"He's a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys; he may look dumb but that's just a disguise; he's a mastermind in the ways of espionage." Charlie Daniels, "Uneasy Rider" Alice in Free Speech Wonderland: "Personal Corporatehood" as response to latest victory of corporations - TT's Lost in Tokyo

Alice in Free Speech Wonderland: "Personal Corporatehood" as response to latest victory of corporations

Further to my preceding posts on corporations and free speech, I invite others to read this semi-serious piece in Truthout that examines the implications of the United Citizens vs. FEC decision:

"Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United"

The author, Randall Amster suggests that in the wake of the latest Supreme Court case, ALL citizens ought to abandon personal responsibility and liability and incorporate themselves. Amster is a J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College, and is executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association.

I quote liberally (emphasis added):

There's great consternation brewing over the recent Supreme Court decision that cements and extends the misbegotten logic of "corporate personhood," and rightly so. Surely, one of the most farcical and tortuous doctrines ever established in our system of jurisprudence, this conflated concept has drawn the ire of (small-d) democrats at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1816, "I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ...

Still, the notion of "corporate personhood" remains something of a misnomer. In our system, as now expanded by the Supreme Court, corporations actually enjoy more rights than individuals do in many ways. To wit: liability shields, rights of transfer, political access and influence, subsidies, laissez-faire regulation, freedom of movement, self-determination, self-governance, tax breaks etc. In particular, when it comes to political speech, corporations are now essentially unfettered in their freedom, something that we mere mortals have yet to fully secure. Consider the language of the court's recent ruling: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech." ...

President Obama called the decision "a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans." What wasn't immediately clear is whether he intended this as a lamentation or a mere observation of political reality. Either way, he was in essence stating a working fact, namely that whatever shards of democracy and the "will of the people" had existed up to now, the pretense is all but gone and corporations will openly run the show. I suppose this has the virtue, in any event, of being a more honest representation of how things actually transpire. The question is where things will go now that this critical threshold has been crossed.

Most likely, this ruling is a harbinger of further extensions of corporate rights and powers. A broad mandate and a willing court will impel corporations to take on even more of the qualities ordinarily associated with individuals, as noted in the SCOTUS blog's analysis of the decision: "It is not too much to expect that lawyers for corporate America may well be looking to explore the outer possibilities of their clients' 'personhood' and new-found constitutional equality."[link added] There previously had existed a founding principle that "natural persons" and "artificial persons" were separate and distinct entities under the law, with the former holding historical priority in our constitutional framework. By now, that distinction has been blurred to such an extent as to be effectively meaningless, as evidenced by a 2008 Federal District Court ruling in which it was proclaimed by the judge that "Blackwater is a person...."

If Blackwater is a person, I want out. Indeed, this suggests a strategy that "natural persons" might take in embracing the implications of this unrestricted corporate world. If a corporation can become a person, then by implication a person can become a corporation. I am thus advocating a new doctrine of "personal corporatehood," in which we should all avail ourselves of the enhanced rights granted to "artificial persons" in our system. People should begin taking steps to incorporate themselves immediately. ...

Just imagine the benefits. When someone asks you for a favor, you can off-puttingly reply, "I have to check with my board of directors at next month's meeting; someone will get back to you then." When you want to meet with your Congressperson on matters you feel strongly about, the receptionist will announce, "Senator, a corporation is here to see you," which will likely get you instant access. If you go public, you can sell shares in yourself and make a tidy sum (just be sure to retain a controlling interest). If someone irritates you or has something you want, you can likely get the Marines sent in to deal with them. You can avoid having to appear personally at court hearings, sending your hired-gun attorney instead. And you can't be thrown in jail, since a corporation itself cannot be imprisoned. See?

At the end of the day, we "natural persons" can try and fight city hall on this one, or we can get in the game and embrace the benefits of artificiality. In a world of surfaces, where profiteering masks as politics and gerrymandering as justice, this may well be the best of all strategies for survival.

Amster is pretty much right in his discussion of the now rather superior rights that corporations have over individuals. While we can`t really abandon our individual identities, by incorporating we can shield assets by limiting liability and maybe, even double or triple our vote, if courts follow their logic and acknowledge that voting is simply a form of speech.

Or we could find ways to step back from the Alice in Wonderland nonsense that creeping corporatism and "conservative" Supreme Court justices have led us to.

Published Wed, Feb 3 2010 2:51 PM by TokyoTom