Imagining post-capitalism

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Generally, this is an invitation to the reading public to imagine a post-capitalist future: what would it look like, how would people do things, and so on.  In it, I consider what the greater meaning of such a project would be, and what the main considerations of the project are, in hopes my readers will take up the gauntlet and continue the thought-project.

(crossposted at Orange to provoke the capitalists)

IMAGINING POST-CAPITALISM

1) The meaning of it all

The information we humans have accumulated as regards the origins of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, leads to an important conclusion: the appearance of human beings in the universe was itself an event of very low probability, and that we ought to be amazed that it happened at all.  OPOL’s most recent diary expresses the gist of this.  There still had to be an enormous number of universes in a multiverse if even one of these universes was to generate the possibility of life (never mind the possibility that WE could come into being).  The Anthropic Principle explains this much: of all of the universes which exist, this one has life, and moreover intelligent life (life capable of understanding an Anthropic Principle), and so this explains a number of important aspects of our universe, especially as regards its physical and chemical attributes.  Things are the way they are because if they were otherwise there would be no “us” to observe them being this way.

And then there is also the vast unlikelihood of the glorious civilizations which our planet’s human life has created.  First off, natural catastrophes (such as the one which wiped out the dinosaurs) cleared the ecological path for the development of mammalian life, and thus ultimately for our existence as a human species.  Kenneth D. Rose’s classic The Beginning of the Age of Mammals is telling in this regard: this book suggests that the only currently-existing mammals which resemble those which existed before the Age of Mammals are the platypuses.  Thus the mammals which appear today can largely be considered to be a byproduct of that extinction, which cleared the ground for the vast array of mammals which existed in the current era, all the way up to the point where human beings started pushing them into extinction.  Moreover, the genetic uniformity of the human race when compared with that of other species is perhaps due to common human ancestry (as well as a rather brutal process of selection which ostensibly did away with the other genetic variants).  The genetic uniformity of the human species stands as one of the many puzzles of how the human species could have developed into what it has become from processes of natural selection: the bizarre character of our intelligence, our opposable thumbs, binocular vision, bipedal gait, extended childhood maturation process, our development of spoken language, all of which support our existence as a species whose survival is owed to our versatility and social complexity rather than to the adaptation to specific ecological niches (as attributed to other species) in the manner loosely described in The Origin of Species.  We should, in short, be amazed we’re here, because (given the patterns of the rest of the universe) we look an awful lot like an anomaly.

Even from the development of human society, formidable odds existed against our developing the technologies we did, and (on a universe-wide level) against our appearance upon a planet with the enormous fossil fuel reserves which currently power our civilization.  It is no wonder that the SETI projects haven’t found anything so far.  Of course, the various SETI projects are best equipped to contact non-human civilizations which have invented (at least) radio, so there’s already a very high standard.  In all likelihood, we aren’t alone, but from here we sure look unique.

That having been said, it sure looks like we are really about to “blow it,” from our pinnacle of high anomaly.  Go back and read OPOL’s diary again: he feels that sense in which we are about to “blow it,” albeit a bit too pessimistically.  We are about to “blow it” because, if we really wanted to, we could solve all of the world’s problems: hunger, unemployment, war, species extinction, resource crisis, and so on, but we don’t.  

In fact, we could deal with all of these problems in a few short years, but we don’t.  And we don’t, because we’re too busy playing the Capitalist Game.  Money, property, that’s what counts — but money and property are merely the most efficient containers of what the anthropologists call “status,” the sense in which (to quote George Orwell’s Animal Farm) all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others.  We will probably all die defending the status system.

So what is the Capitalist Game? In ancient times, before the propaganda about “post-industrial society,” people knew far better than they do now about the dependency of political power upon productive power.  The empires of old (Hellenistic, Roman, Arabic etc.) knew that their power over the world rested upon what the world produced, for without production neither the tax base nor the empire’s coffers could be used to buy anything.  Even without money the peasants at the periphery could be forced to pay “in kind” to contribute to the greater glory of empires.  

The Capitalist Game plays the same game as the empires once did, only far more efficiently.  Its essence as capitalism rests upon a system in which production is (largely) guided by wage labor, and in which the exploitation of that wage labor (through control of the surplus) creates an elite “owning class,” you know, those 793 billionaires and perhaps also those 10 million millionaires who sit atop the global wealth pyramid.  

The Capitalist Game, then, is far more efficient than the Feudalist Game, which directly appropriated peasant production in order to finance a destructive warrior class (“knights”).  This explains its dominance in the current era.  There is, nonetheless, this sense in which the beneficiaries of the Capitalist Game are still an “old regime,” as anthropologist Keith Hart describes it.  Hart’s essay “World society as an old regime,” pp. 22-36 of Shore and Nugent’s Elite Culture: Anthropological Perspectives brings out this sense, especially where he argues the point as such:

Ours is a corrupt ancien regime that must soon find a new democratic revolution, if human intervention in the life of this planet is not to end in catastrophe.  (p. 29)

The system is out of control.  There are plenty of signs of this: from out-of-control abrupt climate change to the pwnership of government by Wall Street to the general collapse before pharmaceutical interests in the matter of “health care reform.”  Witness the most recent statements of the director of the IMF: printing lots of money isn’t enough, we need a new currency to solidify inequality and to preserve the injustice of the current order.

In its daily operation, moreover, the whole system has gotten to the point where most of the important commodities are now produced on speeded-up assembly lines, in which the world outside of the assembly line must be standardized to fit the assembly line itself.  Watch the movie Food, Inc., and then reflect upon this concept.  The system has created a world which must fit the assembly line, and which will be thrown away when it no longer fits the assembly line’s standards

What I’m asking people to do, here, then, is to imagine a post-capitalism, a world in which the structural flaws in the existing system actually “become due,” and the ancien regime collapses.  Now, there will doubtless be considerable loss of life due to the catastrophic nature of the event and the general failure to prepare, but this isn’t what I’m asking you to imagine — we already have plenty of that every day, now, for natural as well as for un-natural events.  I’m asking that we attempt to imagine the (post-capitalist) society which emerges afterward.

My more general suggestion, then, is that we continue the anomaly that the human race has been — but that, hopefully, future generations of the human race will be given the opportunity to take good care of the anomaly that is us, rather than squandering everything on the status games we currently play.

2) this is not a socialist tract

A number of my most recent “critics” (if they dare deserve such a label) have put me on the spot as a supporter of “socialism,” and asked me questions such as, “name a successful socialist nation.”  To pursue such a line of reasoning is to miss the point, the point I’ve been making against the capitalist system since I started writing here over three years ago.  My point is not to appeal to some past model of governance, as if we could improve the future by looking to something that happened centuries ago and by trying to make it permanent.  The old regime does that, now, anyway.  I am not trying to re-start the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China under Mao.  Nor, for that matter, am I interested in recreating the United States of any previous era, or the Roman Empire under Trajan, or the British Empire of the late 19th century.

Nor am I terribly fond of the term “socialism.”  “Socialism” is a word which means rather distinct things to those who use it, but since such people disagree on what “socialism” really is, it’s not such a distinct word after all.  Thus it has the disadvantage of being perfectly clear to its users, but not at all clear to its audiences.  “Socialism,” depending upon who uses the word, could mean the Soviet Union, or the ideal worker-controlled society, or mere government intervention into the economy — and each user would insist that her or his definition is the one and only true use of the word “socialism.”

Instead, then, I use the term “post-capitalism.”  “Post-capitalism” is a vague term (who knows what will happen after capitalism, anyway?), but it’s intentionally vague, so that its contents can be filled with the human imagination.  

The point of this essay, then, is not to enlist everyone in some utopian socialist design.  Rather, it is to invite you to imagine a future in which the capitalist system has been publicly understood as the hindrance to long-term survival that it is, and in which you are building a non-capitalist future for yourself and for yours.  How do you see it?

3) the big fish eat the little ones

There has been significant consolidation throughout capitalist industry in the last four decades of business.  When I was getting a Ph.D. in Communication we learned about how 120 mass media corporations merged into maybe half a dozen giant entities over the past three decades.  Food, Inc., reveals the same process going on with America’s food producers (“farmers” is now too dignified a word).  This isn’t just coincidence – it’s an effect of how the game is played.  The end-point of industry consolidation is a sort of debt-peonage for the public – the customer must pay, because there’s no other business, but since the customer’s claim to real participation in the system has become an unnecessary hindrance to profits, he/she must go into debt peonage to the corporations.  The customer’s habitat (the landscape on which she/ he lives), meanwhile, is turned into a technological assembly-line for the creation of “product,” thus to justify the extension of corporation domination over the whole of the world.

4) technical quick-fixes won’t save us from technical quick-fixes

The most obvious place to look when attempting to save capitalism from its inevitable end is in the power of technical innovation.  Somehow it is imagined that capitalists will use technology wisely, and save the world which they themselves have so very nearly brought to ruin.  Technological innovation is obvious simply because the momentum of the system itself generates technologies – businesses typically attempt to save money on labor costs by investing in labor-saving technologies, and so the momentum of capitalist society is also a technological momentum.

For technology to be portrayed as a believable savior of planet Earth’s ecosystems, the “metabolic rift” between society and nature must be simplified somewhat, and arbitrary assumptions have to be made about the social uses of technology.  Abrupt climate change is the classic example of this.  The defenders of capitalism imagine that the numerous environmental problems besetting planet Earth – from the tragedy of the oceans to the species-extinction rate – can be reduced to one problem, abrupt climate change, and that this one problem can be solved through investment in “alternative energy,” ignoring the distinct possibility that “alternative energy” investment will merely supplement, and not replace, our destructive fossil fuel habits.

Since this method is likely to produce “solutions” of dubious quality, the pursuit of a solution to abrupt climate change then typically proceeds to the plea before governments to “do something” about abrupt climate change.  This is also a problematic way of proceeding.  Governments in this era are, by necessity, dedicated to preservation of “the economy,” which in turn clings to the corporate rate of profit, which will not stay large without constant infusions of cheap energy.

Most of the real solution to ecological problems, then, is in imagining a different social system, in which human efforts are actually directed toward solving ecological problems rather than in creating new problems to replace the old ones.

5) Democracy versus capitalism: you get to vote, but what is it worth?

The historical background for this is revealed in an old book by Ellen Meiksins Wood: Democracy Against Capitalism.  In it, Wood details how the architects of modern democracy pushed economic affairs out of the realm of democratic arbitration.  Sure, we have “capitalist democracy,” here, but the question Wood wishes to foreground is one of what social decisions are amenable to democracy, and which ones are amenable to capitalism.  As Kees van der Pijl pointed out a decade ago, your vote merely selects members of the political class, who will routinely guard the neoliberal state.  Salvation, then, is no longer to be found within the system.

Clearly, then, democratic safeguards will have to preserve something of people-power against the monolithic powers who print the money, pay the cops, and establish the “free-speech zones” outside of which the First Amendment is an irrelevance.  This is where your imaginings of post-capitalism come into play.  Try to make it Supreme Court-proof, at least.

6) “Small business” can be the norm under post-capitalism

One of the more interesting inventions of the “socialists” of the last century (in this case I am talking about Fabian socialists, from the UK) is “social credit.”  Social credit comes as a partial answer to the question: how can we have money without having exploitation?  Money, of course, is a facilitator of exploitation under capitalism: it’s the means by which the rich get richer in a scene where the poor merely have babies.

The best explanation of social credit to my knowledge is that given by Frances Hutchinson, Mary Mellor, and Wendy Olsen in their book The Politics of Money.  Social credit works as follows: the workers, who run the government through direct democracy, also issue the money and back it with their own labors.  Two reasons are given for the issuance of money: 1) consumer credits, which are given to assure everyone in the society a decent living, and 2) producer credits, which compensate new businesses for start-up costs, so that such costs are not passed onto consumers.  The advantage of social credit is that the power behind money stays in the hands of the people as a whole.

Social credit could conceivably be part of a “slowed-down” society in which production was in the hands of communes, small businesses, and other local ventures, in an economy which did not exceed the natural world in its “rate of production.”  Such an economy is suggested in the late Teresa Brennan’s volume Globalization and its Terrors.  Brennan’s utopian ideal is given in a slogan she calls the “Prime Directive”: “We shall not use up nature and humankind at a rate faster than they can replenish themselves and be replenished.”  How this rate is to be calculated is, of course, open to question — but once it is made a part of everyday action, it will be calculated — that’s the important thing to assure.

7) How it will happen

The neoliberals can always point to “democracy” as the pretext for their domination of government in the service of malignant capitalism, the popular will is likely to be thwarted for some time.  In the meantime things are likely to get worse.  

The optimists among us may point to demand placed upon government, that it come up with solutions to the pressing problems facing America today.  The response from government, however, is a mere matter of public relations.  We may be able to scrape off a few crumbs from the table out of this process, hopefully enough for continued subsistence.

The catch, then, is that when real solutions are most needed in America today, government can only offer public relations efforts.  This leaves the obligation of real social change up to the people as a whole.

To a certain extent, certain populations within the world as a whole are trying to “check out” of the capitalist system on a personal level.  We’ve quit the consumer society, we’ve stopped being go-getters at work, we’ve organized to create some autonomy in our lives against the corporations and their all-powerful “free market” which exists as a daily reminder of how worthless we are when made to compete with out-of-control assembly lines.  If we are Americans, moreover, “the market” is now starting to thrown us out.  Our homes are mere real-estate, collapsing in value faster than our mortgage payments, our jobs are more cheaply done elsewhere in the world, our money declining in value, our health insurance unaffordable.

History is not created by theorists, nor by futuristic science-fiction writers, but by living, breathing people.  Thus it is up to you to create the post-capitalism of the future.  The words “revolution” and “utopia” are too vague to capture the spirit in which the real-life future will be created.  The Russian Revolution was a coup d’etat, the American Revolution was a civil war.  Perhaps the breakup of the corporate world in which we live will resemble the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Who is to say?  At any rate, nothing good will come of waiting.  We must make the future.

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  1. I don’t believe in Utopia and agree what is revolution? At what point do people revolt and what form does it take are questions unanswerable as revolutions are particular to the time, circumstances and place in which they occur. I think checking out is a form of revolution. If a system capitalistic, communistic, socialist or even feudal gets to the point where it is so big and short sighted and starts eating itself and creating crises to maintain power, money and resources all for the top, it becomes totally useless to the society that must support it, consent to it and feed it. Ours is doing just that it is becoming totally redundant, to everyone but the wealth creators. Their wealth has stopped producing anything but debt, war, weapons and useless paper.

    The Soviet Union was like us too big and too broke from Empire to function for it’s citizens, too centralized doesn’t seem governable or sustainable, unless it’s really nasty like Stalin. Our country seems to be more and more fractured culturally and regionally. My daydream of post capitalism would be having the country break apart into bio regions. That had sustainable economies based on local goods and resources. It would be green in sense that the corporations would not be around to control the resources like energy and food or even transportation. Trade would occur between the regions which could produce needed goods.  City states maybe? It would be democratic and representational.

    I think our sacred documents, as Russell Banks calls the Constitution and Bill of Rights, are a very enlightened foundation which could be used to regroup our basis of governance. I myself think parliamentary systems are better  structurally then what we have now. the house of lords would be gone.  The worrisome part of this fantasy is that Texas would invade and the South would be a nasty neighbor to the regions that boarding. socialism does not preclude business and I would like a Democratic Socialist or a Socialist Democratic government. I am at heart a anarchist so I would prefer a libertarian bent to governance as far as personal freedoms and centralization goes. But I would economically make the Four Freedoms of FDR key rights. You did ask so there are my thoughts. Before this could happen the too bigs that own the place will have to go, like dinosaurs they will do themselves in hopefully if not, they will still go as Mahatma Gandhi said..

    ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.’

               

  2. so I can fix stuff, wire up things.  I know about toxic stuff, building trades and can build a mean campfire in just about any setting.  I am the child of a sociopath and have developed the psychic sixth sense to finger those people who are going to be a problem in your post modern survivalist community.  I am also good with animals and children, have some knowledge of homeopathic disease cures, weapons, religions, prophecy, ETs, the multi-dimensional universe and I can fly airplanes.  I don’t need much to be happy other than people whom I can tell my story of surviving the American Holocaust to.  What is was like before.  What we could have been.

  3. The first challenge of creating a Post Capitalist world it getting past capitalism–and having a society worth inhabiting. The existing system is unstable and is on an unsustainable path, true, but it has resiliency. The Soviet system was very responsive to those at the very top. That is what allowed Gorbachev and Shevardnadze to virtually bulldog the system down, though the result was not what they wanted. I have trouble seeing how that could be accomplished with the USA.

    As Simon Johnson has noted, the US government has effectively been captured by Wall Street. But those who have captured the government are not a monolithic group. They are competing amongst themselves and Wall Street is only the dominant player; there are many more players and campaign contributions are the coin of the realm. Nor do interest align amongst all of the players, but they manage to vet and put forward at least two acceptable possibilities for the presidency every four or eight years. They chose well this time, as Obama appears to carry Wall Street in his heart, and when presented with an opportunity to greatly weaken them at the start of his presidency, at a time of vulnerability unprecedented since the 1930s, he gave them mouth to mouth resuscitation, glued them back together as best he and his men could and put them back up in the high places from which they had fallen. It is hard to see him doing much different in the future, and the likelihood of electing someone who would be any better in 2012 appear dim at best. Nor would the blow-up of any one firm, say Goldman-Sachs make any real difference.

    So the most likely opportunity will come when the next big down leg in the economy comes, which could be soon or could take a few years, though I expect it to occur at least by 2014, due to the need to refinance debt that desperately needs to be written down but which is being propped up due to the political power and influence of those who hold the debt. That collapse could well be so serious that putting things back together will not be possible. The reality of the true value of the assets on which that debt is based will have to be acknowledged. But those who have captured the government will want the taxpayers to make them whole. The taxpayers cannot do this, as the elites have all the money and own most of the disposable assets. The elites will be undone by their own successes.

    Other forms of social organization could emerge, but so long as the police and military power of the US government is reasonably intact and so long as that government is responding to the perceived needs of that elite, there is unlikely to be the social space for alternate forms of social organization.

    Chris Cook, at European Tribune and other places, has argued for a peer to peer financial organization that could avoid some of the problems of the current system, notably the need for exponential growth to support interest bearing debt. But if this seriously threatens the existing debt based monetary system, laws may be changed to thwart it, just as the SCOTUS just effectively made corporations superior to individuals under the law.

    Another problem is that the vast majority of those in the US who even bother to try to understand how things work have been systematically mis-educated and taught to speak a language in which they cannot even express the problems which afflict the organization of our economy and society. That language is what we call “Mainstream Economics” and it includes even Paul Krugman, though not James Gailbraith, Steve Keen, Michael Hudson, Simon Johnson and others, none of whom occupy any posts of power or authority in the US Government, save perhaps Elizabeth Warren.

    The problem is that most business people and most economists operate from within Mainstream Economics and will try to rebuild any post collapse system in that image. Even those who never took economics have been fed Invisible Hand rhetoric in a form conducive to them imagining that the Invisible Hand is the Left Hand of God.

    Should, despite these obstacles, we manage to be in a position to build a better society on any scale the first desideratum has to be that it has more than one value. Our current system has only one value–Return On Investment, compared to which the value of human life, other than that of the owners of the system, pales in comparison. Any Post Capitalist system has to place social equality and sustainability above return on investment. Investment has to have a social purpose other than enriching the few. But subject to those limitations, return on investment can be a useful tool for optimizing the efficiency of the productive aspects of society.

    Sustainability, social equality and individual empowerment in an environment of controlled competition can lead to a livable society, if we can get there, and we have to re-educate the vast majority of the population in order to do this. The details of how such things can be implemented are mostly beyond me and this response is already too long.

    Thanks for posing the question.  

    • k9disc on March 2, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I think the key to a neo-liberal economic system, aka capitalism status quo, is predictability.

    ROI is all about predictability.

    If you’ve seen a Century of the Self, or have studied Lippman or other Propaganda experts, you know that our consumer culture was massively reinforced via the co-option of the hippies by flexible manufacturing and computer generated archetypes via social profiling.

    That’s when we lost the handle, IMHO…

    Smart and ruthless business people got too much intelligence on the consumer and we became quite predictable in our behaviors.

    I think the key to getting to a post-capitalist system is through culture jamming – moving from a nation of Bots to unpredictable individuals or to fluid groups that are unpredictable in their actions.

    When they cannot predict how the populace will act they will lose power over the people.

    I’ll see if I can add more later.

    Thanks for the thought provoking essay.

    peace

    • k9disc on March 2, 2010 at 6:35 am

    Good: Us

    Following the trend of the WSF. Smaller, localized economies, protectionism, sustainability. A popular veto on ‘Grow or Die’. Massive recycling, efficiency, community. Not some kind of magical utopian dream, just about Us – human beings. Essentially just People Before Profit.

    Bad: Them

    Bad would be neo-fuedalism – global wage slavery where the nation state is subservient to the multinational. There are many dystopic stories about this.

    People living by the grace of the Mega-Corp – to pull a moniker from my archetype dystopic story, ShadowRun – role playing game – interesting storyline… soul sold to teh company store. People are Profit.

    Now: Me

    Today, it’s about me. It’s about You. 7 billion tiny islands. Floating around fending for ourselves, growing as best we can hoping we don’t get ground up in the maw of ‘Profit’ or hoping that some profit will be allocated to us either through hard work or good luck.

    Afraid to challenge the system out of fear that our little island will be crushed if we were to at all poke our heads up and draw attention to ourselves.

    The Choice: Us or Them

    Here’s where it all goes down. The establishment is pushing Them. They understand don’t give a rats ass about how, why or if people live or die. It doesn’t matter. Them is the path we are on. No changes, it’s a dystopic, mega-corp future of wage slavery for the planet. That’s our post capitalist society. Everything will remain pretty much like it is, but all pretense of social policy will be replaced with straight up ROI.

    I’d lay odds on this as our post capitalist future, unfortunately.

    The reason for the above pessimism on the choice is that we seem, as a people – at least the citizens of the 1st world – incapable of understanding “Us”.

    The third world tends to be leading in the ‘Us’ category. The WSF agrarian reforms, quality of life, the welfare state, general Leftist thought.

    But the third world gets no say in global politics and there’s no shortage of Piggies that are willing to walk on 2 feet for ‘Me’ and who promise prosperity to needy people.

    The GWoT also comes into play here as the entire premise of the operation is to create enemy combatants out of people trying to protect themselves and live outside of the “Grow or Die” corporate system or who want to protect their natural resources or right of self determination.

    I’m not sure if the WSF types can weather the storm of Corporate, the 1st World ‘Me’ types, and the GWoT. God I hope they do, but it doesn’t look like a very fair fight.

    When and How

    When and how the choice will be made, I believe, will also impact the global choice that is made.

    For some time, I’ve seen the current ‘head n the sand’ path chosen by the Establishment as a ‘break it now’ plan – Lose Money, Gain Marketshare.

    If it’s broken now, the powers of production, the government, the media, the military, almost all of our culture, belongs to Corporate. They break it now, they hold all the cards.

    If it takes a few decades to break down, then they lose those cards – they lose their power. They will hemorrhage wealth and power and it will be gobbled up by People and popular institutions. We’ll have the opportunity and the obligation to protect ourselves.

    I think if it breaks quickly, as I believe has been the design, that we’re in for a neo-fuedal post capitalistic future. Wage slavery and misery for all. At least in the medium term…

    If it breaks slowly, I think there is plenty of room for some Disaster Socialism – the Us types of the WSF and the third world showing the former 1st worlders how to band together and  protect ourselves from exploitation. We’re all 3rd worlder’s now…

  4. … misallocating cause due to overdeterminism.

    For instance, when we consider all of the civilizations that have suffered ecosystem collapse … Easter Island certainly, perhaps the High Mayans, arguably Mycenaean Greece, etc. … its not clear that any or all were playing the Capitalist game.

    But they were all playing a social game in which “winning” involved acting in infeasible ways, and so their societies turned out to be infeasible.

  5. Most of the evils under which we suffer today are exponentiated by the powers given corporations:

    * In the US they have civil rights equal to those of the citizen

    * They are or can be transnational in character.

    * They are legally immortal.

    * They have limited liability.

    * As practiced in the USA, given profitability, they are and can be run mostly for the benefit of the top executives. Responsibility to shareholders is very difficult to enforce.

    * They serve as the chief vehicles for the domination of national governments by tiny elites of wealth and power.

    Want a simple program that will strike at the heart of the existing system:

    ABOLISH CORPORATIONS AS WE KNOW THEM!

    In their place grant individual specific powers now held by corporations subject to substantial taxation, regulation and limitations:

    * Only individual adult citizens can participate in and contribute to political activities in any state.

    * Compensation is limited by law to a single digit multiple of the wages paid the lowest paid employee.

    * Violation of either of the above provisions results in jail time and a lifetime ban on further corporate involvement of any sort.

    * Corporations are chartered for a fixed length of time and are subject to popular veto by referendum of the renewal of this charter.

    * Corporations are chartered for operation only within the borders of the country wherein they are domiciled absent specific agreements between countries that harmonize the regulations. These agreements can be annulled individually at any time by popular referendum in any individual country.

    * Charter requirements for corporations must require that they operate in the public interest first and only then can they seek profit. Individual citizens and state chartered regulatory bodies have legal standing to sue corporations for damaging the interests of individuals or the general public. Re-internalize what are now “externalities”.

    That is at least a start. Alternatively, we could require people to do business under their own names and at their own risk.

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