Via Policy Shop, Anthony Kammer says that if we want to take back control from corporations, we need to begin by altering how we think of them:
Given how much time we spend working for and interacting with corporations every day, it’s unsurprising that we tend to see them as a natural part of our social fabric. But corporations, of course, are not naturally occurring entities. They are the product of state laws, and they have been reshaped regularly throughout American history by courts and legislatures in order to respond to changing societal needs.
As recently as 1990, a majority of the Supreme Court explicitly acknowledged that corporations received serious economic advantages from the State and could therefore be regulated to prevent those state-conferred advantages from disrupting the political process:
State law grants corporations special advantages — such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets. These state-created advantages not only allow corporations to play a dominant role in the Nation’s economy, but also permit them to use “resources amassed in the economic marketplace” to obtain “an unfair advantage in the political marketplace.” Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652, 658-59 (1990).
It is only by returning to a more historically rooted understanding of corporations—as a changeable, democratically accountable product of state laws—that their progressive potential can be unlocked and democratic supremacy restored. Until then, the there’s good reason to expect that corporate rights will continue to enlarge the freedom of the powerful to ignore the freedoms of everyone else.
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