Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Fascist Coup Called 'Corporate Person-hood'

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I was asked to explain why a group of individuals should not have the same freedom of action as a singular individual. And I was told so magnanimously to "...feel free to reference any philosophy journal you wish in your response." My response was to ask WHY and HOW a group --which must act 'collectively' -- acquired what even scientists have called a 'conscience'? I asked for an explanation: how may any "group" and especially a corporation exercise a conscience'?

In fact, no collective, no corporation, no club can --as a collective --exercise 'conscience'. A group --were it a person --would be defined by its inability to act upon conscience, to 'feel' obliged to act in ways that are consistent with an ethical position, a morality, or a secular ethic derived from philosophy or logic. As a result of this hypothetical, I have come to suspect that the very purpose of both corporations and the 'movement' to make persons of them is twofold: 1) to raise huge amounts of cash and 2) to allow them to act FREE of moral restraints --restraints that 'real' persons often trace to 'conscience'!

Groups are not individuals by definition! Groups may act upon a consensus! An individual because he/she is an individual is held accountable for his/her crimes, sins or transgressions against society. That is not the case with groups of any sort nor is it the case with 'corporations'. It was the purpose of Citizens-United to put corporations above all that while granting them 'privileges' --privileges that 'real' persons will never enjoy.

One must not mistake a collective of any sort with the individuals who comprise it. A covey is not a quail; a choir is not 'a' soloist; a single violinist is not an orchestra. Nor can one mistake the sound of a choir with that of an individual soloist. Likewise, a 'pride' can never be mistaken for a single lion nor vice versa. An ant colony is not 'an' ant!

Corporate personhood is a hoax if not a bald-faced lie! And, it has been my experience, that no good has ever come as a result of a lie or the embrace of one. Thus --we come to the reasons that the hoax of 'corporate personhood' was handed down by an increasingly crooked and incompetent court. Corporations have, in fact, used their access to wealth to influence political campaigns in ways that individuals could never do! I speak from experience, having consulted several political campaigns in one of the nation's largest cities.

As an individual, I pay my bills! I don't have anything left over with which to influence politicians of any persuasion ---even Libertarians. But what if I were a large corporation with deep-pockets and even deeper connections to the Republican party? As a corporation I could write off my contributions and get a whopping tax break. The scheme is very nearly perfect but for the fact that corporations --not being persons --could be challenged. The corporate support of a political candidate could not be construed to be 'free speech'. But --never fear --the high court, now dominated by GOP appointees fixed all that!

Corporate contributions are now smiled upon. Corporations may now BUY politicians and perhaps the election itself! That is motivation behind Citizens-United. Being "people" can bankroll politicians in any way they wish. They are no longer constrained. We should not be surprised when corporations attempt and purchase elections outright. The word for this is fascism.

I am reminded of A. Hitler's infamous meeting with Krupp, Thyssen, I.G. Farben (the makers of Xyklon B). Hitler literally auctioned off the Third Reich and offered his services as Fuhrer in residence! Corporate personhood is fascism/nazism given a K-street make-over! But the end result is the same: corporations now have a great light to buy the Rei...uh... the republic! And the 'republic' is given a green light to grant whopping contracts to its corporate sponsors. The government has become a soap-box derby.

The term 'artificial person' is an oxymoron but the GOP would like to have it both ways. With Citizens-United, the GOP could have it both ways: the granting of the rights of individual persons to corporations who retained their ability to raise absurd amounts of cash. 'Real persons' are, by definition, real! Now, however, the corporate right-wing' (fascists) expect us to believe that a 'corporation-cum-person' can be both REAL and --at the same time --artificial --For the purposes of raising cash. Real persons cannot do that. But corporations can and Citizens-United was the right wing solution.

Corporations were at one time only formed in the public interest (build a bridge) and dissolved when the reason for their incorporation was finished. This was a legal protection required to get the job done. But, in any case, it does not make a 'legal abstraction' a 'person'! Fact is --people are biological. A corporation is a legal abstraction, the behavior of which is described in a set bylaws filed with a Sec of State --usually Delaware.

A corporation is better described as a 'contract' outlining the parameters of taxation, commerce, bylaw et al! But CONTRACTS are NOT people either. But there is absolutely nothing that can create people our of mere 'legal abstraction'.

Real persons are conceived biologically in a womb! There is a word for that process but this short note is not about sex. Corporations, by contrast, are pieces of paper filed with a Sec of State somewhere (probably Delaware). Ergo: a 'corporation' is not and never will be a person.

A 'corporation' has more in common with and is more accurately described/compared to a piece of paper than to real, living biological persons to whom John Locke and, later, the American founders, ascribed 'rights'. NO rights accrue to a mere legal abstractions but the 'privileges' that are defined and described specifically in a corporate charter that is prepared in advance by REAL people. Corporations can be constrained, restrained and/or limited by law and several hundred years of precedent.

NO intelligent person believes a 'corporation' is a 'person'. Sir/St Thomas More --arguably the most brilliant confidant of King Henry VIII --most certainly did not believe 'corporations' were 'persons'. More believed, rather, that they were 'conspiracies' and 'conspiracies of crooked rich men' to boot:

"I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth’s sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws.But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots! 

--Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), Utopia, Of the Religions in Utopia"
A hurd is not a cow! A covey is not a quail! An ant is not a colony! A stamp collection is not a stamp nor is a flock a sheep.

So there, Mitt Romney! Read and learn. You are --despite having sold your soul to the GOP --a person! But as real persons are often intelligent and because real persons have a vote (one person, one vote) you will --with any luck --never assume to the high office to which you aspire.

Also see: Profits Uber Alles! American Corporations and HItler

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