It is a rank cliche to say that corporations are the problem. Why are they the problem? you might ask. They provide jobs, and often help the community, if not always the environment. They’re not perfect, but without a doubt corporations have been responsible for more material comfort and social stability than they have for suffering. Inevitably there will be suffering. But to lay it all at the feet of a prime economic agent such as corporate entities, well that’s not just short-sighted, that’s irresponsible. They take as much as they can, and they give back as little as possible, that is their stated purpose.
They take as much as they can, and they provide in return as little as possible, that is their stated purpose.
Yet it is also a rank cliche to say that we have a duty to the good. Any company may pretend to a positive environmental impact, any product may be spun to be helping make the world a better place. The tv show Silicon Valley did a good send-up of this phenomenon. Great sandals make the world a better place, buy a child’s toy and have one donated to a charity which give toys to needy children. Even aid and charity is commoditized, seemingly necessarily. How else will it get done? Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s still serving the good, isn’t it?
The best thing to say right now is that we are the fiduciary agents of the good, and we must explicitly act that way. That we are fiduciary agents of the good, and that we are duty-bound to act that way, that saying will in time become a rank cliche. But I am explicitly stating it that way because it’s important to, so it is not a cliche but strikes precisely the right note.
Capitalist apologetics have made “it is our fiduciary duty” pivots a lazy maneuver, and “fiduciary duty” as a technical-sounding yet layman economist’s guiding and central principle. It is not so much an ethos as a prescribed hierarchy.
All this trustee/beneficiary business is not so much an ethos as a prescribed hierarchy. Capital is ever the sovereign, and we are all lords and servants made to do its bidding. The coronation of capital in the 19th century allowed an endless aristocracy to justify itself.
One might say: Yes, but capital is the best system we have. It is impartial, and universal, what more can you ask for in an economic system?
And it’s true, the price-system for commodities is universal, so that’s fair, and it’s definitely true that capital is impartial. Yes, capital’s sovereignty is due to its impartiality, much like a king or queen in ages hence, who invaded a neighboring land because they wanted to pillage its wealth. The people who were killed along the way were just unfortunate bystanders, they weren’t selected out in particular for a cruel death or maiming and lifelong terror. It could have been anybody. Such is the kind of impartiality with which the capitalist hierarchy operates.
Not that the markets might not have regrets. It is probably the case that when the invisible hand of the market is not pointing forward it is covering its face in shame. So you see it is not that capital is necessarily bad, but only that it is ambivalent to any higher good, which leaves it susceptible to commit atrocities because of what amounts to mere human laziness, rashness, avarice, jealousy…take your pick of human folly.
Yet the rights of property owners and their fiduciaries are as well-attested as anything, no matter how foolish their motivation be. And is that not real justice within society — to be allowed to be as foolish as your neighbor? The rights of property owners are one of the fundamental pillars of law. So retain the theoretical relationship of a fiduciary.
But what if we don’t want to serve the aims of capital? To what else might we have a fiduciary responsibility?
The environmentalists have been saying for a while that it is the earth, that we must be stewards of the earth. They’re no doubt right that we negatively impact certain parts of the earth, and that we have to pay attention to all parts of our environment. But just what health means is not always altogether clear. So you have an ambiguous responsibility to certain parts of the earth on the one hand, and on the other hand you have the fact that we want to go out and make our fortune. We want to bring new things into the world, and secure a livelihood and then strive for abundance, and fulfillment on many levels, and we must keep creating, we must create now. We have no choice but to solve the world’s problems while in motion. You can hardly fix the reality of a problem on earth before you have time to solve it. All we can do is strive forward after fortunes and to create art!
We can’t stop to try to fix the earth before making new stuff and doing our jobs. The earth is great but capital is king and queen.
Let me ask you this: what does the earth want? To be left alone? How can we be fiduciaries of something when we don’t know what it wants and it has no stated goals or guiding principles?
The planet does not solicit us to act on its behalf. Capital does. And most of us do act on its behalf, even while not wanting to destroy the earth. As little as we want to harm our planet, so little does our planet want us to act on its behalf. What could it want? Not to be destroyed? We’re the ones on the verge of destruction, not some character-concept of Earth which we can mobilize to save. Don’t get so puffed up — you can’t even save yourself. And Earth Nature not only outlives all her children, She helps put them down.
The earth doesn’t want anything from us — capital wants everything. Capital is like an average-looking guy who gets laid a lot just because he’s almost overbearing and tries so hard. But instead of empty sex, in this analogy the obvious seducer wants everything translated into its own symbolic technology. Capital begs, yet somehow nearly demands, that you work on its behalf, translating everything into a single symbolic technological platform.
But what else wants something from you? And what else is offering anything? The earth isn’t. She gives her waterfalls and majestic vistas and virgin forests to the rapacious capitalist as easily as the loving savior.
Capital is offering. Capital offers relative security and stability and creature comforts and endless distractions. And it has for a few hundred years, and it’s gotten pretty good at it for a lot of people.
And the good is offering. The good offers inner peace. No one really disputes that. Everyone pretty much agrees that is what’s going on. But what does this transcendent force want? — The age-old question.
I serve the absolute good, because the absolute good offers freedom, and what it wants from you is to transfigure the earth in the name of that which is beyond, that eternal force which can never be named and is one with all. The Holy Righteous One wants you to work on its behalf. Be a fiduciary of the absolute good!
How? — Repent! Make yourself transparent. Kill your ego and take on Spirit as a life-task. Learn how to behave, act with dignity, understand what humility means.
Stay open and follow the way of freedom, that path on which you only have that which cannot be taken from you — seeking that infinite treasure is how you become a fiduciary agent of the most high! Because only God gives that treasure, only God can unite in the eternal triumph of Spirit!