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Two-Way Democracy: the Non-Place of the Enterprise in Civil Society

Domingo García-Marzá

With his proposal for two-way democracy, Jürgen Habermas introduces into the core of democratic theory the potential of social change and transformation inherent in civil society, a value that the current globalization process makes explicit in its full potential. The subsequent development of deliberative democracies has gradually specified the viability of this proposal both in the strength of the associative system and in the influence of public opinion and its numerous spheres. Yet this definition of civil society appears to exclude precisely those spaces where power is most forcefully produced and reproduced. This is the case of the economic sphere and of the enterprise as its basic institution. 

The aim of the present article is to offer a critical analysis of the place that enterprises -particularly transnational companies- do, can and should occupy in a global civil society. The challenge lies in putting forward a broad concept of civil society that allows us to identify the power these global actors hold and their responsibility as agents of justice, without renouncing a critical perspective; in other words, identifying their place in the distribution of responsibilities for what is public that every democratic system is assumed to have.  

The response is given from an ethical perspective whose reconstructive methodology enables us to approach the institutional structure of civil society; specifically from a renewed discourse ethics that, building on the proposal of Habermas, can both justify its critical perspective and propose ideas for its implementation, ideas that are always linked to the development of new spaces for participation and the deliberate search for agreements. These brief lines aim to make a modest contribution from moral and political philosophy to the necessary interdisciplinary debate on the public dimension in civil society, and on the possibilities for its democratization in our complex, plural and global societies. 

Key words: Civil Society; Enterprises; Democracy; Ethics; Proposal 

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