OK, as some of you may be aware, I have been doing some research into the history of the corporation in the United States. I have also been rethinking my understanding of the corporation and how it fits into a system of Natural Law – as our founders would have understood Natural Law. My reading and thinking have changed my position on corporations, and I’m pretty sure many of my conservative friends are going to disagree with me. In fact, I suspect the majority of them will disagree to the point of thinking I have joined Comrade Karl’s team, but I haven’t. I wholeheartedly support the idea of private property; it’s just that the corporation is not private property.
First of all, we must understand what a corporation actually is. Limbaugh and other conservatives who claim they are defending private property will tell you that a corporation is both a person (which is how they defend corporate spending for things like political campaigns and lobbying) and private property owned by individual citizens (which is how they claim corporations are private property). Unfortunately for those who use these arguments, neither assertion is accurate. A corporation is defined thusly:
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
In other words, a corporation is an artificial construction. It is given the legal status of personhood so the people who own it can escape legal and financial liability in connection to the corporation, but it is treated as private property so those same people can claim a right to the corporation’s assets and profits. This is a clear perversion of Natural Law. In fact, as I have just demonstrated, the corporate structure is designed specifically to navigate around Natural Law.
But then there is the matter of how a corporation comes into being in the first place. A corporation is created by the governing body of a society. But, in order for the governing body to authorize the construction and legal recognition of an artificial entity such as a corporation, it has to be done by the government. This is the only way it can carry the force of law, or the force of law can be applied to protect and uphold the artificial entity. At this point, I suggest we take a look at another definition:
1a : exposed to general view : open
2a : of, relating to, or affecting all the people or the whole area of a nation or state <public law>
b : of or relating to a government
c : of, relating to, or being in the service of the community or nation
3a : of or relating to people in general : universal
4: of or relating to business or community interests as opposed to private affairs : social
5: devoted to the general or national welfare : humanitarian
6a : accessible to or shared by all members of the community
b : capitalized in shares that can be freely traded on the open market —often used with go
7: supported by public funds and private contributions rather than by income from commercials <public radio> <public television>
The very fact that the people have to support the laws creating a corporation makes connects the corporation to the public realm. That the corporation can be forcibly dissolved by the government means it is a public entity. Most often, a corporation is dissolved when it no longer serves the interests of or becomes detrimental to the good of society. That puts it in the realm of the public. If a corporation’s stock can be bought and sold by anyone, that clearly makes it a public entity. If a corporation receives subsidies or tax breaks from the government, even if it does so as part of a general industry, this places it in the public sphere. But, before we declare the corporation to be definitively proven to be a public entity, there is one more definition we need to examine:
1a : intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class <a private park>
b : belonging to or concerning an individual person, company, or interest <a private house>
c (1) : restricted to the individual or arising independently of others <private opinion> (2) : carried on by the individual independently of the usual institutions <a doctor in private practice>; also : being educated by independent study or a tutor or in a private school <private students>
4: not having shares that can be freely traded on the open market <a private company>
Now, you will notice that the definition first and foremost stresses the individual – as does Natural Law. However, the definition does mention companies. But, as I have already shown, this is a perversion of Natural Law because, in order to even exist, a company must depend on the public (the same criticism applies to the mention of class in the definition, especially since a class has an even more subjective social definition than a company). So we return to the inevitable conclusion that – in reality – a corporation is a perversion of Natural Law and was created specifically for the purpose of getting around Natural Law. Perhaps this is why our founders did not allow corporations, only charter companies, and only then for a limited time and under strict public controls.
So, here is the dilemma for the “conservative.” If you support the free market, you cannot support corporations as corporations are a violation of the free market because they are a violation of Natural Law. At the same time, if you are going to support corporations as both people and private property, then you cannot claim to support the free market because you support a violation of Natural Law and the free market operates in harmony with Natural Law. Finally, this means that the person who supports corporations as we know and use them today actually does deserve and even justify a great deal of Comrade Karl’s criticism. Sadly, Comrade Karl will never see or understand the difference I just delineated. I just hope my conservative friends will see and understand it as it is actually the source of many of our economic woes.