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Contribution to Collected Edition

Can There Be a Normative Theory of Corporate Political Power?


Crouch,  Colin
Auswärtiges Wissenschaftliches Mitglied, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Crouch, C. (2015). Can There Be a Normative Theory of Corporate Political Power? In V. Schneider, & B. Eberlein (Eds.), Complex Democracy: Varieties, Crises, and Transformations (pp. 117-131). Cham: Springer.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-AFD5-7
Neither of the two normative theories that rest at the base of contemporary advanced societies—liberal democracy and neoliberal economics—can find a legitimate place for the exercise of corporate power through privileged political lobbying and taking advantage of imperfect competition. A normative theory justifying that power would seem to be a ‘theory that dare not speak its name’, and in some respects it is. Very few political or corporate leaders or spokespeople would wish to argue publicly that these exercises of corporate power should displace the workings of democracy and the free market. And yet such a theory provides in reality the dominant working assumptions of public life in our time. And although it is virtually never overtly pitted against liberal democracy and the free market, its central ideas are asserted, if obliquely, with increasing confidence by its advocates, ever careful to avoid a direct confrontation. The object of this essay is to delineate the main arguments of this theory, to demonstrate how they have become well rooted in contemporary normative assumptions, and to show some of the challenges it poses to liberal society.