Progressive Populism for the 21st Century

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Rw005g

Rw005g
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Veni, Vidi, Vici is better than Veni, Vidi, Vixi. Vici is always better than Vixi.

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MAY 5, 2010 8:22PM

Corporate Totalitarianism

Rate: 7 Flag

One should never give away all of the keys to one's House, because one never knows what others are going to do them once they have them. Just as this is true for the individual, it is also true for the nation. For the American nation, the "lock" these keys can open is our hallowed Constitution, and the House they control is none other than our national independence and freedom.

We spent the first half of the 20th century worrying that German imperialists and fascists would forcibly take the keys of our house, through war and aggression, such that through overt conquest, they would overturn our Constitution and make us a vassal state of the Kaiser or Fuehrer.  We spent the second half of the 20th century worrying that Russian Communists would take the keys of our house, both forcibly (through military aggression) and peacefully (through covert subversion within). By playing our cards right, and making the best deals, both within and without, we defeated our enemies and preserved our freedom. The integrity of our House was maintained.

But as we enter a new century, we find that our house has, nonetheless, been looted. We look about us and we see that it has been ransacked. There are no signs of forced entry. Indeed, our house has been entered in the most peaceful of ways, by way of our own keys, keys we have given away to the large corporations and malefactors of great wealth, companies our government allied with and made stronger, through the shared travails and challenges we endured throughout the past century of warfare.

We have been so concerned with the Constitution being overturned by foreign conquerors and foreign agents, that we never stopped to think about what would happen if the strongest and most respected pillars of our community were the ones to execute the coup de grâce . Yet, this is the situation we now face.

Government has been "weakened," and the public domain has shrunk. In its place a power vacuum has emerged, and the corporate nobility has poured forth to fill the gap, replacing the once public protections and guarantees of our Constitution, with private, feudalistic, reciprocal contractual obligations. What would happen if the current trends continued? If the current corporate trajectory of our nation's laws and culture do not change, then what will our country look like? How would the Constitution apply in an epoch with minimal State power?

How democracy would hypothetically function under corporatism

1. STATE ACTION---> The Constitution and Bill of Rights only apply to State Action. As such, if a private entity wishes to deprive you of any right, they are allowed to. There are exceptions regarding certain provisions and Titles of the Civil Rights Acts, but these exist by way of statute, and could easily be overturned through simple Congressional majorities. Worse, the Court has, for the past 20 years, been showing a tendency to widen this public and private divide. What does it mean for you?

2. PRIVACY---The Constitutional protections individuals enjoy in regard to privacy are not applicable to corporations. Corporations are totally allowed to acquire as much information about individual voters and taxpayers (they call them "consumers") as they wish. Much of the information these companies now hold EXCEEDS BY ONE-HUNDRED-FOLD the information currently possessed by many Intelligence and Security Agencies. EVEN WORSE---Many of these companies have deals with the Federal Government, whereby they provide the Government with the Data they acquire. In so doing, government, which is prevented by the Constitution from directly acquiring said information without Probable Cause, is thereby provided said information through an indirect, collateral relationship with a private entity. All the Constitution does is prevent the Government from Directly Soliciting for/Acquiring it. Nothing prevents them from getting "data/information gifts" from the private sector. As of now, Ruppert Murdoch, owner of FOX NEWS, owns MYSPACE. He says he is doing this for "Consumer Profiling." Some of this information has already been provided to the government under the Patriot Act.

3. FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE COMMUNITY--There are now very few town centers, where people congregate and assemble. As such, we don't really have the chance to hear what our fellow citizens think and feel, aside from what the TV and radio (all centrally organized and administered) tell us what they think and feel. The few PUBLIC FORUMS available to us are, generally, increasingly run by corporations. Shopping Malls, Strip malls, Apartment Complexes, Condominium Complexes. They all have prohibitions on "SOLICITING," and "LOITERING," but what this translates into is an end-run around the Constitution, by appeal to private property. The result is that our fellow citizens are less exposed to their community, less exposed to others' speech, and less exposed to the marketplace of ideas. Although "corporate towns" must still provide free speech, condos and apartments are different, and they are now far more common than privately owned homes. (See Marsh v. Alabama for a great example of the dangers a corporate town can pose to free speech---- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Alabama).  The result is less speech and less democracy.

4. ECONOMIC FREEDOM (positive rights) BECAUSE OF YOUR SPEECH---Another sad example of the state of free speech, is freedom of conscience in the workplace. Under the Constitution, and the freedoms afforded to employers under current employment and labor law regimes in existence in most of the 50 states, Employers are perfectly able to fire you if they don't agree with your political beliefs. They are allowed to purchase "CONSUMER INFORMATION REPORTS" which detail what various consumers have purchased with their credit cards, what magazines they subscribe to, what movies they have rented from privately-owned video stores. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/credit/bus08.shtm

 These things are all available. The only thing companies are not able to have access to is one's library-card record. This, though, is of small consolation, if most of the media you consume comes from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Blockbuster Video or Netflicks. Most importantly, what happens if government purchases this information? Lastly, the government is allowed to access library reading habit information (through the USA PATRIOT Act) , and they can provide this information to the private sector. http://www.pridesource.com/article.html?article=18640.

5. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT---> If highways become privatized, what role would the bill of rights have on them, particularly if you had to pay for the use of such highways, and if the party you paid was a private corporation? Would the private security guards that patrolled said highways be bound by the Bill of Rights, if they are not "State Actors?" Would Miranda rights and "probable cause" still apply? What if you had to sign a waiver in order to utilize said highway?

6. WAIVER DOCTRINE---> Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independance that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain "INALIENABLE" rights (inalienable means they can't be taken away, or given away, even if given away voluntarily). However, this no longer applies to the Constitution. Prosecutors often make deals with Defendants, requiring them to waive certain rights. When you buy products and sign contracts, you often waive your right to a jury trial, agreeing to adjudicate your dispute in "binding arbitration." As such, even if the Supreme Court found that you still had Constitutional Rights in a certain area, what if you are compelled, by force of economic necessity, to waive these rights? What if you have to waive your miranda rights, and due process rights, in order to drive on a privately-run freeway? What if you have to waive your rights to freedom of speech, and even of religion, in order to live in a certain private apartment building? (See also, http://www.lawcollective.org/article.php?id=134, also look at--http://online.wsj.com/article/SB109269232752592826-search.html,and this, too-http://www.citizen.org/congress/civjus/arbitration/articles.cfm?ID=7332.)

These are a few of the things at stake in a society that becomes increasingly run by corporations. Society, although free from government and/or State interference, slowly comes under the boot of the corporation. The Corporation becomes the "functional equivalent" of the State, and in so doing, the Constitution can be rendered null and void.

OS USERS---> You can also be fired for blogging, even if you never identify yourself, even if you never discuss work, merely because you have opinions that your coworkers or employers disagree with. As such, our ability to eat, clothe ourselves, pay rent, pay mortgages, pay medical bills and feed our children can all very much depend upon whether we stay silent, even in the privacy of our own homes and even if under a pseudonym.  

Silencing the population is what the Establishment Wants. We can have opinions about "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars," but the minute we have opinions about politics, economics and law, then we can get into serious trouble. Sadly, ours is not the nation our parents and grandparents lived in. It is much, much worse...

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

In engaging in above following study, I drew on the history of Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire. As the centralized state, centrally administered, secular laws, universal rights of Rome eroded in the face of imperial decay and foreign conquest, feudalism arose in its place. In effect, this was the triumph of the peripheral, the decentralized nobility, over the once-ascendant center.

The Dark Ages are replete with examples of how the once-universal laws of Rome were replaced by barbaric, feudal, Germanic tribal law. In effect, the triumph of the corporate over the public is a triumph of the peripheral over the center, a triumph of the nobility over central government.

On the other hand, the big companies see this triumph as something akin to the democratic triumph of the nobles in creating the Magna Carta, or the attempt of the French nobles to win more freedom during the Fronde uprising in the 17th century.  Judge for yourselves. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Law#Classical_Roman_law), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta.) (See also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fronde).

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This needs details and examples to be helpful to writers here. Please be as detailed and as specific as pobbible. Since I am my own employer, you may use anything from any of my posts as examples of parts of posts that could get a blogger cashiered from a job. Thank you. >>> You say above:: "OS USERS---> You can also be fired for blogging, even if you never identify yourself, even if you never discuss work, merely because you have opinions that your coworkers or employers disagree with."
Anything means anything, provided that you are an "at-will" employee. Arbitrariness is the order of the day.
Rw if you take out certain books in the library for instance Islamobabel , Mein Kampf or even a book on urban gorilla warfare you cannot tell me that some government agency somewhere does not flag you. I even recall a commotion being made in the mainstream media about homeland security monitoring libraries and you forgot to mention those little super market discount cards the cashier is always demanding so you can get the item for what it is marked and the cashiers cabbage merchant master can know exactly who is eating what .

The information incessantly being gathered by private individuals and consortiums is just what they say it is ; marketing strategy but when that information finds its way into the hands of would be social engineers as it invariably does it becomes an insidious attempt to create a control mechanism and that is when a civilization runs the risk of veering out of control because that self appointed social engineer has now become the corporations whose only motivation is to benefit themselves. Example : mingling filthy oil drilling platforms with the worlds food supply and thermal regulator
huh? thermal regulator and food supply? huh?
You know oil in your jumbo shrimp and Toro. The Gulf sream is also the Atlantic coveyor it warms the north atlantic preventing an ice age . Iwill be more detailed tomorrow when I can think straight.
Guerilla---this is the word. It comes from Spanish, from 1809 when the Spanish peasantry rose up against the Napoleonic French Grande Armee, when it invaded to bring recalcitrant Portugal back into the "Continental System," the blockade that Bonaparte was inflicting upon the British. Guerilla is Spanish for "Little War."

The meaning/usage was correct, though. I never criticize spelling. Spelling and gramar, while important, are often tools of the aristocracy to subjugate the less economically fortunate. Look at how China and Taiwan argue over classical vs. modern characters.
Jack--I see your meaning now. Indeed. If the oil gets into the gulf stream, it could get bad.
and I also promise to spell Guerrilla right
This is a good run down of the dangers of corporatism.

This reminded me of what Naomi Klein put forth in "No Logo." A truly frightening book.
But the Tea Partiers tell me America is the land of the free.

The Shock Doctrine also by Naomi Klein is a frightening book about the evils of privatization. Just look at what is happening to Greece having to accept tax increases, wage cuts and spending freezes to get loans to bail them out. You can bet vital services will be privatized.
MJ--I have never read that book, but I will. Same goes for Alaska's suggestion for Shock Doctrine.

I started thinking about this subject when reading about the Third Reich in a Holocaust class I took in college. It turns out that the Nazis and Fascists were able to win many early victories, by playing the public-private card.

For example, in the early 1930s, if Brownshirts were private and the Polizei were public. Oftentimes, different units were utilized for different tasks, because different laws applied to the police, and different laws to "private party militias." As such, even though both were run by the same dictator, he was able to use these laws to their fullest advantage, by employing them in diverging situations.

The Weimar Constitution had very strong individual protections against police violence and state coercion, believe it or not, but none of these things were applicable to the SA, because when the Nazis were on the rise, the SA were still a "private party army," and not a state apparatus. Only when the German Constitution was changed by the mid 1930s, were more formal, state-based methods of state coercion employed. Until then, they used private, non-state methods.

Interestingly, this phenomena would exist throughout the war---the NSDAP being, in effect, a private state within a state. The government institutions were run by Hitler, and populated with loyal henchmen, but not entirely. The party organized the country into overlapping Gauls, or districts, which had their own institutions. So Bavaria would have a local gvt, and then a local party apparatus. The thing is, the party would often operate w/o the consent or formal knowledge of the gvt. Of course, not in terms of the "big issues," like genocide and the like, but mostly in terms of routine abuses of citizens, robberies, extortion and the like. The Party often acted like the Mob on the local level, but it was never considered "State Action," because they were still considered "private." This is an extreme example, but it interestingly illustrates my point.

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS SHOULD NOT BE LIMITED TO STATE ACTION.

For this reason, in most European nations today, Civil Rights are applicable to all citizens, regardless of whether the perpetrator is the State, Private Entity or Company. This came directly out of their experience with 1930s/1940s fascism and the legal games they played, particularly in areas of petty violence and theft of personal property.
The corporatocracy is near fully complete. It's really a sick, sorry, state of affairs. But the sheople can tell you every minute detail about American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. They have no idea that an end around of the Constitution is being created by the privatizing of so much of American life. And the right-wing crazies are always talking about infringement from big government. Yeesh!
Americans would be wise to know that to the corporations known to us as "Tyson" does not differentiate in their categorization of human being and chicken. Both are nothing more and nothing less than living organisms that facilitate the growth of Tyson. Tyson does not care about the welfare, freedom, or happiness of either, only their ability to used as instruments for Tyson's goal of eternal and unlimited growth....
Damn it!! Where did my comment go??!!
A scary post, but much-needed since we are well down the road to corporatization of the this country, and the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United may well be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

But if corporations are deemed persons with all the inalienable rights of humans, some smart lawyer like you should set to work piercing the corporate veil -- better yet, ripping it down. That veil is one of the primary loopholes that make corporate criminality so insidious and so profitable.

If corporations are "persons", the heads of those corporations, like the head of a human, should be held personally accountable for the actions of the "body". Thus, if Lehman Bros steals from stockholders, former CEO Richard Fuld -- and others to be named later -- should lose ALL of their ill-gotten gain and do hard-time like any other common criminal. And if Countrywide deceives homebuyers, Angelo Mazillo -- and others to be named later -- should lose ALL of their ill-gotten gain and do hard-time like any other common criminal. And if AIG impoverishes pensioners, Hank Greenberg, Joseph Cassano -- and others to be named later -- should lose ALL of their ill-gotten gain and do hard-time like any other common criminal.

And if these criminals hide assets by transferring them to their wife or brother-in-law, those persons should go to jail as well as co-conspirators.
Tom Cordle--agreed. There needs to be a revision to the criminal and civil law, such that corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships and such, do not afford those engaged in intentional and/or malicious acts the legal protections originally granted by way of said corporate charters.

These charters were created as shields, masks, ways to make money without risking much in terms of liability. This has been perverted and abused and must stop.

I truly believe that RICO should be modified an incorporate aspects of the USA PATRIOT ACT, to assist progressives in pursuing these companies, once progressives win political office. This is a cool idea, methinks. Using the legal tools of the radical right, against them, once we win political power.