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Noam Chomsky on Corporations

Political Activist


Corporations are legal persons with more rights than people

Over the years, the privileges granted to these state-created private tyrannies have been extended, primarily by courts. Corporations are legally persons under the law, with rights far beyond those of human beings.

In the 2010 Supreme Court 5-4 decision on Citizens United, Chief Justice Roberts selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds, and maneuvered the Court into using it for a far-reaching decision that, in effect, permits corporate managers to buy elections directly, instead of using more indirect means.

Corporate campaign contributions are a major factor in determining the outcome of elections, and the same is sure to be true of the virtually unlimited advertising for candidates now permitted by the Court. This alone is a significant factor in policy decisions, reinforced by the enormous power of corporate lobbies and other conditions imposed by the very small sector of the population that dominates the economy.

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p. 31-32 , Jun 1, 2010

Corporations are fascist and incompatible with democracy

Q: You view corporations as being incompatible with democracy, and you say that is we apply the concepts that are used in political analysis, corporations are fascist. What do you mean?

A: I mean fascism pretty much in the traditional sense, [analogous to] a system in which the state integrates labor and capital under their control. The ideal is top-down control with the public essentially following orders.

Fascism is a term that doesnít strictly apply to corporations, but if you look at them, power goes strictly top-down. Ultimate power resides in the hands of investors, owners, banks, etc. People can disrupt, make suggestions, but the same is true of a slave society. People who arenít owners and investors have nothing much to say about it.

Thatís something of an exaggeration because corporations are subject to some legal requirements and there is some limited degree of public control. But corporations are more totalitarian than most institutions we call totalitarian in the political arena.

Source: Secrets, Lies, and Democracy, by Noam Chomsky, p. 9 , May 2, 1994

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Page last updated: Mar 15, 2014