Rebalancing power in favour of independent business
The march of capitalism is incessant. Many countries that tried to halt and reverse its progress were devastated by a crippled economy as the large-scale social-experimentations in achieving parity and fairness dramatically failed. Throughout the socioeconomic growth and collapse in these lands, however, the top-level leadership choose to retain their elitism. Even the few countries that survived the experiment soon learned the economic value of capitalism, and shifted focus away from fairness to an extreme economic lawlessness where wealth is power.
As consumers we may sense the injustice as smaller independent businesses cosy-up to the multinationals, lured by the promise of success, growth and wealth. We may feel frustration as the multinational waves a financial carrot in front of the cash-strapped independent. We may get angry as the independent walks wealthily away from its business responsibility, leaving the multinational to consume it as part of an ongoing plan to dominate the market by eradicating the smaller players.
This situation is unlikely to change. Whether we are willing to admit it or not, most of us would jump at the opportunity to exchange whatever we have achieved thus far in life for an eye-watering sum that clears our debts, wipes the slate clean, and allows us to restart again with enough capital to make the second attempt at success a smoother journey.
Occasionally there are visionaries amongst us who not only reject the financial carrot, but also ringfence ourselves, our businesses and our employees against the wolf lurking at the gate. We make our staff majority-shareholders, we take steps to ensure our growth, and we lessen our appeal to the hovering vultures.
In the world of beer and brewing there is widespread disdain and condemnation whenever an independent brewery slips into bed alongside the anticipant multinational in order to partake in a ritual that’s as old as brewing itself. It’s a ritual that takes its cue from the world of insects.
Following the consummation of the relationship, the dominant creature literally devours its weaker partner.
However, it is progress. Never-ending progress. The practice may never end. The practice will certainly continue so long as focus is given to chastising the independent instead of weakening the stranglehold of the multinational. If we disagree with the likely eradication of an influential brewery, why do we choose to blame the victim? Do we always consider a victim to be responsible for his or her own destiny, for making a poor choice? What if we suspect the potential assailant has been grooming the victim? What if we suspect the potential assailant is misusing his or her power, wealth, authority and social-acceptance to abuse the victim by coercion or financial-influence? What if the potential assailant has a questionable track-record?
Why are we not seeing the independent brewery as the victim and the multinational as the assailant? Who is the abused and who is doing the abusing?
Eliot Ness may never have brought down Al Capone if The Untouchables concentrated on publicly criticising Capone’s victims.
If we disagree with the predatory behaviour of a multinational or if we are appalled by the potential dominance of the marketplace by a single monopoly that will simultaneously limit consumer choice and increase its profits, it is time for less black-hat thinking, time for less red-hat thinking and time to start green-hat thinking. Dwelling on the negatives and stewing in our own anger and emotion are unconstructive behaviours.
Our inert behaviour in passively accepting the dominance of the multinational or monopoly in the marketplace is implicit approval of its activities. Choosing to avoid it or opening disliking it will not be felt in its Achilles Heel: its profits. If its dubious activities and behaviour ignite a passion and fervour in our souls, we ought to skip the complacency and be proactive in diminishing its capacity to grow aggressively.
For example: we could boycott any product, brand or establishment in which it has an interest, and urge friends, families, colleagues and associates to do the same. We could proactively publicise the effects, risks and potential damage of its practices and behaviour. We could identify if there is any underhand or illegal activities, improper associations or irregularities, and then be forthright in exposing them. We could use the democratic process to seek governmental investigation into its local and international practices.
However, how many of us would we choose to do any of this?
Chewing the fat over the pros and cons, and ruminating over the wisdom of the independent brewery in choosing to sell its soul to the devil is unlikely to prevent the situation from occurring again. And again. And again. Let’s use that passion constructively to rebalance power.