Conscious Capitalism vs. Rapacious Capitalism: Lessons from King Leopold II
Friedman, Hershey H., Friedman, Linda W., & Edris, Sarah (2017). Conscious Capitalism vs. Rapacious Capitalism: Lessons from King Leopold II. Business Quest, 1-20
20 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017
Date Written: January 18, 2017
In this paper it is argued that two kinds of capitalism are engaged in a great struggle in the United States. Both approaches are derived from the opinions of Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, who posited in The Wealth of Nations that universal self-interest and the “invisible hand” of the marketplace allocate scarce resources more efficiently and promotes social welfare better than any other economic system. One type of capitalism could be called “moral capitalism” or “conscious capitalism”; the other kind of capitalism takes a “greed is good” approach this paper condemns.
This paper’s authors argue that the only kind of capitalism that is good for a country is based on values and morals. In fact, they say, this is exactly what Adam Smith had in mind, as he was a strong believer in empathy and benevolence. The example of King Leopold II of Belgium is provided as an example of why capitalism based on greed is not desirable because it is widely believed that he was responsible for the death of ten million natives of the Congo Free State, which makes him one of history’s most notorious mass murderers. The Congo Free State was created in the 1880s as the private holding of a purported, private charitable organization created by some European investors that was headed by Leopold II, whose personal control of the country was unrestrained. Outrage over the well documented atrocities committed by his brutal regime led to the Congo Free State being abolished and replaced in 1908 by the Belgian Congo, a colony controlled by the Belgium parliament.
Keywords: Adam Smith, Conscious Capitalism, King Leopold II, Congo, greed, maximizing shareholder value
JEL Classification: A22, A23, D81, G18, G21, I20, J50, L20, L21, M12, M14, M19, M31, M54, Q20, Q38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation