Occupy Wall Street
February 8, 2012
Jennifer Walinga, SCC Director
The irony is of course that we are now trying to occupy ourselves. My mother lived in Holland during the German occupation in the 40's and they felt held hostage in their own country. In many ways the recent Occupy movement may be decrying a similar scenario though this time we are held hostage by our economic assumptions. So who are the occupation? Is Occupy trying to overtake a system that was never theirs?
Recently, CBC's The Current spoke with a number of corporate leaders about the Occupy movement. Brett Wilson's derision was palpable. He chastised the group for its lack of focus. Though of course 'we are the 99%' was a common mantra already and corporate greed the crystal clear target. Perhaps what Brett was craving was a focused alternative to greed which the Occupy group was not yet providing.
There is much talk and defensiveness surrounding the capitalist corporate model, eager to relieve the greedy CEO's of any social responsibility beyond their mandate of generating revenue motivated by pure self interest in true capitalist fashion. An alternative of course is to challenge our assumptions about the capitalist model. Self interest is a perfectly reasonable motivation, self interest by its very nature includes social interest. There can be no self without the social.
Self can only grow in interaction with others and the environment. There can be no supply without demand. Therefore arguing that the CEO is only accountable to their own self interest is a preposterous notion. Arrogantly dismissing the increasing gap between rich and poor is self destructive in fact, short sighted and narrow minded. Self in exclusion of society is an unsustainable, and frankly irrational, concept. Unless we can challenge this narrow way of thinking and call for a systems thinking approach to economics that understands and acknowledges the inextricable link between self and society, we will soon have nothing left to occupy.
Only the oppressed can free their oppressor - we need to help the greedsters see the potential for both self and social growth when an interdependent perspective is adopted. Our economic model remains the same, it is only our interpretation and leveraging of it that will shift - for the benefit of all. We must interrupt the assumption that while we need the CEO, they do not need us. We need to occupy in the best sense, not by 'taking over' but by 'taking our rightful place' within.
What would it take for a CEO to truly understand their dependence and responsibility to society?