Democracy lost on January 21, 2010. It is a significant loss in the on-going war (let’s cut to the chase here folks, this ain’t “tension” between factions within a national democracy; it’s a war for global domination between those favoring American democracy versus the transnational corporate elite).
The case in question is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The United States Supreme Court rule 5-4 in favor of Big Business and the financial elite and their power to corrupt our political elections and thus buy out our governments at all levels. The Corporatocracy won another round in its efforts to not just influence but also dominate the government of the most powerful nation-state on the planet. Little noticed in the outcry is that labor unions also achieved a victory, although unions have been in decline for decades now and are dwarfed by the financial elite.
This ruling gives more power to the principle known as “corporate personhood.” Human beings create corporations. They outlive people, often influence and dominate society at all levels from local neighborhoods to international, and are composed of people from numerous nation-states who are often not citizens of the countries in which corporate power is wielded.
Corporate personhood is a fiction made real as the result of abuses by a California court in a 1880s dispute between local county and state governments versus the transcontinental railroad industry. The courts were sympathetic to the railroad barons and their corporations; a deliberate misreading of the records occurred after the Court reporter, a former railway executive, inserted his own pro-railroad comments into the record.
This led to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding corporate personhood on behalf of the railroads in 1886. This success by Big Business, the Big Banks that loan money to and thus control Big Business, and their allies in Government achieved momentum over years and decades until the current Supreme Court again ruled in favor of money as free speech and in corporate personhood.
The danger here is that organizations now have the same rights as the human beings who created them. Specifically, corporations (and labor unions, too, and indeed any organization) now have a legal right to free speech and this entails not just advertising and marketing on behalf of political candidates but donating money to various political parties and their candidates. Prodigious amounts of money. Human beings limit their personal financial structures for a reason.
It was John D. Rockefeller, one of the iconic titans during the transition from “Big Business” to what we today call the Corporatocracy who said “Own nothing, control everything.” The wealthy as well as any middle class businessperson who can do so take advantage of laws favorable to the financial elite to shield their wealth as well as personal liability behind corporate structures.
Armed with such “rights” granted by the Supreme Court compounding a 19th Century error, corporations can now spend huge amounts of money to buy or buy off candidates for political office as well as elected officials. Candidates favored by the Corporacrats will have the financial support to make winning an election far more likely. Candidates not favored can be intimidated into line. Corporate control of the media further skewers the politics. Of course, we don’t even mention the potential in an otherwise developed nation for bribery, graft, kickbacks, and other forms of corruption here, corruption often associated with developing nations where transnational corporations often wield more power than governments. Nor have we considered corporate corruption of non-elected or appointed officials and other government employees.
This Supreme Court decision will impact how other governments and businesses in other countries engage with the United States. Politicians, even those aspiring to “do good” and implement reforms will be reduced to dogs dancing for the biggest corporate hand-outs. The revolving doors between corporations, government, the military-industrial-intelligence complex, research institutes, big banks, and secret societies will spin easier and faster. And maybe even spin at a more relaxed pace.
My stand is this: Only humans have rights, not their organizations. No organization is to have the same rights as individual human beings. All governments, NGOs, corporations, unions, banks, clubs, even the marketplace operate at the discretion of people, not the other way around. Healthy businesses offer many wonderful services and help us generate wealth, but they have no business having the same constitutional rights originally reserved for their human creators.
It is clear, too, that more than ever democratic world government is required in the face of the complex challenges inundating our fragmented species. In fact, a global grass roots effort to by-pass both the failed United Nations and the emerging global empire and help establish a Democratic World Parliament is gaining momentum. Go to https://voteworldparliament.org/ and vote.
It is also clear that a constitutional, democratic, federal, planetary republic alone is not enough. Or rather, building such a government is not enough. We must have an integral, democratic capitalism that is sustainable, encourages entrepreneurship, and is socially and environmentally responsible. These are enormous challenges we face and face as a species, not merely any one nation-state.
For now, a perfect place to start, especially as an American voter is to go to and join http://www.movetoamend.org/ and support them. You can join Facebook and become a member of “Abolish Corporate Personhood Now.” If you are a citizen of any other country, you can do whatever you can to reduce control of your communities by transnational corporations and increase democracy in your governments and businesses. All can certainly vote for a Democratic World Parliament. In addition, large numbers of people working in and for corporations are basically good people. You know who you are. You have the power to help all of us change things, reclaim democracy, and help corporations focus on what they were originally designed to do: generate economic abundance and financial wealth.
Finally, I quote below from my own book in progress, We the People of Earth © ™:
“Corporations are legal business structures created by human beings. Corporations are not persons and do not and shall not have the same rights as individual human beings. Corporations exist by privilege and operate in the marketplace within the law.
Human beings have the right to form corporations and other business entities. People have the right to work and a right to conduct business and generate money within the framework of law, they have the right to protect legally acquired assets with corporate structures, but their corporate creations themselves have no such rights.
Any law in any nation-state including both international and local jurisdictions that grant corporations the same rights as human beings and granting corporations the status of personhood shall be abolished as we transition into a transparent, democratic planetary republic.”
For a January 2012 update in the wake of recent Occupy-related protests against SCOTUS and Citizens United vs. FEC, please read my article “Only Human Beings Have Rights, Not Human Organizations,” on this website at:
William Dudley Bass
26 January 2010
Revised and reposted 27 January 2012
NOTE: This article was first published as “Corporate Power in a Planetary Democracy,” on my earlier current affairs blog, At the Brink with William Dudley Bass, on 26 January 2010, at http://atthebrinkwithwilliamdudleybass.blogspot.com/2010/01/corporate-power-in-planetary-democracy.html. It was revised, rewritten, and re-published here this 27 January 2012. Thank you.
Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.