Laszlo Zsolnai ‘Business and Violence.’ , in New Frontiers in Conflict Management and Peace Economics: With a Focus on Human Security, eds. M. Chatterji, and P. Gangopadhyay, Emerald, UK, 2021. (This book may be available at: Emerald)
Today business, especially mainstream global business, seems to be at war with society and nature. Striving for profit and competitiveness, mainstream business produces monetary results at the expense of nature, society and future generations. With its exclusive focus on profit-making, mainstream businesses violates the integrity and diversity of natural ecosystems, the autonomy and culture of local communities and the chance that future generations will lead a decent life. We should go beyond the market metaphysics of mainstream business and adopt a more substantive way of economic activities. The substantive meaning of the economy – as Karl Polanyi pointed out – stems from human beings’ patent dependence for their livelihood upon nature and their fellow beings. Humans survive by virtue of an institutionalized interaction between their communities and the natural environment. If we want to sustain the Human-Earth system for a long time we need a radical transformation of business. This requires that economic actors have the intrinsic motivation to serve the greater good, and are ready to measure success using broader value categories than money alone. Without these motivational and institutional changes business cannot become a peace-agent. Instead, it will generate more conflict and violence.