And They Call It Democracy: Iraq, Climate Change, and Corporate Personhood
This paper addresses US hegemony in the context of corporate power, in particular corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is the legal doctrine which recognizes corporations as having the same rights as natural persons, which in turn guarantees corporate access to the democratic process, allowing them to donate to political parties and to lobby. The paper argues that Iraq and climate change are logical extensions of long standing corporate driven neo-liberal US government policy, and the corporate/ capitalist need for ever larger markets. It looks at the political and financial connections between the corporations benefiting from these policies, and the role corporations played in developing them. Having grounded these two crucial elements of US policy in the context of corporate power and neo-liberalism, the paper then examines the historic origins of this power. It provides a review of the founding of the American colonies as British corporate charters, how corporate monopolies like the British East India Company were key instigators of the American Revolution, and lists the subsequent restrictions placed on the corporate form in the new American Republic. It then addresses corporate expansion in the Civil War, and how the 1886 Supreme Court decision that corporations were protected under the Bill of Rights was crucial in the rise of the corporation as the most dominant institution in the world today. The paper concludes that only by removing corporations from the democratic (political) process can global crises like US militarism and climate change be addressed.
Keywords: Corporation, Iraq, Climate Change, Democracy, Corporate Personhood, Corporate Power
Lecturer, Geography and Environmental Studies