A Belated Response to Citizens United 


Essentially, the Corporation is a method for perpetuating the practical operation of an institution beyond the organic limitations of any single  human generation. Rules and articles of the corporation (or incorporation) may take, and historically have taken, variously, secular and or religious aspects  and characteristics.


Corporations have historically tended to thrive to the extent their leaders and participants recognized and understood--in a timely and accurate application of that understanding--the organic roots and underlying mechanisms of their nature; the opposite is also true.   


To seemingly but not really digress: language can also be considered a semiotic or verbal sort of corporation (and/or of “environment”), usually working in tandem with one or more of the other corporate entities (cities, universities, businesses, etc.).* For those interested in the evolution of the corporation and corporate activities, particularly in Western culture, please check out the link to a great book on this subject, The King's Two Bodies, in the bibliographical section of this website.


Within any given generation, the corporation must necessarily employ human beings, which endow it in some respects  with human qualities. It is not, however, in and of itself human. In fact, given it's central raison d’etre as the perpetuation of practical continuities above and beyond the limitations of human mortality, a corporation is in fact in all those aspects the opposite or antithesis of anything human.


Thus, to legally endow it with rights and responsibilities identical to those given to human beings can only result in generally undesirable results, much like attempting to create a chemical compound using ingredients from the wrong formula. A people that has come to be afflicted with an ever-dissatisfied hope for personal happiness, and a subsequent, enhanced fear of their own mortality can, however, form such a desperate attachment to the false sense of immunity provided by their corporations that they are still nonetheless willing to grant them peoplehood. Arguably, such was the case in the otherwise inexplicable victory of Citizens United.

 Lee Strauss (Copyright 2020)


So, corporations are bodies of power that are a reflection of their creators' ambitions, both good and bad. These days it feels like the good and the bad have taken on a life of their own, such that we hear people often say "you can't fight their power" or "but look at how many jobs they provide?". I would be interested in your thoughts on scaling back, can the system be corrected without revolution?

The easier, more "surface" response is that the current world system, still more or less run by the "haves," has been increasingly closing ranks over the past several decades (with Reagan and the 80s as a real ramping-up point, and the Bush-Clinton era--which some might say isn't really over yet--as an exponentialization and refinement of the those behaviors) against the growing and ever more obvious threat of ecological and population/resource catastrophe. This would include media, lobbies, PACs, and lots of other interconnected practices and institutions, public and private, the distinction between which subsequently grows more difficult to discern. For more on this from me, see the "Democracy" essay in this section of the website.

None of this, however, really touches on the deeper reason why the corporate system is so resistant to change for the long-term better: a complex, subliminal dimension that keeps all of our behaviors stuck in the patterns of the past, despite new technologies that could be used cooperatively to create much more equity and prosperity, not just in the US, but all around the world. Most people aren't even aware of this subliminal dimension, despite lots of common-sense and anecdotal evidence of its existence. And those that are seem generally stymied by vested interest, fear of the unknown, etc., from developing and actually trying to apply their awareness of this dimension in ways that could eventually open up the kind of changes you suggest. An integration of such awareness, personal and institutional, into all the brilliant, more "conscious" aspects of the system we already know about and are still often improving, is in my view the only chance we have to reverse the still-overriding increase in negative social, economic, and ecological outcomes. Check out some other chapters, essays, and podcasts here for more on that.