Thomas Beschorner, a professor of business ethics at the University of St. Gallen, has published an opinion piece in the German weekly Die Zeit criticizing companies for their lack of resistance to the surging influence of the far right.
Beschorner argues that a pronounced rightward tilt would make it more difficult for companies to attract capable employees and investment from abroad. Why then, he asks, are most business leaders unwilling to call out the threat of right-wing forces to the democratic state? He surmises that one reason for their reticence is an outdated interpretation of the relationship between business and politics:
[Companies] do not feel responsible for political issues because they hew to the view that economics and politics are two strictly separated spheres which should not be mixed.
To this, Beschorner adds three further potential reasons for the silence of business leaders: perceived irrelevance of political issues for their core business, fear of offending parts of one’s customer base and employees, and a preference for the laissez-faire economic policies espoused by the far-right.
Beschorner’s article comes in the wake of revelations that several German business executives participated in a meeting with members of the AfD, a right-wing party sitting around 20% in federal election polls, and far-right extremists in Potsdam. According to reports, the group discussed plans for the forced removal of Germans with foreign roots.