Corporations v. Democracy
“If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessities of life. If we would not submit to an emperor, we should not submit to an autocrat of trade.”
– from Robert La Follette’s 1911 autobiography
“I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force — the Marine Corps.... And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism.... I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914.
The changes in the United States throughout the 19th century were profound and rapid, picking up speed as the decades passed. The industrial revolution changed the nature and pace of both urban and rural livelihoods, and a predominantly independent workforce was converted to a majority of wage earners working for someone else. Capitalism came to dominate the economic system, bringing periodic depressions. Immigrants flooded into the country, creating a complex and constantly shifting hierarchical order that affe
If we want to take away the disproportionate power held by those who own property and wealth and shift it toward people and their governments, it is necessary to know more about the head start that property rights had over people’s rights in this country’s formative years.
The design of the federal government relied heavily on the principle of self-interest narrowly seen as the right for a citizen (at that time elite, white males only) to acquire property and have
Since the late 19th century, protection of the U.S environment, workers, consumers, and communities has been in the hands of regulatory agencies and the laws that established them — Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — to name a few. When our news is filled with stories of defective Firestone tires and gene
In Session II we noted the 1886 Supreme Court decision that gave corporations the same rights and protections as human beings, and in this session we explore that phenomenon in depth. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1868 in order to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. Section 1 reads as follows:
Few would argue that corporations today are not only ubiquitous but have enormous power over our lives. Was it always like this? How did it get to be this way? And what are the implications of this situation for democracy? The readings in this session explore the answers to these questions and challenge the concepts of democracy that are commonly accepted today. Indeed, so much power and wealth has been amassed by corporations that they can be said to govern, presenting a mortal threat to our bo
The first session of the study group provides an opportunity for the group members to meet each other, find out about the design and content of the course, agree upon discussion and facilitation guidelines, work out logistical details, and conduct an initial discussion. The objectives of the study groups are:
If you’re interested in convening a Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights study group, here are a few tips for getting started:
• You don’t need any special skills or knowledge. Anyone can start a study group!
• Announce the formation of the group in print and anywhere people gather:
The following is a statement from the leadership team of WILPF's campaign to Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People's Rights:
The focus of the Enron Corporation story belongs less on the individuals at the helm of the corporate entities involved and more on past and present public officials.
July 12, 2002
First Local Government Refuses to Recognize Corporate Claims to Civil Rights: Bans Corporate Involvement in Governing
On the evening of December 9, 2002, the elected municipal officials of Porter Township, Clarion County — a municipality of 1,500 residents an hour north of Pittsburgh in Northwestern Pennsylvania — became the first local government in the United States to eliminate corporate claims to civil and constitutional privileges.
Passed by Berkeley Peace & Justice Commission on May 3, 2004:
WHEREAS, Chapter 3.68 of the Berkeley Municipal Code, which contains the initiative ordinance creating the Peace and Justice Commission, sets forth several functions of the Peace and Justice Commission, including, but not limited to, "(A) Advise the Berkeley City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley's role in issues of peace and socia
From the framework of WILPF’s analysis, the proposed war against Iraq would make a mockery of democratic decision-making while furthering a U.S. corporate agenda.
Who decides what action should be taken
by the government of the United States of America?
Action Alert of WILPF ‘s National Campaign to:
Abolish Corporate Personhood is the national action of WILPF’s campaign to Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights. One of our goals is to influence the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to abandon its position that corporations deserve the right to free speech.