“Without power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can contain no citizens.” Alexis de Tocqueville
For some time now there has been a move by citizen activists to redefine the role of corporations in our society, one that would return them to their original subservient status. It is important to remember that a corporation is a thing with no inherent rights, but is made up of human beings, with names just like yours and mine. The problem is, the word “corporation” allows these people to create corporate rights of law to rule the world and your place in this world. These corporate men and women tell us what to believe and when to believe it. They dictate what foods we should eat, toothpaste to clean our teeth, shoes to wear, when to exercise, and what drugs to take. They create jobs and take them away. They shape our lives with television, music and the technological gadgets we cannot seem to live without.
Corporate executives under the guise of “corporations” determine the fate of our natural resources, they control our politicians and create our laws and government policies. We are slaves to the executives of multinational corporations and until we wake up to our own dependence on corporate rule we will be reluctant to take action against them.
Ironically, corporations were originally founded to serve the people. Our founding fathers were wise enough to keep the power in the hands of the people rather than allow corporations the right of “personhood”. That all changed in 1886 when the U.S. Supreme Court declared corporations “persons”, with Bill of Rights and the 14th amendment protections of freedom of speech and due process of law. With this passage corporations grew to become the monster power they are today surviving with the sole intention of more growth, more production and ever more profit. With the passage of the Free Trade Agreement in 1993 multinational corporations have run roughshod over the rights of communities, individual workers, jobs and the natural environment.
According to Virginia Rasmussen from the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) speaking on Rethinking Corporations, “If we want to redefine our local and global lives…we must insist that the role of corporations be discussed and challenged in democratic forums. Because it is only through such exposure and engagement that we can liberate ourselves sufficiently to contest corporations’ illegitimate authority to distort our language, define our priorities, and design our future.”
We the People, must become accountable for the corporate monster we have created and begin the long process of dismantling their domination. The legislature of a state has the power to grant a corporate charter and it also retains the power to alter, amend or repeal that same charter. Laws can be changed and the reversal of the 1886 Supreme Court decision that gave corporations rights of personhood would be the perfect place to begin weakening the global power of multinational corporations.
Easier said than done? Yes, of course, but if we all begin the dialogue with friends and co-workers, in our church groups and community gatherings, then the seed will grow in fertile minds willing to do more than shout and stamp their feet at each outrageous and destructive corporate act. As Richard Grossman, co-founder of POCLAD once wrote with such insight, “With such deeds do we honor the millions of people who struggled before us to wrest power from tyrants, to define themselves in the face of terror and violence. And we make all struggles for justice and democracy easier by weakening the ability of corporations to make the rules, and to rule over us.”
For more information on revoking corporate charters from the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy click HERE