XII. HUMANITY’S EVOLUTION AND THE GREAT REVERSAL: AN ANATOMY OF THE CORPORATE RIGHT COUNTER-REVOLUTION
Humanity’s real evolution and development is in universally enabling human life capacities to think, feel and act in more coherently inclusive ranges of life expression and enjoyment. Productivity and productive forces are only properly means of this development, and against it when life destructive. More income is at best a proxy up to sufficiency of life goods, and even then may be spent on life bads. Only life-value understanding is consistent with life requirements and flourishing, the good of all goods.
While as we have seen this moral compass is inconceivable within the corporate-market system, life-value formation is not merely a hope but a long-term trend across the ages. The primary axiom of value formalised at the beginning of this monograph is the inner logic of this trend. In economic terms, ever more life goods are produced and distributed accessible to more people – despite great periods of reversal as we experience today. The pattern is contingent. An ecogenocidal streak of ruling power may become dominant and destroy life organisation on the planet – already perpetrated by this system to a very significant extent. Our principal problem now is that we do not recognise what is happening or why at a value-system level. The ultimate regulator of the ruling disorder reversing human evolution is so presupposed that contemporary politics and policy economics are in principle blind to its derangement and, more so, to the known way beyond it.
The forward trend still persists, however, and humanity’s universalizing life goods now include the Internet as the most significant new civil commons development of the post-1945 era. Its new mode is quintessentially human in its medium of language and signs which enrich the more they are shared in discovery and dissemination. Led by “shareware” and “creative commons”, the Internet has made possible network communication of information, concerns and values to stand for together across situations and distances without price, profit or censor in between. It is a new force for defense, reclamation and advance of common life space in the world, as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movements have shown.
While the Internet is by origin, nature and development outside corporate rule, it is at the same time contaminated by and exploited for corporate price and profit by invasively pervading commercialization and copyright closure of knowledge dissemination. Here too resistance against the corporate-right war of totalizing occupation is in motion. As it goes into the streets in solidarity for a better world we may observe a new level of civil commons meaning in history. What is now missing is exact direction uniting across differences.
Getting Our Historical Bearings in the Turning-Point Time
In this context, we may best get our historical bearings of the common interest of ever more coherently inclusive protection of life and provision of life goods from a time when the U.S. presidency once stood for them. A 1944 State of the Union Address by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt reveals the structural shift of official policy goals towards government by life values and standards against enemy powers within and without the U.S. Roosevelt said in précis: “We cannot be content if some fraction of people is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. True individual freedom cannot exist without life security. Regardless of station, race, or creed, there is a right to a useful and remunerative job, to adequate food and clothing and recreation, to a decent living, to freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home and abroad, to a decent home, to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health, to adequate protection from the fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment, to a good education.”
Observe how comprehensive and concrete the universal life goods this presidency names, and how they accord with the universal human life goods explained in this study. The human vocation, standards of life value, the life coherence principle, and civil commons constructs are all implicit. Roosevelt was no utopian. He was well aware of the private corporate reaction still in force which had collaborated with the Nazis in armoured-vehicle manufacture, information technology for concentration camps, and chemical and pharmaceutical production.1 The leader of the real free world concluded from this ultimate socio-political conflict he was standing within: “Our rightful place in the world depends on how fully human rights have been carried into practice for citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world. But there are grave dangers of rightist reaction and should it develop it is certain that, even although we shall have conquered our enemies abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of fascism at home.”
Roosevelt’s affirmed the civil commons project of universal human life rights that has since been attacked at every stitch of historical construction by private money-sequence interests and powers. He rightly foresaw that universal life goods accessible to all as government’s and citizens’ obligation and the right of all to be enabled by must be “carried into practice”, or the “rightist reaction at home” and “the spirit of fascism” will prevail. One might conclude from post-1980 imposition of transnational corporate-right rule that the enemy Roosevelt alluded to has in fact won in both the U.S. and the world, but in a different way than in the past. It has reversed the evolved social state by three deciding levels of “rightist reaction” which form a new strategic pattern into the present.
The Great Reversal
My own research over 25 years has found and confirmed a systematic structure underling what we might call the Great Reversal. It can be most concisely formulated at a high order level of conception as follows:
(1) systematic defunding, privatization and reversal of evolving social sectors in the name of eliminating public debt and deficits caused in fact by i. compounding high-interest bank rates, ii. radical tax cuts to corporations and higher incomes, and iii. increased military spending;
(2) by corporate-trade treaties with overriding rights decided and instituted outside elected legislatures and without electoral support by transnational corporate agents in and out of public office;
(3) by private funding of propaganda against the social entitlements and for market-capitalist values, while increasingly tying higher research funding itself to corporate commodity and weapons development.2
The elements of this systematic pattern of ‘rightist reaction’ to the present may be tested on all the phenomena of cutback on civil commons formations over the last 30 years, and find few or no exceptions or deviations from it. The evidence in fact is depressingly ever more abundant. These regulating principles continue today beneath public and scientific reports, and all deprive many or most people of the life goods they would otherwise have access to had civil commons development continued its trajectory of advance from the war against fascism.
Claims or assumptions that social programs were too expensive or “unaffordable” for government to shoulder are silly because they ignore the general facts that the debt and deficit growths used as pretext for social-program slashing were over 94% due to prior tax cuts to corporations and the rich (Canada’s typical pattern), and to 20% prime compound-interest rates charged to governments by private banks silently appropriating the constitutional right of governments to issue credit through public treasury (as swiftly occurred for Wall Street in the long-term trillions in its 2008 meltdown).
The “unaffordable” argument also ignores the further general fact that government tax and hand-out subsidies to private corporations including arms manufacturers and agribusiness exceed the cost of social programs in the U.S. One needn’t refer to Big Lies to recognise them and their underlying pattern of serving one factional interest – private-profit money sequencing and corporate commodity markets. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, there has been no need to compete with better social programs and universal life goods because now transnational corporate persons have the right to “do just as they please” where there are no obstacles like free unions or independent political-democratic processes. Globalization in this condition is what is never reported in legislatures or by the media – the globalization of corporate-person rights as absolute, unaccountable, and unlimited – in short, fascism in a new form.3
The Historic Choice Today
Globalization as corporate money-sequencing across borders seeks only to become more private money demand without bound. This is its law of motion and its rule expands by increasingly powerful instruments from earth-moving machinery and ocean-bottom drillers to genetically modified organisms and financial derivatives within government-deregulated-and-subsidised conditions. Social or environmental justice in this reigning disorder does not factor in, and is attacked where it does – unless, as in Brazil, the economy functions far more efficiently with guaranteed incomes for poor mothers, or China, where private banks are on a tight leash, or Venezuela or Bolivia where public oil wealth is allocated to public purposes, and so on. The war goes on one way or another. It goes better for life and justice when the disorder is recognised and put under public control, worse if not.
Where the transnational corporate-rights reign is not put on a leash or public resources reclaimed, the worst comes as in the rest of the world today. Human beings have been ever more widely structured as inputs to serve the corporate money-sequence value mechanism as public-sector, farming and home-worker positions are eliminated in continuous tens of millions. On the environmental level, there is no research in the last 30 years that rebuts the general fact that virtually every life-system on the planet is in decline or collapse. While invariably represented by economists and corporate media as “necessary” for “prosperity and freedom”, life-value understanding recognizes that this private corporate program is the demonstrably the opposite of all. It is a social construction led by armed force and command treaty in every step of its globalization which, in fact, deprives ever more people of their universal necessities of a human life by reversal of social justice and a collapsing real economy and at once.
Average market income rises in some places by a dollar is the money-value fig-leaf of the great destruction and dispossession of life goods across the world.
While rights in general mean lawful or law-backed claims to goods of any kind, the regulating rights of the global corporate system are absolutist:
(1) recognizing only the trans-border rights of money-capital owners or “investors”;
(2) excluding all rights not backed by money demand, and
3) legally erasing any national legislation not in compliance with these treaty-instituted rights.
The trade-and-investment treaties defining this rights system are anchored in the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the subsequent World Trade Organization (WTO). They require that foreign corporations receive equal treatment “without discrimination” in all societies so contracted in all matters of purchase, sale and subsidy, as well as the corporate-person or “investor” right to sue governments which do not comply or which are alleged to have caused “loss of profit opportunity” (e.g., by banning advertisements for a commodity such as cigarettes or regulating against a fuel additive with neurotoxins for national health reasons). At the same time, what used to be and should return as a matter of political debate and judgment within national borders – for example, to exchange domestic market access and natural resources for reciprocal returns from the corporations receiving these rights (e.g., manufacturing in the host country for free access to the domestic auto market) – have been outlawed by the new corporate-rights system. The ultimate right to exchange between domestic public and foreign corporation is thereby abolished in favor of unilateral corporate rights – the only actual content of trade-investment treaties and “agreements between nations” in the reversal period.
Much follows from absolutist prescription against the sovereign rights of government to negotiate with foreign corporate persons – in fact, the abolition of their free trade. Transnational corporations receive what they have not had since decolonization –the rights to sell in foreign markets without impediment, to buy domestic industries without limit, to receive guaranteed free access to the natural resources of other societies, and to receive government subsidies on a citizen basis. Sovereign government over society’s mode of reproduction is in this way replaced by foreign corporate rights as “non-discrimination” against them. No rights, on the other hand, are granted to workers, or citizens. “Performance requirement” and “process of production” condition by host or importing society, formerly givens of democratic self-government, are made illegal and subject to unsustainable financial punishment. The ecological consequences are least of all discussed. Unconditional rights of transnational corporations to nationally owned natural resources for exploitation of oil, minerals, fish and timber permit their world-wide corporate looting of one region after another to move onto the next with no accountability under the rules for future supplies or ruinous effects (U.S. exceptionalism aside). Observe how all that has been taken away without public knowledge by the corporate-rights war of occupation and depredation of all formerly self-organizing life systems is just as rapidly reversible in principle.
With the binding regulations of these corporate rights upheld and adjudicated by closed tribunals, and proceedings unpublished and judgments to enforce the “least trade restrictive practices” in all matters final and not appealable, however, responsible self-government of societies has been ruled out at the economic level – what has formerly caused revolutions, but has here been effectively hidden. The new rules by which societies’ economies must live are thus effectively outside public debate and understanding, as may be tested by seeking where they are identified anywhere in public policy forums and economic policy discussions.
Yet this inner logic of supreme rights to corporate persons and none to living persons has received little academic attention, including by moral philosophy, justice theory and ethicist literatures. Because the new regulatory apparatus runs to over 20,000 pages of legal jargon in the prototype NAFTA, few have the skill or patience to read the defining terms. Because as well the myriad articles nowhere reveal the underlying principles regulating them, the philosophical under-labour required to decode their moral meaning has been missing.
Most poignantly, the ruling corporate rights system has been ludicrously conflated without notice with the local real free market which is opposite in every norm and feature. It occurs on public property, sells local produce and crafts, does not advertise, pre-package or expatriate profits, has no external hierarchy or stock-profit demands, does not lobby governments for handouts and favours to dominant sellers, and cannot manipulate supply or demand. As elsewhere, the meanings of words are reversed. In line with the unobserved sea-shift across borders in the name of opposite meanings, rights of human beings and fellow life do not count in. Indeed individual rights become the rights of corporate persons instead – rights to commercial free speech with no criterion of factual truth, for example, and to anonymous external funding of election propaganda with no limit as, again, “freedom of speech”. The equal rights of the U.S. Fifth Amendment intended to protect freed slaves are also appropriated by corporations as “equal persons” so that 99% of litigation for these equal rights are to protect these “corporate persons” which have been fabricated by law. Life-protective and enabling rights of real persons are at the same time expelled from human work across domains.
Corporate rights have become so unquestioned that Jurgen Habermas adopts their rule as a technical given – “the technical-administrative apparatus” of the “norm-free sociality” of the economy. The most powerful norm system ever is thus assumed as the opposite at the highest levels of transnational research publication.
Life-value analysis, in contrast, recognizes the absurd, and rejects the equation of presupposed norms to not norms. No society’s rule system is decided by natural laws. As social constructions, rule systems vary widely from social order to social order through cultures and the means available. In our era, society’s rule and rights systems have developed in fact a primary contradiction between them – human-life-protective/enabling norms and rights versus money-capital-protective/enabling norms and rights. The latter however rule, and so are claimed as not norms at all, but technical facts like the law of gas expansion driving wheels. Yet the repressed contradiction which is not seen here is deeper than between classes or cultures. It is between human and ecological life’s inherent requirements to reproduce and biodiversify in ever more life-enabling forms and unliving money-capital’s imperative to grow private commodities and profit in ever more violation of life needs and capacities on every plane. The former increasingly necessitate life standards to enable human life and life conditions to survive and flourish (the civil commons), while the latter multiplies its own money-sequences to more whatever cumulative degradation and exhaustion of resources and sinks it causes. Corporate rights without accountability or limit thus war against human and planetary life itself.
Consider an everyday microcosm of the corporate-person rights system which stands for the whole as internalized in the individual creatures of its pervasively life-invading system. The “free individual expressing ‘his’ rights” becomes his spending on and consuming corporate power-motors to drown all else in its moronic racket while churning up the earth face, wild and water life for more faster. Decoded s/he is propelled along the following preconscious steps: “(1) I the consumer have a right to (2) the hearing and sight fields around me (2) because of my high-cost commodity motor to (3) occupy the public life space I choose (4) with no barrier to this consumer enjoyment nor (5) rations of use of what is short and shortening for the world (6) whatever hell on earth it creates for the sentience of other life because (7) I have bought and paid for what has been produced to be enjoyed and (8) this is my right and my freedom.
Little known even today is that the Ford, General Motors, IBM and Dupont corporations produced for the Nazi war machine in these functions even after the U.S. was at war with it (Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Expose of the Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949. New York, Dell Publishing Co., 1983). Moreover these corporations received government compensation for their bombed factories and losses in Germany after the war was ended, an indication of the supreme and borderless power wielded upon which the ‘New World Order’, a Nazi concept, was instituted by national and international mechanisms of law identified in this paper.