Reform of the social purpose business : a naive French

“Everybody he is nice, everybody he is nice !”, sang mielleusement the credits of a great film of the same name directed by Jean Yanne there is a period of forty years. There was the boss cynical of a radio station, repositioning his station on the mode of charity and love, universal, with, of course, as the only goal, not the good feelings, but… the growth of the advertising. It would be good to arrange, in favor of the end of the year holidays, a private screening of this little gem for Nicolas Hulot, Bruno Le Maire, and Emmanuel Macron, the first two determined to amend the civil code for the purpose of social enterprises are to be expanded to “concerns over the social and solidarity”, and the third one is sadly tempted to follow them…

This project also cutesy that demiurgic has the purpose, as has been said Hulot to “ensure that the principles and values of the social and solidarity economy, this economy pioneer, the one who tends the hand, the one who shares, the one who prefers cooperation to competition, to become now the norm and not the exception”. Has you to tears ! One would be tempted to object to the “minister of the Transition, ecological and solidarity – called baroque, which would be due upon the first to make us fear the worst – that there are already all kinds of companies (ESUS, Scop, Scic…), allowing their founders to continue, if they wish, objectives, disinterested in a fiscal framework, moreover, derogatory and favorable, so that it is difficult to see how his project meets a critical need.

One could also point out to him that the article 1833 of the civil code, the one that aims at the social object, does indeed provide that the company should “be constituted in the common interest of the partners,” but also that “every company shall have a lawful purpose” – of course, it must also comply, in its activity, all the legal provisions to which we do not know that they are, in France, in number dramatically insufficient. We could, finally, be objected that this evidence no-one will seriously check that endorsing companies, in the future social object “expanded” to all sorts of commitments admirable but perfectly vague as to pursue “the general interest of the economic, social and environmental”, will hold them well. But there’s worse.

The angle death of French culture

The worst of it is that our ministers, in good French, are imbued with a political culture inherited from the roman catholicism and the jacobinisme then retrempée to marxism that it is forbidden even to imagine that a public good can be otherwise obtained only after a specific injunction to do good, if possible, as expressed by the State or written in the law. In this French culture, a fortiori, we do not believe for a moment that an economic agent wishing to simply make his own happiness to also, though by addition and inintentionnellement, that of the community. It is, however, what we show to the environment throughout the history of capitalism : for the past two hundred years, looking stupidly rich, the ugly associated of these horrible companies to the social object, the selfish have allowed billions of individuals, in the West, and then, in a large part of the rest of the world, to gain prosperity and well-being in proportions unimaginable.

The political philosophy of the French, has a severe blind spot : in the vision of anglo-saxon origin, that illustrate particularly Mandeville and Adam Smith, the natural alignment of interests between the contractor concerned and the society as a whole is simply released. It opposes not the one to the other by principle. If the State must sometimes intervene to correct an excess, it is very rarely – to avoid, for example, that a monopoly turns into a crook. In period “cruise”, some seek to get rich, others get new products, price reduction and general improvement of their condition. Bayer, the inventor of aspirin, Ford, who introduced the first car for all, or even… Apple have never been philanthropists ! But humanity has greatly benefited from the efforts they have made to increase their profits.

A “selfish good”

A sentence iconic of the Wealth of Nations (1776) Adam Smith summarizes it all beautifully, that it is necessary to read and re-read to understand the evidence of this truth paradoxically : “This is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but rather the care that they bring to the research their own interests. We don’t give ourselves not to their humanity but to their selfishness”. This “selfishness” well being” is apparently inaudible to our ministers, who want to force with their proposed expansion of the social object, that the butcher, and says to herself, the friend of human kind, and that the brewer is ostensibly the goal of the thirst of his fellow men. This naiveté has no meaning, neither operational nor theoretical.

“So, should we then give up the most noble objectives of the community ?”, we will be objected to. Point of it all. Let us repeat : most will be achieved spontaneously, but on the other – and there is ! – the act provides for : the respect of the workers of the planet, passing by the rights of consumers, while a device of constraints weighing on business and the limit, and rightly so, their temptation selfish as it might lead to a result unacceptable socially. Provided of course that the law is well-done, and that it is applied ! It is to this that the legislator should apply rather than to require each company that it has officially the heart on the hand.

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