We've Created a Frankenstein Monster
Steve Cyester wrote this in 1996:
It has all the "rights" of human beings, but few of the limitations. It has the world's resources at its disposal, and is unencumbered by borders, states, or nations. Granted immortality by its creators, it amasses wealth and power beyond the capabilities of human beings. It corrupts schools, governments, and imposes its will throughout our society. It controls most of our access to food, housing, energy, and other important resources. By manipulating the news in all forms of media, it determines what is the "truth" in the eyes of most people. If we have the audacity to fight back against its tyranny, we find ourselves the object of harassment, lawsuits, firings and sometimes even murder.
Are we speaking of a malevolent God of some sort? In a sense, we are. We are describing the corporation. How have we allowed our own creation to turn into a
Frankenstein with such immense power over our world?
In the early days of our country, corporations were created to perform tasks that might not be done otherwise. Building toll bridges or roads was a typical purpose for which people allowed a corporation to exist. Their existence was authorized by a charter, a license to operate which could be revoked at any time
if the corporation caused harm to the people. This country's founders were well aware of the potential threats of corporations. Thomas Jefferson spoke of the need "to crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Corporations were kept under tight citizen control. In almost all states, these restrictions applied:
-- Corporations' activities were strictly limited to the purpose for which they were created.
-- Charters were granted for a limited time, after which the corporation's charter would expire unless it was decided that the people's interests would be serve to extend it.
-- Corporations were explicitly chartered to serve the public interest. Profit for shareholders was a secondary consideration.
-- Corporations could be terminated if they engaged in activities not specifically permitted in their charters or if they were considered not to be serving society's interests.
-- Charters did not prevent owners or managers from being prosecuted for criminal acts.
-- Corporations were prohibited from making any political or "charitable" contributions.
-- Corporations could not own stock in other corporations, and could not own any property not essential to their task.
Most of this important history is unmentioned today, and our children go through school without ever questioning corporate-dominated society. Through gradual corruption of our government and our courts, corporations have abandoned their proper role as tools for improving the lives of real people. So thoroughly
have our laws been perverted that corporations are now considered "natural persons" in our courts, and given "Bill of Rights" protections. Thus, our courts now permit exactly what the Bill of Rights was created to prevent: domination of public thought, discussion and policy. Corporations corrupt our schools, media, and government, and we know it! However, we continue to let power concentrate in the hands of corporations, even while their impacts become increasingly destructive to our freedom and prosperity.
Every day, there are people around the world fighting oppression of women, the poor and minorities. Others struggle to stop environmental destruction or the corruption of their governments. All these problems, and more, have roots in uncontrolled corporate power. We must attack at the roots to halt corporate corruption, and to put corporations back in their rightful place as servants, not masters of the people. In almost every state, corporate charters give citizens
the right to fight back against corporations that are harming them. It is up to us to re-educate ourselves, enforce these laws, and take further action to
regain control from the corporate Frankenstein.