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Entries in corporatocracy (4)


Is It Even Possible for Corporations to Rule in Favor of OneEarth Living? A Corporate Lawyer Replies

Both the previous blog and this one seek clear answers about how corporations rule the world. Corporations weave the fabric of MultiEarth ways that cover the globe—from the lifestyles of rich and poor to the stock exchanges, and from food chains to television and entertainment infused with corporate indoctrination. Without seeing clearly how corporations rule (corporatocracy), we are unlikely to succeed in our heroic work to redesign our societies and lifestyles for Earth-size living. Ecological and civilizational crises, which we can reverse, will certainly proceed if we cannot grasp that corporations function with few limits on their powers. They rule in global decisions as well as through influencing hundreds of choices in our daily lives. These blogs speak candidly: the power of corporations to structure our lives and societies is so daunting that to think of changing how corporations rule challenges us to the core.

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A Book Club Discusses Our Shrinking Humanness and Corporatocracy's Attack on Democracy

On a recent Sunday evening, Juanita and I gathered with a local Book Club who’d invited us because they were reading my book, Blinded by Progress. One of the Book Club participants joked, “I knew the author was coming, so I wrote out my answers to the questions. I’m expecting a test.” It was a fun way for her to tell us that she was prepared for the night.

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The President Is the Emperor; the CEOs Rule the World

While reading David Korten’s book, When Empires Rule the World, I had a phone conversation with a friend, Steve Gehring, a corporate attorney in Omaha. When I told him what I was reading, I wasn’t sure how he would respond. But he immediately replied, “Lee, they already do.” He wanted to emphasize that, based on his decades of experience in representing corporations, the “when” in the book title did not refer to a future time of what could happen, but that corporate rule was in effect now. Steve’s opinion added force for me to Korten’s point when Korten writes:

Corporations have emerged as the dominant governance institutions on the planet, with the largest among them reaching into virtually every country of the world and exceeding most governments in size and power. Increasingly, it is the corporate interest rather than the human interest that defines the policy agendas of states and international bodies.”

Before learning of Korten’s book, I had not yet shaken fully free from the notion that politicians and governments are the primary rulers of the world. But the book shattered that notion. What I’d learned in civics class went out the window. I realized that my view may have fit the past, but not the rapidly changing present. Not that I hadn’t been aware of the armies of well-funded corporate lobbyists and the revolving door that sent government leaders into corporations and corporate leaders into governments. But somehow that was not the same as putting corporations and their CEOs on the actual throne of being in charge. The book got me scrambling to catch up with where we are today, not where politicians and news analysts say we are. It was another moment when chunks of my worldview were changing. This chunk was not a minor adjustment. The stars that ruled the world were rearranged in my constellation of who truly were the governing powers. 


Getting Beyond Nation-States—Bad Ways, Good Ways

I like love of country quite a bit, but nationalisms not so much.

I affirm the value of natural boundaries like watersheds, but not political boundaries marked on maps by governments seeking their own advantage.

I think nation-states are tentative and auxiliary locations to identify with, not absolute, primary locations to soak with blood in order to defend them.

I want the “we” of nation-states to mature into the “all of us together” identity that shows we recognize ourselves within Earth’s community of life with ALL species.

For these reasons, I wish that those managing global corporations would use their magnificent opportunity to shape Earth Community. Alas! They’re muffing it. Badly. So now we get “corporatocracies” in which governments of nation-states serve the worldview of global multinationals for domination of all that lives, and the commodification of everything.

Those who run the global corporations are the first in history with the organization, technology, money, and ideology to make a credible try at managing the world as an integrated economic unit…. What they are demanding in essence is the right to transcend the nation-state, and in the process, transform it.

— Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller, Global Reach: The Power of Multinationa Corporations (1974)

Much wiser than those managing the global corporations are the immigrant advocates whom Lane Van Ham writes about in A Common Humanity (U of Arizona Press, 2011). These advocates also transcend the nation-state with their language, rituals, and direct actions, but they do so to solidify that we are “a common humanity.”