March 3, 2013

Bowman vs. Monsanto; Activist and Passive Corporatism, vs. Anti-Corporatism


There’s a lot of muddled talk about the Citizens United decision. In this post I’m not going to rehash the facts about the decision itself (in a nutshell: it’s further evidence that “campaign finance” reformism cannot work within a system which is indelibly dominated by finance, which should have always been common sense; by now to still call for it is intentional misdirection), but to reprise my distinction of judicial activist corporatism vs. more passive corporatism.
One of the most frequent muddlings of Citizens United is to call it a “5-4” decision, and even to refer to the “five” bad guys. But in fact CU was a 9-0 pro-corporatist decision. The four so-called “dissenters” objected only on narrow technical grounds. None of them objected on the grounds that there’s no such thing as corporate rights, or corporate personhood, let alone questioned whether formally enshrined corporations should exist at all. But these are the basic questions which have to be asked if one is to call corporatism as such into question. To not ask them is automatically to be pro-corporatist.
As for those technical grounds which distinguish passive from judicial activist corporatists, it’s only a matter of “the proper procedure”, for example if the legislature passed a law. Now, whether or not corporations should exist and whether or not they have a right to speech do not in fact have anything to do with “the law”. On the contrary, they’re fundamental questions of constitution, sovereignty, and of what kind of society people want to live in. But passive corporatists don’t care about such fundamental questions, since they’re content to inertially go with what the existing power distribution calls normative. They merely assuage their residual “conscience” by wanting the “proper forms” to be followed. (This process mentality is characteristic of liberals as a whole, though with Obama’s normalization of fascistically aggressive corporatism, liberals have been throwing down the mask and increasingly advocating direct might-makes-right aggression themselves.)
In the case of CU, the legislature had in fact passed a law which purported to reform campaign finance. This was the occasion for the passives to split from the activists. But absent such a law, it would never have occurred to any of them to put any limits on corporate speech.
This brings us to Bowman vs. Monsanto. Obviously no sane person expects Bowman to win, but I guess the idea was to at least get a discussion of seed patenting going. I haven’t seen any such discussion; on the contrary the few corporate media pieces I read were pro-Monsanto hatchet jobs which carefully steered clear of discussing any philosophical question at all (should patents on life exist? should patents exist at all?), and “discussed” even the narrow technical argument only in terms of ridicule. (This is yet further evidence that the tactic of compromising in order to “get one’s issue into the public discussion” doesn’t work. Not that Bowman’s action has this nature. He’s directly challenging Monsanto, and isn’t compromising anything himself. But we often see people proposing to compromise their projects and alleged principles in order to get this alleged discussion going. This is always the fatal step toward corruption, and usually indicates a desire to sell out.)
The corporate media coverage gives a clue to what kind of decision we can expect from the court. I won’t be surprised to see a 9-0 decision for Monsanto. The judicial activists are of course in the bag. As for the passive corporatists, the only possible hook they could hang their process hat would be “patent exhaustion”. But to apply that here would require them to go against the whole trend of the intellectual property regime. While this doctrine has been grandfathered in for some kinds of products, it’s explicitly ruled out for any new kind of product, especially GMO seeds. I don’t expect any passive corporatist to go against this trend. On the contrary, from them we can expect invitations to Congress to pass a law “clarifying” this.
More importantly, intellectual property is a pivotal foundation of corporate feudalism. “Campaign finance” offers some wiggle room, since the “elections” are fraudulent anyway. But the system depends upon the basic structural integrity of the IP regime. So even a passive corporatist will be loath to issue any ruling which could question or limit the foundation. (Compare how the FDA will sometimes ban specific additives, but went all in on GMOs as a genre from day one, and has never for a second questioned a single specific GMO. It’s because other kinds of additives can be economically isolated and are expendable, but the GMO genre is necessary for corporatism as such to keep expanding.)
(“On the merits”, of course, there’s no question whatsoever. The farmer exploited a “loophole” of functional negligence, but which has no “legal” basis. Monsanto has him dead to rights – he violated their patent. So if you believe in “intellectual property” at all, if you believe Monsanto’s patents have any legitimacy, then your decision is made for you.)
Meanwhile the duty of citizens is to reject the narrow process “discussion” and ruling and ask among themselves the basic questions – should intellectual property exist at all? Does it ever benefit anyone but the most powerful corporations? Would everyone else be much better off without it? And in particular, is not the patenting of life itself by far the worst in its effects? Isn’t it heading toward our literal enslavement? Is it not a moral abomination? Shouldn’t we abolish it completely?
Why do I write about the lawless court at all? To explain further why we should accord it no legitimacy, and see it as nothing but an alien, tyrannical imposition. The court is not part of human society, nor part of the constitutional convention which is already beginning, which shall finally ask and answer the fundamental questions confronting humanity today. As for the corporate state and its media, NGO, and academic appendages, they’re all in. They’ve embarked upon a war of total destruction, and they must achieve total victory or total defeat.



  1. Russ, you wrote:

    “nor part of the constitutional convention which is already beginning”

    Could you elaborate on the CC and where it has commenced and under whose auspices?

    Comment by eldorado62 — March 3, 2013 @ 8:38 am

    • That was my way of describing the people around the world who are increasingly asking the fundamental questions and answering them against corporatism. (So far mostly outside North America.) The real constitution isn’t a piece of paper but, in the deepest sense, the ongoing practice of democracy, such as it is these days. I want to separate the concept and term from the grotesque facade put up by the system.

      I’d love to see more communities formally convene permanent democracy councils, in whatever form, for example grassroots food policy councils, and use these to proclaim community constitutional principles.


      I’m thinking about using the modest community platform I have to ask interested people to form a food policy council with me. I’m still thinking through the particulars.

      How’s the Talking Farm going?

      Comment by Russ — March 3, 2013 @ 10:41 am

  2. […] and illegal procedures.   [*This legislative rider is the kind of thing which will satisfy the passive corporatists in the judicial branch. There's almost no chance of courts finding the rider itself unconstitutional, since no judges I'm […]

    Pingback by Two-For-One Sale (Deficit Terrorism and the Monsanto Protection Act) | Volatility — April 6, 2013 @ 6:20 am

  3. […] new to say right now about the “supreme” court’s anointment of Monsanto, but I’ll refer to what I already said.   One thing which occurs to me, as I read some stuff on this and see the confusion of liberals and […]

    Pingback by The Monsanto Court and Corporatism | Volatility — May 14, 2013 @ 8:51 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: