Marxists, Leninists, and Maoists have not gone away. They go by different names and employ the same con.
Let’s say you oppose the idea that a corporation’s fundamental objective should be to make money for its stockholders. You could present various collectivist arguments, contending that the means of production should be controlled by “society as a whole,” rather than by selfish, profit-seeking individuals. Or you could take the more devious approach of trying to erase the very concept of a stockholder. How? By introducing the pseudo-concept of “stakeholder.”
A “stakeholder,” according to one dictionary, is “a person, group or organization that has an interest or concern in an organization.” The laundry list of examples includes “creditors, directors, employees, government (and its agencies), owners (shareholders), suppliers, unions and the community from which the business draws its resources.”
A concept is supposed to unite things that share an essential similarity. The essential characteristic integrating stockholders is their ownership of a company, which gives them distinctive rights and which clearly differentiates them from all other people. The term “stakeholder,” however, focuses instead on the superficial characteristic of having some “interest or concern” in the company. This approach packages stockholders together with everyone from the janitor to the vending-machine supplier to the residents of the same town.
Since almost anybody can be included in the “stakeholder” classification, the true function of this fuzzy term is to nullify the concept of a stockholder, who becomes just another “stakeholder,” with no distinctive rights.