This paper is prepared from the perspective of civil society and under the context of true democracy, where civil society directly participates in the public matter on a permanent basis, so that the public and private interests are reconciled and governments are made to truly work for all ranks of society and not for the owners of capital. The very concept of social responsibility is currently at the threshold dividing its future between remaining a corporate tool used by corporations to look good, without really doing the public good, or becoming a valuable instrument of civil society to make business become socially and environmentally responsible, in such a way that generates a meaningful net contribution to the sustainability of the planet. The social responsibility of business and what it should be remains very much in debate (White, 2005). For the overwhelming majority of business entities and governments, it is a voluntary option and not a legal or even a moral obligation. This has been the unrelenting position of business, which has been enthusiastically endorsed by governments, where most elected officials in high‐power positions have been the direct beneficiaries of great amounts of corporate money for their political campaigns. For civil society, in contrast, the social responsibility of business is an instrument to make corporations behave responsibly according to the standards defined by civil society at large, through due democratic process, and not according to standards conveniently selected by business (de Regil, 2005:17). In Iberian America, the most unequal region in the world, the need to make both domestic and global corporations practice a social and environmentally‐sustainable economic activity is far more urgent than elsewhere. In this region, a neocolonial business culture pervasively remains entrenched. Since the abandonment, in the 1980s, of endogenous social and economic development, aimed at developing a growing domestic market through aggregate demand to gradually include more people into the middle social strata, the region has returned, in many aspects, to times reminiscent of late Nineteen Century ‐ with the imposition of neoliberal economics globalisation ‐ when many people worked under conditions of slavery. As has been unfolding in many parts of the world, including the G7 countries, Iberian America is today back into an era reminiscent of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. Yet it has occurred in a far more pervasive and vicious way, as a result of a far more intolerant, racist and plutocratic mentality of the upper class, which has systematically jeopardised the development of a true democratic ethos. In this way, civil society in the region has begun to use and develop some CSR concepts in attempting to put in check the activity of business. However, the outright abandonment of Iberian American governments of their most basic and preeminent democratic responsibility ‐ to procure the welfare of every rank of society, especially the disposed ‐ is so extreme, that the concept of CSR may be too little and too late to do any good.
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