Dystopia 19: Capture


“The state  calls its own violence law, & that of the individual, crime.”- Max Stirner

Dystopia  19:  Capture

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 Constitution
Levying taxes Congress could request states to pay taxes Congress has right to levy taxes on  individuals
Federal  courts 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
Executive 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
Amending  document 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

Interstate commerce

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

Passing laws

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.