Friday, March 20, 2009

Leadership and the Pack Hierarchy

There will always be a ruling class. Democracy is just a way to try to control that, to make them respond to who they are subjugating without armed revolution. What it has turned into is just a farce - on the face of it, we still have elections, congressmen to write, and activism. In the reality, just as always, money funds it. Who has the money? Not you as an individual, even though (if you're American) your collective taxes fund the government with the largest budget in the world. Nope. Corporations have you beat in influence - after all, can you afford to hire lobbyists? The government is not a faceless mass; it is made up of individuals who like to be recognized and treated specially, who have families that they want to provide for all the things they didn't have. In short, they are people, and people have had the same shortcomings for as long as people have been around. To pretend that a collective noun (government, corporation, people) can be treated as an individual and counted on to act in the best interests of others is just delusional.

3 comments:

Taco said...

Any entity as soon as it is created will immediately begin to act in its own best interests as soon as it becomes aware of itself. That is the basis of Kipling's law of the jungle and applies in any of these such situations as corporations, government, individuals. Think about the actions of people in committees of any kind or acting on behalf of anyone or anything else. An entity, once self aware, is inherently unable therefore to act in the place of anything else. But, then again, that also presents the solution, does it not?

Kory said...

the issue at heart is influence and accountability. No fictional entity (corporation) should have the right to "free speech" That should be reserved to people. No fictional entity should be able to shield from responsibility the actions of its puppeteers (the board and managers).

If we end the unconstitutional sham of corporate personhood, and subject any entity who makes use of the commons (be it the airwaves, land,water or air) to scrutiny. And if we restore the first requirement of a corporation to "serve the public good"... Its influence in the halls of power will wane.

If we move away from a model where an elected official must raise money daily for re-election or lose, and move to a model to a model where all candidates have equal and equitable access to the public's ear...

Then we CAN fix the system. At the heart of the matter is the plain and simple fact that most people who have power will do anything to preserve and increase that power. And who is truly in power today, the people elected, or the money that puts them there.

Taco said...

Saying that we can 'fix' this particular system is like saying we can fix the jungle. There are a complex interplay of political, social and economic subsystems that are continually acting and reacting here to generate this state of affairs. A system of such complexity cannot be dismantled and it certainly cannot be manipulated simply by the function of law to create a particular outcome.

In a system of such complexity, the likely result is that an alternative of equally undesirable consequence will be created once all of the subsystems and entities respond to it in ways that reflect their own selfish interests.

The original reason for the creation of corporate personhood was primarily to encourage the bundling of capital necessary to generate large entrepreneurial projects without engaging in undo amounts of personal risk. This is fair, it means that I can invest only what I'm interested in risking in a venture without making the liabilities of the venture subject to my own personal capital. If some idiot in the corporation makes a mistake, my personal savings isn't on the line. That shield is an integral part of the ability of a nation to generate a free flow of capital.

This is still a legitimate concern, so the viability of corporate personhood shouldn't be defeated by a problem with its application. In practice, the entity itself is still liable for its actions (as we have seen with the myriad of consumer suits against corporations) but here again the risk is distributed, so many times the result is psychologically unsatisfying on an individual level because we often like to see the effect of the negative consequences of actions distributed proportionally to those responsible.

Corporations, or self aware entities of any kind, cannot be made to serve the public good. They can only act in their own self interest, no more or less than people. Even a non-profit sees its mission as a self interested goal, and daily non-profit organizations make decisions that put their survival over that of their services to constituent populations (certainly in the economic crisis this is evident more than ever).

The key here is to take this into consideration. The strength that the US has exhibited in the past has always been that it could reasonably put the desires of government roughly on par with those of corporations. And, the expansion of the corporate footprint has coincided with the expansion of the power of government. Frankly put, our government is now inextricably built on this (since we pioneered it) and the only governmental powers of the 21st century are capital and consumer power, which has a directed flow. The global economy is built on this and we cannot disenfranchise ourselves from it, or we do so at our own peril.

There is no system that can be created where everyone has an equal voice and no matter how small or seemingly equitable it is, the self interested actions of the most magnanimous candidates will have them leveraging any opportunity that they can against their ideological competitors no matter what framework we devise to try and level the playing field.