Corporate corruption comes in many forms. The number of employees and turnover of some corporations exceeds the population and GDP of some nation states. When comparing countries, after 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. Such comparisons can also be illuminating in the case of corporations.
Considering the largest corporations as analogous to a nation state reveals the following properties:
1) The right to vote does not exist except for share holders (analogous to land owners) and even there voting power is in proportion to ownership.
2) All power issues from a central committee.
3) There is no balancing division of power. There is no fourth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.
4) Failure to submit to any order may result in instant exile.
5) There is no freedom of speech.
6) There is no right of association. Even romance between men and women is often forbidden without approval.
7) The economy is centrally planned.
8) There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.
9) The society is heavily regulated, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can go to the toilet.
10) There is little transparency and something like the Freedom of Information Act is unimaginable.
11) Internal opposition groups, such as unions, are blackbanned, surveilled and/or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.
While having a GDP and population comparable to Belgium, Denmark or New Zealand, many of these multi-national corporations have nothing like their quality of civic freedoms and protections. This is even more striking when the regional civic laws the company operates under are weak (such as in West Papua, many African states or even South Korea); there, the character of these corporate tyrannies is unobscured by their civilizing surroundings.
Through governmental corruption, political influence, or manipulation of the judicial system, abusive corporations are able to gain control over the defining element of government — the sole right to deploy coercive force.
WikiLeaks endeavors to civilize corporations by exposing uncivil plans and behavior. Just like a country, a corrupt or unethical corporation is a menace to all inside and outside it.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
After reading the article in the 6/7/10 issue of the New Yorker about WikiLeaks and it's founder, Julian Assange, I was prompted to take a look at the WikiLeaks website. I love this take on corporations and why it's important to civilize them.