Today’s pop quiz involves oxymorons, those often amusing contradictory two-word expressions like jumbo shrimp, amicable divorce and Fox News. Okay, which of the following oxymorons have gained favor within the higher ranks of finance and politics: a.) Moderated democracy b.) Humanitarian intervention c.) Benevolent despot d.) Inclusive capitalism e.) Compassionate conservatism. If you guessed d.) Inclusive capitalism, you’re correct.
Sadly, the laugh out loud, beyond satire nature of this new buzz phrase is totally lost on those disseminating it with a straight face. This was the case last May when 250 of the world’s titans of finance and business attended a by-invitation-only summit on “Inclusive Capitalism,” held appropriately at an 800 year-old castle in London, England. The attendees represented $30 trillion in assets, fully one-third of the world’s total investable assets.
Hosted by Rothschild banking dynasty heiress, Lady Lynn Foester de Rothschild, the movers and shakers heard keynotes from International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Legard, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Harvard President and U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
Lady Rothschild voiced the gathering’s purpose by stating that “…it is really dangerous for business when business is viewed as one society’s problems. And that is where we are today.” Paul Polman, Univeler’s CEO, worried about “the capitalist threat to capitalism,” while conference Alan Mendoza openly fretted that “…we felt such was public disgust with the system, there was a very real danger that politicians could seek to remedy the situation by legislating capitalism out of business.”
The participants were spooked by a thoroughly disillusioned public that has lost confidence in capitalism. When combined with people’s rampant distrust of government – seen the coddler of corrupt bankers – elite squirming is well-founded. Further, many people believe that because government only responds to lobbyists from the financial sector, it’s now an open question whether capitalism and democracy are compatible. Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, writing in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detected “an undercurrent of elite fear” about how several decades of capitalist indifference towards most of the world population might play out.