Tag Archives | Corporations

Followed and Surveilled by Global Intelligence Company Stratfor

Luke Rudkowski got a chance to speak with Andy Bichlbaum, 1/2 of the Yes Men, at a press conference for hacktivist Jeremy Hammond. Andy is an artist, activist, film maker, and the co-creator of the infamous Yes Men. The December 2011 hack of Stratfor revaeled that Andy was being followed and surveilled by Stratfor at the request of Dow Chemical for his work with the Yes Men to support the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. Via WeAreChange
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A Call For Denaturalizing The Corporation

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.

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Koch Brothers Pressuring Thousands Of Employees To Vote For Mitt Romney

In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.

A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.

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Exploring The Corporate Gaze

Drawing inspiration from the concept of the “robot-readable world” — i.e. people and places as perceived through the eyes of smart machines such as face-detecting cameras — Quiet Babylon describes the “corporate gaze”:

There’s another class of entities to whom we have already granted personhood. I’m speaking, of course, about corporations. Immortal entities of terrifying inhuman thinking, capable of entering into contracts and incurring debts, and owed a subset of the rights which we accord to human persons. I’m interested in the aesthetics of the corporate readable world, and their truly alien gaze.

Corporations communicate to us through money, press-releases, and advertising, always advertising. For a glimpse of the corporate readable world, look to Twitter’s routinely useless “who to follow” panel, Klout’s laughable ideas about what you are influential about, Facebook’s clumsy attempts to get you to join a dating site, and Google’s demented, personalized, Gmail ads. You can see it in your credit rating, and your position on the actuarial tables.

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Activists Present Corporate Tax Avoidance Award At Retirement Banquet

Dave Hartnett is the former top official at the HMRC, the branch of the U.K. government that handles tax collection. His tenure has been marked by controversy over deals in which corporations such as Goldman Sachs and Vodafone may have been let off the hook for billions in unpaid back taxes. Thanks to a group of protesters called WeAreTheIntruders, events at the black tie dinner celebrating Hartnett's service to the nation took an unexpected turn towards the surreal, culminating in a livid official's threatening to release the hounds on the surprise attendees:
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Will Corporations Try To Stop The Singularity?

Division by zero

Photo: CERN (CC)

KURZWEILAI:

“Corporations are People, my friend”
and they might be slowing down evolution, or even preventing Utopia.

The approaching Technological Singularity could bring drastic changes, such as rendering money obsolete via the destruction of scarcity-based ‘value’ systems. The time is not far-off when nano-replication of gold, diamond or other previously precious materials becomes possible, rendering most economic systems obsolete.

It is clear that legacy-age institutional forces will naturally fight for their survival and relevance. How hard will they fight and can they be influenced to be less resistant?

Human beings are confused and confusing creatures. We don’t have very clear goal systems, and are quite willing and able to adapt our top-level goals to the circumstances. I have little doubt that most humans will go with the flow as Singularity approaches.

But corporations are a different matter. Corporations are entities/organisms unto themselves these days, with wills and cognitive structures quite distinct from the people that comprise them.

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It’s True: Corporations Are People

Hamiton83 (CC)

So say Jack and Suzy Welch (you know, the corporate titan who ran GE forever before it cratered and the young journalist he dumped his wife for), airing their opinion in the Wall Street Journal (natch):

Here’s a new party trick. Want to be accused of being a member of a satanic cult? Like to be called the kind of person who would steal candy from a child, or harm a puppy and start a forest fire—all in the same day? Do you want to be described as evil, heartless and stupid?

Then just do this: Offhandedly mention in public that you agree with Mitt Romney—and that, yeah, you think corporations are people.

Oh, how that notion sets some people right off their rockers! Take, for instance, the scene last month when senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren introduced President Obama at a big fundraiser in Boston:

“Mitt Romney tells us, in his own words, he believes corporations are people.

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America the Beautiful: A Fire Sale for Foreign Corporations

Dr Brian Moench sounds the alarm at Truthout:

This may be one of the most important stories ever ignored by the so-called “lame-stream, liberal” media. It’s unlikely you’re losing sleep over US trade negotiations, but the unfolding business agreement among the US and eight Pacific nations – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – should cause every US citizen, from the Sierra Club to the Tea Party to get their pitch forks and torches out of the closet and prepare to “storm the Bastille.”

The TPP negotiations have been going on for two years under extreme secrecy, no information has been made available to either the press or Congress about the US position. But on June 12, a document was leaked to the watchdog group, Public Citizen, revealing the current US position and the reason for the secrecy. The contents are surreal, shocking and prima facia evidence for how corporations have become the master puppeteers of our government.

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Is Democracy An Illusion?

Karl MarxJohn Stoehr writes on Al Jazeera:

In the US, the dominant political discourse consists of ideas put forth by the ruling class.

Karl Marx never visited the United States, but he nevertheless understood the country, because he understood capitalism. As you know, there’s no American ideology that’s mightier than capitalism. Equality, justice and the rule of law are nice and all, but money talks.

In their 1846 book The German Ideology, Marx and co-author Frederick Engels took a look at human history and made a plain but controversial observation. In any given historical period, the ideas that people generally think are the best and most important ideas are usually the ideas of the people in charge. If you have a lot of money and own a lot of property, then you have the power to propagandise your worldview and you have incentive to avoid appearing as if you’re propagandising your worldview.

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