The manifesto starts with a preamble that situates this effort for a more ethical globalization in the urgency of the financial crisis:
For the globalization of economic activity to lead to universal and sustainable prosperity, all those who either take part in or are affected by economic activities are dependent on a values-based commercial exchange and cooperation. This is one of the fundamental lessons of today’s worldwide crisis of the financial and product markets.
At the core of the manifesto are two pillars: humanity and the Golden Rule (or reciprocity).
On humanity, the manifesto states:
The fundamental principle of a desirable global economic ethic is humanity: Being human must be the ethical yardstick for all economic action: It becomes concrete in the following guidelines for doing business in a way that creates value and is oriented to values for the common good.
On the Golden Rule, under its fourth article, the manifesto states:
What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others. This Golden Rule of reciprocity, which for thousands of years has been acknowledged in all religious and humanist traditions, promotes mutual responsibility, solidarity, fairness, tolerance, and respect for all persons involved.
Such attitudes or virtues are the basic pillars of a global economic ethos. Fairness in competition and cooperation for mutual benefit are fundamental principles of a sustainably developing global economy that is in conformity with the Golden Rule.
Some of the discussion at the conference focused on the French motto: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Some argued that while governments and societies have done their best to improve the first two goals--liberty (or freedom) and equality--the third goal of fraternity (or brotherhood) had been dropped by the wayside. And this lack of a sense fraternity--the sense of caring for others--accounts for a lack of ethical thinking in the world.
Coincidentally, the new Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama's personal philosophy (yuai) also emphasizes fraternity.
This morning I attended Japanese economic official Hidehiko Nishiyama's talk at the Japan Society in NYC, moderated by Merit Janow. Giving the audience a sense of where Japan is headed under the DPJ as APEC 2010 approaches, Mr. Nishiyama introduced some concepts:
- Japan's economic policy will emphasize "inclusive growth" (which is to say a fairer economic policy benefiting more people in my words).
- Japan will promote green, sustainable growth, including energy efficiency and green infrastructure.
- Japan will champion "human security," improving food security, human health, etc.
- Yuai (fraternity or brotherhood) will be a guiding principle of Japanese society and Japan's relations with the world.
After the conference, I mentioned Prime Minister Hatoyama's expression to the organizers. Their response: "Probably not a coincidence."
Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan. Photo by Kristian Stevens (CC).