Keeping the Mean

I returned home yesterday from a stimulating conference in Zhengzhou, China, discussing Chinese contributions today to a “community of shared future for mankind.” The gathering of scholars was the 10th International Symposium on Chinese Culture in the 21st Century. Opening the sessions was Mr. Wang Zhengwei, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and a member of the 16th and 17th Central Committees of the Communist Party of China.

Zhengzhou is in the center of north China, along the Yellow River in Henan Province. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese civilization several millennia ago. The topic for discussion at the forum was how to apply to our world today perspectives from China’s ancient Yan Huang philosophies on human destiny, ideas which arose among peoples and kingdoms living in and around Henan.

My paper was an exploration of the over-looked essay in the Confucian tradition entitled The Doctrine of the Mean, which links Confucian social ethics to a never-ending cosmic dynamic of the Tao. Briefly, the Doctrine of the Mean advises that individuals must discipline their minds and hearts to find balance and equilibrium between the authority of absolutes and the realities of pluralism. Finding the Mean permits living in the Tao, which is sustainability and wholesomeness.

Delivered today to my home in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Wall Street Journal has two commentaries on the West – Europe and the U.S. – falling short of the Mean in their culture, economics and politics.

First, Willam McGurn writes on U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May having inadequate support for her plan to have her nation leave the European Union but maintain some advantages of association with that larger international confederation. The future of the U.K. is now up for grabs. He then notes that in France, President Emmanuel Macon has just retreated in concession to protests against his elitism by offering the “masses” a higher minimum wage and cuts in taxes on some pensioners. Thirdly, McGurn reports that in California, 200 civil rights leaders have gone to court to oppose the state’s greenhouse gas emissions regulations as discriminating against poor African Americans and Hispanics to favor the preferences of the very rich, who live in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Secondly, Walter Russell Mead opines that voter distemper in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and the U.S. is happening when those economies are doing rather well. What is driving protest is therefore not simply economic discontent. The storm of populist angst has other causes. Our time is out of joint. Something is upset in how we are governed, in our levels of self-respect, in our expectations of the future and in the answer to the question of “Cui Bono?”

The ideas of the Caux Round Table of Moral Capitalism seek to provide such balance for the economy, public governance, civil society and the ownership of wealth.

Today’s Wall Street Journal also brought forth in a book review a most relevant piece of advice from Samuel Williams from his 1794 book History of Vermont: “Behold here the precarious foundation upon which ye hold your liberties. They rest not upon things written upon paper … they depend upon yourselves; upon your maintaining your property, your knowledge and your virtue.”

Confucius could not have said it better.

Please Give to The Max!

This Thursday, November 15th, is Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota, where the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism (CRT) is based, and I write to ask for your support.

We are very efficient in punching globally way above our weight for a small, non-profit and as proof, in 2018, we:

-Held our 2018 Global Dialogue at St. Petersburg University’s Graduate School of Management in St. Petersburg, Russia on the current growing tension between humanism and tribalism.

-Convened a workshop in Kyoto, Japan on mutuality in ethics between Japanese and Chinese moral traditions, integrating the insights of two great East Asian peoples for collaboration in support of global sustainability.

-Cosponsored a workshop in Beijing on the jurisprudence of an ancient Chinese statesman, MoZi, and on the contemporary usefulness of the ancient Chinese text, the Yi Jing as guideposts for the constructive integration of the official Chinese approach to government and markets with global standards.

-Initiated organization of a 2019 workshop at the Vatican on the Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with Christian communities as appropriate contemporary social teachings on respect and collaboration between Christians and Muslims for the common good of humankind.

-Cosponsored a conference in Bangkok on Buddhism and sustainability.

-Commissioned a unique, pioneering study of enterprise valuation methodology with Oxford Analytica.

-Initiated a new CRT book series with the publication on Amazon Kindle of collected essays on ethics.

– Convened two public office/public trust workshops for political candidates and elected officials on the CRT’s Principles for Government.

-Held the 10th annual Celebration of John Brandl & His Uncommon Quest for Common Ground in partnership with several local policy organizations.

-Held several round table discussions on relevant and timely topics.

-Published 12 monthly issues of our newsletter Pegasus.

We need your help now to continue this work and more importantly, to expand it. With your help, we can reach out to more countries, convene more workshops of thought-leaders, publish more books, train more people, create more unique management guidelines and metrics for sustainability, help implement the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and showcase practical steps towards robust outcomes advancing the common good.

Anything you can give would be most appreciated.

You can contribute here.

New CRT E-Book Now Available on Kindle!

To help the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism advocate its Principles for Business, publications are a basic tool for the dissemination of our ideas and practical ways to implement them.

We have been fortunate to have published Moral Capitalism (2004) and The Road to Moral Capitalism (2014). We have now published our monthly newsletter Pegasus for 7 1/2 years.

This week, we are delighted to announce a new publishing format: e-book and print-on-demand on Amazon.

We find that there are many important and thoughtful contributions to new ways of thinking about capitalism which fit neither academic publishers or peer-reviewed journals, nor commercial houses. Thus, we want to fill a void with our own use of new technology of digital and print-on-demand and bring to public consideration worthy ideas and recommendations.

We have just posted on Amazon for downloading on Kindle an e-book: Ethics – Collected Works.

You may purchase the book here.

If you purchase the book and enjoy it, I would be very grateful if you left a review on Amazon. Reviews really do help give the book better visibility for those searching on Amazon for books on these subjects.

I am grateful for the assistance of my colleagues Erik Sande and Patrick Rhone in making the essays included in this book available to the global public.

Please forward this email to those whom you think might want to consider reading these essays on moral capitalism.

We have two additional collections of essays we will be publishing in the coming months.

In addition, we now want to reach out and provide publication for commentaries, essays and manuscripts which fall between the stools of academic presses and journals and commercial houses. Please get in touch with me if you have thoughts and comments you would like us to consider for publication under our brand.

The Wittenberg Statement

Our Wittenberg Statement reflects the concerns of participants at our 2017 Global Dialogue held last November in Wittenberg, Germany.

Observations of fundamental importance deserve to be memorialized in a statement. The 500th anniversary of an event in Wittenberg which, under the influence of dynamic circumstances, triggered the Protestant Reformation, was an occasion to reflect on the emergence of modern civilization with its structures of science, industrial production, private finance, nation states and international law and ideals of constitutional rule and human rights.

But, as participants noted in the Statement, the emergence of a social, economic or political system does not make it wise, just or perfect. Systems have advantages, to be sure; they meet needs and provide goods and services. But they have limitations and short-comings which only new human endeavors can correct or remediate.

Nonetheless, as reforms and innovations are advocated and adopted, there are still timeless aspects to our endeavors which seem beyond the reach of intentional modification. Reflection on Martin Luther after 500 years helps us spot what is lasting and what is only interim.

The morality of our contemporary capitalism stands on both timeless needs of human nature and incremental, short-term improvements to our structures for creating wealth and distributing it.

The Statement hopefully will serve to define a greater common understanding of what is fundamental and what needs to be addressed in our time through our ideals and efforts.

Download the full statement.