I don’t know who John Benjamin is, and I’m at a lost to explain why he hasn’t been expelled from (or lynched at) MIT’s Sloan School of Management at which he is a student and, indeed, a Dean’s Fellow. But I do know that I’m very impressed with the chap. He has just written an article for The New Republic which does more to define and dissect the sad, sick, dysfunctional ideology of the corporation and business culture than anything I’ve seen in years.
In The Bankrupt Ideology of Business School, he writes that MBA schools, and their students, now have a more or less common belief system. It is a system that pairs social liberalism with economic conservatism, and which encourages its true believers to say all the right things about race, gender, inclusion of the formerly under-represented, and being “a good corporate citizen,” but which, somehow, never varies in its absolute faith in profit/shareholder value as the be-all and end-all of life.
It is a belief system, he continues, which sees only “two types of solutions to the big problems that arise in society: either greater innovation or freer markets. Proposals other than what’s essentially more business are brushed aside, or else patched over with a type of liberal politics that’s heavy on rhetorical flair but light on relevance outside privileged circles.”
And, finally, it is an ideology that is not working particularly well when it is applied in the real world, and which is increasingly alienating business from the rest of society—from, that is, the men and women who know perfectly well that rising tides do not lift all boats, and that the middle and working classes are now working harder than ever for vastly smaller reward while the corporate elites make billions.
Eerily enough, he says, this means that business ideology increasingly resembles that of the Democratic Party, or rather, of the Party elites, as represented by the DNC and the DCCC. This is not good for either the Democrats, business people, or the nation: “The Democratic agenda, at least in the last election cycle, very closely resembled our own. No wonder then that vast swaths of the electorate saw it as elitist in its economic priorities and cultural concerns: a party happy to outsource average Americans’ jobs while finger-wagging at them for not keeping pace with an evolving set of social codes. To reclaim its place as the party of the middle class, Democrats could do worse than rebalance their platform in favor of appeals to the immediate, material concerns of ordinary people.”
Powerful material. And very, very troubling—for it makes clear why the corporation, and the “enlightened” business school MBA, and the Democratic Party with which they feel in tune, are so far removed from the rest of the nation…
A removal, a gap …indeed, a chasm… into which we all might fall.
Never to return.