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Corporations are non-human and non-living. Like a mythic character who has made a deal with the devil, a corporation can live forever and kill with impunity, without being executed or imprisoned. Many are richer than nations, commanding policies, elections, even assassinations in smaller nations.
Worse, recent court decisions give these behemoths even more rights than people. They're now "persons", entitled to rights of free "speech" which in the twisted parlance of the U.S. Supreme Court means they may spend unlimited billions, on any political campaign they wish to influence, and keep it a secret.
Strange since a corporate charter's purpose is to be only a shield for real humans, from liability. When lawsuits hit the fan, a corporation is just a pile of legal papers trotted into court. At no time is it ever a person.
Corporate scandals? Toxic spills and death? Wow, tough break. Jobs going offshore? Too bad. Hand over the subsidies, schedule the next bailout, and be quiet. Corporations now own American politics. How did they get so much power? Can it be dismantled? In this interview with ShiftShapers co-host Daniel Kerbein, Ted Nace, author of Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, probes the roots of corporate power.
That group of privileged men we revere as the Founding Fathers despised corporations. The Virginia Company killed thousands of women and children through ill-treatment on forced-labor tobacco plantations. The East India Company attempted to monopolize American goods, resulting in the merchant-led rebellion known as the Boston Tea Party.
Ted Nace is a long-time activist, currently director of CoalSwarm, a clearinghouse for anti-coal activists. His most recent book is Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal. He was also CEO of Peachpit Press, a publishing firm he founded.