Spreading Democracy Through Business
November 29, 2002
Corporate America has received a lot of criticism lately—much of it deserved, considering the egregious behavior we have witnessed over the past year. However, as long as we are assessing the relative merit of American business, it is only fair that we look for positive aspects as well. A report recently released by the United Nations (UN) gives us reason to do so. The 2002 UN Report on Human Development describes democratization as being stalled and facing a backlash from disappointed societies around the world, with Russia, Eastern Europe and Latin America as typical examples. It is interesting to note that those countries that have struggled the most with democracy are those that have had the least amount of success integrating into the world economy. There is a reason for this. Capitalism is the classroom for democracy, and business is the teacher. Business probably does more to help spread democracy than any other part of society, primarily by facilitating the cultural change that is necessary for a society to become truly free, civil and democratic. It’s time we recognize this contribution by business.