Only Human Beings Have Rights, Not Human Organizations

Courageous people are demonstrating against corporate and bank domination of the American political process and protesting against the abomination of corporate personhood. It is an inspiring call to freedom, a nonviolent call to wake up and occupy, a call based upon a fundamental understanding corporations are not people. We the People of this country…and I would add of everywhere else on our Planet Earth, need to remember some crucial points.

Yes, corporations are not human beings. Corporations, as are any other organizations, are formed by and are composed by individual human beings working in concert and by agreement. Only individual human beings have rights. Human organizations do not have rights. Human beings have rights as individuals because they are human beings, not because individual people are a member of some organization. Human beings as social animals are people, and the people are composed of individual persons.

Corporations are not people. A corporation or any other organization, formal or otherwise, is not a person. Any law stating otherwise exercises fraudulent representations of what a person is and must be repealed. I am reminded of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s distinctions between just and unjust laws, his spotlight on the criminal abuse by authorities of just laws, and his reminder “everything Hitler did was legal.”

The recent round of Occupy-related protests against Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission continues to highlight the tyranny of corporations and their power over the American political process. Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission is the landmark verdict by SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States, decided on January 21, 2010. The 5-4 ruling was a near-split decision allowing unlimited spending on and for any political purpose by any non-governmental group including corporations and unions.

Several ironies abound. Citizens United is a non-profit, but a non-profit corporation and a conservative one. Banks and related financial institutions are also corporations. Unions referred to labor unions, often at odds with the corporations owning or controlling the businesses in which working people labored. The Federal Election Commission, using the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, more popularly known as the McCain-Feingold Act after Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) and Democratic Senator Russell Feingold (WI) who sponsored it, attempted to halt the actions of Citizens United. Citizens United sued, and the case eventually ended up before SCOTUS, which ruled in favor of Citizens United and of corporations and unions.

We must remember even the groups we love and value do not have rights as people. Corporations, labor unions, banks, credit unions, clubs, gangs, non-profits, families, neighborhoods, cities, governments, nations, tribes, religions and religious organizations, communities, etc. are not persons nor people and as such do not possess rights. By rights I refer to the interrelated network of rights labeled “rights” and not “privileges,” including human rights, basic rights, constitutional rights, universal rights, and civil rights. The term “rights” is often synonymous with “freedoms” and “liberties.”

Corporations do not have rights. Labor unions do not have rights. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, circles, and groves do not have rights. Non-profits do not have rights. Businesses do not have rights. Communities do not have rights. Banks do not have rights. The individual persons owning, controlling, and/or living and working within or alongside these organizations and social groupings have rights. Only human beings have rights, not their organizations and neighborhoods. When a community gathers to wield their rights, remember it is individual members gathering to collectively wield their rights as individual human beings.

I dare say not even government has right. Yes, even though there are many people in almost every government or who work for a government who feel strongly governments have rights, they do not as entities. Individual human beings within government institutions have rights, but the exact same rights as people outside of those and any other government groups.

While the corporations including the Big Banks are by far the largest, best financed, and most powerful monsters protected by the SCOTUS decision re Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, lets not forget any group granted power can misuse it and force its way into our lives in unforeseen and regrettable ways. So rather than make it us vs. them, lets keep all rights for individual human persons and not for any human organizations. We protect our liberties by stripping away personhood from any corporation, and thus any legal entity.

Within the growing movement to overturn or bypass this corrupt and elitist power grab by the Corporatocracy, the Big Banksters, and their allies in government are several bills and proposals. Even if you disagree with the political views of the few courageous senators and representatives coming together to resolve this mess, you can perhaps agree we need to get private control of the money power out of our politics and government. We need to clean house. Below are great places to start.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, sponsored and is rallying people to encourage members of Congress to pass H.J. Resolution 100, “a Constitutional Amendment which would require that all federal campaigns be financed exclusively by public funds and prohibit expenditures from every other source.”

For more, go to: http://action.kucinich.us/page/s/restore-our-democracy-pass-h-j-res-100.

Regarding this further also see: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hj112-100.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, proposed the Saving American Democracy Amendment. It states:

  • Corporations are not persons with constitutional rights equal to real people.
  • Corporations are subject to regulation by the people.
  • Corporations may not make campaign contributions or any election expenditures.
  • Congress and states have the power to regulate campaign finances.

See more at: http://www.sanders.senate.gov/petition/?uid=f1c2660f-54b9-4193-86a4-ec2c39342c6c.

A number of cities have had their local governments pass resolutions calling for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United vs. FEC and end corporate personhood. These cities include Los Angeles, Boulder, Missoula, Oakland, South Miami, Portland (ME), Albany, and New York City are among those which have done so. See: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/19/portland-maine-joins-other-cities-in-call-to-overturn-citizens-united/.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, states:

“We, the undersigned, believe that democracy is not for sale. We believe that corporations are not people. And we hereby pledge our support to a Constitutional Amendment designed to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United.”

He’s seeking support at: http://www.sherrodbrown.com/petition/w1112cug/?gclid=CLzcuIDR6q0CFQ1chwodCnC23w.

In fact, there have been 12 Constitutional Amendments introduced in the 112th Congress. For details on these, see: http://united4thepeople.org/faq.html.

Are any of the Republican candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination seriously debating Citizens United vs. FEC or suggesting solutions? Is libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, staunch Constitutionalist and iconoclastic gadfly, taking this on? At least he recently said only human beings have rights, not corporations, although he did trip himself up in an earlier 2010 interview with journalist Thom Hartmann when Paul collapsed individual humans with any corporation a single person may own or control.

Even President Obama, despite his chain of betrayals including continuing to support the Patriot Act and its Extension, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA, and especially the notoriously treacherous NDAA or National Defense Authorization Act, came out vigorously against the SCOTUS decision regarding Citizens United and corporate personhood.

Remember, remember, only you and I and our fellow human beings have rights, not any of the organizations we may form, own, and control however dear to our hearts. Our rights are and must be dearer.

Perhaps as the Occupy movement attracted assaults by militarized police and shown a light on the militarization of our police, especially since the Anti-Globalization Revolts such as the Battle of Seattle against the WTO in 1999 and later, the 9/11 terror attacks, it’s time to read from a Christian minister arrested and jailed in violation of his basic Constitutional rights in his own battle against terrorism, tyranny, and stupidity. It’s time to read, or reread, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” You may find it online Courtesy of The King Center here at: http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/letter.html.

NOTE: For an earlier article which dives deeper into Citizens United vs. FEC and the evolution of corporate personhood in America with a view of its impact on the world democracy movement, please see my article “Citizens United vs. FEC: Corporate Power Corrupts Planetary Democracy,” at: http://williamdudleybass.com/citizens-united-vs-fec-corporate-power-corrupts-planetary-democracy/#more-700.

 

William Dudley Bass
24 January 2012
Seattle, Washington

 

Copyright © 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.

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2 thoughts on “Only Human Beings Have Rights, Not Human Organizations

  1. Pingback: William Dudley Bass | Philosopher & Storyteller | Only Human Beings Have Rights, Not Human Organizations

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