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      "When the madness is directed towards the likes of you and me,
       Then our blindness may be lifted and we might begin to see.
       For when others are afflicted, with the scourge that has no end,
       Then we practice our denial -- and the purging, we defend.

       So the powers and the peoples of the nations of this Earth
       Could be fully in connivance -- or denial of the hurt...
       And even, in our hubris, in our information age,
       We are blinded by our bias -- and at petty issues rage.

       So the workers were divided and they voted Nazis in,
       And so many were the workers, who paid dearly for this sin!
       And we see now in Wisconsin, there's a Walker riding high,
       And there's cash enough from coffers to propagate the lie."
                                                          (excerpted)
                                                          Arjun Jalah

                                                                                 
Sometimes you would give anything not to be right!  When I started writing this diary three weeks ago, I predicted that Scott Walker would win the recall election for governor in Wisconsin. Walker, with unlimited corporate money, was challenged by a massive people's movement when he outlawed most collective bargaining rights in what was usually considered a progressive state.  I knew, with the certainty of a cynic that that much money would out-weigh people power.   It was the fight between John Henry and the steel driving machine all over again. Yet, there I was, Tuesday night, praying that the people power would, in the end, win.  Not.  Walker beat Tom Barrett, the Democratic candidate 53%-46%, winning by a whopping 6% points. As Ed of the Ed Show so colorfully pointed out, there was no way to put lipstick on that pig. Or as Chris Hedges had said a couple of weeks earlier: "We lost. They won."
monopoly
HOW DID THIS COME ABOUT?
Much of the blame was placed on the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), 558 U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 876 (January 21, 2010) In this convoluted 5-4 decision designed to expand corporate rights and often referred to as the "corporations are people" decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot restrict most corporate spending in elections. Using several of the most treasured democratic protections to turn our own Constitution against us, the Supreme Court held the following:

1) prohibition of all independent expenditures by corporations violates the First Amendment's political protection of free speech. Because corporations are "groups of individuals," the corporate form must receive the same free speech privileges as individual citizens. The court's rationale for the Citizen's United decision is based on the concept that a corporation, is an organization that acts, for legal purposes, as an individual or a "person". "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." In a particularly inverted bit of logic, the Citizens United decision reinforced an expanded an earlier decision under the 14th amendment which guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law. The 14th amendment was originally passed to protect freed slaves after the Civil War. However, in this case, the Court argued that if we, the people, have free speech rights, then corporations, as "persons" must be given the same rights under the equality clause.

2)  The Court, likewise, argued that independent expenditures are a form of speech, and limiting a corporation's ability to spend money also limits its ability     to speak. At the same time it overruled that portion of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003) that upheld the restriction of corporate spending on "electioneering communications". The Court's ruling effectively freed corporations to spend unlimited money both on "electioneering communications" and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates (although not to contribute directly to candidates or political parties). Combined with the court's decision to strike down restrictions on corporate spending in elections, this gives the corporations unlimited power in the sphere of communications which, next to finance and the military, is the dominant form of control in our modern society. If we look at the historical efforts of our society to provide an electorate with the necessary information for a free and fair choice, it is clear that the corporate "persons" are winning at our expense.  

3) Finally the Court overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990) which allowed a union's right to advocate and contribute to political elections  while restricting contributions of commercial corporations. In striking down this distinction, they argue that the First Amendment does not tolerate prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker. This further blurs the lines between economic and political democratic rights in elections since a commercial corporation's members often do not have voting rights and, when they do, the voting rights are based on the number of shares a shareholder owns whereas in a union voting is based on the democratic principal of one person one vote. The present court argued that Austin was based on an "equality" rationale - trying to equalize speech between different speakers - that the Court had previously rejected as illegitimate under the First Amendment in Buckley v. Valeo. It is here that we most clearly see the confusion between, or the merging of, the concept of individual human social rights and the concept of individualism in the economic sphere which is based on the accumulation of wealth.  In Citizens United, the majority argued that the First Amendment purposefully keeps the government from interfering in the "marketplace of ideas" and "rationing" speech, and it is not up to the legislatures or the courts to create a sense of "fairness" by restricting speech.

4)  As a secondary corollary to the concept that they couldn't distinguish between types of corporations, they criticized Austin's reasoning that the "distorting effect" of large corporate expenditures constituted a risk of corruption arguing that the government had no place in determining whether large expenditures distorted an audience's perceptions, and that the type "corruption" that might justify government controls on spending for speech had to relate to an individual transaction, not a "general perception". According to the majority, "there is no such thing as too much speech."[19] The public has a right to have access to all information and to determine the reliability and importance of the information." Additionally, they did not believe that reliable evidence substantiated the risk of corruption or the appearance of corruption.

WE ALL KNEW IMMEDIATELY THAT CITIZENS UNITED WAS ABSURD

As we watch the drama unfold, the vision of the behemoth contributions made by corporations competing with the contributions of small, individual donors is, indeed, an overwhelming thought that turns our most cherished beliefs in an individual's individual rights, democracy and equality on its head.

If there was any question, that Citizens United would not unleash the corporate hoards loose to buy elections it was crushed by the empirical data after the 2012 primary results.  Let's just give one "general perception." In the first 3 months of 2012,  outside private contributors spent approximately 800 times more in the last six months than in all the previous election years since 1990 combined.  Mitt Romney -- the biggest spender of them all -- won handily over his opponents although nobody seemed to like him.
outsidespending  
 The June 5th recall election of Scott Walker in Wisconsin was just the coup de grace.  The failure of one the most popular grassroots people's movement we have seen in years to recall Gov. Walker can be attributed, at least in large part, to the fact that  Walker's corporate sponsors from out of state (and a good portion from just two ultra right-wing brothers, the Koch brothers) spent 60 million compared to the populist movement's 4 million.

There are a couple of caveats to this analysis:  

1) Many folks also blame the rather "lukewarm"  middle of the road approach of the Democratic Party's DNC and the President for dragging down the support for the populist recall. But this, too, can be attributed to the influence of large financial donors to the DNC or the threat of the loss of such donations.  

2) In a particularly paranoid view, the fact that Wisconsin has many of the "new" voting machines that can be hacked and  where it is next to impossible to prove the fraud, there were "warning alerts" and some are arguing that the election was stolen. Again, it is the corporate powers that be that generally determine the types of voting machines we use and, as they say, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean it isn't true."

THE ENEMY IN OUR OWN HEADS

In the end, the Citizen's United decision was just the final nail in the coffin in a long line of government decisions that buried our aspirations for the democracy and individual freedoms promised us in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. But the worst betrayal may be the betrayal we perpetrate on ourselves. As we helplessly watch corporate money takeover our elections, we pretend it isn't happening.

Oh, we might talk the good game about fighting back. We start talking about a Constitutional Amendment that "corporations cannot be persons" -- but how would we get it passed when most of our congress people, at both the federal and state levels, who must pass or ratify such an amendment, are susceptible to, if not outright paid for, by corporate wealth?

Or we could target our corporations directly through our votes as shareholders.  The fact is small investors do not hold enough of the shareholder wealth to make many inroads. And in large, multinational corporations the decision making is so removed from the shareholders that even where we might control a large block of stock (i.e., our pension funds) we have little or no control over the decision-making process.

Although more and more of us understand the fact that we live, not in a democratic republic (as we were taught in school), but under a plutocracy, most still suffer from what Richard Grossman and Ward Morehouse in Revoking the Corporation, call the "colonization of our minds", the corollary of which is the "TINA" (There Is No Alternative) phenomenon.

According to Grossman and Morehouse, the fact is there are alternatives to this "way of life". But in order to change this society we must transform our own conditioned thinking from that of programmed consumer into liberated citizen. And this requires an understanding of how we have been "programmed."

First, corporate person-hood is simply a legal construct conferred upon corporations exclusively under the law of the United States. Corporations were given certain rights and responsibilities similar to those of an individual so they could do certain economic transactions. However, there is a question about which rights afforded to natural persons should also be afforded to corporations as legal persons.

Much of the confusion in how to deal with the current corporate takeover is a result of the historical fusion between individual political rights described in the Declaration of Independence as the pursuit of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" and the role of an individual's economic rights such as the right to private property, upward mobility and the accumulation of wealth associated with capitalism that were developing at the same time. It is interesting to note that Locke, who put forth the original bourgeois democratic enlightenment treatise of natural rights defined it as the pursuit of "life, liberty and property."

Most of us are programmed to think of America as the land of the free, of democracy and opportunity.  Much of that opportunity is economic as well as political. If we want free speech, we also harbor the belief that we, too, can become Bill Gates. If we want equality, we also want upward mobility. The American dream is signified by owning a home of our own. The dream of democracy ties Democracy and Freedom to the free market capitalist system.  And we are reluctant to give up that dream.  We aspire to be part of the great "middle class." (Even the Wisconsin movement was defined as a "Middle Class" movement (which allowed the right wing to divide the "Middle Class" from the less fortunate members of the working class and might have been one reason for Scott Walker's victory).

There is no denying that capitalism has, historically given many people the opportunity of upward mobility in its early stages.  Over the years, however, the promise of capitalism as a system that provides freedom and democracy is withering.  The United States in fact has the greatest disparity of wealth between the 1% and the 99% (to use the Occupy framework)and the least  social mobility of any industrialized country.

Economic individualism is the flip side of our individual political or public rights. The role of individual capitalist competition, in the long run, does not result in greater freedoms. In its pursuit of profit,  it results in winners and losers, a drive toward monopoly, the increased accumulation of private property in the hands of a few and unequal accumulation of wealth.  A look at the history of corporations in the United States makes this clearer.

A HISTORY OF HOW CORPORATIONS ARE GOBBLING UP THE WORLD

British Crown Corporations began operating in North America with the start of European settlement. The creation of corporations expanded empire and made the aristocracy wealthy. Colonial anger and resentment against corporate power grew as the English Parliament introduced measures that protected trade by Crown corporations over that of local colonial merchants.

After the American Revolution sovereign power was allegedly transferred from a monarch to “We the People." Of course, "We, the People," was still, at that time, the merchant class and constituted only 10% of the population -- excluding slaves, property-less people, people of color, women, etc.  The corporate form, however, still had a certain utility for the merchant class in aggregating capital for large scale projects, which is why “the people” allowed them to exist at all. In 1819, the Supreme Court of the United States (Dartmouth College v. Woodward) recognized corporations as having the same rights as natural persons in the economic sphere to make and enforce contracts.

Of course the concentration of capital that goes along with the establishment of corporations also brings with it inherent risk for the populace. For this reason the formation of corporations was restricted to parameters set up by state constitutions and constrained by specific limitations in the state codes. The early 1800s frequently reiterated the fact that corporations could only be created for public benefit.

When we look at the history of our states, we learn that citizens intentionally defined corporations through charters--the certificates of incorporation. In exchange for the charter, a corporation was obligated to obey all laws, to serve the common good, and to cause no harm. Early state legislators wrote charter laws and actual charters to limit corporate authority, and to ensure that when a corporation caused harm, they could revoke its charter. Having thrown off English rule, the revolutionaries did not give governors, judges or generals the authority to charter corporations. Only state legislators (closest to the people) could charter corporations. Up to the mid-1800s:

•The amount of capitalization a corporation could have was limited.
•The corporation had to be chartered for a specific purpose -- not for everything, or anything.
•The shareholders (even though it was still based on the amount of share, not a one person, one vote rule)had a lot more rights than they have today, for major decisions such as mergers; sometimes they had to have unanimous shareholder consent.
•There were no limitations protections on liability -- managers, directors, and shareholders were liable for all debts and harms and in some states, doubly or triply liable.
•The states reserved the right to amend the charters, or to revoke them, even for no reason at all.  
•Corporations had limited duration, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years.They were not given forever, like corporate charters are given today.
•The amount of land a corporation could own was limited.
Still, as the 19th century matured, manufacturing in the U.S. became more complex as the Industrial Revolution generated new inventions and business processes. The favored form for large businesses became the corporation because the corporation provided a mechanism to raise the large amounts of investment capital large business required, especially for capital intensive yet risky projects such as railroads.

The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the large corporations. Businessmen such as Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry O. Havemeyer, banker J. P. Morgan, steel makers Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie, and railroad owners Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould created corporations that influenced legislation at the local, state, and federal levels as they built businesses that spanned multiple states and communities. Beginning in the 1870s, corporate lawyers became bolder about using the Webster/Marshall theory that corporations could exercise the rights of their shareholders, arguing that as such they were entitled to some of the legal protections against arbitrary state action accorded also to natural persons.

In the late 19th century, railroads were among the most politically powerful corporations in the country as the corporate officers had to work with federal and state legislatures in order to obtain land grants for rights of way and the legislatures. One of the most egregious examples of railroad magnates exploiting the public coffers for private gain was that most of the land offered for free under the Homestead Act for poor landless farmers toward the end of the civil war was in fact gobbled up by the railroads.

As railroads increased their size, a number of conflicts between various states and the railroads began to surface. In four cases that reached the Supreme Court (94 U.S. 155, 94 U.S. 164, 94 U.S. 179, 94 U.S. 180 (1877) railroads tried to argue that the Fourteenth Amendment prevented states from regulating the maximum rates they could charge. These cases did not rely on just an interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, but also on the Interstate Commerce clause. In each case, however, the Court based its decision on the Interstate Commerce clause. While the social contract has expended to many groups over the centuries, the corporations have also consolidated their power.  In every case where the social project conflicted with the commercial project, the capitalist commercial project used its wealth to prevail.

Throughout the 1800s but especially after the Civil War, pressure from industrialists and bankers resulted in a handful of judges giving  corporations  more rights in property than human beings enjoyed. The biggest blow to citizen constitutional authority came in 1886. The US Supreme Court, in a statement that was accepted as part of the ruling in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, that a private corporation was a "natural person" under the US Constitution, sheltered by the 14th Amendment which requires due process in the criminal prosecution of "persons."

Following this ruling, huge, wealthy corporations were allowed to compete on "equal terms" with neighborhood businesses and individuals. "There was no history, logic or reason given to support that view," Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas wrote 60 years later. Once corporations were legally defined as "natural persons", they automatically were endowed with the same "Bill of Rights" as human beings, and so came to possess and then exploit with devastating consequences, the same "rights" of the freedom of speech, and the ability to participate in elections and lobby elected officials.

RECENT DECISIONS LEADING UP TO CITIZENS UNITED

In more recent decisions prior to Citizens United, a similar shift of citizens control to corporate control has been occurring in the communications sector, much as the manufacturing sector was taken over during the industrial revolution. In the more modern cases, a shift from legislative control to control through the Executive branch and its agencies and the courts, where corporate influence can more easily be applied, enabled the corporate takeover. Two examples are the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time Rule.    

For example, The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.

In 1985, under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989.[13] The FCC suggested in Syracuse Peace Council that because of the many media voices in the marketplace, the doctrine be deemed unconstitutional, stating that:

"The intrusion by government into the content of programming occasioned by the enforcement of [the Fairness Doctrine] restricts the journalistic freedom of broadcasters ... [and] actually inhibits the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and the degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists."   
In August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.

A similar fate was met by the equal-time rule which specifies that U.S. radio and television broadcast stations must provide an equivalent opportunity to any opposing political candidates who request it. This means, for example, that if a station gives one free minute to a candidate on the prime time, it must do the same for another candidate. However, there are four exceptions: if the air-time was in a documentary, bona fide news interview, scheduled newscast or an on-the-spot news event the equal-time rule is not valid. Since 1983, political debates not hosted by the media station are considered news events, thus may include only major-party candidates without having to offer air time to minor-party or independent candidates. Talk shows and other regular news programming from syndicators, such as Entertainment Tonight, are declared exempt from the rule by the FCC on a case-on-case basis.
thesupremes
IS THERE HOPE?

Ward Morehouse, speaking in Palo Alto this past January 29th, spoke of "The Seven Challenges" we face in order to get out of the mess we are currently in. While some of them seem to presume we can still control the actions of our elected officials by working inside the existing Capitalist Plutocracy, they are still worth some thought:

1. We have to come to grips with is how to overcome this colonization of our minds and to recognize that there are alternatives to a society dominated by giant corporations.
2. Our second challenge involves taking a lesson from the play book of the corporations who [...] have spent the last century or more consolidating their power and insulating themselves from meaningful democratic control. We need therefore to try to change a body of legal doctrine rather than fight case after case after case of corporate transgression.
3. Our third challenge is to resist the temptation for co-optation and accommodation and not to accept as "victories" those which leave corporate power unchallenged and intact.
4. Our fourth challenge is to recognize the myth of American democracy and to overcome the plutocracy with which we live. All societies have myths about themselves. Ours is no exception.
5. The fifth is to understand that we will never win in this struggle if we play by their rules because they wrote the rules.
6. Our sixth is to determine how we know when we really have won in the struggle against corporate power, and I would submit to you that we only really win when there is a fundamental shift in power from corporations back to the people where it was in the first place, and should be again [Can we really  go back to regulated corporations like we had in the "good old days", long before we had global multinationals or must we move forward to some new formation?]
7. The seventh challenge is to take to heart the big lessons of 20th century history, and not to be discouraged by the challenges that indeed do confront us. It was said no where better or more eloquently than by Howard Zinn in one of his recent books, when he wrote that, "[t]he struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money, and who seem invincible in their determination to hold onto it. That apparent power has again and again proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, ingenuity, courage, patience. Whether by blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Viet Nam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just."
 

Morehouse then went on to present tactics for establishing democratic control over corporations. [Some of which I think might also be tactics for a more far reaching evolution to a different economic system].  Here is an eleven-point program for doing just that:

1. We can start by revoking the charters of especially harmful corporations who have inflicted mass harm on innocent people. There are provisions for the revocation of charters in 49 of the 50 states. They have some provisions similar to that in the New York Business Corporation Law, Section 1101, which specifies that corporations that act contrary to the public policy of the state are subject to dissolution.
2. We can recharter corporations to limit their powers and make them entities subordinate to the sovereign people. For example by granting charters (as used to be the case) for limited time periods, requiring that there be a conscious, deliberate act of approval by communities and workers for corporations to continue beyond the initial time in which they have been chartered. For making corporate managers and directors liable for the harms done by corporations. (If this can be done through a referendum which we have in many states, instead of the state legislature, this might be a real possibility, especially if we only approve charters for corporations where shareholders have voting rights based on one shareholder, one vote.)
3. We can address what is a fundamental obstacle to democratic control over corporations, which is their sheer size. Many of you are well aware that the largest corporations today are larger than most nation-states. General Motors has gross income greater than the gross domestic product of Denmark. So we need to reduce the size of corporations by breaking them into smaller units with less power to undermine democratic institutions. For those of you who think this is a wild flight-of-fancy, I would remind you that as an issue in public policy, this has historical precedence in the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 which did just that: it said certain public utility companies will divest themselves because they may not be larger than a given set of criteria determined through a democratic process. (Maybe -- but it woud be a much bigger struggle today with the degree of corporate control and a global economy.)
4. We need to establish effective worker and community control over production units in order to protect the "reliance interest", an important, if not fully developed, legal doctrine which workers and communities acquire over time in the actions, the activities, and indeed the assets of corporations. This could be done in a variety of ways including prohibitions in the charter of the corporation in the future, prohibitions for the hiring of replacement workers (scabs in other words), requiring independent health and safety audits by experts chosen by workers in the affected communities, required voting rights in corporations based on one worker, one vote, and so on.
5. We can initiate referendum campaigns, or take action through state legislatures and the courts, to end constitutional protections for corporate persons.
6.  We can prohibit corporations from making campaign contributions to candidates in any elections, and from lobbying any local, state, and federal government bodies. If you think this is off-the-wall, you should be aware that in the state of Wisconsin, up until a couple of decades ago, it was a felony for corporations to make political contributions. (Why do you think the right wing spent the last couple of decades buying Presidential candidates and making sure they got Supreme Court Justices who would pass Citizens United?)
7. We can stop subsidy abuse and extortion by corporations through which large corporations rake off billions of dollars from the public treasury. Please let us not call it "corporate welfare". Welfare should be a positive concept. This is extortion and subsidy abuse and we need to stop it.
8. We need to launch campaigns to cap salaries of corporate executives, and tie them to a ratio of average compensation for production workers (say, five or ten to one). 9.  We can encourage worker and community-owned and -controlled cooperatives and other alternatives to conventional limited liability profit-making corporations. They need not be the only game in town, in fact they are not the only game in town. But we need to work hard to expand alternative types of enterprises that will subject themselves to genuine democratic control.
10. We can prepare model state corporation codes based on the principle of citizen sovereignty, and begin the campaign for their adoption, state-by-state.
11. We can invigorate, from the grassroots up, a national debate on the relationship between public property and private property -- including future value - and the rights of natural persons, communities, and other species when they are in conflict with those corporations. This whole subject of how we define property rights is at the heart of much of the accumulation and codification of corporate power. ←THIS IS WHERE I'M STARTING!
REFERENCES:
1. "Summary Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (Docket No. 08-205)". Cornell University School of Law. http://topics.law.cornell.edu/....
2. Liptak, Adam (2010-01-21). "Justices, 5–4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/....
3. CounterPunch, 4 February 2010, Chucking Precedent at the High Court
4. Syllabus : Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Supreme Court of the United States. "How Corporate Money Will Reshape Politics: Restoring Free Speech in Elections". The New York Times blog. 2010-01-21.
5. http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/.... Retrieved 2010-01-21.
6. Remsen, Nancy (December 8, 2011). "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., offers constitutional amendment on corporate "citizenship". The Burlington Free Press. http://blogs.burlingtonfreepress.com/...
7. Nader, Ralph (2010-01-22). "The Supremes Bow to King Corporation". CounterPunch. http://www.counterpunch.org/....
8. Sullivan, Kathleen (2010). "Two Concepts of Freedom of Speech". Harvard Law Review 124: 143–177. http://www.harvardlawreview.org/....
9. Andre, Steven J. (2010). "The Transformation of Freedom of Speech: Unsnarling the Twisted Roots of Citizens United v. FEC". John Marshall Law Review 44 (1): 69–127. http://works.bepress.com/....
10. Ocean Beach Rag. July 6, 2011.
11. Movement to Abolish Corporate Personhood Gaining Traction. Boulder Weekly July 14, 2011.
12. Boliek, Brooks (August 22, 2011). "FCC finally kills off fairness doctrine". POLITICO. http://www.politico.com/....
13.  Rendall, Steve (2005-02-13)."The Fairness Doctrine: How We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back". Common Dreams (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting). http://www.commondreams.org/.... Retrieved 2008-11-13.
14. FCC Video, NBC Universal (1987) ("Today we reaffirm our faith in the American people. Our faith in their ability to distinguish between between fact and fiction without any help from government.") "FCC 1987"; see Robert D. Hershey, Jr.,
15. F.C.C. Votes Down Fairness Doctrine in a 4-0 Decision, New York Times, August 5, 1987 [http://www.nytimes.com/...]
16. Robert D. Hershey, Jr., F.C.C. Votes Down Fairness Doctrine in a 4-0 Decision, New York Times, August 5, 1987
17. Gardner, Eriq (2 December 2011). "Anderson Cooper's Talk Show Is a News Program, FCC Rules; The government regulators have determined the talk show qualifies as news and is thus exempt from obligations to giving political candidates equal air time.". Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/.... Retrieved 24 December 2011.
18. Smith, Bradley. "Corporations Are People, Too". NPR. http://www.npr.org/.... Retrieved 2011-01-
19. Hartmann, Thom (2010). Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became ""People"" --and How You Can Fight Back. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  Http://books.google.com/books?id=zAmgOl5YT2QC.
20. http://en.wikipedia.org/...
21. Model Amici Curiae Brief to Eliminate Corporate Rights, by Richard L.
Grossman, Thomas Alan Linzey, & Daniel E. Brannen, 9/23/03
22. Revoking The Corporation, a discussion with Richard Grossman & Ward Morehouse, transcribed by rat haus reality press, 1996.
23. Richard Grossman &. Ward Morehouse, ASSERTING DEMOCRATIC CONTROL OVER CORPORATIONS: A CALL TO LAWYERS, The NATIONAL LAWYERS Guild Practitioner, volume 52, number 4, fall 1995, p. 101.
http://www.ratical.org/...
24. If you aren’t sure Citizens United gave rise to the super PACs, just follow the money. By Richard L. Hasen|Posted Friday, March 9, 2012, at 2:56 PM ET
25. Berle, Adolf and Gardiner Means, The Modern Corporation and Private Property, 1932.

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Meetup on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Hippie, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  very nicely done esp. on corporate reregulation (7+ / 0-)
    There are a couple of caveats to this analysis:  

    1) Many folks also blame the rather "lukewarm"  middle of the road approach of the Democratic Party's DNC and the President for dragging down the support for the populist recall. But this, too, can be attributed to the influence of large financial donors to the DNC or the threat of the loss of such donations.  

    2) In a particularly paranoid view, the fact that Wisconsin has many of the "new" voting machines that can be hacked and  where it is next to impossible to prove the fraud, there were "warning alerts" and some are arguing that the election was stolen. Again, it is the corporate powers that be that generally determine the types of voting machines we use and, as they say, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean it isn't true."

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

    by annieli on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:07:55 PM PDT

    •  Glad you cited the part about the new voting (4+ / 0-)

      machines. I was afraid I sounded like a conspiracy nut or just wanted to make excuses, but I really would be surprised if they didn't try the obvious -- especially when the system is so very vulnerable and there is no way to check if fraud and voter switches were done.

      •  these issues have not gone away since 2004 (5+ / 0-)

        and it is unclear whether someone like DoJ is playing attention

        slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

        by annieli on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:36:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  a lot of people are demanding a paper trail (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geminijen, TPau, annieli, northsylvania

        for just this reason, it is not paranoid; there are a lot of questions about these machines that are legitimate.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:37:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, the switch takes place in the touch (4+ / 0-)

          machines before the paper trail -- so unless you remember to get your papertrail at the end, many switches will go unnoticed.  Some voters in several of the last elections have complained that the vote they thought they put in wasn' what showed up.  It was usually attributed to sloppy entry on the screen (human error).

          •  In Wisconsin we use paper ballots. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TPau, NY brit expat, Geminijen

            Not only that, I got an email from the Dems around 7:00 pm, saying that we needed to reach 150,000 more voters in the next 45 minutes.

            We use paper ballots and stick them in machines to be counted.

            •  So what argument put forth by the Governor... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NY brit expat

              worked? I mean, even with a huge amount of money spent on the campaign, you have to put forth an argument the people will buy into. Sometimes that argument is a simply lie and just repeated infinitely but people buy into it for reasons. Usually, those reasons have to do with their own thoughts about justice.

              What do you think worked on the people in Wisconsin to get them to vote in a fashion that was clearly against their own self interest and why do you think it worked? I actually want to hear from someone who was there.

              De air is de air. What can be done?

              by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:57:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't really know the answer. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TPau, NY brit expat

                I do think people are frugal here. So when Walker says something like he is bringing a brown bag lunch to work everyday, or painting his own house, or his wife mentions cutting the lawn, it is appealing and he sounds "normal" and not wasteful. It is good here to save money. It is a virtue.

                I think there are people who want smaller government and they believe the state workers get lavish benefits compared to their Walmart or hair salon job.

                Also, people don't just switch parties. It is like the sports teams, like the Packers fans. They are not going to suddenly root for the Bears, even if all the players from the Packers go to Chicago and vice versa. They are going to vote for the one with the R behind their name.

                Thank you for asking my opinion. Somebody else might have a better answer for you though.

            •  Those are the scanners and the most reliable of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TPau

              the new machines. unfortunately, in most states not all districts use the same machines.  Do you know if these are consistent throughout the state?  I was sent some info that suggested that you folks also have some touch screen machines.  Hope you see this and answer.  Now I'm curious.

              •  I heard there are new machines in the northern (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TPau, Geminijen, NY brit expat

                counties. However, I believe John Nichols mentioned they were paper ballots there also.

                I used touch screen in another state, here in WI, we use a special marker to complete an arrow. Then you feed it into a machine that "counts" the votes, I guess. There are people observing the whole thing. (Not the actual voting)

                I don't see any problems where I live, but my area is pretty educated.

                •  Checked out wiconsin voting machines. They (0+ / 0-)

                  use optical scanners (probably what you used), DRE touch screens (which are the bad ones that can be most easily hacked and are hard to verify), some old mechanical ones and paper ballots.  There appears to have been some efforts at manipulation and the people who control the machines in at least two counties have suspect histories (google articles).  So it's not as clear as it sounds.
                  However, we are such babes in the woods on these matters that it is hard to judge whether or not or the degree to which we might be having electronic voter fraud.
                  The reasons you give for voting for Walker are certainly the arguments the right makes and many people believe.
                  We have a long way to go to get an informed electorate regardless of who the candidates are or their politics. Politicians are so good at putting on a "face" and we so want to believe the simplest explanations cause they are easier.

      •  we demand accountability for all significant... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau, NY brit expat

        transactions.  heck, i just turned in some license plates at the mva and they gave me a receipt even though no money changed hands.  it is not unreasonable to expect accountability and a verifiable paper trail at the voting booth. anybody who says otherwise is selling something suspicious.

        i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

        by joe shikspack on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:27:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  GeminiJen: Thank you for this FABULOUS article... (3+ / 0-)

    I heard a lecture the other day about the two types of totalitarianism. Most people equate a totalitarian state with a charismatic leader such as Kim Jong-il. But there is another type of totalitarian regime—one run by leadership that is not charismatic and so can not rise to power in the open. It must rely on puppet leaders, mock elections, and public diversions to distract the public and allow it to dominate the state. That is the type of totalitarian state most of us currently live in.

    Consider for a moment what the Supreme Court is actually saying here:

    "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."...

    According to the majority, "there is no such thing as too much speech."[19] The public has a right to have access to all information and to determine the reliability and importance of the information."

    Yet people in parks all over the U. S.  (and the world) are being arrested, physically abused and even killed for speaking out. The ruling applies to the corporation but does not apply to the individual in the U. S. For the individual, no amount of suppression is deemed nu-Constitutional.

    More thoughts later.

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:20:12 PM PDT

  •  Excellent piece geminijen! This is really (4+ / 0-)

    well researched and very clearly explained. One of the main results in many senses of the citizens united decision was the demonstration of the limits of bourgeois democracy in that it undermines the ideological underpinnings of elections and the state as being representative of the will of the people. Money can buy votes, we know that; we have seen the corruption with respect to campaign financing and voting by representatives, but this lays bare the lies.

    The idea of corporate person-hood when these corps have all of the rights of a human being but none of the liabilities of person-hood, for example, they cannot be charged with murder (those that make the decisions that lead to the deaths can be, but not the corporation itself) is such an obvious contradiction that it has undermined the legitimacy of the supreme court (and one wonders about the intelligence of the justices that supported this argument) and the constitution which is one of the major ideological props of american democracy.

    I really appreciated your discussion of the conflation of the political ideology of the system and the economics of the system which again enables people to live under the delusions that the capitalist system is inextricably linked with democracy and that this is the only type of democracy and the only type of economic system. The capitalist economic system is not mentioned in the constitution and the interpretation that it is implied and that bourgeois property relations are also implied is an old debate in constitutional law which had its heyday before Roosevelt and which should have been laid to rest when Lochner vs NY was overturned. Hoping that le gauchiste shows up as he has studied this period intensely and knows constitutional law and debate.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:27:42 PM PDT

    •  It is interesting that the constitution (which, (4+ / 0-)

      unlike the Declaration written in the heat of revolutionary fevor against the crown) was written 10 years later by the merchant class for a very practical business purpose -- to assure European countries that we were stable enough to get loans to pay off our debts.  Hence the commerce clause and greater centralization. This is also why it does not guarantee equality, just "equal opportunity.  The whole concept of class is missing -- which is why today, many of our court battles to equalize things for people rely on the concept of racial/ethnic equality -- which is codified in the constitution under the 14th amendment -- and we saw how that one is being used.  Makes me think all of our words and concepts are just rationalizations for what the rich and powerful want to do anyway (i.e., limited liability corporations -- that bright idea -- where shareholders are not responsible for the damage the corporation imposes, an idea added on later and not true of  the earlier corporations. It was another one of those cute little tricks the 1% used to get all the goodies
      without any of the responsibilities or costs.)

      In fact, those elements concerning freedom, democracy and individual liberty were not introduced in the constitution a year after it was written -- when the people refused to ratify it unless those freedoms for which many fought that were outlined in the Declaration were actually written out in the document (the Bill of Rights).

  •  Wonderful Post, Geminijen! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, TPau, Geminijen, rosarugosa

    Having bad computer problems, so cannot comment at length at this moment, but will try to do so later.  Meanwhile, thanks so much for all your hard work, the result was definitely worth it!

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support universal health care,unions, WikiLeaks and Occupy Wall Street! Time for a totally new, democratic economic system. Turn the corporations into worker cooperatives!

    by Justina on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:34:33 PM PDT

  •  Help us to select a new Avatar: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, Geminijen

    We are broadening our reach. Check us out on:

    The Stars Hollow Gazette

    Docudharma

    My Fire Dog Lake

    We are also now on Facebook and Twitter.

    Join our group at Facebook and get notifications from us about posts and other important news and events.

    But all this outreach has come with a minor problem. We are a collective and have no one face to use as our avatar. I posted several possible images on the Facebook page recently and two images are tied in first place. Help us decide which image should represent us on our social network or post another image:

    star

    Note: size of image is due to my poor computer skills not do to any secret preference I might have.

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:57:20 PM PDT

  •  I am reading Gandhi's... (3+ / 0-)

    My Experiments with the Truth again and this quote from Howard Zinn hit me:

    Howard Zinn in one of his recent books, when he wrote that, "[t]he struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power of those who have the guns and the money, and who seem invincible in their determination to hold onto it. That apparent power has again and again proved vulnerable to human qualities less measurable than bombs and dollars: moral fervor, ingenuity, courage, patience. Whether by blacks in Alabama and South Africa, peasants in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Viet Nam, or workers and intellectuals in Poland, Hungary and the Soviet Union itself. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just."
    Thank you for that.

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:03:48 PM PDT

    •  I love it too. But as we get more global and the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TPau, NY brit expat

      control of capital gets more convoluted and restrictive, the battle gets harder.  So we have no choice but to rise to the next level -- and here is where we can't play around with Democratic cooptation. Doesn't mean I don't dip in and out of the system for tactical reasons (I personally think that sticking rigidly in all our actions to some a priori pure ideological model isn't very dialectical), but we can't kid ourselves anymore.  We need to push out this old system before it kills us.  And, if we take tactics that lead in that direction (i.e. Bradley Manning) we'd better realize we may have to pay the price.

  •  Wanted to raise some points on Locke for the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen

    discussion:

    He discussed natural rights, the two rights we have according to Locke was the right to life and the right to worship god. From the right to life, he derives the right to sustain life and this is where the natural right of property derives. From the fact that we have property in our own bodies, anything that we use our body in becomes our property. However, he argued that this was a property in use argument, it is not property in perpetua. In Locke, the natural right of property was developed for three reasons: 1) to eliminate justifications for the divine right of kings deriving from the notion of God gave the earth to Adam (father to son) and this relationship is reproduced in the relation of the King to his subjects which is then reproduced in miniature in the family; 2) to support universal suffrage in opposition to property rights determining voting and 3) coming from his argument against the divine right of kings and the assertion of people as citizens as opposed to subjects, Locke rejects the justifications for slavery and serfdom arguing that we have property in our own bodies. For Locke, civil society is a consensual society (a social contract) in which we do not give up our natural rights, but the right to exercise them individually.

    I would argue that the reason that the right of property was eliminated by the founding fathers is that it would have made slavery impossible and unjustifiable as our property in our bodies is non-transferable and incapable of alienation; slavery is a violation of our natural rights. Secondly, if we have property in our own bodies, they even those w/o formal property still own themselves as free people and have the right to choose their own government. So, they used the arguments of Locke to justify their right to form a government of the people, by the people, and to argue that the King did not represent them. Tom Paine was a radical Lockean and used this argument in Common Sense to justify the demand for independence. So, Locke is used mostly for propaganda purposes in the declaration of independence but his influence on the constitution which substituted a functionalist notion of government over the philosophy of mixed government (where the division of powers is between the King, the Nobles (House of Lords) and the Commons representing the 3 classes of power under feudalism. The ascendancy of the Commons over the King (whose powers were passed to the Prime Minister) and the Lords occurs as part of the extension of bourgeois democracy.

    Locke does not recognise or support private property in the sense of owning human beings; for him that would be a violation of their own right of property in their person. So he most certainly would not agree with the Dred Scott decision as he did not think that human beings' property in themselves can be sold (alienated) or transferred to another person. This is a form of property that differs from other types of bourgeois property in that it cannot be sold or transferred as it is part and parcel of a human being.

    This does not mean that he does not believe in bourgeois property relations; however, he places the basis of inequality in wealth and concentration of wealth in the context of the development of money which separates the notion of production of subsistence and ensuring your subsistence from concentration of wealth. He is extremely critical of this; moreover, as I said he has a property in use argument (that is earth is the common property of mankind which we can use to ensure our existence, but that we should not use this to exclude others; this is in the state of nature). The invention of money in Locke is what enables concentration of wealth and inequality.

    Finally, What the Two Treatises on Government is not is a description of bourgeois property in the sense of the laws of property in the UK common law, the Napoleonic code in Europe or US property law. What he is doing is defining the ideological justification (superstructure) for bourgeois democracy in opposition to the absolutist state. He is not discussing capitalism as it does not exist yet in the UK, he is trying to come up with a ideological justification for consensual government, universal suffrage and the rights of people. He is not describing reality per se, just defining the different principles for bourgeois democracy as opposed to the absolutist state and feudalism. It is a brilliant ideological exercise and a major step forward from theological discussion justifying the divine right of kings.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:07:07 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for a very interesting and informative (0+ / 0-)

      synopsis of Locke's philosophy. Unfortunately, the acceptance of private property (which at the time was a way of equalizing the people's power with that of the king, still, in the long run was what led to the accumulation of wealth and an even greater inequality --just with a different group of people -- the bour. merchant class replacing the King/aristocracy.  And one of the leariest forms of money exchange was that of the worker selling his labor for money to the bourg. who owned the means of production (as private property).
      there is no way around the fact that the very individualism which gave them freedom from the absolutist state, also opened them to another form of exploitation based on private property.

      •  Yeah, but we need to recognise the purpose (2+ / 0-)

        of the ideology we are witnessing being created; when you think of the progressive part of capitalism as opposed to Feudalism, Locke's argument puts forward an ideological justification for bourgeois democracy, that is part of the creation of superstructure which we are witnessing being undermined.

        Of course, the exploitation by the capitalists as opposed to the king is exploitation, but the ideology of capitalism was a clear advance in the discussion of democracy as compared to that under feudalism; Marx discusses this in detail. Capitalism is not the end of history (nor its beginnings irrespective of what bourgeois economists and political theorists insist). Pointing out the evolution of ideas and ideology is essential, and this is an advance and evolution of ideology. Same old, not really; the pretense of participation in political and economic decisions was an essential transformation and should not be pooh-poohed ... it is still one of the lynch-pins of justification of the system.

        Think of when Locke is writing ... at that time, all property was ultimately that of the King who dispensed it to Nobles, blah blah. Locke's position on private property is not the same thing as what you are talking about; property in Locke is never in perpetua and is justified solely on the basis of use specifically for subsistence and ensuring existence; you cannot take property more than you need for existence that is a violation of natural law. Also, the ideology of a "free" citizen and consensual society still plays a role in many leftist argumentation when we talk about a society that we create not just one created by the ruling classes. Ignore that and you are rejecting the whole basis of new versions of democracy. Many anarchists of the left follow Locke's analysis and develop it beyond its bourgeois democratic origins (as opposed to capitalist relations of production, as capitalism did not exist at this time and in this MacPherson was incorrect) ...

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:51:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually not rejecting - I agree with everything (0+ / 0-)

          you said.  Capitalism was progressive in the beginning, but the competitive profit driven dialectic eventually forces capitalist firms to grow into bigger and bigger monopolies and it eventually turns into a new and different version of what it was trying to escape -- and so now is the time for something new.  The delusion is that we can go back to the "good old days" (which weren't all that great either, but better -- of small town capitalism (the local hardware store type).  Of course, the dynamics of the system don't allow for that.  neither can we just"imagine" a new economic system and make it happen.  There is a relationship between the objective and subjective conditions, the economic base and the superstructure.  We're we are at right now I think is facing a difficult future,  instead of mythologizing the old system (which is what Ward was talking about and I agree), so that we can make sure we use what subjective power we have to steer it in the right direction. And the concepts of individual freedom and democracy are invaluable.  many contruies don't even think they have the right to the concept, much less the reality.

        •  A lot of people identify (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geminijen

          any form of buying and selling goods and services for coin as "capitalism."  In grad school, a lot of us amused ourselves by playing with all the different forms of "capitalism" that have existed over a couple thousand years, all of which are named "capitalism" by a certain kind of conservative philosopher, who believes that capitalism is eternal and inevitable, the Alpha and the Omega, inescapable...

          Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:42:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Now you're talking like an Anarchist! Yeah! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Free Jazz at High Noon

        De air is de air. What can be done?

        by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:53:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

      I even used Locke in my dissertation, and (to my embarrassment) never understood this.  Of course, I was concentrating on his educational theories in specific, but even so, I'm both embarrassed as a scholar and really glad to share this understanding of his theories.

      This is exactly the opposite of how he is often used in this country, to justify a kind of property relations that is apparently almost diametrically opposed to what he was talking about. If "use" defines property rights, you're in a whole different world than the one we inhabit, in which property rights seem both absolute and abstract.

      Now I'm really tempted to go for a Poli Sci degree, but probably can't afford the debt...

      Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:38:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  On a more concrete strategic note: (4+ / 0-)
    6. Our sixth is to determine how we know when we really have won in the struggle against corporate power, and I would submit to you that we only really win when there is a fundamental shift in power from corporations back to the people where it was in the first place, and should tbe again [Can we really  go back to regulated corporations like we had in the "good old days", long before we had global multinationals or must we move forward to some new formation?]
    My vote would be to create something totally new.
    1. We can start by revoking the charters of especially harmful corporations who have inflicted mass harm on innocent people.
    As NYB pointed out, corporations can not be brought up on criminal charges. Why not? Of course a corporation that murders should be put to death—dissolution. That seems so straight forward and obvious, yet we can’t bring ourselves to do it. We can put people < 18 yrs to death but not corporations. This alone would make the hypocrisy obvious.
    2. We can recharter corporations to limit their powers
    Again. An obvious step but thwarted by federal law. We need to redefine the corporation. We need states to block corporations from entering the state unless they head certain rules. One way to do that is to take a lesson from corporations and the Supreme Court and turn it on it’s head. Make state laws that all of us are already obeying, and force corporations to do the same.
    3. We can address what is a fundamental obstacle to democratic control over corporations, which is their sheer size. Many of you are well aware that the largest corporations today are larger than most nation-states. General Motors has gross income greater than the gross domestic product of Denmark.
    This is a prime example of where a little reverse Coyote Trickster logic would come in handy. Most corporations are big because they have multiple subsidiaries that serve them. Make it illegal for one person to own or control another person. Call it a trafficking law. If fact, such a law may already exist. Now argue that Disney can’t own the free person known as ABC or ESPN. Make it illegal to murder (merge) that person as well. Force Disney to give up control of ABC and ESPN and all its other media conglomerates if it wants to come into your state.

    De air is de air. What can be done?

    by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:47:59 PM PDT

    •  I like your trickster logic. The trick is how do (3+ / 0-)

      we pass any laws in the current representaive system.  Referendum (direct demoncracy where possible is one idea).  Also, i know that when Montana wanted to regulate corps at a state level, Citizens oerruled it and feds take precedence.  But they had to use a long S.C. process to do it.  If 49 or 50 states can revoke corp. charters, is there any federal civil rights claim that can be brought (I guess unequal rights for corps as persons!). I just wonder what that would entail -- could at least hold up corps. business and it might be a good threatening tool.  
      I hope OWS gets going again this summer at least -- it provided such good practice in an alternative way of thinking and acting.  and we actually caused some disruption.

      •  That is the beauty... (3+ / 0-)

        Citizens says you have to treat corporations like people. That is why the charters can not be revoked. Because they have lawyers that argue that they are being unfairly treated compared to humans.

        Fine. This is in strict, if somewhat unexpected, adherence to that principle. In fact, I suspect there are laws already on the books to this affect in every state. Even if there was not, how hard can it be to get a human trafficking bill passed that says one person can not own another or control another's interests? A representative would be a fool to vote against such a law. The ingenuity is in getting a DA to enforce the law in a broader way. To actually take the Court at their word and force corporations to actually obey laws you and I already do obey.

        Occupy hung on all through the rainy cold winter here in Humboldt. If they can do it here, they can do it anywhere.

        De air is de air. What can be done?

        by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:19:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I love it. Oh, man. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geminijen

      As always when this stuff happens on this site, I wish we were all closer together. It's difficult to plan actions here and enact them IRL.  That doesn't happen often, and usually it's something for which there's an existing infrastructure, like phonebanking or canvassing, for which there's usually a campaign and a party infrastructure both.

      In other words, an organization on the ground for people to plug in with...

      Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Framers Set This Up. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NY brit expat, TPau

    While peaceable assembly, bearing arms, and speedy trials are rights states as belonging to the people, speech is not stated as a freedom of the people. A big fraction of the discussion I see about speech freedom is focused on what can and can't be done to the speech.

    Press meanwhile is specifically a corporate freedom, "press" is a business activity that only some people some of the time ever engage in.

    So the Bill of Rights locked domination of communication to corporations via press freedom.

    I have to wonder if rewriting the speech freedom as "freedom of the peoples' speech" or "freedom of the people to speak" would be a sufficient fix.

    I'm convinced that press freedom is the cause not the solution of that side of the problem. The framers' presumption was that a free press would foster the journalistic press they saw the nation as needed, and that simply isn't true. We've had commercial press derailing democracy in many ways through our entire history.

    The rest of the Constitution successfully demonstrated one principle, which was hugely expanded with the New Deal era, namely that all power requires checks and balances. That might be a starting point for discussion of how to foster a journalistic press, any further solution to which I have no clue. I just see what can't work.

    I think a day will come when some society looks at ours having 2 freedoms to assert but no general Right of the People to Know as crazy. I do.

    I don't know how such a principle might be encoded, but if we had it, it seems to me that one could facilitate all sorts of intervention in excesses of speech and press.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:06:51 PM PDT

    •  Not all press was corporate in the early (0+ / 0-)

      days and in history. In fact, a whole unstamped press arose in the UK to get around government control of the press and to avoid the stamp act which made it even harder for working class press to be sold (given that they had limited incomes as an understatement; even with mass illiteracy, these papers were read in pubs and discussion groups and provided information on working class movements, see for example, the Poor Man's Guardian, the Poor Man's Advocate). So placing freedom of the press as a corporate activity is historically not exactly right; yes, to a certain extent, but the corporatisation of the press comes later than in the beginnings of the US. The bill of rights was passed  before that happened.

      But otherwise, I think you raise interesting points.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:20:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yo...Gooserock....First Amendment... (3+ / 0-)

      The First Amendment in its entirety:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
      Also good to know is that while six, count them, six corporations own our mass media, we, the people, own the airwaves. We can make any media rules we want, we just need the leadership and will power to do so.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:25:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Check into the article re The Fairness Doctrine & (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TPau

        Equal Time Rule and how they are politically manipulated by the large corporations and media.  I just touched on it, but it is the same for media as it was earlier for the industrial robber barons. Citizrens United is, itself, a great example of making the public airwaves work for the 1% -

        •  It was the Dems who sold us out on the... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Geminijen

          Fairness Doctrine, BTW.

          We, the real humanoid people, have every right to demand whatever we want from the airwaves--fair or unfair. They belong to US. If we want third party candidates at debates we CAN demand that. We have that right. We just aren't using it.

          The 1% just has the 99% convinced they own the airwaves. It is NOT true. They own the filming studios, but good luck getting your message across without access to the airwaves.

          De air is de air. What can be done?

          by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:15:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps there is some more Trickster logic here... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Geminijen

            Perhaps Pirate Radio station should sue under the 14th Amendment for equal access to the airwaves.

            De air is de air. What can be done?

            by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:16:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The trick here is understanding equality in the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TPau

              market sense.  Traditional free market economics promises equal access to the market (i.e., if their are openings for a market stall, two people come to the market and there is one opening for a market stall.  They both have the equal opportunity to fight to get it, using whatever resources they have.  But if one is a guerilla and the other a Shitsu, who do you think will win the fight.  But they both had equal opportunity to fight for the spot. Actually, community access has helped find openings for alternative forms of communication, but they are limited in the audience they reach.  And the interneet is quickly being colonized by the powers that be (have you checked out the ads? Plus net neutrality is a thing of the past -- they just recently set up a two tier inet where big money gets to use the super highway and the rest of us get the back lanes.

              •  Netneutrality should be a nonnegotiable demand... (0+ / 0-)

                of the Occupy movement or which ever movement finally tosses the power structure.

                De air is de air. What can be done?

                by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:04:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Well, true, but they haven't gone nearly as far (0+ / 0-)

                As they want to or as I expected them to by now.  For instance, we can still have this conversation.  PIPA and SOPA failed, though CISPA and ACTA I think are still floating out there.

                A theory as to why  we haven't been utterly colonized here to the point of complete monitoring and censorship (and I'd argue we haven't):  when that happens, there will be a serious backlash of people of all political persuasions who consider the Internet to be their workplace, playground, second home (some, their first home), and, in general, backyard.  NN is the biggest NIMBY issue ever. An assault on this "backyard" will provoke the only people left on the planet who appear to still derive real power from a skill set rather than from money or position.

                The PTB don't want to open up that can of worms, and they will at the least need companies like Google and others on their side to try and contain the worms once the can spills.

                Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:53:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  The people who have been running the FCC have (0+ / 0-)

            been Republicans, appointed by Republicans and have a
            an interest in supporting business interests.  Major protests by regular people (from both the left and right) who hate the monopolization of the airwaves have somewhat limited the increased concentration of airtime for the use business profits of the rich, but slowly but surely we are losing the fight for net equality and local programming, etc.  It is the same problem we have had in other areas.  We are run by a wealthy oligarchy and our duly elected reps are beholden to them in all areas.  

            •  It was Clinton and his appointee that axed.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Geminijen

              the fair access FCC laws. Neither side can be trusted in this fight. In truth, historically speaking, it is always the Democratic presidencies of the recent past that have had the longest acting and deepest ill effects. When the oligarchy really wants to put the screws to the 99% they use a Democrat.

              De air is de air. What can be done?

              by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:07:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Really? While I agree that the Dems are (0+ / 0-)

                responsible for a lot and certainly can't be trusted either (it was Clinton who got rid of Glass Steagall  Act which kept the fire wall up between regular and investment banks-but by the time he came along we didn't really have traditinal Democrats anymore), all the big wars since Johnson and Nam that are mainly responsible for our increased debt have been started by Republicans.  And sometimes you have to look below the surface: whhile Clinton was President, he had a Republican (Gingrich) Congress which skewed what he did.  You could also blame Obama for the current crisis since most of it came on his watch, even though many of the problems have risen from having  the Bohner House of Reps.  
                That's another problem - we always lay it on one person - the Pres - as if he were a King and the other actors like Congress and the Supreme Court didn't count. This is not to say any of them are much good because, you are right - they are ultimately all beholden to big money. I just don't want to go completely fascist before we have too.

              •  that's because Dems put a friendly face (0+ / 0-)

                on terrible policies, and paralyze opposition either by fooling or dividing it.  Look at what's happened to this site since Obama got in office.

                Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:54:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  luna has a thing in her sig (0+ / 0-)

            about the Telecommunications Act of '96.  How does that play into all this?

            Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:49:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  problem is that the gov't is getting (0+ / 0-)

        in the way of this.  I hate to sound all conspiratorial and Tea Party about it, but the FCC is neither neutral nor on our side.

        It's like growing vegetables on your front lawn, collecting rainwater, keeping chickens--or putting together community gardens/urban farms.  You will eventually run into Homeowner's Associations or the local gov't.

        Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:48:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  By the way, what you are engaging in right now... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NY brit expat

      is freedom of the press. Just because corporate press scoffs at the internet and direct communication, that does not make them superior at supplying information to the people. It may very well be that they scoff because they realize the experience you are having with giving and receiving information and "freedom of the press," right here and now, is far superior to anything they can provide.

      I realize I may have come off as harsh in my last post and I did not mean to. I apologize. But I do think you don't have the facts quite right and part of that is due to misinformation being propagated by corporate media.

      De air is de air. What can be done?

      by TPau on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:31:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm afraid the whole point is, that whatever the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SouthernLiberalinMD

      economic powers that be need will be rationalized and codified into law.  Even if it says that the sun should rise in the West.  I really think they are so arrogant and willful and powerful at this point that they might try to do that.  Then we would have to change all the maps and other East/West designators and have to have discussions as to why this was a reasonable thing to do.

  •  Little seeds of hope (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen

    I occasionally get little bubbles of hope gurgling through my veins:

    Exposing the membership of ALEC, with enough noise made to have a number of corporations and individuals withdraw, is one.

    "Occupy" changing the dialogue, for awhile, setting the stage for deeper thought about horizontal "democracy" and creating a rallying cry with the 1/99 slogan.

    My little town allowing groups to form educational, alternative energy groups, and a sustainable group that has just initiated a "tool library" at our transfer station (people will donate tools that they do not use very often [say a wood splitter, e.g.) that anyone can borrow and return.

    Elizabeth Warren, may be my next Senator:  and although she is only nibbling at the edges of trying to deform the new capitalist system to the old where there was supposedly a "level playing field" (one of her constant remarks), and her overemphasis on the "middle class," I think I will take it, hoping that she might become a bit more radical.  Some here in MA already think she is a socialist.  HA.

    I loved reading the post and the comments, Geminijen, and I always learn something by stopping by.  I actually think some of TPau's trickster ideas should be tried.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:05:10 AM PDT

    •  Me too. Also, I think hundred of thousands of (0+ / 0-)

      little things like the tool library will actually provide the environment for a deeper change in culture that will allow us to have the courage to do the things necessary for a really big change to a cooperative world.  Course it probably won't really be easy or nonviolent (at least from their side)because they will fight back. Occupy hasn't held its ground sufficiently but maybe next time we will.

  •  Forgot to mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen

    the Wisconsin situation was another seed of hope:  one of the elements that tipped the recall might not have been just the money.  Many voters think a recall should only be done for "criminal or corrupt" behavior.  Why people could not see "sleight of hand" (the equal pay bill signing stealthily, e.g) as corrupt is beyond me.  The fact that the state senate is now controlled by the Democrats is a little hopeful, too.  Clearly, I measure my hope in teaspoons full.

    The other part of my brain wants a general strike.

    Just waitin' around for the new Amy Winehouse album

    by jarbyus on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 08:16:21 AM PDT

    •  the fact that the reason for the Wisconsin (0+ / 0-)

      occupation (collective bargaining) is not even on Barrett's agenda may have hurt the recall -- as for not getting the reason for a recall -- that is one of the most democratic methos of control over our democracy people have and I believe it was a lot of manipulative ads (paid for with that Citizen United money)that led people to reject it as a progressive tactic.

  •  Wow! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geminijen

    this should get a lot more attention.

    Nice job.

    Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 05:31:42 PM PDT

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