Friday, February 20, 2009

Beyond the Wealth of Nations and Back Again

Beyond Adam Smith came the creation of business charters governing the relation of capital to industry, in the late 19th century, governments created corporate crown charters and thus created corporate capitalism. It was designed from the beginning to be an economy run by legal entities that intentionally lacked 'a conscience to bind them' to statements such as citizens make in court affadavits. Capitalists, having divorced themselves from conscience through charter jurisprudence, were then obligated by government to make a profit above all other considerations. The creation of corporate capitalism led to development of the manageriat: management acted on behalf of shareholders following the directions of the board. The manageriat is not required to act out of conscience, only in pursuit of 'legal' profit. Technically corporate capitalism is not imperialist because an empire requires an actual emperor, or empress, and the manageriat is more Dilbert than Queen Victora. Corporate capitalism was not created to develop the wealth of empires or the wealth the nations, merely the wealth of shareholders, most of who nowadays don't even own voting shares. Corporate citizenship belongs to those who hold voting stock, they are the voters who elect those who govern our markets. Economy is never economy alone because markets are not all there is, therefor corporatism is not all there is in the real politik of power. Here in Canada, ever since the creation of the Charter of Rights snd Freedoms, The people who govern the political economy are us. We constitutionally wear the crown in common these days. We have the right and the freedom to remove corporate capitalism and its conscienceless pursuit of profit). To move beyond the post-Adam Smith globalizing corporate economy we Charter challenge the right of a conscienceless entity to be in court with a citizen, we challenge the existence of their charters, we prove in court that they have no right to be in court with us, and that they have no place in an ethical society.
Corporatism is the rationale for pillaging the wealth of nations by those who own charters which allow them to make money without necessity of conscience: it's Post Adam Smith capitalism.
We must come back from beyond the Wealth of Nations, we must uncharter global corporate capitalism, we must free enterprise from the consequence of the damages caused by businesses that act without conscience, domestically and internationally. We must restore ethics to business: the charter of citizenry must be more important than the charters of shareholders.The pursuit of commonwealth is more important than the wealth of corporatists. Doing so would lead to the the death of free enterprise., but its birth: free enterprise is not corporatist, it's rooted in ingenuity and personal responsibility. To come back from Beyond the Wealth of Nations would always to free enterprise for the first time.

1 comment:

kheimbuch said...

Good post. It hits at the core of what is wrong with the structure of commerce and our culture. Most people, I would suspect, have not heard of Adam Smith, or read "The Wealth of Nations". In it, Smith has lots to say about corporations, and none of it is good. It is pathetically ignorant to listen to these corporate apologists to refer to our system as a "free market system", which is actually a global ponzi scheme.

It was largely the precedent set in the famous "Santa Clara case" that tested the notion that corporations do no have a "conscience to bind them". This is the single biggest cause of all of our economic and environmental woes - the lack of accountability caused by the way we accept the notion that corporations have no moral duty beyond making money for their shareholders. The contradictions that this creates are self evident:

We don't live forever. Corporations do.
We have ethical and moral responsibilities. Outside of profit, a corporation has none.
We are liable for what we do. A corporation is *built* to limit liability.
Unlike a corporation, we have a body to beat and a soul to damn.

What is going on today is an odd mix of corporate libertarianism, the machinations of the old British East India Company, and a Mussolini style corporatism. Is a collapse is in order, or a new communitarianism?