February 26, 2011

A Virtuous Circle: Breaking Government Power By Limiting Government’s Pro-Corporate Power

Filed under: Corporatism, Reformism Can't Work, Sovereignty and Constitution — Tags: — Russ @ 5:12 am


Government and corporate power can always be simultaneously eroded or broken by the simple step of limiting government’s ability to undertake pro-corporate actions.
The most obvious example is stripping government’s power to charter corporations. This would abolish corporations completely, and at the same time greatly lessen government power, much of which is laundered through corporations. Just to give one example, how much social and political control is actually enforced through the banks’ tyranny over personal finance, exerted via credit scores and the like? I look in vain in the Constitution for the place of the credit agencies. I think if such dossiers and such a control mechanism are to exist at all, shouldn’t it have to be starkly in the form of an official government credit score? Wouldn’t this greatly clarify the power issue and Constitutional issue in the eyes of many whose sightlines are currently befogged by the power dispersal through the corporate-government nexus?
We recently saw a coalition of civil libertarians on the “left” and “right” vote against extending provisions of the so-called PATRIOT Act. A vote to limit the fraudulent and domineering activities of, for example, credit card purveyors would constitute the exact same kind of vote.
But in describing such limits I don’t mean having government become more proactive in a “regulatory” sense. I always aspire to the same pattern: Limiting corporations by limiting government.
In most cases regarding the banks, this could mean reinstituting the old bucket laws, and beyond that the downright retro concept of intra vires. These are simply restraints on the kinds of contracts which government recognizes as valid and will enforce. Prior to the corporatist coup d’etat which began in earnest during the Civil War, one of the common limits on corporate activity was the way their charters strictly delimited their recognized range of activities. The law would refuse to recognize as a contract any corporate action which exceeded those limits.
Nothing would be simpler for reforming CDS than to literally outlaw them, declare them to be unenforceable non-contracts. This basic principle can be extended to many categories and entities. This solution is conceptually elegant and practically minimalist. In my mind these contracts already cease to exist. All we need is a critical mass of minds to similarly nullify them.
The radical extension of government’s contract power as well as the radical extension of its initial arrogation in empowering corporations in the first place are expressions of Big Government at its most aggressive. How ironic that it’s the self-named “libertarians” who have been the most fervent ideologues of this radical, aggressive Big Government, and all these aggressive interferences in the market. (There’s no such thing as a “free” market, but there are certainly more or less free markets. A market where government interferes to create corporations is a market greatly distorted by Big Government action.)
So there’s a basic principle and practical outline for policy advocacy.
1. Limit corporations by limiting government, and limit government by limiting corporations.
2. The most simple and far-reaching solution: Abolish the government power to create corporations in the first place.
3. Short of that, the basic concept is to limit the contract recognition and enforcement power to the kinds and magnitudes of contracts which are in the public interest.


  1. My knowledge of the ways corporations work is pretty limited; however, Ted Nace’s 2003 book ‘Gangs of America_The rise of corporate power and the disabling of democracy’ gives a fairly good/well written summary of the history and evolution of these corruption-plagued institutions.

    While I would suppose that many American non-billionaires might empathize with the sentiments expressed in your ideas, it is unclear how the current or other such proposal(s) might be expedited in the real world. Between lethargy/ignorance on the part of the majority population, attitudes of tolerance/acceptance on the part of the workers who attempt to support families/dependents, a preponderance of cunning and greed guiding the wealthy criminals in both government and private sectors, ‘owned’/bought-out members of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the current government (not to mention a non-functioning MSM), how, exactly, would you suggest one proceed?

    The availability of modern methods of communication, as well as a variety of other considerations, contributed to the phenomena occurring in the Middle East and Northern Africa. However, which of the various protests might have been avoided had one or more of the involved despots been a benevolent(I don’t have a better definition) dictator? Who knows, as the concept of benevolence does not come with the training/culture/personailty of potential despots.

    Comment by William Wilson — February 26, 2011 @ 6:27 am

    • I agree, it’s very difficult to change the inertia of a large mass who are acculturated to this and/or feel that their first priority has to be to defend the diminishing little they have which is still tied to the system (credit score, pension, anything like that), even as they sense or even fully understand that the kleptocracy is going to take those things as well.

      I don’t know what if anything we can do to bring a big change right at this moment. I think the most likely path is to gradually spread awareness, raise consciousness, attract committed activists, build a movement. The basic activities of this movement are the things I always talk about – relocalizing our polities and economies. We should keep working to do as much of this as we can under these harsh conditions, while we also broadcast a message and a platform.

      The message is how we must reject and resist kleptocracy and establish democracy. How we must do these for ourselves, from the soil up.

      The platform is all the relocalization proposals, all the ideas on how to purge rents from our lives (e.g. Move Your Money) all the resistance ideas, the call to reject taxes, refuse to buy Stamps, and jubilate debt, all the affirmative proposals (including the best reform proposals, even if we regard those as actually impossible, we still have to be inclusive in the messaging), and the call for a Constitutional Convention.

      (Here’s a draft for a political program and strategy:

      https://attempter.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/the-bridge/ )

      All of this can be cast in the light of America’s long-neglected revolutionary heritage, which we must now redeem.

      And once such a movement is a going concern, it can organize as the skeleton of a new America, ready to be fleshed out as the kleptocratic disaster proceeds and more and more people search for an alternative. The goal would be to reach critical mass, but I don’t know precisely what will constitute such a mass. The great moment may come as a surprise to all of us.

      This year I plan to tie all this together into one package.

      Comment by Russ — February 26, 2011 @ 7:24 am

  2. Though i sympathize with all of the above thoughts, you’ll soon realize that we as a species have thoughtlessly designed and are now facing our own extinction and are irretrivably on the downward trend of a diminishing energy curve.

    We are in a bottleneck situation which will cause the GREAT reduction in the coming years of our species (as well as many others that we depend on for our survival) precisely because our species wouldn’t/didn’t learn the lessons of cooperation, moderation, conservation, and stewardship that is necessary to keep a civilization floating on a ball in space from going extinct through all the wrong ways we live.

    Our greed, arrogance, depravity, cleverness, short-term thinking, wrong-headed global paradigm, bone-headed ignorant and criminally uninformed “leadership,” our rapaciously aggressive attitudes toward life itself; the “excuses” go on to each of our faults, no matter how miniscule, and have all combined to lead us off a cliff.

    Then there are the systemic problems: poor education and “health care” despite all the money; a bloated and wasteful military overabundance at the expense of a simple-living people; lack of investment in infrastructure (or investing in unsustainable infrastructure) and energy when it was appropriate and this could all have been avoided or greatly delayed; missing completely or denying all the environmental degradation going on until it was too late (now the climate is taking over and the ability to grow enough food will be severely curtailed) farming practices; the very existence of ideas called “corporations” as anything but evil; a “captured” or “gamed,” disfunctioning, completely corrupted government at all levels; and on and on through our own laziness, cowardice, complicity in the whole game, whether consciously or not – the effect is the same – we’ve bought our tickets and are now on the one way train to oblivion.

    In short, nice try but too late.

    Comment by Tom — February 26, 2011 @ 9:41 am

    • Tom, that sums up what we’re up against. But I have a more affirmative view of the possibilities. The system’s own insanity and fragility are ripe to fall victim to judo.

      In the end, we have no choice but to choose. We can choose to submit, or we can choose to fight.

      Comment by Russ — February 26, 2011 @ 10:18 am

      • Are you sure of that collapse Rus?

        This might be very disturbing to most, but do yourselves a favor and stick with it for 15 minutes If you cannot do that, move up to minute 11 and watch from there. It will perfectly explain the people who take jobs with the TSA & DHS.


        Comment by Paul Repstock — February 26, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

      • I haven’t yet seen the video, but I can imagine they’re not among the finer exemplars of citizenship and humanity.

        Comment by Russ — February 27, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  3. Good Afternoon Attempter,

    Have you thought of the repercussions of this strategy on multinational corporations? Does it mean a denial on their ability to conduct business in a region unless they comply with the rules?

    With a simple understanding of game theory, what we see is an incentive for any region adopting this strategy to defect in order to attract more capital (which is what we have been seeing). If I understand you correctly, people should opt of of the globalized system and take a hit in living standard to reclaim land and capital locally before the pyramid we live in gets any thinner.

    Would your proposals be for the federal level or the state level or even the municipal level? Have you thought about which avenues of political action would be most effective at different stages of the coming collapse?

    Comment by Transcent — February 27, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

    • Hi Transcent,

      I don’t have all the details thought out about how this would work with whatever vestigial globalism there still was, but at any rate the non-recognition of limited liability and of anything affected by bucket laws would still apply.

      You understand me correctly about driving out neoliberalism, although I doubt that would end up meaning a lower living standard. On the contrary, once we reclaimed land and capital we’d be giving ourselves the best chance to maximize our prosperity going forward.

      Energy descent will take place anyway, and we can experience it as either free autonomous workers on our own land, or as slaves.

      I’m pretty sure the latter would involve the lower living standard, and that’s the path we’re on now.

      Although I advocate that we have platforms for all those levels, I think the federal level is a lost cause as far as investing real time and resources. I want a Constitutional Convention movement dedicated to truly federalizing power, that is decntralizing it and lowering its center of gravity.

      Most of the real work should be devoted to autonomous political and economic relocalization, doing so in concert with local/regional government, and where possible trying to take over those governments.

      How much effort is worthwhile at the in-between state level will, I suppose, vary by the state.

      The link I mentioned in the comment above goes into it in some more detail, as far as the political advocacy.

      Comment by Russ — February 27, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

  4. The MSM doesn’t seem to be giving this much coverage, but as far as I can tell, the protest in Wisconsin appears to be gathering steam, with crowds estimated at over 100,000, people chanting “Tax the rich”, speakers attacking Wall Street and billionaires and one speaker who said let this be “the spark that lights the prairie fire”.


    Comment by Frank Lavarre — February 27, 2011 @ 7:54 pm

  5. Russ/All,

    I watched the Wisconsin protests on ustream and my only complaint is that some of the speakers were using a middle class “let’s save the American dream” kind of rhetoric. I wish they would drop that part, and become a lot more angry and confrontational (but still non-violent) and make class warfare the focus instead. But, on the other hand, at least this is a start, and considering it has to start somewhere, this is a lot better than nothing.

    In other news, in case you haven’t seen it yet:

    from the Guardian: “Ireland’s most dominant political party, Fianna Fáil, is on the road to a historic and devastating defeat in the republic’s general election…..The scale of Fianna Fáil’s losses is so great that a number of high-profile ministers, including finance minister Brian Lenihan, who negotiated the bailout, are in danger of losing their seats.


    Comment by Frank Lavarre — February 28, 2011 @ 12:28 am

    • Thanks, Frank. I haven’t closely followed Ireland in recent weeks, but it looks like they have our problem – they can dump the existing batch of criminals but can only vote in another batch of the same.

      The last I heard, even in Iceland all they were able to do after driving out one government was get another which still wants to hand the country over to the banks.

      Is anybody, anywhere, ever going to get it through their thick skulls that all elites are criminals, and that therefore “representative” government is a proven fraud?

      I’m not concerned about the middle class rhetoric, as long as they’re fighting. That signifies that they’re coming to understand (very slowly) how all that rhetoric was a lie.

      Some of my own message is an attempt to acknowledge the continuing force of all that propaganda while trying to wean people off of it.

      I try to say, “The American Dream propaganda conjured for you an ideal you found very attractive. But events are now proving that the banks and the government were always lying to you about that. We can still have prosperous, wonderful lives, but to do that, we need to be willing to break free of the propaganda and gamble that what little we still have can be turned into so much more. Otherwise we’ll definitely lose it all.”

      Comment by Russ — February 28, 2011 @ 5:12 am

      • Russ,

        On the one hand, obviously it would be better if more people understood that all elites are criminals, and that the entire system (both here and in Ireland) is corrupted beyond hope of reform and needs to be overthrown.

        But, on the other hand, you’re right: we have to be realistic and understand that, unlike people of the Middle East, Americans, Irish, Westerners in general, are not yet ready for revolution. In the meantime, and until people are ready to overthrow neoliberal capitalism, it’s probably best to keep appealing to middle class aspirations, to keep pointing out how elites are destroying the middle class, etc. At least most Americans get this part, they just don’t see any alternative, and so they don’t take it far enough.

        What the elites would like us to do, of course, is to give up before we even start. To say everything is hopeless and to keep listening to them for guidance. Each time someone gives up or gives in to disillusionment, it’s another victory for the criminals. Which is why we have to keep fighting.

        The French have a saying, “Il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte” (it’s only the first step that counts).

        And isn’t the first step always that we have to become revolutionary in the first place? Not to spend time analyzing the odds of success or failure before we even begin, like this is some kind of career choice. In the beginning the odds are always against you, if they weren’t there would be no need for revolution. But that has absolutely nothing to do with it, it seems to me that people are confusing two different things here.

        The first step has to be for people to become revolutionary; this always begins with an idea and involves learning and mental preparation. But without taking this step, nothing will ever happen.

        Sorry for the rant, you understand this, Russ, but a lot of people don’t seem to.

        “Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will”.

        Anyway, thanks for all you’re doing, Russ, and please keep up the good work.

        Comment by Frank Lavarre — February 28, 2011 @ 8:17 am

      • You’re welcome, Frank, and thanks.

        Lately I’ve been becoming more intellectually optimistic as well.

        Comment by Russ — February 28, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  6. […] of two earlier posts, the first on the identity of corporations and government, the other on how to limit government and corporate assaults by limiting the government’s pro-corporate po…:   Let’s get rid of ALL government regulation. That means all government assaults on our rights […]

    Pingback by Corporations Are Extensions of Government « Volatility — March 18, 2011 @ 3:52 am

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