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Julian Assange on the Corporation

Julian Assange has been the subject of much media attention since last week’s Wikileaks scoop. Big Think drew my attention to his writings of another sort, in that case creative, bad and pretentious. However, the same site yields some really good stuff too. Take this for example, and in the spirit of Wikileaks I quote it in its entirety:

The United what of America?

It has been frequently noted that many corporations exceed nation states in GDP. It has been less frequently noted that some also exceed them in population (employees).

But it is odd that the comparison hasn’t been taken further. Since so many live in the state of the corporation, let us take the comparison seriously and ask the following question. What kind of states are giant corporations?

In comparing countries, after the easy observations of population size and GDP, it is usual to compare the system of government, the major power groupings and the civic freedoms available to their populations.

The corporation as a nation state has the following properties:

  • Suffrage (the right to vote) does not exist except for land holders (“share holders”) and even there voting power is in proportion to land ownership.
  • All executive power flows from a central committee. Female representation is almost unknown.
  • There is no division of powers. There is no fourth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.
  • Failure to submit to any order can result in instant exile.
  • There is no freedom of speech. There is no right of association. Love is forbidden without state approval.
  • The economy is centrally planned.
  • There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.
  • The society is heavily regulated and this regulation is enforced, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can goto the toilet.
  • There is almost no transparency and something like the Freedom of Information Act is unimaginable.
  • The state has one party. Opposition groups (unions) are banned, surveilled or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.

These large multinationals, despite having a GDP and population comparable to Belgium, Denmark or New Zealand have nothing like their quality of civic freedoms. Internally they mirror the most pernicious aspects of the 1960s Soviet. This is even more striking when the civilising laws of region the company operates in are weak (e.g West Papua or South Korea). There one can see the behavior of these new states clearly, unobscured by their surroundings.

If small business and non-profits are eliminated from the US, then what’s left? Some kind of federation of Communist states.

A United Soviet of America.

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