umbrellasI‘ve been re-reading Joel Bakan’s book The Corporation, and it suddenly occurred to me that the US is behaving less and less like a nation of democratic citizens and more and more like a hierarchical corporation. The House elections were all fixed by gerrymandering, just like the elections of Directors in big corporations are fixed by a handful of controlling shareholders. US elections today are just like corporate sales promotions, the system is dominated by a two-party oligopoly just like most industries are dominated by price-fixing, choice-reducing oligopolies. And politicians and corporate executives both rant about their constitutional right to lie to the people.

In Bakan’s book, he describes the modern corporation as being certifiably psychopathic, according to standard psychological criteria. He cites:

  • callous unconcern for the feelings of others
  • incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
  • reckless disregard for others’ safety
  • deceiving others for personal gain
  • incapacity to feel guilt
  • failure to conform to social norms and lawful behaviours

These criteria fit the Bush Regime, and to some extent to every recent US administration, just as much as they apply to most modern corporations. Many have already noted that the behaviour of most American citizens today with respect to Bush’s excesses resembles that of an abused spouse or child. The citizens of America are treated not merely as consumers of political propaganda, but even worse, as employees of Corporation America, humiliated, forced to do degrading work, and constantly having their benefits taken away from them while the executives pocket more and more money themselves.

This got me thinking about Thom Hartmann’s prescription (in Unequal Protection) to remove ‘personhood’ rights granted in 1886 from corporations — and hence deprive them of the ‘right’ to give money to politicians and political causes and parties; the ‘right’ to locate anywhere they want even after multiple criminal convictions or where their presence is predatory and will devastate local entrepreneurs; the ‘right’ to dominate military production and lobby for wars to increase demand for such products; the ‘privacy right’ to block government investigators and conceal crimes; the ‘right’ to economic activity free of regulatory restraint and to buy, sell and own other corporate ‘persons’ (this right, for other persons, is called slavery, and it leads to oligopoly, the ‘cornering’ of markets, price-gouging and other market-distorting behaviours). Hartmann also calls for the automatic revocation of corporate charters (requiring immediate liquidation) for extreme or recurrent criminal activity. Governments hide behind similar exemptions — Politicos get ‘immunity’ from prosecution for many acts that mere citizens could be locked up for. Civil servants and soldiers are scape-goated for following orders from unelected higher-ups who escape unscathed, or are even rewarded, for their misconduct, and who enact laws to give themselves immunity or to pardon each other without any citizen oversight or right of appeal. So why not extend Hartmann’s prescription to government ‘corporations’ as well? Deprive them of the right to immunity from prosecution for criminal wrong-doing, and after especially heinous or recurrent wrong-doing, automatically revoke their ‘charter’ to govern — and require an immediate election of a replacement government (for which the convicted criminals could not be candidates).

And if a government becomes so dysfunctional that it no longer appears capable of reflecting the will of its constituency (because it tolerates gerrymandering, for example), maybe we need a process to permanently and completely revoke its charter, and simply disband it. That would be an extreme action, I admit, but I’m sure there are lots of other levels of government who could and would step into the void. Why should the institutions of nationhood be prohibited from evolving to meet changing public needs, just like any other public institutions? Such a model might allow political entities to evolve naturally, enable the simple elimination of duplicative levels of government, and for the first time ever, allow the people the true right to self-determination. Why should a community be forced to stay an unwilling part of a state or nation if the large majority of its citizens chooses to secede, establish their own political infrastructure and provide their own public services? Why couldn’t communities be allowed to self-manage their political, social and economic affairs? Yes, it’s a recipe for anarchy, but the Internet has shown that with some very loose coordination, anarchy works very well indeed.

Finally, if the US is now more like a corporation than a state, instead of protesting should those who are being mistreated be resigning? “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered!”

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  1. Jon Husband says:

    I’ve been re-reading Joel Bakan’s book The Corporation, and it suddenly occurred to me that the US is behaving less and less like a nation of democratic citizens and more and more like a hierarchical corporationMy thoughts exactly, for the last month or so … and you already know my story, as to why I can’t make myself search for work as a consultant to management any longer … unless it might be, by some faint chance, an enlightened management group who truly want to try breaking new ground, who are committed to democracy in the workplace (and I haven’t the faintest clue about how to go about searching for one as a client).It seems obvious .. all the dynamics are there … an out-of-touch, we-know-better, hierarchical management who want alignment with their defined mission, otherwise it’s “fit-in-or-fuck-off … and on and on … and now, the CEO ratidfied by HIS shareholders, is spending the corporation’s capital becauise he feels like the AGM has ratified the management’s actions so far.can’t last … or of it does, dark days indeed, time to hibernate or lie fallow.

  2. gbreez says:

    Perfect fit. Seems clear. I noticed it some time ago… and, that is when I resigned.Maine would never leave the USA; but, I wish it would.

  3. Ken Hirsch says:

    Corporations have been barred from making direct contributions to candidates in Federal elections since 1907. They are allowed to make PAC contributions under current law. The Supreme Court has never held that corporations and individuals must have the same rights to make campaign contributions.In fact the anti-corporate personhood movement greatly exaggerates the effect of that doctrine, which is really pretty limited.

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