Homo Economicus and Dethronement of the Profit Principle by Ulrich Thielemann, 2007 and 2010
Max Frisch summarized economism in the formula: “what brings profit is rational.” Economism is a business ethics conception, namely a justification theory for profit maximization. Business ethics is declared superfluous where maximizing the capital value of the business eclipses everything else. Ultimately this is an ethics without morality. The profit principle replaces the moral principle. Instrumentalism amounts to an “ethic” of the right of the stronger.
Where profit maximization reigns illegitimately, we are governed by Humpty Dumpty, “words mean what I say they mean.” Offense is stylized as defense, justice is redefined as “rewarding achievers” and democracy and language become empty. George Orwell warned us of this – when war becomes a domestic necessity to divert us from economic contradiction.
Ulrich Thielemann, formerly professor of economic ethics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, is director of an economic ethics think tank MeM in Berlin. To read his articles from 2007 and 2010, click on