"Let us therefore learn while there is yet time, let us learn to claim our liberty. Let us open our eyes to our natural freedom for the sake of our honor, for the very love of virtue. As for me, I truly believe I am right, since there is nothing so contrary to reason as self-imposed tyranny. I believe the time will come when support will be withdrawn from tyrants and their accomplices. Then let us watch them all fall from their own corrupted weight."
Éttiene de la Boétie, Discours de la Servitude Volontaire , 1552
"Human beings are only secure from evil at the hands of others in proportion as they have the power of being, and are, self-protecting; and they only achieve a high degree of success in their struggle with Nature in proportion as they are self-dependent"
John Stuart Mill, Considerations on Representative Government, 1861, Ch 3
Many years ago the world was dominated by kingdoms, autonomous areas of the planet ruled in authoritarian fashion by one person, with the power of life and death over their 'subjects'. Thinkers of the Enlightenment and beyond, like Mill, gradually engineered a move to a more distributed rule, in forms of representative democracy, yet still not fully representing the populace (many groups remained disenfranchised). Over time the vote was made universal in most Western states, and the historically fixed 'class' based functionality thrown open to free enterprise, an individualistic form of freedom of action and responsibility. In this context 'self-protecting' means that individuals must be able to counter external threats to their being and lifestyles, and 'self-dependent' means that we should be able to make our own free choices as to how our lives develop.
"I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Thomas Jefferson, 1816
But that has all changed, and Jefferson's hope has failed. In the last century we have seen the incessant growth of the corporation, an insatiable concentration of power over vast numbers of people into one profit-obsessed and unaccountable organization. This has culminated in a new form of state, the uncontrollable Transnational Corporation (TNC), which has no physical boundaries but extends fractal like into all corners of the globe, and into all levels of our reality, and has assets larger in total than many entire 'Third World' countries. These distributed but centrally controlled structures behave identically to the kingships they replaced, never taking no for an answer, destroying by coercion and oppression any opposition, forever looking for further conquests and (most insidiously) concentrating resources and decisions into 'royal' hands, whilst excreting their negative externalities onto the populace at large. We even have the phenomena of 'partnerships' (corporate alliances), i.e. 'marriages' of directors linking up power bases into ever more inter-twined 'families' of 'aristocrats', sitting in each other's 'throne rooms'. Here we examine in detail this new imperialism and its effects on our claims to live in a democratic world. In this text we will not pull our punches, there will be no apologetics, no weasel words, we will say it as we see it. Such phraseology may offend, it may seem over-the-top, especially to academics so used to hedging-their-bets, to running away from their responsibility. But is it ? Or are our emotions (which reflect our values) a long neglected part of what makes us 'real' humans ? Are we, as a species, worth 'fighting for', worth 'preserving' or not ? Should we instead be consigned to the scrapheap of nature's failures, along with those other 'hopeful monsters' whose extinction benefited the planet ?
"When we contrast human society with its economic systems, it is clear that human society is the fundamental, essential, legitimate reality. Economic systems are useful but subordinate realities - societal subsystems created at the pleasure of society to help society's members meet their provisioning needs. Yet, that is not the situation that exists today. The agendas of big finance and big enterprise have come to override and to replace social agendas. Subsystem now dominates system. Creation dominates creator. Servant dominates master. "
Copthorne Macdonald, Matters of Consequence, 2004, pg.125
What is this drive that causes companies to become ever larger, more monopolistic, more centralised ? Is it fear, or greed, or insecurity, or as market apologists claim, efficiency ? Certainly not the latter, the inefficiencies of state bureaucracies are well documented, so these will occur whether the 'state' is politically or business originated. Once again the cybernetic "Law of Requisite Variety" confirms that centralised control must fail to be effective as soon as the complexity of the whole exceeds the complexity of the central 'decision maker' (i.e. the directors in a corporation). It is tempting to put this desire to control everything to little more than ego-trips driven by evolutionary instinct (the 'alpha male' urge). Certainly the behaviours of company executives echoes rather well the intolerance to competition, and the hoarding of group resources that we see so often in primitive animal societies.
One of the least appealing aspects of corporate leadership is the delusion held by many corporate executives that they are 'special' people, somehow 'better' than normal humans. This confuses power with efficiency. Just because a person can make big changes does not mean they are 'clever', such power comes with the position - it is not an intrinsic feature of the 'bum on seat'. In today's ego-tripping society merging companies is assumed however to make CEOs themselves more successful, presumably because they accidentally then 'own' more assets and people ! The ability to engineer massive change by edict however conceals the fact that such changes are usually also massively destructive to areas of society not related to the corporation 'bottom-line'. The responsibility for these negative overall changes is strangely never claimed by such executives, it is the prototypical embodiment of 'power without responsibility'...
"The capitalist scheme of values in fact transformed five of the seven deadly sins of Christianity - pride, envy, greed, avarice and lust - into positive social virtues, treating them as necessary incentives to all economic enterprise; whilst the cardinal virtues, beginning with love and humility, were rejected as "bad for business"..."
Lewis Mumford, Technics and Human Development, 1994, pg.276
Even considering only the intended narrow purpose of such boardroom instigated changes, history tells us that failure is much more common than success here (given the rate of subsequent reversals or 'reconstructions'). Additionally many successes are in fact incidental to any boardroom action (e.g. share price improvements - when the whole market has risen anyway !) and easily reversed if the contingent factors don't play ball (a crash wipes out all 'fixer-generated' gains and more - but the executive still claims all the credit for his 'success' !). Additionally this delusion of grandeur prevents the 'boss' listening to any expertise from other members of the company (those being lesser 'mortals' naturally), or immunises him or her from outside criticism (God is always right after all...). The negative effects of these arrogant behaviours actually lead to the failure of many firms, so far from being the "God's gift to humanity" that these people imagine themselves, in reality they are often amongst the most ignorant, small-minded and unimaginative people on the planet !
Coupled with this over-estimation of worth, is the current practice of paying executives on some basis other than for 'results'. Unearned large pay rises are self-awarded, share options are given for status-quo behaviour, bonuses for 'engineering' a merger - before any results of this are seen. Incredibly, current 'reward' packages often include clauses that add a big pay-off even if the executive is sacked for incompetence, along with lifelong massive pensions to boot ! Heads they win, Tails they win. And who loses ? The workers, the investors, the wider society and the environment of course...
This sort of exponential growth of reward for the 'top' staff, whilst usually denying any rewards to anyone else, is so pernicious as to have attracted a derogatory designation, that of 'fat cats', an analogy to such animals 'creaming off' all the most valuable assets, and leaving only the poor trappings behind. And once these executives 'move on', being 'head-hunted' (would that it were really true...) by even greater fools, and the dust settles, then we often find that the company is in far worst state than it was before their 'improvement plan' - 'mad bulls in china shops' comes more to mind !
Standards of corporate governance are supposed to be maintained by the appointment of 'non-executive' directors, and the separation of Chair and CEO functions. These people are expected to monitor the performance of the executives and ensure they act in the interests of the company, shareholders and society generally. Yet these supposedly 'independent' directors are invariably executive directors in their own right for other corporate bodies, often several, which themselves employ (as their non-executive directors) those very same people that they are supposed to be monitoring ! Conflict of interest in this family of friends and colleagues makes any form of independent control impossible, all these directors have a mutual interest in stitching up their cosy world and maintaining their immunity from outside criticism and effective control.
A further connection here to financial sources illuminates another level of mutual benefit. Most companies are heavily indebted to corporate banking interests, such funds are needed to finance take-overs, expansions and other monopolistic 'throw money at it' activities. Merchant banks and the like, who arrange such issues, get massive 'kickbacks' or commissions and thus are biased sources of 'advice'. It is in the mutual interests of directors of both businesses to again stitch up the shareholders and everyone else, promoting 'activity' for the sake of it - the more turnover they can engender then the more opportunity to cash-in (big time) on both sides, and the more confusion under which to hide any unpalatable realities and 'cock-ups'...
One requirement for company accounts is that they are vetted by an 'accountant'. Yet here we have yet another layer of corporate greed. Accountancy practices have moved from being independent accountants, to being dominant partnerships who are employed for big money by big business. The directors appoint this 'auditor', so any failure to 'pass' the accounts just results in their replacement by someone more 'compliant'. Hence the recent scandals of fraudulent complicity between the two. When we take the size of these bodies it is clear that the exercise is a formality, the entire operation of the 50,000+ person company is impossible to 'account' for by a few relatively ignorant 'visitors'. The directors if so inclined (and why would they not be ?) can pull the wool over the eyes of both accountants and shareholders, leaving the 'company reports' to prove to be as big a fantasy and deceit as any other PR operation.
The ill-named 'public relations' (PR) industry, central to corporate power, is essentially a lie machine. Its purpose is to present company policy and behaviour in the best possible light, by fudging facts, by concealing damaging news, by exaggeration and misinformation and every other available technique of manipulation. It is also big business in its own right, advertising expenditures exceed generally the entire 'other' cost base of big corporations, so most of the 'cost' of the product is in the forced selling obsession, the 'push it or die' mentality...
One result of this endless reliance on manipulation is that people can no longer take any corporate statement at face value, we must assume that any and every statement made by these people is first and foremost a carefully orchestrated lie. Any truth content will prove incidental, and is present only so far as is necessary to gain surface credibility for their hidden profit agenda. Attempts to get to the actual truth will be strenuously resisted, with as much obstructionism and as many 'red-herrings' thrown into the works as can be managed. Thus yet again we see the corporate operation working against public interest in practice. The first instinct of any corporate executive to any question seems to be the self-serving lie...
"The part played by orthodox economists, whose common sense has been insufficient to check their faulty logic, has been disastrous to the latest act."
J. M. Keynes (1936)
On a limited planet, the idea that we Westerners can continue to consume at our present rate is absurd. The idea that the rest of the planet can, and should, reach the same level of individual consumption and waste as we do is inexcusably stupid and naive. Our footprint, that area of planet needed to support each of us sustainably, is already such that to support even the worlds current population in such a manner as to meet today's average U.S. consumption (and the associated massive inefficiency of its corporate economy) would need six entire planets the size of Earth - growing, at another one each few decades, to cope with the rapidly rising world population of hungry 'consumers' of things, energy, food, water and space !
Yet even this is not enough for corporate greed, they insist on escalating these (already too high) levels of consumption every year, even rejoicing that people flaunt their greed, and show all those around them, just how 'clever' they are, "just see how fast we can consume, waste, replace our disposable houses, cars, products from our 'disposable' income". The pressures and brainwashing to adopt such imbecilic ("rip-me-off, I'm a idiot...") beliefs comes from the glossy media ads (e.g. the Financial Times' frequent weekend supplement "How to Spend It"), whose creed seems to be 'if it costs more, want it more' - an ever escalating (plastic and shallow) form of social-shell 'luxury' lifestyle hiding the creeping death now stalking our planet and most of our peoples.
Growth, growth and more growth seems to be a innate feature of all corporate thinking. If this years 'turnover' is lower than last year's the company is thought to have failed, if the increase in profits this year is any lower than last year's increase then heads must roll. This sort of thinking is quite ludicrous in a world of limited resources and limited people, no large company can possibly grow endlessly. As Malthus analysed, over 200 years ago, an exponential growth cannot but overtake a linear increase in resources (or customers). Nothing has changed since, technology does not alter this basic fact, once the consumption exceeds the resources then death must result.
"In raising the price of commodities the rise in wages operates in the same manner as simple interest does in the accumulation of debt. The rise of profit operates like compound interest. Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people."
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776, Ch 9
The logic here is exactly the same (and make no mistake about this) as the "send a dollar to the ten people on the list and send the list to ten others" form of pyramid chain letter. In a very short time everyone on the planet has more commodities than can fit into their premises (or under landfill sites) and there are no resources left in our world. No amount of fudging by economists, who live in a cloud cookoo land of endless magical discovery, changes this. All innovations need energy, once this is used up, then no amount of spin can replace it. Money, a fantasy, has no energy or resource value. A billionaire will die of starvation on a polluted and dying planet as quickly as a pauper, your big electronic bank balance ceases, immediately, to exist once the energy runs out...
"One must have a very erroneous view of the economic process as a whole not to see that there are no material factors other than natural resources. To maintain further that "the world can, in effect, get along without natural resources" is to ignore the difference between the actual world and the Garden of Eden."
Georgescu-Roegen/Herman Daly, Steady State Economics: A Catechism of Growth Fallacies, 1975
And what exactly then is this 'money' that everyone in the corporate world is so obsessed about ? It is a debt ! The people that have received money have supposedly provided a service to someone who couldn't return (trade for) it immediately. The 'money' is an "I owe you", no more than a 'token', a 'marker', of the giver's debt that the recipient can exchange later for more resources (e.g. labour, materials). So when someone gives you money they say that they (or someone else), are indebted to you, that they will return to you ("on demand" it says on the banknote) those resources which you have previously given to them, or goods of equivalent value in trade, after which you return and cancel their IOU, i.e. the 'money' is then torn up, it is 'worthless'.
"Debts are subject to the laws of mathematics rather than physics. Unlike wealth, which is subject to the laws of thermodynamics, debts do not rot with old age and are not consumed in the process of living. On the contrary, they grow at so much per cent per annum, by the well-known mathematical laws of simple and compound interest ... It is this underlying confusion between wealth and debt which has made such a tragedy of the scientific era."
Frederick Soddy, Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt , 1926
But somehow bankers have corrupted and reversed the system, and they now seem to think, illogically, that the 'money' is in fact a resource which they are 'loaning' back to you, and they then expect it to be returned with interest ! It isn't anything of the sort. You have provided them with no resources, they certainly intend to return none, 'on demand' or ever, in fact they will confiscate yours if you do not play their 'Shylock' game ! It is the ultimate in pyramid selling exercises, with no real resources ever needing to be created, such new 'money' as is used for 'loans' is actually just invented by banks, it is a fantasy liability, based upon no assets given or implied whatsoever. It is now just a worthless computer transaction, a banking 'con trick' aimed at transferring the world's actual resources from the people and planet to the bankers (which is why they love 'defaulters' and so readily seize their assets, 'gulp')... It is in fact 'Grand Theft Planet'.
"Unless due precautions were taken, increase of freedom in form would be followed by decrease of freedom in fact. Nothing has occurred to alter the belief I then expressed. The drift of legislation since that time has been of the kind anticipated. Dictatorial measures, rapidly multiplied, have tended continually to narrow the liberties of individuals; and have done this in a double way. Regulations have been made in yearly-growing numbers, restraining the citizen in directions where his actions were previously unchecked, and compelling actions which previously he might perform or not as he liked; and at the same time heavier public burdens, chiefly local, have further restricted his freedom, by lessening that portion of his earnings which he can spend as he pleases, and augmenting the portion taken from him to be spent as public agents please... Thus influences of various kinds conspire to increase corporate action and decrease individual action."
Herbert Spencer, The Man versus the State, 1884, Preface
In a democracy, the only legitimacy possible is in agreement by the people (or at least a clear majority of them). It is quite unacceptable for any group to claim this legitimacy without such agreement. This applies whether they are nominally elected (e.g. politicians), public servants (e.g. bureaucrats) or now quite unaccountable to the people (e.g. corporations). And, of course, if the people are never asked then no legitimacy can exist. In no instance can legitimate power to control their own world and their own lives be taken away forcibly from the people. Attempts to do so violate many of the tenets enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in itself also states unequivocably (Article 30):
"Nothing in this Declaration can be interpreted by anyone in such a way that its aim is to destroy the rights and freedoms set forth herein."
Attempts therefore to override this document and give corporations rights to oppose what the people democratically want are fundamentally illegitimate (whether 'legalised' by cronies or not) and cannot be 'democratically' enforced. In a similar way attempts to centralise power, in any group, such that the local people no longer have an effective say in their own futures violates Article 30 directly.
"Every day, people are bravely resisting corporations. They are standing up to the bullying, blackmail and violence corporate managers use to maintain their grip over our minds, our work and our communities."
Richard L. Grossman, Ending Corporate Governance ,1994
The basic urge to competition and domination in corporate life leads to a strong tendency to violence. This not only takes the form of animosity towards 'competitors', who are 'shafted' with glee and either forced out of competition or taken over at every opportunity, but takes other forms too. Within the company structure the race for the top leads to an 'every man for himself' attitude where 'dog eat dog' behaviours thrive, and success at any cost (knives in the back included) is everything. Additionally the corporate attitude to society is antagonistic, with the company trying to externalise as many costs as possible whilst internalising all benefits, and suppressing any criticism and attempts at outside control. This relates also to their attitudes to their workers, who despite frequent rhetoric to the contrary, are regarded as worthless unless they can be exploited, and immediately discardable as soon as this becomes possible (replaced by 'cheaper' workers elsewhere on the planet, or by mechanization), i.e. the employer has zero loyalty to the employees, despite expecting theirs in return !
Because of this fundamentally anti-social attitude, not changed by 'community-support' rhetoric (a small-scale smokescreen) or 'sponsorship' (a form of even more exploitative advertising), security is a corporate obsession, leading to private police forces, spying on their own staff, persecution of socially-responsible 'whistle-blowers' and its enlistment of 'friendly' (i.e. traitorous) government controlled force to protect their assets from the electorate (whether implemented as biased 'laws', worker lockouts, suppression of legitimate protests or the violent breaking of pickets and blockades). In other words, all the protectionist behaviours of kings and dictatorships, including riot squads and army, can and are employed to insulate the corporation (and their backers) from responsibility for the social effects of its (and their) actions.
"Proponents of corporate libertarianism regularly pay homage to Adam Smith as their intellectual patron saint... Smith had a strong dislike for both governments and corporations... The classical political economy of Adam Smith was a much broader, more humane subject than the economics that is taught in universities today."
David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World , 1995
Despite a world that is multicultural, despite the wish of many for alternative lifestyles, we have a constant drive by corporate monopolies to standardise everything in our world, to remove choice and diversity and transform the whole planet into one identikit market for shoddy and disposable (but highly profitable...) 'consumer' goods. Bodies like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) deliberately obstruct local choice, and try to prevent democratically elected bodies making their own decisions as to whom they buy from, at what cost, when and if. This artificial distortion of markets, to remove all multidimensional human values other than 'profit', to reduce political freedoms and to eliminate local cultural uniqueness is, needless to say, against the interests of both people and the cohesion and synergy of our civic societies, and every day brings us closer to those nightmare scenarios central to such 'utopias' as Huxley's 'Brave New World' or Orwell's '1984'. The only difference is that they are, nowadays, run by dominant global business interests and not by political ones (who are now the puppets of the former). But the one-dimensional 'trampling on anyone in the way' for money behaviours still remain...
"Money is like an iron ring we've put through our noses. We've forgotten that we designed it, and it's now leading us around. I think it's time to figure out where we want to go - in my opinion toward sustainability and community - and then design a money system that gets us there... While economic textbooks claim that people and corporations are competing for markets and resources, I claim that in reality they are competing for money - using markets and resources to do so... I have come to the conclusion that greed and fear of scarcity are in fact being continuously created and amplified as a direct result of the kind of money we are using."
Bernard Lietaer, Beyond Greed and Scarcity, 1996
Another aspect of this is the removal from markets of any sense of fair or 'just' exchange, of the once basic tenet of trade that the two sides can haggle to fix a fair price, their mutual exchange value. In today's corporate operations price is a fixed quantity, set as high as possible and non-negotiable (for ordinary citizens anyway !). Coupled with constant take-overs of local competition, we now have the situation in many areas where there is only one vendor for any commodity, especially staples, and an arrogant take-it or leave-it attitude by corporate retailers prevails. This situation is akin to a bazaar where the only food vendor quotes an initial price ten times what would be fair use value, and the buyer is forced to accept it or starve ! And of course a monopoly vendor becomes a monopoly buyer, and can treat their primary suppliers in the same bully-boy way, paying little (if anything), above subsistence rates. Thus there is almost zero correlation between corporate cost (what they pay for it) and price (what they sell it for) - the buy low, sell high greed of monopolistic middle-men coercively milks both ends of the chain, with little or no 'value-add' ! Otherwise why would the cost of living for our basic necessities in corporate controlled countries now be many times higher than those in the 'Third World' - where local produce is traded with end-customers by its primary suppliers ?
It may be thought regrettable that our world of today still has so much war. Yet the reason is easy to find. Selling weapons is the biggest earner on the planet. In fact the world spends (provably) over three times as much on the military as we would need to spend to eliminate global want entirely ! And better still (for the corporations anyway) funding for these massively profitable 'enterprises' is taken by force from the people at large (in taxes) and transferred directly (by their tame and 'sponsored' governments) to the corporate coffers of the arms manufacturers, what a scam...
But there is much more. Once the 'enemy' (any scapegoat will do at a pinch...) has been destroyed and their armaments (together with their infrastructure) wasted, the other half of the corporate profit machine can go to work (in the meantime 'our' arsenal is being 'replenished' - again at public expense). Rebuilding contracts, naturally, go to the 'friends' of the victor. In this 'humanistic' liberation (of the country we deliberately destroyed), paid for by the people in taxes, we have yet another transfer from the 'have-nots' to the 'have-much-more-nows', thank you very much !
But all such victories are Pyrrhic, they are never what they seem. Enemies are never 'destroyed', except in the myths of political 'spin', just partly suppressed. So soon they return, bruised and highly resentful, and of course need more arms to fight back, but who sells them these weapons - need you ask ? Nowadays we call it 'terrorism' - but from whom to whom ? Warmongering is a well known historical way for imperialists to get their corporate claws into other countries for the purposes of long-term exploitation. And so the cycle endlessly repeats, and the people endlessly lose to corporations, are you still surprised we have 'war' ?
In yet another divorce of corporate behaviour from common sense, we have the situation where 'elected' governments are paying massive (over $1,400 Billion a year) perverse subsidies to corporate barons (e.g. those in U.S. automobile, oil and agriculture industries) in order to allow them to continue to better out-compete more efficient and environmentally friendly smaller firms, often in other countries. Such anti-competitive props to corporate profits (supposedly 'illegal' under their own WTO rules) come, of course, from the people. We (or rather our corrupt 'representatives') are actively paying corporations, with our own stolen money and time, to better exploit us and to reduce (both socially and environmentally) our quality of life. And the less said about the appalling deceits and stealth charging permitted from greedy banks the better - effectively the government is subsidising them all by privatising money itself, so they can steal it directly !
The net effect of all these practices is to prop up unsustainable development. Quite obviously people will behave in a way that matches their incentives to do so, so by making the main financial incentives favour the greedy, the anti-social, the environmentally damaging, we help directly to destroy our own world. Rather than, for example, providing subsidies for the development of renewable energy our governments prefer to subsidise the use of non-renewable energy ! This sort of behaviour is quite insane, so it is no wonder that openness about even the existence of such deliberate distortions of the market is missing in all government 'accounts'. But that is not the only extent of the damage, these practices lead also to hidden subsidies of equally high levels, e.g. the use of fossil fuels adds air pollution, creates global weather changes, acid rain, and so on. These negative externalities of their behaviour are never accounted for in financial terms, and never paid for by the corporations, but are equally perverse side-effects of our overall incentive structures.
Shrews are fighting animals, small but fierce. But like most animals they can be tamed. Some animals, it is true (to paraphrase Orwell's 'Animal Farm') are more tameable than others. Nethertheless, with time and effort, even the most heroic and noble, like the lions, can be reduced to mere 'entertainment', crack-the-whip, watch-them-jump, slaves to a master's whim. So, sadly, we see also the effects of such training on humans in a corporate world. Behaviour which, if applied to animals would certainly cause moral outrage, protests, storming of corporate headquarters, and righteous condemnation outright by 'animal lovers'.
Does nobody love humans then ? One would think not looking around. The slavery of our species, surprisingly, has been undertaken by members of the species itself. Few, if any, animals are so sub-animal in behaviour as to enslave their own kind. This human 'uniqueness' is not however a 'fine quality', it is not a 'higher mental function'. It does, true, set us apart from animals, but is it in ways that make us 'proud' ? Obedience to the 'boss' is so endemic to our educational upbringing as to make this bullying seem so very 'normal'. It is not. For over two thousand years, we have strived to emancipate humans from slavery, and for what ? To see this feudal nastiness not only resurrected, but thriving more than ever ! People are bought and sold today not just individually, as in the past, but in bulk, it is 'mass production' slavery. Entire companies (and/or nations) are traded (lock, stock and barrel) on a corporate whim, our 'owners' change from day-to-day, we have no say, no option, no apparent humanity at all, we are treated as just human 'filing cabinets'. We must jump to the new master's tune or are left to die...
"The occasional descriptions or predictions about the global economy that are found in the media usually come from the leading advocates and beneficiaries of this new order: corporate leaders, their allies in government, and a newly powerful centralized global trade bureaucracy. The visions they offer us are unfailingly positive, even utopian: Globalization will be a panacea for our ills.
Shockingly enough, the euphoria they express is based on their freedom to deploy, at a global level through the new global free-trade rules, and through deregulation and economic restructuring regimes large-scale versions of the economic theories, strategies and policies that have proven spectacularly unsuccessful over the past several decades wherever they've been applied."
Jerry Mander, Corporate Colonialism , 1996
Media control, yet another corporate monopoly, is an essential part of the gravy train. Biasing the public in ways that favour corporate interests, suppressing any news that does not, glorifying the power of 'bosses', highlighting helpful pronouncements by 'tame' politicians, are all methods used to entrench the economic delusions behind 'capitalists' and their arch-institution the mega-corporation, that worldwide superpower of commerce. The adulation given in certain media quarters, to the unscientific views of the gurus of this system, serves to conceal just what information is being deliberately hidden. By taking over as many local media sources as possible (town papers, regional radio and TV) these moguls have created almost a total stranglehold on genuine information. Everything presented to the public is carefully vetted for manipulative effect, and these effects go far deeper that the often trivial surface 'content'.
Diversity of viewpoints and valid debate requires a free press, a local press, not one biased and controlled in every sense by big business, not one in servitude to one political and economic delusion, not one incapable or unwilling to tell the truth. The information to confirm everything said in this document is however freely available on the Internet, take a look at some of it maybe. In any case, much of what we say should be just common sense, trust your own experience of these characters. If you still think corporations are a 'good thing' then do consider just how much your captive views have been formed by media indoctrination and reinforcement, 24/7, over your entire lifetime...
"Very similar questions are very much alive in the international arena today. The talk about reforming financial architecture and that sort of thing. A century ago, right about that time, corporations were granted the rights of persons by radical judicial activism, an extreme violation of classical liberal principles. They were also freed from earlier obligations to keep to specific activities for which they were chartered. Furthermore, in an important move, the courts shifted power upwards, from the stockholders in a partnership to the central management, which was identified with the immortal corporate person..."
Noam Chomsky, Taking Control of Our Lives: Freedom, Sovereignty & Other Endangered Species, 2000
Laws were originally devised to protect the citizenry from criminal acts, from anti-social behaviours, from violence. It should not surprise us I suppose that today they have been extensively taken over by corporate interests, and reversed to protect these corporate criminals from the wrath of the people. In a world where politicians are for sale to the highest bidder; where judges are a political appointment; where many politicians are themselves legal-eagles; and where legal fees are a multi-billion industry, the 'laws' made will favour not justice but the interests of the powerful. No ordinary citizen can challenge the corporate lawyer's ability (with his unlimited funding) to twist and manipulate the 'letter of the law', in a way such as to favour his 'client'. Nor can ordinary citizens prevent lawmakers being 'persuaded', by corporate 'lobbyists' (with unlimited funding and access to 'high places'), to enact laws that deliberately advantage corporate greed and privilege at the citizens expense.
"I realized that the many social ills created by corporations stem directly from corporate law... The provision in the law I am talking about is the one that says that the purpose of the corporation is simply to make money for shareholders... Failing this duty can leave directors and officers open to being sued by shareholders... Corporate law thus casts ethical and social concerns as irrelevant, or as stumbling blocks to the corporation’s fundamental mandate. That’s the effect the law has inside the corporation. Outside the corporation the effect is more devastating. It is the law that leads corporations to actively disregard harm to all interests other than those of shareholders... We can make corporations more responsible to the public good by amending the law that says the pursuit of profit takes precedence over the public interest. I believe this can best be achieved by changing corporate law to make directors personally responsible for harms done."
Robert Hinkley, Redesigning Corporate Law, 2002
One, well entrenched, law is that 'protecting' directors from any responsibility for the actions of their corporations. As a result of a corrupted court system, the once 'limited' corporation is regarded (by a legal fabrication) as a person, but one without any of the liabilities, morally or otherwise, that apply to ordinary people. Yet only living systems, not fictitious ones have 'rights'. Today, however, the corporation has every 'right' to do every wrong, and the directors can escape all blame - you cannot jail a fiction ! If a criminal act is found out then nobody will take responsibility for it, and the only internal recriminations seem to be directed at those who, negligently, let the public discover it ! Indeed, many corporate instigated behaviours today conspire to make the Mafia look too benevolent...
"When approaching the subject of economic power, one can safely ignore the entire field of linear mathematical economics (so-called competitive equilibrium economics), since there monopolies and oligopolies are basically ignored... Capitalism was, from its beginnings in the Italy of the thirteenth century, always monopolistic and oligopolistic... if capitalism has always relied on non-competitive practices, if the prices for its commodities have never been objectively set by demand/supply dynamics, but imposed from above by powerful economic decision-makers, then capitalism and the market have always been different entities... capitalism has always been an 'antimarket'."
Manuel De Landa, Markets and Antimarkets in the World Economy, 1994
We have examined many aspects of Corporate behaviour, all of which are negative-sum in terms of the overall fitness of our world. What then is the justification for the dominance of such parasitic or cancerous structures in our world today, these dinosaurs with their massive bodies and minuscule brains, in which nothing can ever be permitted which does not make someone a 'profit' ? It is difficult to find any, other than a desire by a deluded (nay, psychotic ?) elite to control and commodify everything. Yet such control is ultimately self-destructive, the corporate trajectory of world domination by constant growth is clearly unsustainable in either social or environmental terms. This consumerist delusion must bankrupt our planet sooner or later, whether this will be in 10 years (as some think), in 50 (perhaps more likely), or over a longer term is irrelevant. Action to reverse such behaviour must be taken eventually if humanity is to have a future. Can we do so in time ?
There are some indications that the "all mine, big is beautiful" bubble is starting to burst, massive efficiency improvements can result from decentralised self-control and more adaptive small systems (as shown by work at the Rocky Mountain Institute and elsewhere). The most limiting factor is not nowadays business profit, which for some rare (more enlightened and less wasteful) CEO's drives this move, but the concept of personal power. In a world where power to bully is status we will not find that it is given up easily. In their obsessive resistance to worker or social involvement in (let alone challenge to) to board decisions; the maintenance of a conflict driven approach to all forms of difficulty; the clinging to an 'unending growth' culture; and in the failure to challenge the unsustainable implications of their own 19th century modernist philosophies; we still have a set of self-sustaining behaviours in many corporate boardrooms (along with their like-minded political and bureaucratic supporters) that cannot be easily transformed into sustainable and truly democratic alternatives.
"Beam me up Scottie, I'm tired of living amongst such primitives..."