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Book Review - Thom Hartmann, Unequal Protection

By       Message Kent Welton     Permalink
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Book Review - Thom Hartmann, Unequal Protection
    "The function of corporations in light of their constitutional personhood is effectively to foreclose access to the commons for most citizens. The entire proposition that a corporation is a person is ridiculous."

                          Lawrence Mitchell, George Washington Law School

      Another seminal book of late, along with Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Ellen Brown's Web Of Debt among others, is Thom Hartmann's new second edition of Unequal Protection -- How Corporations Became People And How You Can Fight Back.
      It is books of this caliber and moment, this one from a well-known progressive radio host, that let us know our real social and sorry economic condition, and what we must do to escape the fascism that has descended upon this country.
       Clearly the biggest hit we, the real people, have suffered of late is the Citizen's v. United case, courtesy of a 5-4 decision of the Bush Supreme Court.  Bush is gone but his fascist "Federalist Society" court lives on until such time as our representatives, or a more democratic leaning 5-4 majority, can re-write the rules" a turn of events likely years or decades away.     
        Today, this decision presents us with a new front in the fight to restore the primacy of actual human beings in society, and to restore democracy to our system.  As Hartmann states, "this [Citizen's v. United] decision was a naked handoff of raw political power to corporate forces by five un-elected judges, and the other four members of the court said so in the plainest and most blunt terms."  And these fascist five haven't even begun to hear from the people.
       The ramifications of this corporate personhood decision are now beginning to be felt big time in the veritable deluge of money that can and will now be spent to influence our elections, pick our candidates, buy the media, fund the foundations and, of course, work to eliminate any opposition to a complete corporate control of "our" country.  The ramifications are no less than the permanent destruction of any effective democracy, the impotence of the wage-laboring majority, a further fall of the middle class, and the institution of a permanent corporate fascist state.   A truly frightening future, indeed, and one brought to us by this one 5-4 decision that demands our scrutiny and tireless efforts to unravel" one man, one decision, one tyranny.  
         This is a must read for lawyers and laymen alike.  The history of the court decisions involved in this line of 14th amendment personhood reasoning are revealing.  Thanks to Hartman's extensive research and serendipitous scholarship we are presented with the fact that "for one hundred years people have believed that the 1886 case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, did in fact conclude that "corporations are persons.'  However, Hartmann reveals that the court never stated this: it was added by the court reporter who wrote the introduction to the decision, a commentary called a headnote.  As any law student knows, headnotes have no legal standing."
         So, in effect, one such mistake or deliberate misrepresentation, has been seized upon by corporate lawyers ever since to promulgate this corporate personhood fiction and push a non-human, profit--seeking, and  democracy-destroying agenda upon us all.  We have thus seen a legal "stare decisis" tradition turned into a truly scary decisis.  Reading this book will both frighten you and stir you to action.

Kent Welton, 

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