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Revolution by Any Other Name...

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There is a way that Americans can get control of their government back from those that have usurped it. The stated belief of those that control our government, our military and our economic system is the importance and almost religious-like overtones of the sacred “bottom line”. This bottom line is not just the profit and loss numbers; it encompasses what corporations are willing to do to in order that their stateless organizations continue to thrive. Sometimes they will engineer a ‘loss” in order to push legislation or public opinion in the direction that they want it to go. Devaluing stock so that the “right” people will control it is not outside their scope. Devaluing the corporation to bring it back to private ownership is not beyond the pale.

I’m not an economist, I wish I were. Most economists talk in a jargon that escapes most of our citizens. The idea that corporate America is setting the agenda for this nation and pushing us into uncharted territory is beyond the scope of understanding that most Americans unfortunately, do not possess. The American people scoff at those that claim that the corporate powers consistently push this nation towards war and the instruments of war in order to add to that sacred ‘bottom line”. The majority of Americans believe that the business of America is business, and that capitalism is not only an economic system, but an ideological one. In one way they are completely correct, but not in the way they perceive reality.

Before the Constitution was ratified, Thomas Jefferson kept pushing for a law, written into the constitution as an amendment, which would guarantee liberties for citizens, prevent companies from growing so large they could dominate entire industries or have the power to influence the people’s government, and reduce the possibility of the nation being taken over by a military coup. [1] Even back then it was abundantly clear that the possibility of corporations through their wealth and influence were a direct threat to our representative republic.

Most people believe that the corporation was given “personhood” in 1897. This is patently false. The following describes what actually happened;

“The peak year for their legal assault was 1877, with four different cases reaching the Supreme Court in which the railroads argued that governments could not regulate their fees or activities, or tax them in differing ways, because governments can’t interfere to such an extent in the lives of “persons” and because different laws and taxes in different states and counties represented illegal discrimination against the persons of the railroads under the Fourteenth Amendment.

By then, the Supreme Court was under the supervision of Chief Justice Morris Remick Waite, himself a former railroad attorney. Associate Justice Stephen Field, who was so openly on the side of the railroads in case after case that he annoyed his colleagues, also heavily influenced the court. In each of the previous four cases, the Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment was not intended to regulate interstate commerce and therefore not applicable. But in none of those cases did Waite or any other Justice on the court muster a majority opinion on the issue of whether or not railroad corporations were “persons” under the constitution, and so Miller’s “one pervading purpose” of the Fourteenth Amendment (to free slaves) prevailed, and year after year, the railroads were told that they’re not persons.

Having lost four cases in one year took a bit of the wind out of the sails of the railroads, and there followed a few years of relative calm. The railroads continued to assert they were “persons,” but states and localities continued to call them “artificial persons” and pass laws regulating their activities.

For twenty years corporate personhood was debated. Across America, politicians were elected repeatedly on platforms that included the regulation of corporations, particularly the railroads. But the legal fight continued - and in 1886 the railroad hit pay dirt.

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The Supreme Court ruled on an obscure taxation issue in the Santa Clara County vs. The Union Pacific Railroad case, but the Recorder of the court - a man named J. C. Bancroft Davis, himself formerly the president of a small railroad - wrote into his personal commentary of the case (known as a head note) that the Chief Justice had said that all the Justices agreed that corporations are persons.

And in so doing, he - not the Supreme Court, but its clerical recorder - inserted a statement that would change history and give corporations enormous powers that were not granted by Congress, not granted by the voters, and not even granted by the Supreme Court. Davis’s head note, which had no legal standing, was taken as precedent by generations of jurists (including the Supreme Court) who followed and apparently read the head note but not the decision.

What is especially ironic about this is that Davis knew the Court had not ruled on this issue. We found a handwritten note in the J.C. Bancroft Davis collection in the Library of Congress, from Chief Justice Waite to reporter Davis, explicitly saying; “We did not meet the constitutional issues in the case.” (In other words, the Court had decided the case on lesser grounds, which it always prefers to do when possible.)

Yet Davis wrote that the constitutional issue of corporate personhood had been decided, and his head note was published the year Waite died, most likely after Waite’s death. The railroads were persons, he wrote (in the head note), implying that they’re entitled to the same rights as persons. And Davis attributed this new legal reality to Chief Justice Waite who had specifically, in writing, disavowed it (although that note wouldn’t become public for over a hundred years).”[2]

This is quite a departure from the public belief that corporations are considered “persons” and thereby have “First Amendment rights under our constitution”. This is just not the case. Many Americans will differ with you however, when you bring up the fact that corporations are the leading contributors to political campaigns in this nation. They will “claim” that corporations are protected and allowed to voice their political views under the First Amendment. Now you know the truth, they have no such right. Individuals that are members of corporations have the same rights as other Americans, but not as representatives of their employers.

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Now that we have that “sticking” point out of the way, let us talk about the “extraordinary rights” that corporate entities seem to believe they possess. The stateless multinational corporations that have no allegiance to the United States or any other nation seem to think that they can operate in all areas of the planet without recognizing the laws of the particular nation they are operating in. Blackwater, whose employees routinely operate outside of the framework of Iraqi Law, have no particular allegiance to the nation of Iraq. That having been said, the firm also has not, and never will, unlike the United States military, have ever take an oath to uphold and defend the United States and the Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic. Taken at face value, the only recognizable entity that Blackwater is responsible to is the company itself. In unbeknownst to the majority of American citizens, Blackwater is not unique to corporations worldwide. Because some corporations were formed in the United States and have become household names, this does not insure that they have any particular allegiance to this nation or any other. Most corporations have allegiance to their “bottom line”, and nothing else.

This gives them Carte Blanche to destroy the environment, to break unions, to bring the wages down to an acceptable level that won’t hurt their “bottom line”. Many of these corporations think nothing of “outsourcing” American jobs when the wage levels and the climate that includes favorable labor laws and tax structures, favors the corporation. This is unlikely to change as long as the corporations are the ones financing the candidates for the Presidency and Congress. How can change take place when the people that ask for your vote are financed by the very same people that want to eliminate your job? I’m not trying to be fresh, but call your credit card company and make a payment arrangement or check your balance. If I didn’t know better I would say that most of the people on the other end of the telephone have been watching too many movies from “Bollywood”… or they are actually are in Bombay.

The only way that we are going to get our government back under control and controlled not by people that are indebted to the corporate structure, but to the American people, will be by revolution, this revolution that I am calling for is not a revolution against our government, but many will see it that way, but against the corporate influence that has pervaded every facet of American life. Corporate influence has threatened the very existence of America as a trusted servant of the American people, and has reduced our once respected Constitutional Republic to a corporate controlled fascist dictatorship that surrounds itself with the trappings of a representative republic.

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Former Chairman of the Liberal Party of America, Tim is a retired Army Sergeant. He currently lives in South Carolina. A regular contributor to OpEdNews, he is the author of Kimchee Days (or Stoned Cold Warriors).

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America better wake up quick and get involved in t... by Michael Chavers on Monday, Dec 3, 2007 at 4:53:23 PM
Yes...in the same way that under capitalism the re... by Cameron James on Monday, Dec 3, 2007 at 4:55:03 PM
The trick will be precision targeting. Not just th... by Timothy V. Gatto on Monday, Dec 3, 2007 at 5:24:38 PM