So, today, there was a conference in London titled “The Conference on Inclusive Capitalism: Building Value, Renewing Trust.” Well and good. It’s a joint offering between the Financial Times and the Inclusive Capitalism Initiative, with the storied names Rothschild and the City of London affixed in case you doubted the height from which they deigned to descend and shake your hand.
Speakers are as “inclusive” as British royalty, former president Bill Clinton, the BlackRock vice chairman, the CEO of Unilever, and editors from The Economist. (This is to say nothing of the incredible gender diversity–5 women to 36 men.) And attendees are welcome from all backgrounds, presumably, as long as they had an invitation.
Exactly what insights will come from a summit constituted mostly of white males who work as executives, career politicians, and elite university professors remains to be seen. (Never before has such an esteemed and diverse group of people thought themselves capable of fixing the world.)
I would be able to laugh the event off if it the lack of historical perspective wasn’t so complete. Invitation-only gala dinners at royal residences attended by the most well-to-do members of a global plutocracy sounds all too much like the way business was done in the past. While it’s no 1884-5 Berlin Conference, the fact of the matter is that conferences like these regularly exclude outsider points of view in favor of establishment voices. Yet when attempting to make painful reforms to a system that otherwise benefits all in attendance, the solutions are limited in scope or even counter productive. There is not one labor rights activist, nor environmental activist, nor human rights activist who is speaking at this event. If the organizers had been serious about inclusion, they would have welcomed more ideologically challenging speakers. As it stands, these are the solutions we get:
The inclusivity knows no bounds: Investors and speculators! Annual reports instead of quarterly reports! Why, it sounds almost as if a revolution is brewing over there.