Corporate Social Responsibility in Context:
1. General Updates on CSR:
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/27/bulldoze-the-business-school - provocative piece, that tends to dismiss CSR as ‘cosmetic’. After all, ‘business’ is tied to capitalism, and currently therefore to the neo-liberal worldview.
‘My green pod’ issued with the Guardian, Spring 2018, has several articles that go much further than CSR: www.mygreenpod.com Particularly useful are the articles on ‘being conscious’ which spell out the view that everything in existence is connected to everything else, and we therefore should care about everything. The interview with the twelfth Gyalwang Drukpa I would sympathise with most strongly: Founded a thousand years before Christianity, in India, the Drukpa Lineage has millions of followers. The Gyalwang Drukpa emphasizes caring for the environment, which is especially important in the Himalayas, where glaciers are melting and there are storms and avalanches which are more frequent now. They plant trees to bind the soil and prevent floods. He speaks of ‘open-eyes meditation’ – observing and reflecting on what is happening around you and through you.
Other articles in this issue deal with teaching children a healthy diet, the B Corp label (see www.bcorporation.uk), Body Shop (now part of Natura www.natura.com), Triodos www.triodos.co.uk, community energy, Octopus (green energy supplier – www.octopus.energy) – etc!!! I hardly need to update these notes any more since nearly all the ideas here are being pushed forward in mygreenpod!
2. Updates to various chapters:
For Chapter 5: the consumer by topic, in alphabetical order:
#makerspaces – Aditya Chakrabortty on an alternative to large-scale capitalist enterprises
#turbo-consumers (also Baudrillard…)
For Chapter 6: the environment (general topics) go to (Social Movements Chapter 8) environmental movements updates and especially Protecting the Planet (a course of lectures).
For Chapter 7: the 'third world': topics in alphabetical order:
Britain and the developing world.
Chapter 5 updates:
Eliane Glaser has received flack for her book: Get Real – in Guardian Review 31.03.12 she replies especially to those who say that ‘people are not stupid’: we are all being manipulated and persuaded of things – and she still uses the concept ‘false consciousness’ (see Marxism...). Points out that Nudge idea was promoted in 2010 by Cameron in his ‘nudge unit’ it was to work with such as McDonalds and PepsiCo, and it was directed by David Halpern, former advisor to Blair, and author of: ‘Mindspace: Influencing Behaviour through Public Policy.’ Government, he says, should ‘shift the focus of attention away from facts and information ‘and towards ‘automatic processes [and] altering the context in which people act’. It should become a ‘surrogate willpower’. See:
(Jessica Shepherd, G 151209):
Government (DCSF) inquiry, under Prof. David Buckingham, finds that children as young as five should be taught how to deal with the onslaught of advertising aimed at them… Companies now sponsor school awards, playgrounds (outside school), computers etc. Debatable whether the new products etc introduced are of benefit. Some online marketing techniques ask children to recommend products to their friends…
The Real Mad Men – about Madison Avenue – see csr books…
names: in China Western brand names are being carefully translated: Nike =
‘Enduring and Persevering’ (pronounced Nai ke), BMW = ‘Precious Horse’ (pron:
Bao ma), Coca-Cola = ‘Tasty Fun’ (pronounced Kekoukele), Heineken = ‘Happiness Power’, Tide = ‘gets rid
of dirt’ (pron: Taizi),
Reebok = ‘quick steps’ (Rui bu),
Marriott = ‘10,000 wealthy elites’ (Wan hao) ...
(Michael Wines, NY Times 27/11/11)...
Child labour: – and exploitation of third world workers: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/28/india-sweated-labour
Book: Starbucked: a double tall tale of caffeine, commerce and culture – Taylor Clark, Sceptre, L12.99. Good account of the problems of coffee production, and promises to deal with ethical issues, but is weak on these: not good on unions, and ignores plight of coffee-producers (better conditions during Cold War, as US introduced guaranteed prices and quotas, because afraid of unrest in Latin America turning to pro-communist movement…
Tim Lang (prof of food policy, City Univ) says “we ought to have a worker-sensitive, pro-public health, climate-friendly, ‘right-on’ food supply system. Instead the focus is always on the big three – price, convenience and hygiene…’ He also argues that Government and business together have to agree standards (it can’t be left to Tesco!). In 2006, the Sustainable Consumption Roundtable concluded (Looking Forward, Looking Back): “The evidence suggests that, historically, the green consumer has not been the tipping point in driving green innovation. Instead, choice-editing for quality and sustainability by government and business has been the critical driver in the majority of cases.” i.e. unsustainable etc goods need to be cut out before they get on the shelves!
If object to “choice-editing” (i.e. argument that should be left to consumer) problem is that “there are already people in these companies controlling how and when a bean is grown, what it is sprayed with, whether it is flown in etc. They are already choice-editing.” (Says Tim Lang)
Only question then is, do we trust government and business to do the choice-editing?
‘Greed culture’: Average American consumes more than his weight in products each day, according to annual report of Worldwatch Institute. The cult of consumption and greed could wipe out any gains made from action on the environment. Project director Erik Assadourian: environmental damage is driven by ‘unsustainable habits’. In the last decade, world consumption of goods and services rose by 28% (to £18.8 bn). These habits are not a natural result of growth but due to ‘deliberate efforts by business to win over consumers’.
western family spends more on their pet than is spent by a human in
Younger generation more aware, and school meals had improved (less wasteful, more nutritious). ‘Has to be a wholesale transformation of values and attitudes’ (Suzanne Goldenberg, G Jan 2010).
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/britain-ideas-factory-uk-industry-creators-economy - in the premises of what was once a college, space is turned over to people with enterprising ideas. It’s small-scale but dynamic – the opposite of the large companies that seem to control the economy. (Also in imagining alternatives).
Total yearly spend on PP in the
Kills 87,000 people a year in
Supermarkets: there are just over 8,000 supermarkets in
Neal Lawson: All Consuming www.allconsuming.org.uk – G 030809: we are now turbo consumers – shopping is the predominant way in which we know ourselves and each other – consumer industrial complex of: designers, advertisers, psychologists and retail consultants… the point is to leave us unfulfilled so that we go back for more (nothing new there then! See Vance Packard and John Berger). Totalitarianism … now arrives with a smile on its face as it seduces us into yet another purchase… we are watched, recorded and ordered by our shopping desires. Millions refuse all this, either downsizing or doing ethical shopping – but they are leaderless.
See also Zoe Williams on the psychology of the August 2011 riots: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/09/uk-riots-psychology-of-looting - links with Baudrillard: reference in Current Affairs and Issues notes.
Aid: ‘Third world’ and aid: New International Devt Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, supports overseas aid (NS
020810). Mentions that 4,000 die from malaria each day, of whom
75% are children under five. Govt has pledged £500 million a year on
this. Overall health aid budget is less than £1 bn. Cites
Paul Collier: The Bottom Billion. Argues that aid is effective:
Interesting and worrying piece by George Monbiot, on how Bono has fallen into the trap of becoming a lackey for western governments and business:
BAE: (see CSR Ch 7, SM Ch 4,
Section 4) now admits charges of false accounting and making misleading
statements, in dealings with SFO in
Current ‘expenses scandal’ has little to do
with MPs’ expenses: it’s come about now because ‘our economic system can no
longer extract wealth from other nations’. For 300 years
We had peace in
See: Hamza Alavi: Capitalism and Colonial Production – the resource
Ralph Davis: The Industrial Revolution and
Overseas Trade: from the 1760s
The Age of Revolution: in
While the French overthrew their monarchy, our
aristocracy was using enclosure to seize wealth from the poor, as well as
taking remittances from
John Newsinger: The
Blood Never Dried: in 1748
Mike Davis: Late Victorian Holocaust: between
1876 and 1877 wheat exports from
Joseph Stiglitz: Globalisation and its Discontents: northern traders gained hundreds of billions of dollars from Asian economies through the IMF’s enforced liberalization of capital – and this precipitated the Asian financial crisis of 1997-8.
Is the dominance of the City of
Fair Trade: article in
Sales of Fair Trade goods were $5.8 billion
globally in 2010, and $1.3 bn in
How appalling, that so little TV time is allocated to factual programmes about the ‘majority world’ – for example Phil Harding (G), reporting on Oxfam study:
broadcast 5 hours of factual coverage of the developing world in 2007. Most of
our programmes are about US and
Kony 2012: – video about the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, made by Jason Russell. Observer 03.03.13 has piece on how it and his charity – Invisible Children - was attacked. Kony had abducted 30,000 children and turned them into soldiers and sex slaves. The video ‘went viral’ (in six days it had 100 million hits). But when Jason had a breakdown, 10 days after the release of the video – probably suffering from post-traumatic stress – this too became a viral video and was then used to discredit his charity. And Google hits for Kony went from zero to 100 in a day, then went down to zero again.
Jason feels his breakdown
was because he got reactions that were polar opposites: Bono et al praising him, and others attacking him as a ‘white saviour’ sending
money to corrupt places etc. The video was dismissed as ‘slick’ – even though
it represented nearly 10 years of interviews etc in
Lessons: the power of the internet (where you can find statements that Kony is dead... Says Jason: ‘This is a generation raised on Instagram and a tweet That’s your
news. That’s your actual news... a multiverse of stories – the truth never has a chance’), hostility to aid, suspicion of mental illness... And the difficulty of ‘getting’ people like Kony...
Record corporate profits as
Poverty: Bono claims – at TED conference on global poverty (Feb 2013) that proportion of the world’s population living in extreme poverty ($1.25, i.e. 80p, a day or less) has declined from 43% in 1990 to 21% in 2010. If this rate continues, extreme poverty would hit zero% in 2030.
slum in Mumbai – approx. 1 million residents (two-thirds of popn
of M live in slums, M is richest city in
houses ¼ of
50% of Caracas popn. Live in barrios – 100 homicides a week… Jonas Bendiksen: The Places We Live (Aperture, £22) has photographs.
G 270110: tax lost to
developing countries through corporations’ tax avoidance
is between 30 and 180 bn each year – compare
From Guardian, 06 and 07.11.07: companies in the banana trade are paying less than half the tax expected, by locating subsidiaries in low-tax havens (transfer pricing).
Tax paid by UK-quoted companies in 2000 was 26.6%, and in 2004: 22.1% (would expect 30%). They say they are cutting costs to the benefit of shareholders, but tax is not a cost, but a distribution out of profits. Tax is a return to the society in which a company operates, and pays for use of infrastructure (physical and e.g. legal), education of workers that the state has provided etc.
A company is a legal entity, and this gives it a licence to operate, which in turn carries an obligation to pay tax on profits – and that tax should be paid where it operates, since here it finds staff, customers and infrastructure.
pay tax where their “brand” or “purchasing network” or “distribution network”
are located. They are assisted by lawyers and accountants, e.g. Pricewaterhouse Cooper is alleged to have been involved in
setting up a tax haven in
This is not only avoiding their social responsibility, but leads to public paying higher taxes (e.g. in Britain ordinary people’s tax rates have risen as companies’ have fallen) and encourages people to think the way ahead is to opt out of society.
By Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research LLP, see www.taxresearch.org.uk/blog
The lack of sanitation is the biggest killer of children under five in the developing world. Hopes of eradicating poverty and hunger depend on sorting out safe sanitation, more than on any other intervention. www.wateraid.org