One thought on “Doug Writes in The Guardian Environment

  1. I think your critique is justified as one of many voices of critical observation. You could in my view preferably read Slavoj Zizeks thoughts on the “liberal communist” to get more food and elaboration for your thought around this. Or John Elkingtons work around “breakthrough” or “radical” capitalism for example. But my main point is that I think your critique does not advance things forwards and as such feels like a reactive outcry. In my view, words and semantics are politics. And, if now terms as CSR and Sustainability after many years finally has grown into epithets that can be used to pressure and help change companies to behave more humanly, that is to pay decent wages, take a longterm horizon on business planning, quit with aggressive tax planning and capital flight, treat shareholders equally, promote diversity in board and executive positions, innovate for benefit of environment – then that is good. The wall street brought it on themselves during financial crisis, people do not have faith in this and call for change. So, until a new word can accomplish that position to question, pressure and exchange with business, there is in my view no need to abolish these ones. That would be like pulling the carpet off the feet of a field of people (that extend way beyond what you ironically categorize as “useless” “sustainability consultants” and includes activists, alternative lifestyles, thinkers and innovators). Patagonia, for example, is a very successful company created by individuals with a deep rooting in nature, wildlife, collective living and so on. Further, and importantly, what many other big word does not have the same properties as the ones you attribute to “sustainability”? That is, being “empty” words filled with meaning by the user. Contemplate definitions and usage of terms like “corporate governance”, “effectiveness”, “leadership”, “quality” or “competitive” – these are all, at least in my view, equally empty signifiers that differ in use, being loaded with meaning by those people who use the words in their various contexts, much like sustainability, or CSR. So should we ban these words as well? No, do not ban sustainability, create a societal business system that is fair, decent and smart, and then people wont need to use these words. Respectfully / Martin Hallberg, Sweden

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