Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Civic Culture Not Robust Enough

pg. 36 : We have often placed performance before people and allowed our economic life to drift away from our political and ethical commitments. The civic culture which has grown up alongside our global economy is not robust enough to bring our commitments to bear on the decisions which structure our political and economic lives. As a result, there is often a gap between what we profess and what we do. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “placed performance before people and allowed our economic life to drift away from our political and ethical commitments”     


  World Economic Forum’s position here is not too different from that of the World Social Forum (WSF). 1  The WEF says “we have … placed performance before people;” WSF says it “[has] placed profits before people.” In both cases, the analysis is that people-focused development has been displaced by a market-driven mentality.

WSF and WEF would also be in agreement that there is a sharp disjunction between globalized economic realities and ethical values. They would differ about the causal connection between these two elements. For WEF it simply presents as a “drift[ing] away”; for WSF it is the former which drives the latter apart.     

Readers' Guide Comment on “a gap between what we profess and what we do”    

    
This is one of the rare uses of the first person plural in the text, and it is not at all clear who the “we” is. It might have been added here as part of the marketing of WEF’s proposals. It might also reflect the audience of this study, in which case the “we” consists of members of the international elite. For certainly the gap between what is ‘professed’ and what is ‘done’ is not a problem shared with the marginalized and impoverished communities of the world.

 


Related Ideas: Aligning values and governance; The Oath; Step V; Another use of first person plural; When obligations and norms are 'not possible'

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise --  of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

  • 1. ^ World Social Forum is , as described on its website, “an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action.”

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