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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Is It Possible To Outmaneuver The Corporate State

I recently came across this incredible video. In it, Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil make an argument for democracy over the corporate state with regard to local agricultural rights.

There are those that believe this to be frivolous debate, however, I believe we have entered a state of crisis. Consumers are starting to make the connection between political action and purchase decisions. Investors are too. The corporate state does not know what to do. All it knows is that candy is scarce and margins are not what they used to be.


The Mentality of the Corporate State

The corporate state has the mentality of a powerful, fat, two year-old with a mind that could match any modern day legal genius. The legal genius loves candy and is near death, but is too young to listen to reason. Death would be a sad end for such an impressive creature and yet we must do something about its lack of morality if it is to survive. We must give it an education; teach it right from wrong. As investors and consumers, we need to figure out a way to push the corporate state into the next phase of development before it sacrifices our democracy for another piece of candy.

Thomas Lizeny and Mari Margil, along with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELD) are attempting to use the law as a way to implement a development program on the corporate state at the local level. While I love what they are doing, I believe it will be ineffective from a legal perspective. No law is going to stop the two year old legal genius from getting to the candy.

It seems logical that the only way to stop a legal structure is with the law, but the corporation is actually very strong legally -- emboldened, as Linzey and Margil state above, by the constitution that appears to be working perfectly. In this vein, and in the vein of Achilles heel finding, the law may not be the best way to change the corporate state. Indeed, it is unlikely that the Achilles heel of a legal structure is the language of the legal structure.

The bad news is that as much as Linzey and Margil try to affect change via the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELD), it is doubtful that they will ever be able to outmaneuver the law. The good news is that the consumer holds all rights to the only thing the corporate state craves, profitability.

What does this mean from a sustainability perspective? It means if the corporation is concerned about the investor, and the investor is concerned with profit, then the consumer is all powerful. If the consumer is only interested in companies that respect local nature rights, then that's what the corporate state must produce. It is up to the consumer to provide the incentive structure for the corporation.


Best Strategy Moving Forward

The main issue for those of us trying to put some reigns on the corporate state (for its own good I might add) is coming up with the best strategy. We need to create a new incentive structure for the corporate state, one that is incentivized by the health and well being of a democracy.  I believe the best strategy is not legal, but consumer driven. In particular, it is based in knowledge and community education.

Ironically, the CELD may be able to affect more change through its ability to educate than in its ability to beat the corporate state with the law. It will be, as Margil alludes to in the retelling of an Ethiopian saying, the corporation that does not see how the water it swims in is changing -- waters that are not swayed by law, but consumer demand. The more the CELD spreads the word, the more educated and knowledgeable the consumer will be and the more the waters will change. Each battle lost by the CELD will lead to the winning of the war.


Next Post: Can the Corporate Citizen Be Charged Like An Ordinary Citizen

What's hard to understand is that corporations, while legally considered a person, are not. The corporation is driven by profit and profit alone. In my next post I will explore a few ways to change the incentive structure including the comparison of corporate and citizen rights. If corporations are people, they should receive all the advantages and disadvantages of citizenship.

Perhaps the best way to get the corporation to argue against citizenship is to start treating it like one.