@Trevor_Pott -- Re: Corporations can't confiscate property.
An excellent commentary, well said. In many posts, I've said much the same but you've argued more articulately and forcefully.
We got rid of communism that was supposedly trying to hijack our democracies only to have rampant capitalism succeed in its place and it did so in a most spectacular way (brawls between behemoth corporations such as Apple, Samsung and HTC etc. over minutiae of their own making with little or no government involvement attests to this).
The consequences are that world works somewhat differently to the way it did not that long ago. The poor beleaguered citizen (who I was brought up to believe was at the centre of the democratic process), now finds himself continually fighting an uphill battle to achieve some equity in the most fundamental of things--rights, once they were supposed to be the raison d'être of democracy. For example, the right to choose; the right to be educated and correctly informed and not subject to rampant propaganda; the right to be left alone; the right to privacy and be secure, and the right to not be deceived or lied to by one's own government, etc., etc. are now all once again in the firing line centuries after we thought we'd reached consensus.
What we're witnessing now is a strange inversion of this process: one in which corporate entities and governments have become 'super-citizens' in their own right as they've amassed many questionably legitimate rights for themselves. In doing so they've acquired considerably more power than we--the great unwashed citizenry--presently have (or are capable of mustering in the current political climate). Moreover, these 'super-citizens' have asserted their 'rights' by might--through: money; ease of access to the law ('buying' thereof); lobbying and influence of politicians; conning and convincing governments to sign trade treaties that preferentially benefit them over individual citizens; easy access to the media; use of propaganda and blatant advertising, and, at times, even through graft and corruption.
These days, individuals or small groups who try to tackle this seemingly inexorable and inextricable perversion of the democratic process aren't shot to silence them as once in Nazi Germany; instead, they're subjected to everything from being outright discredited, to being told their actions are unpatriotic and bad for the economy, to being sent broke by legal costs, or silenced by threats, or through being ground down into ineffectiveness by the sheer number of the obstacles that their opposition is able to place in their way. It's no wonder so few ordinary citizens are prepared to stick their necks out and be involved in the democratic process.
I grew up in the '50s and '60s and there's no doubt things were far from perfect back then. As always, there were major disagreements between political protagonists and, at times, all-out war, nevertheless there was considerably more consensus between individuals, politicians and corporate leaders about what constituted the social contact that underpinned democracy back then. Much of the civility and respect for each other, institutions etc. has gone only to be replaced with the hard and abrupt edge to society that's now our way of life. The devaluing of social norms over the past half-century has meant we now attempt to regulate them through the law. Governments' attempts to social engineer society through the enforcement of new laws, in my opinion, often makes things worse (especially so when the law benefits one party more than the other) .
Today, we've upped the anti on just about everything: tightened laws, regulated any and everything to a level of absurdity--the point where humans cease to act in human ways (as Charlie Chaplin in 'Modern Times'), so we're now overly watchful of our backs, or we just end up in trouble. Similarly, we've codified many of our human relationships in law to the point where we need a social worker or a lawyer before we attempt anything significant, yet there are those who actually consider this normality.
Nevertheless, society's new 'controlled' mentality dovetails well with the ethos of the modern mechanistic, procedurally orientated corporation, and similarly so with international trade and commence.
With an almost universal business 'mentality' in place worldwide we end up achieving similar laws everywhere, essentially, we've worldwide rules in place. Add to this a bunch of international treaties policed by the ITO and similar organisations then we've heaven on earth for rampant capitalism. The Apples of this world are in clover and now they're acting as such. Trouble is that the citizens of most countries around the world had no say in this arrangement whatsoever; it was a sleight-of-hand backdoor collaboration between capitalism and governments.
Welcome to the late 20th and early 21st centuries, welcome to modern corporate ethics, and welcome to democracy Mark-II--the new all-powerful corporate model.
Many aspects of life have improved significantly for people over the past fifty or so years but when we look at most of the mechanisms used to achieve this we see it's been achieved by forcing both uniformity and tighter 'couplings' between players. Tighter couplings mean more control, more control means that more feedback is needed to stabilise the system and anyone who has done network or control theory knows the high potential for things to go wrong. For corporations, social engineering on such a scale is a wonderful arrangement but the fact that most of the players never had the opportunity to participle in setting the game's rules seems to me to be a potentially explosive recipe.
Unfortunately, now, we've a new generation who accepts this new way of life as the status quo, it's the norm for them, after all they've grown up knowing little else. Still, many of them instinctively know something is very wrong even if they've difficulty in articulating the reasons for why it's so. Therein lies the hope for a more equitable society.