I hope you’ll excuse me, but I think it’s time for another philosophy lesson/discussion. Today’s topic: Limbaugh, “conservatives” and supporters of “capitalism” who claim that corporations are people are all wrong – yes, every one of you. What’s more, calling and treating corporations as people is collectivist in nature. So, congratulations! If you believe a corporation is or should be treated as a person, then you have been assimilated into the collective.
OK, as I am want to do, step one is always “define your terms.” So:
Definition of CORPORATION
1a : a group of merchants or traders united in a trade guild
b : the municipal authorities of a town or city
2: a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession
3: an association of employers and employees in a basic industry or of members of a profession organized as an organ of political representation in a corporative state
Right away we notice that a corporation is a construction of society. That means it is a creation of society. But society is a creation of the members within it: it is constructed by each individual’s natural right to freely contract with each other. So I ask you, if a corporation is a person, then what one person do I enter into a contract with? The President? The CEO? Who? And how does that person then have 2 votes in society: one as himself or herself, and another as the corporation? Do you see the absurdity yet? I hope so, because the problem is we do not keep the rest of that definition in mind:
“to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.”
In other words, a corporation does not have natural rights; it has civil right granted by the society which chartered it. And if it doesn’t have natural rights, it cannot be a person. When we treat a corporation as though it were a person, we are doing the same thing that government does when it acts as though it is a supreme ruler with authority over us all. If you doubt that, then look at definition number 2 again:
“2: a body formed and authorized by law to act as a single person although constituted by one or more persons and legally endowed with various rights and duties including the capacity of succession.”
Anything you claim for a corporation must also be granted to government. So, if you claim a corporation is a person and entitled to its own rights, then so is the government a person entitled to its own rights. Yet, the moment a free and self-governing society concedes that its government is a single person with its own rights, society has ceded its liberty to that person. Think about it: how do you grant personhood to a corporation to escape the government’s authority to tell that corporation what to do without also allowing that the government has escaped the People’s right to tell it what to do? They are equivalent (just look at definition #1).
This is why I have such a problem with people who should be my natural allies. You simply cannot oppose the tyranny of a government that claims it is an independent party entitled to its own rights while defending the same things for corporations at the same time. It is an internally-contradicting idea: double speak. In case you still doubt me, think about these questions. If a corporation is a person:
How can you or anyone own it or any part of it? That is a violation of the constitution. Remember, slavery is illegal in this nation.
How can we try a corporation? How do we put it in jail? How do we execute it should it become necessary?
Better yet, how do we kill it at all? I mean, if it is properly managed, a living trust could theoretically live forever. Thus, if a corporation is a person, then the dead are allowed to inherit and control the earth. That is what Ted Turner will do when he dies: he will control an area of the Western United States second only to the holdings of the U.S. government from his grave through the “personhood” of his living trust. Now, how about I claim to be the living trust of…oh, say, Adam, and I now tell you and the rest of the world to give me my land back? Mind you, I do not have to be Adam, just the person who controls him (in the form of his living trust). How do you object? After all, if you agree that corporations are people and have rights, then I have the right to tell all of you to get off my planet – because I control Adam’s corporation in the form of his living trust.
Seriously, why is it so difficult for people to understand why our founders forbade corporations? I understand why conservatives cling to and defend the notion of corporate personhood: your philosophical founder, Edmunde Burk, once argued for corporate rights. He even said corporations have the right to legally purchase the right to own and dispose of the lives and property of as much as 1/3 of the world’s population, so why wouldn’t conservatives defend my right to tell them to get off Adam’s planet? Fortunately, our founders understood the evil that follows from this sort of reasoning. Our founders understood it was all a construction designed to avoid personal responsibility while still reserving the appearance of control over personal property. In other words: the Left makes the case to control conservatives and conservatives object, but then conservatives turn around and make the same case to control corporate property and wonder why the Left objects. Two sides of the same coin.
I’ll leave you with one last thought. Did you read that 3rd definition? Do you know what corporatism is?
Definition of CORPORATISM
: the organization of a society into industrial and professional corporations serving as organs of political representation and exercising control over persons and activities within their jurisdiction
My friend, this is essentially what we have now: the government working with and controlling certain industries as though they are giant corporations. So, if you support personhood for corporations, you are supporting corporatism, and that’s OK – as long as you know what the inventor of this system called corporatism:
“Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism as it is a merge of state and corporate power.”