The Military Army Blog

The Meaning of Inclusive Capitalism in the words of John Campbell OBE

John Campbell
Co-Founder and Chairman, Campbell Lutyens & Co. Ltd

I have travelled the whole of my adult life in the footsteps of my hero Viscount Haldane. A day rarely passes in which I do not find relevance, inspiration and guidance in his example. Richard Burdon Haldane (1856-1928), the greatest, yet least remembered, British statesman of the last 125 years – judged by the organisations that he created, which remain integral to life in Britain today – was the finest long-term thinker of recent political generations. Passionate about education, he was critically involved in restructuring London University as a teaching as well as examining organisation. He was instrumental in enabling the creation of Civic Universities which gave birth in England to the Universities of Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Sheffield and also to the University of Wales. He was the creative catalyst behind both the London School of Economics and Imperial College, and was closely associated with the early development of the Medical

As Minister for War from 1905 to 1912 he created the General Staff of the Army, the Territorial Army and most vitally the British Expeditionary Force whose brilliant heroism was critical in saving France in 1914. He laid the scientific foundations of the RAF and established the predecessors to MI5 and MI6. As Lord Chancellor he was equally pioneering in the field of law and of good governance in Britain and in the Empire, most particularly in Canada.

Everything Haldane did was long term, indeed intergenerational. He had his eyes firmly on, and beyond, the horizon. As a true philosopher-statesman, fundamental and consistent principles were the ethical, moral and practical foundations upon which his great edifices were built. That is why all of those edifices stand today, some 100 years after he created them. Life cannot be embraced superficially if great projects and great institutions are to be put in place, great progress is to be made. Haldane was a passionate believer in science and in pure and applied research. Engineers build on scientific and mathematical foundations; if their structures collapse they are rightly prosecuted for negligence. By contrast, the financial services sector built flimsy structures which collapsed spectacularly, deeply damaging society, yet hardly anybody has been prosecuted for their negligence. No wonder society is fragile, suspicious, alienated, misaligned. In his search for the ethical compass which drives great and sustainable outcomes Haldane often used the German word ‘Sittlichkeit’. There is no equivalent word in our wonderful English language. Haldane defined Sittlichkeit as the system of habitual or customary conduct, ethical rather than legal or moral, which embraces all those obligations of the citizen which it is ‘bad form’ or ‘not the thing’ to disregard. Sittlichkeit is the Geist, the spirit, which goes beyond rules, beyond regulations, and represents the social and other mores on which a true society is built.

I believe that the spirit of Inclusive Capitalism is embedded in the word Sittlichkeit. Civic society comprises all the social institutions which influence individual life – family, school, societies, clubs, legislature, executive and much more – which cannot subsist in isolation from each other, but which together form a single organic whole. As Haldane explained, this whole system of ethical habit is of a dominating character, for the influence of the whole community is embodied in this social habit. Because such conduct is systematic and covers the whole field of society, the individual will is closely related by it to the will and spirit of the community. Sittlichkeit binds and guides a body of people in a unified and holistic manner, transcending and enhancing rules, regulations and morality. Were Haldane to return today, he would, I fear, be shocked that despite all the progress that has been made in so many fields, so much still needs to be done to create civil harmony – locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. He would advocate the regeneration of a true Sittlichkeit that would embrace inclusive capitalism as an integral component of the true path of progress.

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