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).