Lawrence Lessig praises a book "Supercapitalism" by Robert Reich:
Reich and Lessig count it a mistake that We push for "corporate social responsibility" and praise corporations who agree to do the "good" thing, imagining that this means something other than the "money making" thing.
We know a song about that, don't we children?... government is pretty good at forcing internalization when it benefits strong special interests (again, copyright), and not when it harms strong special interests (again, carbon). Here, and in a million contexts, the government is coopted by the powerful influence of powerful interests.
Phase 2 of Lessig's journey will be when he realises that, just as a corporation exists to create profits, and cannot reasonably or usefully do anything else, a government exists to serve powerful interests, and cannot reasonably or usefully do anything else.
Lessig's article is fascinating, and I'm not doing it justice, because of the completely alien worldview it exhibits.
We've now ... Reich says, entered a period of Supercapitalism -- a time when competition has grown dramatically, and when half of us (meaning half of each of us, or at least half) more effectively demand lower prices in the product and service market place and higher returns in the investment market place.
The problem, from Reich's (and my) perspective, is that the other half of us - the part that thinks not as an actor in a market, but as a citizen - has atrophied. That is, the half of us (again, of each of us - Reich's point is that each of us has these two parts) that demands that government set sensible and efficient limits on private action has atrophied.That division - between "market actor" and "citizen", is not one that it would have occured to me in a hundred years. "citizenship" in the sense he talks about means nothing to me but busybodying: interfering with people who have nothing to do with me. Does that mean I am half a person - a "market actor" only? I don't think so. If I help someone up the steps at the station, (or for that matter kick them down those steps for fun), I am not a "market actor", but neither am I being a citizen in the political sense that Lessig seems to mean. I am interacting with those around me. I do not draw a sharp distinction between those I work with (or "interact in the labour market with"), and my other circles of neighbours and friends.