containing citations from sources that range from the Harvard Business Review to online magazines like Alternet to encyclicals issued by Popes John Paul XXIII, Benedict XVI and Francis I? Not many, I assure you.

The book is the work of Klaus Leisinger whose career in academia, business and as founder and president of the Global Values Alliance might lead a reader to expect a weighty tome, offering more work than enlightenment.

Not so. The Art of Leading is a clear and, above all, eloquently expressed thesis that manages, however unlikely it might seem, to demonstrate that Erich Fromm’s groundbreaking The Art of Loving, which argues that being governed by love, in the broadest and most profound meanings of the word, is as much a key to true success in the workplace as it is everywhere in life.

It is, above all, the basis of a form of “success” that benefits all stakeholders of enterprises in the capitalist world, not merely shareholders and upper management. By combining pragmatic compassion – you help me, I help you – with agapé, the embrace of a universal and unconditional love of the cosmos, it is within our grasp, Leisinger argues, to shape an economic system that sustains the environment – natural, human, political and financial – while maintaining the freedom to choose where we work, what kind of work we do, who will serve as our political leaders and more.

Given enough time, human beings can get used to almost anything, Dostoevsky argued. And that, he declared, is both our greatest strength – and our most dangerous weakness. We are very adept at compartmentalizing our lives and our sense of consciousness: a critical skill for a species of relatively small physical prowess (compared to, say, bears and tigers) and a wide and highly variegated range of undertakings necessary for survival.

In the capitalist world, the emphasis of this compartmentalization tends to fall on the individual, as opposed to the collective. I know I can make this happen tends to supersede the deeper question of should I make this happen, regardless of the benefit to others. This emphasis lies at the heart of why capitalism was born and first flourished in the west.

In time, however, that has led to an economic system whose internalizing of profits, while externalizing costs has bequeathed us with a mentality in which industries and individual enterprises operate as if everything and everyone is either a resource or a potential consumer, here to be used, used up and then discarded.

Of late, society’s long-standing objection to profit über alles has taken on an even greater urgency. Today, it’s not just an individual city or region or even country that suffers from irresponsible business practices; it is the entire planet, including the natural environment upon which human civilization – and any kind of economic system – relies for survival.

Can we respond in a manner that is able to reconcile and preserve what is best about capitalism – its enormous power to marshal resources and enrich whole societies – with what must be done to preserve our world?

Yes, Leisinger proposes, if we learn that The Art of Leading depends upon The Art of Loving, where “love” is practiced in the broadest and most beneficent sense.

A Remarkable Discussion with John Dalla Costa

One of my most influential guides in the work I do is John Dalla Costa, now retired in Italy. We asked John to join us for a podcast conversation on the raw ethical issues we as a global community now face in coming out of lockdown and seeking to balance the health of all, of some in particular and our need for “daily bread,” as Christian scripture puts it.

I hope you might have a moment to join the conversation vicariously and learn as I did from John.

Free and Equal Blues

When reading some of the kind comments I received yesterday and today about my email on VE Day, I recalled my dad once introducing me to the songs of folk singer Josh White. White was well known in the 1940s as using his music for human rights ideals and to end segregation in the White south. He was close to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and followed by many of those in my mom and dad’s generation. But in the McCarthy period of strident anti-Communism, White was marginalized and largely forgotten. He was ignored by the folk revival of the 1960s and the growth of audiences keen for the blues.

Josh White’s song “Free and Equal Blues” used the blues genre to reaffirm our common humanity, regardless of race or ethnicity.

His thinking that the body chemistry shared by all persons has moral implications has just been affirmed by the coronavirus, which can reproduce itself without regard for race, religion, ethnicity or class – thanks to the biology we all share.

You can hear White sing this 1940s anthem of global equality here.

The lyrics of the song are:

I went down to that St. James Infirmary and I saw some plasma there,
I ups and asks the doctor man, “Say was the donor dark or fair?”
The doctor laughed a great big laugh and he puffed it right in my face,
He said, “A molecule is a molecule, son, and the damn thing has no race.”
And that was news, yes that was news.
That was very, very, very special news.
‘Cause ever since that day, we’ve had those free and equal blues.

“You mean you heard that doc declare
That the plasma in that test tube there could be
White man, black man, yellow man, red?”
“That’s just what that doctor said.”
The doc put down his doctor book and gave me a very scientific look
And he spoke out plain and clear and rational,
He said, “Metabolism is international.”

Then the doc rigged up his microscope with some Berlin blue blood,
And, by gosh, it was the same as Chun King, Quebechef, Chattanooga, Timbuktoo blood
Why, those men who think they’re noble
Don’t even know that the corpuscle is global
Trying to disunite us with their racial supremacy,
And flying in the face of old man chemistry,
Taking all the facts and trying to twist ‘em,
But you can’t overthrow the circulatory system.

So I stayed at that St. James Infirmary.
(I couldn’t leave that place, it was too interesting)
But I said to the doctor, “Give me some more of that scientific talk talk,” and he did:
He said, “Melt yourself down into a crucible
Pour yourself out into a test tube and what have you got?
Thirty-five hundred cubic feet of gas,
The same for the upper and lower class.”
Well, I let that pass…

“Carbon, 22 pounds, 10 ounces”
“You mean that goes for princes, dukeses and countses?”
“Whatever you are, that’s what the amounts is:
Carbon, 22 pounds, 10 ounces; iron, 57 grains.”
Not enough to keep a man in chains.
“50 ounces of phosphorus, that’s whether you’re poor or prosperous.”
“Say buddy, can you spare a match?”

“Sugar, 60 ordinary lumps, free and equal rations for all nations.
Then you take 20 teaspoons of sodium chloride (that’s salt) and you add 38
Quarts of H2O (that’s water), mix two ounces of lime, a pinch of chloride of
Potash, a drop of magnesium, a bit of sulfur and a soupֱon of hydrochloric
Acid and you stir it all up and what are you?”
“You’re a walking drugstore.”
“It’s an international, metabolistic cartel.”

And that was news, yes that was news,
So listen, you African and Indian and Mexican, Mongolian, Tyrolean and Tartar,
The doctor’s right behind the Atlantic Charter.
The doc’s behind the new brotherhood of man,
As prescribed at Gettysburg, Iwo Jima, Bull Run and Guadalcanal:
Every man, everywhere is the same, when he’s got his skin off.
And that’s news, yes that’s news,
That’s the free and equal blues!

VE Day and Our Global Future

It is VE (Victory in Europe) Day as I write this. I have been watching the news coverage of the end of the war in Europe 75 years ago, a brutal and bloody war to defeat Hitler and his Thousand Year Reich.

The narrative of the news was in the past tense. I wondered if VE Day was covered mostly out of courtesy to the muse of history. Then, thinking of history, I recalled the Atlantic Charter of 1941. In that document, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt set forth a commitment to achieving a more just human community after the war was won.

The Atlantic Charter said:

The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;

Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all States, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;

Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement and social security;

Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;

Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;

Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measure which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Winston S. Churchill

And, after the war, the promises of the Atlantic Charter were kept. We now refer to that Atlantic Charter program in action as the “post-World War II international order.”

The greatest achievement of what the Atlantic Charter proposed is the United Nations. Its preamble sets forth the norms and rules of a fair international order:

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED

to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom

AND FOR THESE ENDS

to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples

In recent years, considerable angst has been expressed by many committed to that international order of law, no wars of aggression, growing prosperity for all and human rights that the rise of populist nationalism, small wars, migrations and refugees, growing concentration of economic power and inequality of income and wealth have created a bad inflection point in human history, a turning away from the “post-World War II order.”

The ideals embedded in the Caux Round Table Principles for Business and Principles for Governments cannot be disentangled from those in the Atlantic Charter and the Preamble of the United Nations.

VE Day, therefore, is important today, for us and for the world as the scope of justice which it proposed is still wise and needed.

Livestream Broadcast: Finding Beauty

Devry Boughner Vorwerk, a member of our board of directors and a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum, is involved in their “#FindingBeauty in Quarantine Times: A 24-Hour Livestream of Art, Culture & Sport” taking place today and tomorrow.

What their program reminds us of is art – beauty, a deeply moral emotion actually open to all of us. We so often let our attention and concerns get wrapped up in organizations, hierarchies, contests of will and power, technologies, money and cold, hard laws of science that we overlook beauty as a source of meaning and hope.

Was it not philosophers who sought to center our lives on truth, goodness and beauty, each one supporting the other?

You can learn about the live streaming here.

I hope you might have a moment to listen in.