Corporatocracy and the Rise of Corporate Republics

Corporatocracy (/ˌkɔːrpərəˈtɒkrəsi/, from corporate and Greek: -κρατία, romanized: -kratía, lit. 'domination by', short form corpocracy, is a recent term used to refer to an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests. It is most often used as a term to describe the economic situation in the United States.

President Donald Trump doesn't like cryptocurrencies.

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks, both National and International,” he added.

Let's ignore the "based on thin air" currency comment for the moment (Our current debt-based currency system is a little too similar).
Why is the Trump Administration getting excited over this particular cryptocurrency? After all, cryptocurrencies have been around for a decade.
In truth it's not for any of the official reasons, such as crime and privacy.

Facebook said last month it would launch its global cryptocurrency in 2020. Facebook and 28 partners, including Mastercard Inc (MA.N), PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) and Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N), would form the Libra Association to govern the new coin. No banks are currently part of the group.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the largest U.S. bank by assets, plans to launch its own digital coins.

Trump’s comments come one day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers that Facebook’s plan to build a digital currency called Libra could not move forward unless it addressed concerns over privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability.

There are two legitimate concerns with Libra and one of them involves size.
I've heard that if just 10% of Facebook members use Libra, that it will be one of the largest currencies in the world. What would happen if hundreds of billions of dollars in a non-sovereign currency suddenly hit the world markets?
Because, unlike Bitcoin, it is being partnered with credit card companies and thus there will be ways to spend the currency, this could be a thing.

The biggest concern, IMHO, involves the issue of corporate power.

Today, what was feared 40 years ago is becoming a reality. Corporations have become the nations of the world and they increasingly act as such.
Facebook's cryptocurrency initiative signals that this issue will assume even bigger proportions. For millennia, one of the defining features of sovereignty has been the minting and circulation of state-specific currency. Corporations like Facebook are now taking over this prerogative from governments. But monetary policy isn't neutral: It is one of the main levers for the distribution of wealth and privilege.
The announcement comes at a time when the monetary policies of countries across the world have increasingly accommodated the interests of big corporations and the wealthy at the expense of ordinary people. This has led to both unprecedented deregulation, which has caused repeated economic crises, and the subsequent imposition of severe austerity measures hurting the livelihoods of millions of citizens.

For generations, libertarians have told us that as you shrink government individual freedom fills in the void.
Obviously that is total crap.
In reality, as the neoliberals shrink the government, private power and private tyranny fills the void of public power and public tyranny.
The only difference is that government can be made accountable.

The article then describes how corporations would gain "another lever of control over the world - currency" while "they will remain unaccountable to anyone but themselves."
Which is all true, but not in any way different from where the neoliberals are already leading us.
The difference is that the middle-man, i.e. the government, is being cut out of the racket.
Up until now, the government gets a piece of the action when we get sold off like slaves to these predatory corporations.
Then this article makes a mistake.

Indeed, we are witnessing the birth of a new kind of planetary powers, boasting genuine state characteristics: global "corporate nations" that can extend their powers across the entire planet. Traditional concepts of state sovereignty are becoming increasingly irrelevant as corporations encroach on state functions. If today they are able to compete in information control, social provision, and currency circulation, how far away is their takeover of the ultimate symbol of state power - monopoly over the use of force?

Imagine that: a corporate takeover of the monopoly use of force.
Forget for a moment that our military is slowly being privatized, and that we already have the biggest mercenary armies in the world.
While a real, honest concern, this is in no way "the birth of a new" anything.
We've seen this before.
We already know where it ends, and it's not good.

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At the height of its power, early in the 19th Century, the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), aka the British East India Company, had a private army of about 260,000—twice the size of the British Army.
The company conquered large parts of the Indian subcontinent by force of arms, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong. Rule by corporation has certain drawbacks.

Widespread corruption and looting of Bengal resources and treasures during its rule resulted in poverty. Famines, such as the Great Bengal famine of 1770 and subsequent famines during the 18th and 19th centuries, became more widespread, chiefly because of exploitative agriculture promulgated by the policies of the East India company and the forced cultivation of opium in place of grain.

The Dutch East India Company, officially the United East India Company, was not significantly different. It possessed the ability to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, strike its own coins, and establish colonies.
By the mid-17th Century it was the richest private company the world had ever seen, with over 150 merchant ships, 40 warships, 50,000 employees, and a private army of 10,000 soldiers. It conquered Indonesia, Suriname and the Antilles, and at one time owned part of South Africa and New York.
Like the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company was a major player in the international slave trade. Like the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company was guilty of wars of aggression, genocidal levels of killing, environmental destruction, and causing famines.

This is what corporate rule means. All of the bad things we see with big government, but with none of the accountability. Thus there is no reason to stop the atrocities.
The difference today is that instead of exporting these corporate states upon brown-skinned people in distant lands, we are importing corporate rule upon ourselves through neoliberalism.
The atrocities of the British and Dutch companies came to an end because the British and Dutch governments were there to put a stop to them eventually. When we've put ourselves under corporate rule there will be no one to save us.

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Steven D's picture

when companies paid people with their own script and used that power to exploit them. Ecept on a much larger scale.

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"You can't just leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution."---Tyree Scott

k9disc's picture

The information disparity is completely off the charts these days. Absent a large scale EMP that wipes out all chipped tech and sends us back to the stone age, I think this battle for freedom and liberty is most likely over.
@Steven D

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

dervish's picture

issued by Zuckerberg?

My favorite crypto-currency is gold.

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"Obama promised transparency, but Assange is the one who brought it."

@dervish
People buy stuff through Facebook.
It's possible for him to make using his currency seamless and barely noticeable. There will always be a group that values convenience above all else.

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@dervish pegged to a basket of fiat currencies and readily convertible to any of those currencies. This would, for example, allow one to pay for goods in other countries easily or transfer funds instantly (bypassing the SWIFT system) without the hassles of conventional banks and little or no currency conversion costs. It would also offer a bit of insulation against changes in value of individual fiat currencies, because it is pegged to a basket of currencies. It does threaten the international banking system (not a bad thing) and the status of the dollar as the de facto international currency. A real international currency not controlled by the FED and the US financial system scares the hell out of TPTB. This is why Trump and TPTB are so bothered by Libre. I dislike Facebook and have never had a Facebook account, but Libre is interesting because it is an unintended threat to dollar hegemony.

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QMS's picture

@Roy Blakeley
In this context, the fiat money the banks control would live longer than the citizens of earth. Probably to their advantage on some spreadsheet.

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Listen to your higher mind.

@Roy Blakeley @Roy Blakeley @Roy Blakeley a system owned by the govt-compliant on speech Mark Zuckerberg would not similarly toe the line when the big banks get into the ears of Congress, as they already are starting to do.

I doubt if the banks fear Libre. They know when they put the pressure on, Zuck will cave. I see Libre, if it does get going, as working hand in glove with the banks.

TPTB and big banks should fear Bitcoin much more, but doubt if many truly understand its ability to entirely bypass BBs and if not make them obsolete, at least dramatically reduce their power.

BTC is much more of a private, permissionless trustworthy system that already has better security features than FB and its track record of releasing/selling people's private data.

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@dervish conduct everyday transactions in gold. And it always requires 3d parties and permission to transact, unlike Bitcoin.

However as an investment, gold might look good in the near future, so I am told. Just not remotely as good as BTC.

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@wokkamile

Rather difficult to conduct everyday transactions in gold.

That's why there is silver.

And it always requires 3d parties and permission to transact, unlike Bitcoin.

Huh??? Why would you think that?

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detroitmechworks's picture

Soon as they give a corporation the right to set law on their own property, welcome to the shadows, chummer.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

k9disc's picture

and MIT&M doesn't really seem that far off to me either.

@detroitmechworks

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

detroitmechworks's picture

@k9disc to his fictional history and the current state with detention camps... Of all the futures, I didn't want to live in the Shadowrun one, but I ain't got magic, so I'll just have to make do with fire and materials science experimentation. Smile

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

k9disc's picture

predicted, so you still got time to get your magic.

Think you're a meta? Orc or troll? Elf? Wink

Yea, it was a scary dystopia for me, largely because it seemed so possible. That changed to probable in the late 90s when I happened to revisit it in the early days of the internet. Then it was actually happening by the time Idiocracy came out.

Think I'll wind up in the NAN, if they'll have me.
@detroitmechworks

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

detroitmechworks's picture

@k9disc At least that's what I kid about. I mean I kinda tick all the boxes. Into metal work, stone and glass, family, gruff, untrusting, cynical, and keep to myself...

Plus I take a martial art geared towards combating larger opponents and designed to be able to be used while wearing heavy armor... And of course my daughter is 5'1" so, we're just tall for dwarves...

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

k9disc's picture

ditto

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“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ~ Sun Tzu

what we're going to see is a system where individual merchants, say GM, will only accept payment in Facebookbucks. Want food? You'll need a Facebook account. Want a car? You'll need a Chase account. Want clothes? That'll be Apple. Want the police or an ambulance?

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A PROUD Hillary hater since 1993

@doh1304
The Land O' The Free will be an Orwellian term.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@gjohnsit

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.