A Workable, Transformative Ethics-Based Alternative

Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg

This essay was originally published on February 27, 2017 at The Next System Project.


The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is a comprehensive and coherent economic model and is being practiced in hundreds of businesses, universities, municipalities, and local chapters across Europe and South America. It represents an alternative to both capitalism and communism. It emerges out of a holistic worldview and is based on “sovereign democracy, stronger democracy than exists today.

The model has five underlying goals:

  1. ownReuniting the economy with the fundamental values guiding society in general. The ECG encourages business decisions that promote human rights, justice, and sustainability.
  2. Transitioning to an economic system that defines serving the “common good” as its principal goal. The business community and all other economic actors should live up to the universal values set down in constitutions across the globe. These include dignity, social justice, sustainability, and democracy. These do not include profit maximization and market domination.
  3. Shifting to a business system that measures success according to the values outlined above. A business is successful and reaps the benefits of its success not when it makes more and more profits, but when it does its best to serve the public good.
  4. Setting the cornerstones of the legal framework for the economy democratically, in processes which result in concrete recommendations for reforming and reevaluating national constitutions and international treaties.
  5. Closing the gaps between feeling and thinking, technology and nature, economy and ethics, science and spirituality.

Read the the full article at The Next System Project.

A Framework for Ethical International Trade

Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg


This article was originally published on 1 January 2017 in the Huffington Post. Christian Felber was the main author and I was a contributing author.

Trade is not a goal in and of itself. The term free trade is subsequently a misnomer. Equally, protection is not a goal in and of itself. That is why “protectionism” is also a misnomer. Trade is valuable and protection makes sense, but none of them should be taken to the extreme. It would be blind and destructive to carry international division of labor to its logical end: Everything that is produced anywhere is exported and everything that is consumed, is imported from somewhere else. Export ratios would be 100%. Likewise, it would be blind and harmful to close down borders and stop trade completely.

Read full article

Economy for the common good is spearheaded by the grassroots

Gus Hagelberg


This article was published on 11 August 2015 at Friends of the Earth.

The Pope’s recent encyclical could have been the mission statement of a new movement championing an economic model based on social, economic and climate justice.

In his Encyclical Laudatio Sí, Pope Francis calls upon citizens, governments and the business community to begin a new dialogue about how to shape the future of the planet. He argues that this conversation must be fundamentally democratic and focus on the common good. He defines the common good as:

“a central and unifying principle of social ethics”.

The Pope goes on to say that:

“Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good.”

Laudatio Sí could be a preamble to the mission statement of a new grassroots movement in Europe which has been growing rapidly since 2010. The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) calls for a new economic system with the interests of society and the environment at its very core.

(*Read the full article at Friends of the Earth)

What would an Economy for the Common Good look like?


This article was originally published in Tikkun Magazine.

The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) is an international movement which started in October 2010 on the initiative of a dozen companies in Austria. Presently over 2000 companies support the ECG and over 100 local chapters are working with businesses, governments and civil society. It is a holistic, alternative economic model which envisions a free market economy, in which the common good is the ultimate goal of economic activity.

Goals of ECG

The ECG has three underlining goals:

1. It strives to dissolve the contradiction between the values held by many business interests such as profit maximization and values held by society in general. The ECG looks for ways to encourage values in the business community that allow us to nurture interpersonal relationships. These include trust-building, mutual appreciation, cooperation, sharing and a connectedness with nature.

2. The values and goals laid down in most western constitutions should be implemented in business practices. The current economic order contradicts the spirit of these constitutions. One example can be found in the Italian constitution:

„Public and private economic activity should be oriented to the common good.”

3. Economic success should no longer be measured strictly in financial terms such as profits and growth. Success should be measured according to a company’s contribution to the common good. Business should be rewarded for practices that improve human rights, social justice and environmental protection. At present a company often suffers if it adheres to these ideals.

Read the full article on Tikkun Magazine…