In the early 1970s corporations throughout the world and particularly those based in the United States began to stretch their wings trying out their relatively new identity as “persons” under the law. This came after years of recovering from strong government controls. John D. Rockefeller’s oil monopoly of the late 1880s was quashed by a big-stick wealding American President Theodore Roosevelt and a government willing to control corporations for the common good of the people. Indeed, it was the corporation that received special license to undertake business activities as long as those activities benefited the whole of society. This concept of the corporation has long disappeared and is now replaced by an oligarchic structure that competes with and often directs the governments of states.
A few individuals at the top of individual corporations so large that their annual earnings often exceed the wealth of as many as 40 or 50 of the world’s states combined control the natural resources, means of production, and livelihood of millions of individuals. Indeed, corporations like Boeing, Country Wide, Nestle, Coca Cola, Archer Daniels Midland and Bank of America now have rights as individuals that place them above the rights of the individual person. Consumer advocate and sometimes US presidential candidate Ralph Nader describe the rising threat of corporations this way:
“The relentless expansion of corporate control over our political
economy has proven nearly immune to daily reporting by the mainstream
media. Corporate crime, fraud and abuse have become like the weather;
everyone is talking about the storm but no one seems able to do
anything about it. This is largely because expected accountability
mechanisms — including boards of directors, outside accounting and law
firms, bankers and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and
legislatures — are inert or complicit.” (Nader, Corporate Socialism, July 18, 2002. p29)
Government officials have become dependent on corporate largess, and economic policy-makers in countries around the world conclude that when a corporation threatens to fail, it must be saved–even at the expense of public coffers and the public’s will. Corporate Socialism–as Nader defines it, is “the privatization of profit and the socialization of risks and misconduct.” Nader argues that Corporate Socialism is replacing effective capitalism served by the rule of law and providing a higher standard of living for society.
The socialist newspaper man/Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini institutionalized Corporate Socialism by not only socializing economic risk for businesses, he created positions in government for corporate and other business heads to run the government in the 1920s and 30s. This system of government came to be known as a fascist government. The government and corporation became one with ultimate benefits flowing to those who controlled the corporations at the expense of the general public.
The environment could be exploited more efficiently because the public, which might object to destruction of forests or extractions of minerals or pollution of rivers and the air was removed from decision-making. Decisions could be made behind closed doors with only government bureaucrats and business leaders.
Since the 1940’s Fourth World peoples throughout the world have experienced Corporate Socialism with companies engaging in rape of land, forests, rivers, mountains and people themselves without the benefit of decisions by the people. In virtually every country in the world Corporations and states’ governments work in tandem to extract minerals, water, lumber, fish and countless other parts of the earth resulting in the displacement of Fourth World peoples, their impoverishment due to habitat destruction or their death.
Corporate Socialism is now the dominant reality in the United States of America and the Russian Federation thanks to President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin; and their respective legislative bodies. The governors of these states work for the corporations and not only are the freedoms of the people in those countries substantially compromised, but Fourth World peoples end up being the only obstacles to the mess that is coming.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here