“The state calls its own violence law, & that of the individual, crime.”- Max Stirner
Jack was about to sit down with his tray from the Fort Jenna cafeteria, when he saw Larry and two of his friends hailing him to their table. He hesitated for a moment. Blackwaters did not sit with workers let alone invite them to their table. There was no express rule as such, just a strong custom. Larry seemed rather insistent, though, so Jack took his tray to their table.
Larry clapped Jack on the back as he sat. “Good of you to join us DJ.”
“Yeah. Well, thanks.” Jack replied, congenially. But the hair on the back of his neck was standing on end. He could not fathom why Larry had called him to the table, but he was sure it was not to keep him company. The other men had more or less finished their meal, and from the looks of the remains, some time ago. Had they been waiting for him when they called him over? Jack began to wolf down the meatless goulash that was the day’s fare.
“Ya should have joined us all the way, kid.” Larry said rather off-handedly
Jack froze with a spoonful of goulash half way to his mouth.
When Jack said nothing Larry turned to Jack and said, “Pity. I was startin’ to like ya.”
Jack made a move to dart backwards, but it was already too late. The two men with Larry seized his arms.
“Now where the hell do you think you’re going?” one of them said through clenched teeth.
Jack took aim and head butted the man in the nose. The man’s hand went momentarily lax and Jack wrested free his right hand just as everything went black and a blow hit his midsection.
A sack had come down over his head. He had been so busy dealing with Larry’s buddies, he had completely forgotten Larry. His right hand flew up to remove the bag blinding him, but it was just as quickly restrained. He pinned his weight against his restrained arms and arched his back intending to kick out with his feet but another blow caught him in the ribs and he exhaled violently instead. For a moment his muscles refused to obey him. He went limp as he swam inside the darkness of the sack covering his head. He was being carried somewhere and his feet were only making a parody of walking in that right direction.
They frog marched him up steps and he recognized the hollow ring of boards on a porch. They were taking him back inside the fort mansion. Then he was weaving through hallways and taken down steps. Jack had a brief moment of de-ja-vu. They were taking him back to the interrogation room.
They tied him to a chair. Only then was the sack removed from his head. Jack blinked in the artificial brightness but then his eyes adjusted to see Larry leaning forward at eye level in front of him. Another Blackwater was to his left and to his right was Mr. Teeth.
“Ya failed the test, DJ.” Larry said. “Ya should a known better than to do that. I just can’t believe ya chose those dirty desert rats over your own.” Larry straightened and backhanded Jack’s right cheek.
“Larry. Is that any way to treat our guest?” Mr. Teeth now came to the forefront and stood before Jack. The man’s feminine odor began to turn Jack’s already tense stomach. “We haven’t even given him a chance to explain himself. Perhaps this is all some kind of misunderstanding.”
Jack leaned forward and lost the dinner he had eaten in such a hurry. Mr. Teeth jumped backwards with a look of disgust. “Stan, get me a towel.” He barked at the other Blackwater. The Blackwater left the room and Mr. Teeth recovered his composure.
“DJ,” Mr. Teeth said in a smooth and appealing voice as though they were old friends, “My name is Rodney.” he gestured to the four walls of the room, “My family owns this fort and they sent me to find out why you came back to us. You could have stayed with your friends, and we never would have known. What made you come back to us, DJ? Did they send you here? Why? Why have you betrayed your own people?” Mr. Teeth/Rodney now moved to the side of Jack’s chair and crouched down so he could look imploringly into Jack’s face. “Now we have no choice, you see. We have to find out what you know. We need to know where your friends are hiding and what they are up to out there in the desert.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Jack lied.
Rodney sighed and stepped aside. By now the other Blackwater had returned with the towel which was tossed at Jack’s feet to cover his mess. Larry stepped forward again. Jack looked at him and noticed just how big this man really was. And he smelled anything but feminine. He raised his arm and struck Jack with the full force of his fist in Jack’s left cheek. Jack’s head snapped to the right. Jack had been in fights before, but he had always been a moving target. When he did get punched it was never the full measure of what a man could give. Now tied to a chair and defenseless, Jack’s head felt like it would explode. His eyesight went white for a moment and his head lolled. When he came around again, he was looking down in his lap where blood from his lips and nose pooled.
“Where are they?” Rodney shouted.
“I don’t know.” Jack murmured and braced himself again. Again a full blow to the face. This time to the right cheek. Blood splattered the wall to Jack’s left and he felt something like a cherry pit in his mouth. He spit it out and realized it was one of his remaining teeth. Well there go my looks. He thought disjointedly.
The question was repeated and Jack stopped answering all together but the blows did not stop until he was well past the capacity to answer. Jack was not aware of it when they removed him from his chair and dragged him from the room.
Concepts Behind the Fiction
1. We the “People”
Was there ever a domination that did not appear natural to those who possess it?–John Stuart Mill
Man creating a brainchild that is more powerful than himself, which then rages out of control and ends up enslaving man is a common theme in science fiction. Who knew that such a thing would actually happen in our lifetimes? And that it would not be a machine but something as frail as a piece of paper?
We used to be subjects of Kings and Queens. We used to believe that these rulers were appointed by God to lord over us. We were the sovereign’s slaves. Then men came who did not believe in the divine power of kings. Men like Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine.
But some of the men who led us to freedom from divine authority owned slaves of a different sort. When they talk about “We the People…” they were talking about white, male, property owners only. In other words, an elite minority. Most of us have never actually been freed.
So maybe it is no wonder that the main population of the US does not have equal rights when compared to corporations. Maybe it is no surprise that we have allowed corporations to usurp our power. Most of us never actually had that power in the first place. Corporation have become our new Lords by Constitutional right instead of divine right.
If you are a corporation, you must be given due process under the law. Yet if you are a human person accused of terrorism under the Patriot Act, you can be denied due process.
If you are a corporation, you can buy as much political advertising as you want under the First Amendment. But if you are a labor leader you can not discuss unionization on company grounds during work time. If you are an employee you can be told what you can and can not say or can and can not wear on their property. In fact if you work for some food and beverage corporations you can be fired for being seen drinking/eating the competitor’s brand even when you are not working or on their property. People have been fired for objectionable material on their Facebook sites. Even religious material on such sites. Your physical body and your mind in that respect are in essence “owned”.
If you are a corporation, no law can treat you differently than any other person in the United States. That means that Pepsi can not be made to pay more for the water it puts in it’s product and resells to people than the average person pays to just drink the water from the tap. And a municipality must give Pepsi as much water as it wants if they do not limit water to any one else. Yet you, as a citizen, do not have the right to protect your own well water from the contamination of gas extraction materials being dumped in the ground to extract natural gas (fracking
If you use certain substances not sanctified by our government, you can be placed in jail even though those substances hurt no one but yourself. While you are there it is likely that a corporation will be handsomely paid to keep and feed you. That corporation may sell you to work for free, like a slave, for another corporation. Meanwhile, the manufacturer of a certain herbicide that has been linked to cancer not only goes free but profits from its sale. Incidentally the same manufacturer also manufactures and profits from a commonly used cancer drug.
2. A Brief History of the Corporation
Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.–Jay Edwards and Molly Morgan
The founders or our nation saw the world in terms of duties and rights. People have rights just by being born. They give some of those rights to government for the convenience of doing some things together like defending the country or building roads. In return the government has certain duties to the people. Corporations, at the beginning, fell on the duty side of this line. How did they get to the “having rights” side of this line??
The American Revolutionary had had quite enough of British corporations at the time of the Revolution. The corporation was a way for King George to delegate power to rich Brits in order to extract the wealth of the colonies for England. (Kind of like Oil companies are to extract the wealth of Iraq for the US.) The British corporations had their own militias, made their own laws, and enforced those laws. It was the King’s corporations that the men of the Revolution were throwing off their backs. So they did not really trust corporations.
Yet they needed them. So they made sure that the corporation was the servant of man and well under his control.
A corporation in law is just what the incorporation act makes it. It is the creature of the law and may be molded to any shape or for any purpose that the Legislature may deem most conducive to the common good.–Pennsylvania Legislature 1834
In those days the rules for corporations were very different. They:
*could not do anything that was outside of the purpose for which they were created.
*needed to be reviewed and renewed every 10-30 years or they ceased to exist.
*could only charge what the legislature allowed them to charge for their products.
*could not contribute to political candidates, campaigns, or charitable institutions.
*were completely open to the public. Every scrap of paper, meeting, tax return could be accessed by the public.
*they could not own land unless it was granted by the legislature in order to carry out their designated purpose.
*could not own another corporation.
*were held personally responsible for their debts and any harm that they created. That is the directors and stockholders alike had their own money on the line.
So what happened? The Constitution happened. Most people do not realize several things about the Constitution. First it wasn’t first. The first document that governed our nation was the Article of Confederacy (1781-1789).
This document was loosely
modeled after the Iroquois people
, a democratic, anarchist, matriarchy with a gift economy and and Earth-centered, pagan religion. No, I’m not kidding. The Iroquois nation has the longest running known democracy on the planet. They might know a thing or two about democracy and it was a good choice as a model. The problem was that the men who were actually in charge wanted to stay in charge. They really did not want a complete democracy. And certainly not a matriarchy! And gift economy? Don’t make me laugh.
|Articles of Confederation
|Congress could request states to pay taxes
|Congress has right to levy taxes on individuals
|No system of federal courts
|Court system created to deal with issues between citizens, states
|Regulation of trade
|No provision to regulate interstate trade
|Congress has right to regulate trade between states
|No executive with power. President of U.S. merely presided over Congress
|Executive branch headed by President who chooses Cabinet and has checks on power of judiciary and legislature
|13/13 needed to amend Articles
|2/3 of both houses of Congress plus 3/4 of state legislatures or national convention
|Representation of states
|Each state received 1 vote regardless of size but could have 2-7 delegates elected by vote.
|Upper house (Senate) with 2 votes; lower house (House of Representatives) based on population but representatives chosen by electorial college and not directly by the people.
|Raising an army
|Congress could not draft troops, dependent on states to contribute forces
|Congress can raise an army to deal with military situations
|No control of trade between states
|Interstate commerce controlled by Congress
|Disputes between states
|Complicated system of arbitration
|Federal court system to handle disputes
|Sovereignty resides in states
|Constitution the supreme law of the land
|9/13 needed to approve legislation
|50%+1 of both houses plus signature of President
The Confederacy put emphasis on state power with the federal government only stepping in where disputes between states occurred or in matters that were obviously more reasonable to govern at the federal level, like declaring war or treaties with other nations. The Confederacy guaranteed the rights of its citizen’s, except those that it specifically took for the federal government. In other words it guaranteed all rights to the people not reserved to the federal government.
The Confederacy was not perfect. But then neither is the Constitution. The Confederacy was replaced because it protected too many people’s rights. The men who drafted the Constitution were the “the well-bred, the well-fed, the well-read, and the well wed.” They were the elite of the New World and they wanted to stay that way. The elite land owners knew that the Confederacy could not guarantee them a continued monopoly on power so they met behind closed doors to draft the Constitution.
The Constitution grants rights by forbidding the state to take them. For example the First Amendment does not actually guarantee a right to free speech, it says “Congress shall make no law …abridging the freedom of speech…” The inference being that Congress can make any other law it wants. Congress is granted all the power outside of what is guaranteed to the people in the Constitution. This alone was a great shift in power away from the people.
The elites realized that the source of their wealth and power was property. And so, and here is the other misconception about the Constitution, the document does not protect people’s rights; it protects property. Democracy is not mentioned in the Constitution. Property, contracts, labor, commerce, money, copyright are mentioned in the Constitution but not democracy. It demands the return of property, like slaves, to the owner and used tax payer money to do just that. It took away state sovereignty in favor of federal law. It put a court system in charge of that law. It put one man, the President, in a lead position with veto power over the law. It removed direct representation by creating an electorial college. It allowed the federal government the power to directly tax the people.
People protested the Constitution when it was first written. And no wonder. They briefly tasted the winds of freedom before the door was slammed shut on them.
You know what else isn’t in the Constitution? “Corporation.” The Constitution was written when corporations were still seen as a great evil.
3. Supreme Court Justice?
To consider judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions is a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and for privilege. But their power [is] the more dangerous, as they are in office for life, and not responsible to elective control…[It would make the Constitution nothing but] a mere thing of wax in the hands of he Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.–Thomas Jefferson
The Supreme Court actually was never granted the power of judicial review…they took it. In 1803 they overturned a federal law because it was “unconstitutional” in Marbury vs. Madison. This was actually so controversial they did not dare to do it again until 1856 in Dred Scott vs Sanford when they not only overturned a federal law but decided that the black man was “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
Corporate personhood did not occur until the mid 1800’s. Just about the time we were freeing Afro-Americans from slavery, we were making all other Americans slaves to corporations. During this time business had free run over our politics. The Senate was known as the “Millionaire’s Club”. Federal judges were getting rich off of shares of corporations given to them for subverting the law in favor of corporate interests. But Lincoln had freed the slaves and Congress had given them (the male ones) the right to vote. States were also loosening up property requirements for voting. The common man was getting the right to vote and soon the capitalist class would lose its exclusive right to govern the land. Something needed to be done so that the privileged in this country did not lose their right to run the country.
Finally, in 1886, a court reporter claimed that the Supreme Court had ruled that corporations were “persons” under the law in Santa Clara v. Union Pacific Railroad. No actual ruling was made by the judges, but that document was referred to in subsequent cases to grant Constitutional rights to corporations via the 14th Amendment. Remember that at that time women, Native Americans and most Black men did not have the full protections of the Constitution, but corporations did. The Supreme Court has since made several rulings that confirm that corporations are “people” and have the full protections of the law.
What this did is give corporations the entire Bill of Rights with some interesting consequences:
First Amendment: The right to free speech. The Supreme Court has ruled several times that money=speech (plutocracy). This means that corporations can contribute to lobbying and political campaigns. Additionally, they can buy as much advertising as they want on TV for a particular campaign. AND it is tax deductible!! (Also their lawyer fees for criminal trials are tax deductible.)
Forth Amendment: Right to privacy. Corporations must be informed in advance before OSHA or EPA can inspect their property. They can hide billions of dollars of debt from the public (Bear Stearns) and continue to operate and convince people to invest in their stock (Enron). Even if it destroys the American economy.
Fifth Amendment: Freedom from self incrimination and double jeopardy as well as the right to due process of the law. The state can not take your property without compensating you. So if a harmful product is removed from the market by the EPA, the state must compensate the company for lost profits.
Fourteenth Amendment: Gave all slaves citizenship in the US and stated that all men are to be treated equally under the law. It also guaranteed all men due process under the law. It again said that the government could not take anything that was yours without compensating you for it. But now it allows corporations to dump sewage on land near you, contaminate local well water and take down of the “Do Not Call” program.
Interstate Commerce Clause: Hard to define this clause because people still argue about it’s meaning, but it defines who regulates commerce, the states or the federal government. It is used to break down any state restriction on a corporation because it is seen as a restriction on interstate trade and therefore illegal.
Contracts Clause: Protects private contracts from state interference. Shields corporations form community regulations voted in by the majority in the community.
(The above clauses were instrumental in guaranteeing that the rights of property, wealth, and capital override the rights of people when the Constitution was written.)
Since corporations have become people, only 0.5% of the 14th Amendment cases the Supreme Court has heard involve an Afro-American human. More than half of those cases involve corporations. You see, most Afro-Americans do not have enough money to continue in the court system to the level of the Supreme Court, while most super-human, super-rich corporations do.
4. I’m not Anti-corporate…I’m Pro Human
And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe — the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God. We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans … John F Kennedy
As our nation moved from a nation of farmers to a nation of people employed by corporations we have lost some of our freedoms. The new health care bill makes it clear that we should all work for corporations. That is where the “good” insurance rates are and the best care is. American corporations in the past have hired their own armies, committed their own massacres, bought legislatures, own almost all of the media in America, and shape our opinions. We are groomed by the media to believe that business is good, environmentalists are bad. (Anarchist bloggers are very bad.) Corporate charity is good, unions demanding fair wages and conditions are bad. Corporate health care–good; running our own collective health care nationally–bad. We have given up our sovereignty to corporations. Hell, we’ve given up our democracy to them.
We talk about freedom incessantly. We supposedly fight wars in far off countries for freedom. But are you free right now? Do you have the time and the energy to do what you want with your life? Could you pick up a leave and wander the Earth if you had a reason too? Could you quite your job and get an equal one somewhere else? Could you get health care while you wandered if you got sick? Do you have enough to feed and shelter yourself and your family without excessive worry? Do you have to please another human in order to keep your job? Are you at risk of losing whatever gains you have made if you do not please someone enough? Are you harmed in some other way if you do not please that person enough? Pay docked? Demoralized or embarrassed in some way? Can you say anything you want, wear what you want? At work? How slave-like is your life? Are you as restricted as they were in where you can go and what work you do? How similar is your life to a slaves compared to say Ben Franklin’s life? Does “freedom” have any real meaning for you in your life as it exists now?
Could your children be more free, if we as a society chose a different path?
Are you free?? I am reading Ursala K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed
. If you want to stretch your thoughts about freedom, I highly recommend it.