As every year, we went to the Meeting of Rimini 2019 and, among several stimuli and interesting meetings, we report one for all with gratitude and admiration for Professor Luigino Bruni, Professor of Political economy and History of Economic Thought at Lumsa university of Roma.
Professor Bruni introduced the forum “The Economy of Francesco”, an event called for by Pope Francis to listen to the economic thoughts of young people and of the businessman. This event will take place in Assisi from 26 to 28 March 2020 and the pope himself will attend this meeting to achieve a pact in order to change economy, to make economies according to the spirit of Francesco of Assisi, an inclusive economy, with poor people, for poor people.
The mutual benefit
Starting from this innovative idea of economy and encouraged by the questions of the people present, Professor Bruni focused on some key concepts. The first of these is the mutual benefit. “In economy, the basic law is the mutual benefit, the reciprocity, not the altruism. Altruism can be the exception. The rule is that an entering worker must grow and you grow with him.” But, the real point here, explains Professor Bruni, is that the real innovation is to find a value where others see a disvalue. And to realise this is necessary “a maieutic anthropological view”. That means, the entrepreneur is very innovative when he revives the worker, when he finds a value where there is none. “The entrepreneurs which today can grow are those able to turn threats into opportunities, to make the talents of persons flourish, in this way persons become a value for the company. This is the sustainable economy.” So, the mutual benefit is the basic rule being involved with the dignity of the person, which becomes the subject of a reciprocal relationship and not a subject of an altruism relationship.
Vital energy behind doing business
Giacomo, a young university professor involved in Italy and in Africa, underlined that his Italian students don’t have the will to address the needs and create then business. Luigino Bruni answered him, emphasizing his concern for the future: young people don’t have the stimulation to work, right because the hunger for life seems to be lost, the same hunger that in the seventies has resulting tripling the number of companies in Italy. “The hunger for future for themselves and their children created businessman. The basic question is: tomorrow, where will they arise from? If we have met the basic needs, if people will be used to the relationship with technology more than with human passions, with compassion, where will we find the hungry of life to do business tomorrow? This is an enormous topic. Because we risk that the oil we will miss won’t be the fossil one, but the vital energy, the joie de vivre that leads the entrepreneur doing business… if it is lowered below the threshold, the development stops.”
To form in freedom
“The paradox and the secret of companies’ life is to form in freedom”. That is what professor Bruni answered to Elettra, a businesswoman worried about how to hold her human resources in her company. “The company through the salary and incentives buys the less important part of the work, so she must ensure that the worker gives her what she can’t buy.” This is the educational paradox: for the company it’s vital that the worker gives her the most important part of the work, that is not a commodity but simply a donation of freedom. “If a worker grows and he becomes great, he is about to go. In his everyday choice to stay he gives the best of himself”. So, to form in freedom is important to have great workers. So, once you have done everything (welfare, bonus, etc.) to hold your employees, it’s important to put an ideal sign to your door “I am not God”, the company isn’t everything. Because although the worker works in the most beautiful company of the world, he shall have some places of freedom out-of-work”. In fact, there’s more to life than the greatest job in the world.
We need living communities
Domenico, a researcher at the Catholic University, asked if and how the experiences of the creative, prophetic minorities may be on large-scale replicable, following the example of Benedictine monasteries. Answering this question, professor Bruni pointed out that the key element of the economic success of the monasteries has been also and above all the human resources: “the humanist work coupled with the concrete work was such that were formed outstanding personalities.” The person is also nowadays essential. That’s why prophetic experiences are not achievable. These experiences carry out themselves in people, they are not a know-how, they are not abstract. They are charismas incarnated in concrete human beings. Prophetic experiences may be achievable by imitation, by budding, thanks to someone who takes something and makes something completely different. Alasdair MacIntyre, the famous philosopher author of the book “Dopo la virtù” (“Following the virtue”) says: “What do we need today? A new Saint Benedict.” So, we need living communities having shared dreams. “It is necessary to emulate Benedict in the question: how to save a disappearing world today? We will make positive things if we will act, without speeches. Actions create future. That’s what Benedict says us: make works and do them together”.
No to the successful company
Ending his speech, Luigino Bruni mentioned three important points: the successful company / the no-profit company / the community property. According to the professor at LUMSA, the term “successful company” involves a wrong concept, because it misses the humanism of the trade, that created the Western civilisation. So, the trade is not a place where one wins and the other loses, in which to apply the rules of the sport. Trade is a mutual benefit, is growing together. The purpose of the company is to meet a need, to satisfy the customer, not to let its competitors emerge. So, “the trade is not a place of winners and losers, but it’s a network of mutually advantageous relations.” As well as the basis of a good life is not the success but the true meaning of what you are doing.
Profit / no-profit companies
“Today, we should overcome the idea that there are profit and no-profit companies.” According to the professor, this division is the result of a North American idea of economy arising from the Calvinist Culture, which identifies the two groups of business and a “residual area”. In fact, the purpose of companies is not the profit. The first aim is to stay alive. There are companies that haven’t made a profit for several years because they have many other purposes. The division between companies having a profit and companies without profit splits the world in a wrong way.
The common good
In his closing speech, professor Bruni explained that the topic of the common Good is unlimited, because no one has given it a comprehensive definition. “So, it’s important to be careful: in fact, the common Good is potentially an influenced subject if anyone has ideological plans.” What really matters is the concrete good we can do here and every day. So, the common Good is something that is done out of the many who make private goods in a shared way. However, this good must be concrete, the result of a meeting. And to ensure that this meeting takes place “you must attend the suburbs, normal and perhaps poor people, because the innovation is there, “it’s on the suburbs where you learn to rise again”. Which is a classic regression of businessmen? That the successful businessmen remain closed up, they reduce the biodiversity by meeting partners belonging to their same world, they lose contact with the shopping at the supermarket, with the line at the post office: in fact, it’s there that you improve. It struck me that reach people of Assisi had commissioned to Giotto the 28 episodes of Francis’ life, but among them a famous episode, important for Francis, is missing: the kiss to the leper. The reason behind this is that reach people of Assisi wouldn’t let people know that in Assisi, the town of the saint, there were lepers. What do I mean? It’s among the lepers that you can find the real innovation. It’s like when people get down from his horse like merchant Francis (he was a businessman) and he kisses the leper that the new begins. If an entrepreneur stops doing this, he doesn’t understand the common Good and he stops to make innovation.”
Our view: Sustainability and Land
The spread of a new development model of the community that bases the global evolutionary system on a new system whereby companies, public administrations and communities relate to each other. This is part of the common advantage of our Benefit. Our concern is to preserve the tangible and intangible aspects of the culture of the land and to spread awareness towards the issues of Sustainability and Development of the Civilisation through concrete actions: entrepreneurial, organisational and of strategic planning of the land. So, a new economic model of a prosperous life on this Planet, which sees the decadence of the old competitive ideal and the vanguardism of the economic view of Sustainable Development of lands. A regeneration of our way of living the community, the land and doing business in order to create meaning and a continued economic richness: in short Responsible Evolution.