New Financial Horizons
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Economy of Communion
The Economy of Communion involves a worldwide network of solidarity among some 800 firms that together constitute a vibrant business community based upon the values of sharing, caring and justice. Drawing on the experiences of an international sample of business and community leaders, particularly from the United States and Brazil, Lorna Gold explains the historical and philosophical origins of this fascinating global community.
“ONE COMPANY IS NOT ENOUGH” – CHANGING THE WORLD, ONE BUSINESS AT A TIME
We are living in times not dissimilar to the Reaganite and Thatcher years of the 1980s, when the market logic of economic growth was definitely in the ascendance. The resurgence of market dominance brings with it very serious, potentially destabilising down sides. Can markets, as currently structured, ever deliver solutions to the gross inequalities which are increasing exponentially? Can markets solve the global existential threat that is climate change? Can markets deliver on human rights in the fullest sense? As things stand, I have to say no. It just isn’t possible. Businesses lack the foundation of a social contract, which only democracy can deliver. As the recent Trócaire report “Where aid meets trade” shows, there are serious issues of accountability at stake.
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“What if “yours and mine become ours”?
It was the most unexpected, extraordinary experience. I found myself in a hall of 400 business people and young entrepreneurs who subscribe to the EOC philosophy. The people present represented many thousands more who were watching online or running the businesses. Most of them were Africans, many were from Burundi and Congo. One after the other they shared their stories of how they try to “live communion” in their businesses, in their local communities, and in global initiatives. They outlined projects of all sizes designed to bring the spirit of integrity and communion into the most diverse environments. They called on others to support them and they did not hold back. Their stories all demonstrated the same thing: business can play an extremely positive role today. It can be an agent of transformative change – a paradigm shift.
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“Gold examines the origins and substance of a promising alternative to the current globalized economy. During a 1991 trip to Brazil, Chiara Lubich challenged Focolare members to launch businesses that could create jobs and opportunities. Almost twenty years later, Benedict XVI cited the Economy of Communion in Caritas in Veritate as a promising form of intermediate activity between for-profit business and classic non-profit institutions.”
John L. Allen Jr.
“What Gold has provided … is a theologically grounded understanding of a robust culture that has the capacity to engage the whole human person as a unity to overcome the divisive effects of a fragmented and divided self in economic life. It not only tells the story of the Economy of Communion, but it provides a model for entrepreneurs and managers who are interested in building communities of work and not merely nexuses of exchange. It is a book that should be widely read in the U.S., especially in the academy, which too often lacks such integrative and interdisciplinary analysis between theoretical visions and practical experience.”
Michael J. Naughton,
Moss Chair of Catholic Social Thought, University of St. Thomas, MN
“Rather than merely describing, praising, or criticizing, it sets out to answer questions such as, Is the EOC a new model of the firm? Is it a workable model? Can it guide us in the current debate on how to overcome the models based on self-interest? New Financial Horizons is a very readable book that will interest many educated readers, even those who have no specialized knowledge of economics, theology, or business ethics. All the information they need in order to understand the history and messages of the EOC is provided.”
IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain in Journal of Markets & Morality, Vol 14, No.1 (2011)
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Gold [describes] the challenges faced by the world at the dawn of our new millennium as a nexus of crises: economic recession, social inequality, environmental threat, and political instability … Gold traces their problems to the assumption that a human being is best described as homo oeconomicus. This positing of “rational economic man” at the core of human existence marks a definitional exclusion of trust and relationality, making it difficult to imagine an alternative reality … Gold reclaims ways of imagining human existence that do not assume self-interested rational choice at their core, taking Focolare and its EoC networks – launched in Brazil in 1991 but now spread around the world – as her primary example … One need not subscribe to the movement’s social trinitarianism in order to see such work as vitally important.
The Living Church
About the Author
Lorna Gold currently works as Policy and Advocacy Manager with the Irish Catholic Agency for International Development, Trócaire. Before joining Trócaire, she received a Ph.D. in Economic Geography from the University of Glasgow and worked in the Department of Politics in the University of York. She writes extensively on global economic and social development, with a particular focus on the contribution of Christian social thought in addressing the challenges of ethical globalization.
|Publication Date||Jul 31, 2010|