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Companies should respond to online attacks with the truth Barry Libert and Rick Faulk from my phrase collection in Portuguese

As we know them today, companies are the result of a long process initiated with the Industrial Revolution, after the arrival of the printed book, which created an environment for information exchange highly favorable to centralized powers.

Basically, companies emerged and developed to offer products and services to help us in solving social problems.

We all need to dress, eat, drink, and entertain ourselves….

And corporations are here to respond to these demands.

Something is offered to the market and a given remuneration is obtained for the service/product.

Thus, the logic of profit was established as a need to stimulate someone to provide society with solutions for the problems. A stimulus to solve problems and get everybody happy with the relationships cost/benefit, client/supplier.

So, it should be clearly stated:

Companies originally arrived to solve society’s problems and, THEREAFTER, to be remunerated for this, to generate profit.

With capitalist advances, after the French Revolution, company owners began to strongly influence the central power. They also felt free to make profit into the heart, the driving force of the process, pushing problem solving into the background.

Stimulating a market law in which the client would have several choices and the strongest would prevail.

A good company is a profitable company!

Solving society’s problems becomes secondary, or at least just necessary to continue having profits – in a dialectical relationship.

Anyway, this approach managed to keep consumers content, in a framework of only partially available information.

In fact, consumer satisfaction was based on little information and no participation.

Often, the marketing and advertizing used were based on disinformation and manipulation to hide the fact that the final objective was not the shareholder but a consumer deceived by illusions.

Despite going against common sense, this was maintained as the basic motto of capitalism.

Clients are always right, after the shareholders, of course!

On one side, companies with their greedy shareholders and their public authorities to ensure a certain degree of control, reinforced by the media. On the other, the passive and manipulated consumer.

The popular singer who drinks X but advertises Y.

All this was grounded in an information environment controlled to give the illusion that the consumer was king, while in truth the shareholder was the majesty.

Smoke, smoke, smoke.

Moreover: the product arrived ready for consumption at the baby’s table.

Look at the plane…open the mouth

Now, things have changed.

The logic of putting profit first, and ahead of problem solving will be revised because the new information technology changes the environment for sharing of ideas, in which control is no longer the same.

There is no longer the vital silence among consumers to support the previous ethic.

There are dissenting voices that can be recovered through Google.

And now, what?

As in a magic trick, the environment controlled by the media in which corporations had total control over what circulated, as they sponsored the advertisements that supported their functioning, was ruptured.

Of course, there have always been some small gaps, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed by a talk between the company president and the newspaper owner in moments of crisis.

As there was no space to clarify positions that privileged profits to the detriment of problem solving, the space for manipulations was quite big.

On television, the company talks about your bank, your real estate company, your home appliance manufacturer, but behind the scene there were a thousand maneuvers so what you bought had a Trojan horse: first the profit, then you.

This was the lie maintained by a system based on the information control of the Media Ages.

Today, with information sharing between consumers, via electronic networks, the space for this kind of manipulation is increasingly narrower.

It might change the face of the very concept of capitalism.

It will be increasingly easier for consumers – and this includes citizens in the face of the state – to monitor and find out how much a company/government is focused on the problems of the consumer/citizen or on the shareholders/government friends.

In addition:

Now, even the problem to be resolved at the market end, which justifies the product and the service, is rapidly changing!!!

Thus, a partnership with the consumer for cooperative production becomes necessary to develop products.

This leads the company to bring the former manipulated consumer into its decision-making process, at higher and higher levels. Hence, consumers acquire a status formerly reserved only to shareholders.

This has been taking place slowly, but it’s a strong trend.

Consumers want to see their problems solved and they accept the profit, provided there is a logic that protects their interests.

The space for the Trojan horse is much narrower!!!

This process is not imposed but it advances through convincing people. This changes the basic DNA of the profit versus problem concept.

It is increasingly disseminated the idea that creating partnership networks with suppliers, employees and consumers is key for accelerating innovation.

However, those networks can’t be based on manipulation, but on a commitment from all to solve the problem at the origin which, by the way, is now increasingly mutant.

Of course, it is expected that someone delivering a service be remunerated, but not for placing profit before problem solution activities.

This is the deepest change capitalism will undergo in this information environment we are now entering.

To create social networks is to revise old concepts.

That means again placing consumers and their problems into the foreground, and shareholders in second place, because if consumers migrate to the competitor, who is going to adopt the same network, its shareholders will be the ones to benefit.

It’s an environment that revises everything.

So, take note:

The creation of social networks involving consumers – a discourse now prevailing in the market – presupposes revision of the concept of profit versus problem solving.

How many are actually ready for this new stage?

A new ethic is being established in which the consumer’s problem is above everything, as there is an effort to ensure not only loyalty, but his/her involvement in thinking through together the solution.

This alliance can’t be based on the past ethic.

Shareholders should be the first to awaken to this, as profits will go to those who first understand the new ethic.

No, it’s not the Internet that is changing capitalism.

The Internet only brought along a new technology that enabled a new environment for sharing and articulating human actions at a distance. In this environment corporate kings and popes no longer can demand that everybody pray in Latin or kneel on maize grains in he same way.

Today, the faithful is no longer the same.

They share amongst themselves on a global scale.

And, they are much quicker at catching lying priests.

They want another church to consume, in which they will be proactive participants. Above all, they need to believe the priests are on their side, keeping within reach their powerful weapons to find out when they lie.

What do you say?

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Translated by Jones de Freitas. Edited by Phil Stuart Cournoyer.

(This article in Portuguese.)


2 Responses to “Capitalism 2.0: revising the profit ethic”

  1. Fernando disse:

    Salve Nepô,
    Por conta do meu interesse em história e cultura africana fiz um curso nessa área, e acabei chegando (via colonização africana) na revolução industrial e daí na história das corporações e sua relação com o capitalismo. Fiquei pensando sobre o alcance das idéias expostas no seu texto. Será que toda relação de consumo tem essa natureza? o consumidor/cidadão já é (no meu entender) uma redução da cidadania… nem todos consomem… há um Código de Defesa do Consumidor mas não há um Código de Defesa do Cidadão, A Constituição (que seria) é genérica e apenas configura o arcabouço legislativo… E o consumidor/refém? Eu posso trocar de operadora de telefonia, mas quando vou a Petrópolis (por ex.) não posso fugir da concessionária do pedágio… podemos reclamar das concessionárias via Ministério Público, Defensoria e Procom (como já podíamos antes da Web) mas elas são, na prática, quase inarredáveis. As megacorporações (desde a United Fruits) interferem pesado no destino das nações, inclusive copatrocinando golpes de estado… Elas também tem seus mecanismos de adaptação às novas realidades. Compartilho com você a certeza de que a nova tecnologia informacional propicia uma inovação na capacidade de articulação, mas acho também que precisamos estar ligados na reação (os Murdochs da vida não estão parados assistindo a revolução). “É preciso estar atento e forte…” já cantavam os Doces Bárbaros.
    Algumas das minhas referências:
    – Capitalismo gângster (Michael Woodiwiss / Ediouro);
    – O Mundo segundo a Monsanto (da corajosa Marie-Monique Robin / Ed. Radical Livros);
    – Blackwater (Jeremy Scahill / Companhia das Letras)
    Tem tb um filme nota 10 que é o Corporation.
    O segundo e o terceiro livros são tipo “cases” e revelam as estratégias das empresas para influenciar os rumos do capitalismo e se manter no poder.
    Mas no fim das contas tô contigo e não abro…
    Felicidade, saúde e paz.
    Fernando (ex-DECOS/SINTUFRJ)

  2. […] called into question but still in force. This revision will include, for example, the ecology, companies’ profits, and social […]

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