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Corporate Body Snatchers vs Democratic Socialism

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CONSIDER THIS--There is a certain irony to the fact that a word like “socialism” has been historically vilified. It’s been pounded into the American psyche that socialism is an alien deprivation of an individual's rights. But one only need to look at the history of how corporations were originally organized here and elsewhere to realize why it’s not democratic socialism that has hijacked the American body politic. 

You could argue that democratic “socialist” programs have actually saved free enterprise capitalism in America and around the world by cleaning up the cyclical ravages caused by unrestrained corporate greed. Consider events like the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and the Great Depression in the 30’s all the way to the more recent crashes due to the credit default swap, sub-prime crisis and Euro-Zone financial fiascos. 

To understand why corporations -- and not democratic socialism -- are so toxic to the American economy and body politic, one only need examine the relatively recent history of the corporation and its structure. Most Americans might be surprised to learn that corporations once existed at the will of the sovereign and could have their charters revoked at will by the government if they crossed certain legal lines. This served to keep their enormous power in check throughout the first part of the 19th century. 

This came to an end with the advent of “corporate personhood” which began with a justifiable motivation: to get people to invest in corporations and have their liability limited to the amount of their investment. Otherwise, nobody would have invested in entities that opened them up to unlimited liability. Some entity had to be held liable for wrongdoing under the law in order to give those hurt by corporations a remedy. 

But this “corporate personhood” was never anticipated as giving these entities the ability they now have to act as legal fictional “humans” that can exercise control over the political process by infusing the system with huge amounts of money. This has turned things around in politics 180 degrees. The no-longer sovereign government now exists at the will of the Corporation. 

So now, irrespective of whether Democrats or Republicans are in the White House and Congress, a corporate political party line, reminiscent of the old Communist Soviet Union, is blindly followed by the vast majority of American politicians. Rather than find themselves out a job, they rubber stamp a corporate agenda that includes the funding of endless trillion dollar wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan where corporate interests have obscenely profited. Or, they find themselves supporting a Trans-Pacific Partnership that further erodes the interests of the American worker in favor of corporations that pledge allegiance to whatever country gives them the best deal. 

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A democratic socialist alternative to this corporate agenda has already shown its efficacy. One only need to look at federal "socialist" programs like Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or the building of Hoover Dam to see how such projects, using a form of democratic socialism, infused money into a decimated economy in order to jump start the moribund capitalist system. 

What seems clear both then or now is that the corporate dominated system is incapable of getting itself out of periodic depressions that corporate interests continue to create. Laissez-faire capitalist excesses continue to be allowed to usurp any reasonable government control or regulation – and all at our expense. 

The pendulum has swung so far to the right that no-brainer ideas such as single-payer healthcare, which would offer superior healthcare to all citizens at a fraction of the cost, is a non-starter. And there’s no rational justification as to why this is the case. 

Given that the raison d'etre of corporations is to maximize profit, no matter what the cost, why should we be surprised? What is amazing is how these robber barons continue to get away with pilfering the public piggy bank, all the while encouraging the public to misdirect its angst toward “godless-commie-pinko-alien democratic socialists” who, they imagine, were probably also responsible for origin sin.

 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He’s a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

  

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 91

Pub: Nov 10, 2015

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