Beyond the Politics of the Possible: Corporations and the pursuit of social justice

Author
Brian K. Murphy, Inter Pares
June 2002 Occasional Paper cover
 

This paper is a contribution to "Corporations as a Factor in Social Justice," a Forum organized by Concordia University Institute in Management and Community Development June 12 to 14, 2002. 

In the social responsibility discourse promoted in the corporate world, the issue has largely been civility and noblesse oblige, rather than fundamental rights and justice for all. But justice is not fairness, nor some process of balancing the needs of corporations against those of citizens and their neighbourhoods. To shift this discourse to emphasize the pursuit of justice, the movement to promote corporate accountability will have to engage in dynamics that transcend the current polite consensus within the mainstream of the movement itself. This consensus is documented best, perhaps, by the Corporate Accountability Commission – whose discussion paper relies on a definition of “the public good or public interest” that is as utilitarian as it gets: “...that the mode of behaviour of all of society’s institutions must cohere with individual rights and the well-being of at least a majority of the free and equal citizens.”

By Brian K. Murphy, Inter Pares.