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The Transitional Role of Corporations


[Editor’s Note: Originally written in reply to several of the comments following this weblog post on StopMeBeforeIVoteAgain.org.]

Since we are probably stuck with corps for the time being we should pursue whatever reformist measures it is efficient to pursue in order to lessen the harm they do to their various victims. However as to what those reforms should be, the ability to sue individual agents is probably not so important nor effective. Fighting battles in court ends up being a major waste of time and money and large companies have much better legal resources than individuals or even governments (as in the case where the province of Ontario was sued by insurance companies for attempting to create single payer auto insurance in the 90s). Even at the reformist level, the most beneficial acts are those that create structural changes that make common abuses more difficult or impossible.

Can corps be transformed into a benevolent form, as many progressives suggest? I think so only in the since a concentration camp can be transformed into a daycare center. They were created for a malignant purpose and would not exists in any meaningful sense in a decent society.* But hooray for reforms in the mean time!

*Incidentally, I don’t think hypocritically disguising class warfare as something else, as many on the left feel we should do, is actually a good idea. Sure, we can keep calling our workers collective or whatever a just arrangement turns out to be a corporation if we want to. But who are we trying to deceive? The managers and the owners–please, they’ll know soon enough when their power is being taken away? Ourselves–if our self-respect is so low we feel we can’t state openly what we want the prospect for any radical transformation seems in serious doubt? But if all we do is stick to reforms with no significant changes in sight we lay down ahead of us an eternity of futile struggle–in that case, what’s the point; suicide would seem a nobler option?

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