Occupy the System! Societal Constitutionalism and Transnational Corporate Accounting
23 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2012
Date Written: November 22, 2012
Today’s most pressing constitutional question is posed by a global economic system whose expansive tendencies seem no longer controllable. The current financial/debt crisis has triggered diverse reactions in the political arena ranging from the reformist ordo‐liberal approach followed by France and Germany in the context of Eurozone negotiations to the anarchist ideas of the Occupy Now movement. As different as these reactions may be, they can be clearly situated in an ideological coordinate system which has basically remained unchanged since the 1920ies. In the past century, two lines of thought have determined our conceptions of political economy: The German debate of the Weimar republic has labelled these lines of thought as Economic Democracy (Wirtschaftsdemokratie), on the one hand, and Economic Constitutionalism (Wirtschaftsverfassung), on the other. The Societal Constitutionalism approach apparently shifts the established ideological coordinates by developing a theory of self‐constitutionalizating of social spheres. It seeks to combine the virtues of grassroots democracy with the sophistication of systemic social theory. Thus, its normative claim can be formulated as an oxymoron: 'Occupy the System!' The claim is an oxymoron, because it points to the apparent impossibility of critical social theory in a functionally differentiated society: How can a functional system such as the economy be 'occupied' or 'democratized'? In my contribution, I try to find the grain of truth this oxymoron contains. With a view to the concrete example of transnational standard‐setting procedures in the field of corporate accounting, I examine institutional and systemic processes which enable an emerging political discourse at the core of the global economy.
Keywords: Corporate accounting, financial reporting, IFRS, transnational law, transnational corporations, societal constitutionalism, economic constitutionalism, economic democracy
JEL Classification: B15, B25, F02, F23, K00, K10, K22, M40, M41, P10, P16
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