One of the strangest arguments against advocating for more responsible conduct by corporations has to be Robert Reich's contention, according to an Economist.com story about his latest book Supercapitalism "that firms are using CSR to fool the public into believing that problems are being addressed, he argues, thereby preventing more meaningful political reform."
Let me get this straight: programs of responsible conduct are simply a conspiracy to sidetrack government from punitive legislative action. A corollary is the implication that activists are apparently being diverted from the proper target of their influence, which is also government. The politics of this point of view are straightforward . . . the traditional ideology that says government intervention is the only way to prevent egregious corporate behavior, and the duty of citizens is to advocate for regulation and legislation to restrain corporate intemperance.
What is strange though is the idea that activists are somehow being sucked in by the supposed corporate CR conspiracy. I hardly think so . . . viz. Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, even Matt Damon. The whole push for more responsible corporate behavior has been driven by involved publics fed up with the worst cases of corporate financial, societal and environmental excesses. Many companies have responded well, to the benefit of society as whole.
Some of us, including activists and ordinary citizens, recognize, as Reich may not, that there is no contradiction between expecting or requiring steadily improving social and environmental performance by companies and ensuring there is a supportive regulatory framework that encourages this performance.