Founded in 2007, Blog Action Day brings together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food and the Power of We, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007. This year the topic of focus is human rights, and we will contrast them with the constitutional rights of corporations.
The struggle for the advancement of human rights is the struggle for basic human necessities, dignity and justice, and this progressive struggle is waged against the forces of the status quo. In the United States, this is currently playing out as self-proclaimed “conservatives” use leverage to do what they failed to do at the ballot box: reverse the right to health care for people in the United States. In contrast, the battles for the advancement of corporate rights has been waged in the courts by corporate lawyers to attain the legal standing of individuals to improve their chances of winning in lawsuits, protect their privacy and general malfeasance and to prevent legislatures from interfering with their speech/propaganda. This distinction is deeply political; it is what distinguishes polities between those states that are democratic (Iceland for example) and those that are corporatist (the United States) or neo-feudal.
Corporate rights are profoundly undemocratic. First, no legislature in the United States has ever voted to give corporations or any associations constitutional rights. This has always been the decision of (usually) five Supreme Court judges legislating from the bench. Next, they have used their ill-gotten rights to undermine public policy. For example, in Louis K. Leggett Co. v Lee, 1933, the Court threw out a law passed in FL that would have charged an annual license fee for each store opened under the same general management, supervision or ownership. Why? Because in 1889 the corporate (corrupt) judges granted them the rights of the 14th Amendment (due process and equal protection under the law), and corporate lawyers successfully argued that this law violated equal protection under the law. That is just one of many examples how corporate rights undermine democratic decision making.
By contrast, human rights advance on the streets of cities across nations, in the halls and on the floors of Congress and through the amendment process in the U.S. When people are assured of having their basic needs met, they are more inclined to get involved in the political process at the grass-roots level. Human rights advance democracy. It’s nearly impossible to advocate for getting money out of politics, for example, when you’re near starvation or dehydrated from lack of water, homeless, etc.
Corporate constitutional rights undermine human rights by granting equal legal status to humans and the tools humans create. A corporation is a tool that has been, and can continue to be, very useful in the development of civil society. But it is nothing more than a tool. Like any tool, it can be both productive and destructive, depending on how it is used. The wealthiest corporations tend to be the most aggressive manipulators of that tool, as with the banking, fossil fuel, defense and agribusiness industries. Yet, even in less aggressive industries, human beings are rarely treated as anything more than commodities. The renaming of “personnel” departments into “human resources” departments, across all sectors, is more than just a symbolic example of this trend, it is a description of how human beings are perceived by neo-feudalists.
Throughout history, the struggle for human rights has been opposed at every turn by the most aggressive and avaricious wealth accumulators, from the violent monarchs of antiquity to the monopolistic captains of modern industry. Few things short of total despotism can be more detrimental to human rights than placing the tool of incorporation, with the built-in immunization provided by limited liability, enhanced with the privileges and immunities of constitutional civil rights, in the hands of humanity’s would-be oppressors. And few things could be more beneficial to the struggle for human rights than abolishing the unchecked power that derives from constitutional rights for the tool known as incorporation. On this Blog Action Day, The Amendment Gazette stands with all peoples, around the world, struggling to expand human rights and free themselves from the yoke of oppression in the form of corporate greed disguised as economic progress.
Update: For more information on this year’s blog action day, see the flip board here: https://flipboard.com/section/blog-action-day-2013—human-rights-__YXV0aC9mbGlwYm9hcmQvY3VyYXRvciUyRm1hZ2F6aW5lJTJGZURxRVZDcnVUamVFUjkwOEd3RHRSQSUzQW0lM0E5MzczODgyMw%3D%3D