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

See all articles by Hershey H. Friedman

Hershey H. Friedman

City University of New York - Department of Business Management

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business; CUNY - The Graduate Center

Sarah Adel

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - International Business, Students

Date Written: January 18, 2017

Abstract

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

Friedman, Hershey H. and Friedman, Linda Weiser and Adel, Sarah, Conscious Capitalism vs. Rapacious Capitalism: Lessons from King Leopold II (January 18, 2017). Friedman, Hershey H., Friedman, Linda W., & Edris, Sarah (2017). Conscious Capitalism vs. Rapacious Capitalism: Lessons from King Leopold II. Business Quest, 1-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988563

Hershey H. Friedman (Contact Author)

City University of New York - Department of Business Management ( email )

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cisnet.baruch.cuny.edu/friedman/

CUNY - The Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue
New York,, NY 10016
United States

Sarah Adel

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - International Business, Students ( email )

NJ
United States

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