"What we have today is a corpratocracy. We have the president and the congress in the hands of Big Food, Big Pharmacy, Big Oil, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate...the President doesn't run this county; the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State don't run these people, and God help us (!) the American people don't run this country! Big Money runs this country."
Simply put, corporations are killing us. And they are killing us in ways both large and small, long-term and immediate, as even a partial list will show - they drive the negative trends in our changing climate (while denying the science that proves the case); they pump ever greater volumes and varieties of carcinogens into the environment without real oversight; they create the conditions for debilitating systemic poverty and unemployment; and, as integrated partners with the military, they participate in and profit from the subjugation and misery of people around the world.
And yet, perhaps there is the faintest hope. Precisely because the corporation is an invention of the human mind, it seems obvious that we simply correct the mistake, that we rethink the corporation! Why are we held hostage by a creature of our own imagination? To answer, the present realities are so completely aligned against any change you can believe in, the infrastructure so completely ingrained. Money and power, in the service of money and power, will not be undone. It is an insurmountable force beyond remedy, one that relies upon our ingrained sense of learned helplessness, based on a strategy calculated to suppress any concerted response. We are supposed to be rendered helpless and mute by the daily barrage of job losses, entitlement reductions, labor bashing and diminishing civil liberties. Each is a hammer blow intended to ensure our inaction.
No, this thought that we can redress our errors is a fantasy - to imagine that corporations could be subordinated, that elected representatives would actually reflect the will and serve the needs of the many, that our looming catastrophes could be averted. As Chris Hedges said, "The war is over, and they won."
Many of the most admired figures in history have spoken out against the corporation - from Abraham Lincoln to Albert Einstein - and today a determined core of committed commentators bear daily witness to the criminality of multi-national corporations. And yet, the ground-swell for change seems completely absent. As Ralph Nader recently asked: "What could start a popular resurgence in this country against the abuses of concentrated, avaricious corporatism?" The surprising events of the "Arab Spring" demonstrate (again) that populist sparks are not easily predicted.
But, at the very least, we need to anticipate and to prepare for the spark, if not actively set for it the most favorable conditions. We must clearly establish in the public mind that multi-national corporations are at the heart of all the trends that so seriously threaten us. We must advance the notion that their power can be subordinated and that their linkage with the political class can be dramatically curtailed and made transparent. We must challenge the supremacy of the corporation as we also champion positive alternatives to it. We must organize, and begin now to exercise the wide range of actions available to us, across international boundaries, and in collaboration with the widest possible array of compatible interest groups. And we must articulate the vision of where all these efforts could ultimately lead.
We start by moving past simple protest. It's easy, if not warmly satisfying, to conjure righteous anger for the corporate executives and the politicians who serve them. But doing so serves their interests much more than ours, since it steals the focus from what needs to be done.
(First posted on June 12 at OpEdNews.)