A Bright Side of American Capitalism
June 18, 2011
I wrote a few weeks ago about social marketing and networking. On one level social marketing is shamelessly shallow, leaving many people cringing at the chutzpah of near strangers. Why are you "friending" me on Facebook? Are you networking to get a job or because we actually share genuine moral sentiments?
After two weeks meeting with folks in the Bay Area—the Left Coast—I am more convinced than ever that young Americans, who in many ways drive American culture and hence business marketing, are rejecting shallowness in favor of genuine connectivity and community. Of course, there are lots of exceptions. But the social gestalt does seem to be shifting, so that the standard neoclassical view of "enlightened self interest" is giving way to "authentic selfhood." That is, people are striving to understand how to be true to ideals and virtues.
One manifestation of this might be reflected in the termination of Glenn Beck's show on Fox (ending June 30). Van Jones, who earlier left the Obama White House under the withering criticism of Beck, had this to say:
Good American businesses make a decision about who they want to associate their brands with," he said. "And if you violate the principles of good discourse and fair play in America, good American businesses will not stay with you and you won't stay in the public square very long.
"So it's not just a triumph of American capitalism," Jones said. "It's a triumph of American values."
Another way to say this is: markets are essential for the expression of human interests and to promote change. However, markets are no guarantee that you'll have the right consumer values that will promote human rights or anything else. Hence, markets—by themselves—need complementary institutions in order to create the incentives and values that lead to a desirable society.
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