There’s nothing inherently wrong with corporations, just like there’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. But when a corporation goes too far in its quest for profit, bad things tend to happen.
A corporation isn’t really a person, of course. That’s just a clever (and rather duplicitous) legal fiction concocted to brand a corporation as a separately accountable entity, alleviating its owners and employees of the responsibility for their actions in its service. This added layer of protection permits them to behave atrociously while pursuing corporate goals, confident that all repercussions from their individual misbehavior will be laid at the feet of their sin-eating, corporate whipping-boy decoy. The same transferral process is what enables unprincipled soldiers to violate the laws of decent warfare, comforted by the belief that blame for such actions will be absorbed by a faceless entity called “the army.” Such abdications of blame have historically resulted in abominable war crimes committed by soldiers “just following orders.” Such misguided people often become fanatically loyal to organizations, be they military or civilian. Replace the goal of “military victory” with “monetary profit”… but the syndrome persists.
In the mid-19th century a series of legal redefinitions established the concept that a “corporation” should possess the same legal rights as a “person” under the law. The resulting rise to dominance by the corporate system created unprecedented wealth— but resulting corporate malfeasance (even in the face of stringent regulation) also resulted in a century of illness, death, poverty, pollution, exploitation and lies.
If corporations are “people” then one might theoretically assess what “personality” traits they exhibit. If one uses, say, the diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization, it quickly becomes clear that— measured by an evaluation of their behavior— many corporations possess extremely anti-social “personalities.” If certain corporations were really people, they would be self-interested, inherently amoral, callous, deceitful, willing to breach social and legal standards to get their way, and they would not suffer from guilt (though they might convincingly mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism).
In fact, when one closely studies corporate behavior it becomes disturbingly clear that many corporations fall into a psychological category we commonly call “the psychopath.”
It is also worth mentioning that in many states, if the following corporations were “people,” they could not legally own a firearm, sit on a jury, serve in a public office or vote in a public election. Why? Because they have ALL been legally convicted of felony crimes under our legal system.
BP, British Airways, General Electric, Samsung, Sears Roebuck & Company, Tyson Foods…
Yep. ALL are convicted felons. Of course, the fact that they couldn’t vote in a local election doesn’t stop them from giving millions of dollars to Super PACs to fund the election of whatever candidates they want in office. So technically they can still “vote” with their fat corporate wallets.
Remember… if you dare interfere with their plans to make money on the international market, a big-enough corporation can always just fund a full-scale military takeover of your country. That’s what happened to Guatamala when Chiquita Banana (formerly United Fruit Company), backed by the CIA, initiated a coup that toppled the democratically-elected leader of Guatemala in order to lower banana prices. The resulting conflict raged from 1960-1996, resulting in the death or disappearance of 240,000 Guatamalan citizens. Meanwhile, as recently as 2007 Chiquita still had extensive ties to violent paramilitary groups in Colombia and seemed poised to destabilize the government of yet another hot bed of banana-funded revolution, should their profits drop a few decimal points.
Freakily enough, the very same thing almost happened here in the good old U.S.A. in 1934 when a corporate-sponsored plot to replace FDR with a military dictator was fortunately averted by U.S. Marine Corps General (and two-time Medal of Honor winner) Smedley Butler, who patriotically blew the whistle on the attempted coup before it could take effect. Butler later went on to write the book War is a Racket (1935) in which he scathingly described the inner workings of the budding “American Military-Industrial Complex” (26 years before President Eisenhower officially coined that phrase in his 1961 farewell address).
So watch out for corporations, especially if corporations can be people… because people can be dicks. No one wants to be curb-stomped under the corporate jackboot of some dancing banana lady with a bunch of fruit on her head.