rn, cj- dialog with an anti-corporation guy…

1998-06-11

Richard Moore

John H.St.John wrote to me (excerpted):

William Davis's Shadow of the Swastika is a tour de force. As a
veteran of WWII and a member of the harried Communist Party of the forties
and fifties I had long suspected such a conspiracy, but Davis proved it.
Never the less I have to disagree with your summation and would substitute
"corporations" for the word "elite". Dulles, Ford, and the many other actors
in the treason, were acting at the behest of trust-companies, banks, and
corporations. If we were to do away with these "elite's" we would still be
stuck with the corporations. Humans are mortal and die, but the corporations
are immortal.

Instead of deflecting the people's anger from the true source of these
"elite"s to human beings; I believe that we should think in terms of
eliminating the corporation robots themselves.

<and in another message...>

Outlawing common-stock is not so simplistic as you might imagine. Outlawing
common-stock outlaws the public corporation. If common-stock were declared
illegal the organizations known as corporations would be ownerless, leaving
employees in charge. This means that the resources of these giant
organizations would revert to the people. As cooperatives the corporations
would no longer be run for the benefit of absentee investors.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear John,

When the US was founded, the danger of corporate power was well understood
by the founding fathers and by the population generally.  In fact the
colonies had been set up as _investments: all of Pennsylvania, for example,
_was a corporation.  The British East India Company, Hudson's Bay Company,
and others were as much resented by the colonists as was the Crown itself.

Consequently in the new republic corporations were only allowed under
limited charters, which defined their scope of operations and which could
be revoked by the individual states.  Your proposal to outlaw common stock
totally is only slightly more radical than original US policy.

Why did this change?  My answer is that it changed because we did not have
genuine democracy.  We had instead a Madisonian version of democracy, as
Chomsky so eloquently explains, under which wealthy elites were (and are)
able to exert influence far in excess of their votes as citizens.  This is
where the canny phrase "one dollar, one vote" came from.

These elites, over time, came to desire greater power for corporations.
Through elite influence over elections and judicial appointments, the
charter restrictions were relaxed over time and ultimately, c. 1860, an
elite-subservient Supreme Court Justice declared that corporations were
"persons", and that the Bill of Rights applied to corporations as much as
to citizens!  The wheel had turned full circle and corporations became as
powerful again as they were before the revolution.

Why would outlawing common stock, enacted presumably during a temporary
flurry of anti-corporate sentiment, fare any better in the long run than
the restrictive-charters approach?

I continue to believe that only by achieving genuine democracy, and
overcoming the excessive influence of wealthy elites, can we tame corporate
power, protect the environment and human rights, and achieve all the other
`reforms' that you and thousands of others so rightly espouse.

rkm

btw> for some thoughts on what "genuine democracy" might be like, I
recommend these articles:
   http://cyberjournal.org/cadre/renaissance-log/cj737-about-democracy.txt
   http://cyberjournal.org/cadre/renaissance-log/cj765-Cuban-democracy.txt


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