The corporation is an artificial construct originated centuries ago to give investors and workers legal protections that balanced risk taking with entrepreneurial rewards. This construct propelled national economies to new heights, which would not otherwise have been achieved. Corporations and derivatives such as LLCs to this day provide America with the best balance for entrepreneurial growth. Yet, with the creation of the corporation, a new life form began that has now evolved to test the very nations that gave it life. Like Frankenstein, the corporation has loosened its legal bindings at the economic frontier and now has the potential to become the corporate-state master of its nation-state creator.
This imposition by corporate-states upon nation-states is appalling. Our government institutions have been rotted from the inside to their skin and their innards have been replaced with government zombies that dutifully perform functions set upon them by their corporate masters. It is a ghastly phenomenon centuries in the making, visible to the naked eye for at least a hundred years, formed from the initial character of corporations. Yet, we humans are caught in our original paradigm of corporations as servants of the nation and are unable to see a new corporate threat evolving.
We call the newest corporate form transnational or multinational. Yet these terms merely define the world’s current paradigm of the frontier edge of corporatism. They name this static moment in the development of the corporation, and not what it is becoming. “Anational” refers to the transforming paradigm of the corporation that has loosened its host nation’s bindings and that is no longer attracted to any nation except in terms of what it might gain from that nation, similarly to how the term “asexual” refers to a human that is not attracted to any gender sexually except for how that contact might produce its offspring.
We mistakenly attempt to label anationals’ evolving perverse power as having a human form, AKA Citizens United. Yet the only way we can continue to call corporations people having citizen power is to also label their behavior humanly perverse, almost psychopathic. Our problem is that we attempt to give human characteristics to all life forms. We would rather call a great white shark a man-eating monster than to swim in its skin, defining its repeatable patterns meant to enhance its sustainability on this planet. If instead of calling corporations people, we could understand how corporate-states consistently act to sustain their lives, we would not have to denigrate corporate existence with human behavioral terms but rather celebrate corporate life form, as we should any other on this planet.
Celebrating a life form does not mean approaching it cavalierly. At their evolving frontier boundary, corporations are gaining enormous capacity to bend nations to their will, in ways that do not help our citizens. In an effort to stave off the inevitable, scholars like Michael Porter write of co-opting corporations toward patriotism, citizenship, or perhaps more precisely corporate responsibility to host nations, or at least including nation states in the list of corporate stakeholders. Yet these attempts to persuade corporations to take on human characteristics are only stop gaps to the evolving threat.
Just as the U.S. can coax China to participate as partners at this stage of our empire’s shifting power sharing, the U.S. can still coerce corporations to participate as national citizens to some extent, even those as powerful as corporate-states. Yet, just as the power struggle between China and the U.S. will ultimately intensify, our ability to co-opt the growing power of corporate states is also waning.
The time will come when corporate states gain a plurality of world power and work together for the betterment of the metropolis of corporate states. By then, nation states by necessity will also have evolved to retain our maximum power. We will then no longer see corporations as people with the rights of citizens. Instead they will finally be correctly defined from the nation-state perspective as a means to an end and will be measured and rewarded for what they can add to the nation-state.
The idea that corporations are people with citizens’ rights will be replaced by the idea that corporations are self-sustaining life forms that live amongst us just as bacteria and bears do. We will acknowledge that corporations perform vital functions in the advancement of humanity but that they can kill us if we do not respect their limitations. Nations will pursue the harnessing of anationals’ positive aspects and will intensify efforts to corral their negative ones. We will understand that corporations are not wild horses that can be contained in national regulatory pens and ridden rodeo style.
Most nations today are nowhere near large enough to contain anationals’ eventual strengths with only national regulatory and legal tools. Nations will by necessity have to cooperatively combine efforts. Unfortunately, the world will also destabilize as smaller nations attempt to consume one another to find scale large enough to survive the next millennium. The very existence of corporate-states will cause tribes to devalue regional differences that have defined current national boundaries formed to combat external threats. China is not a single tribe nor is India or the United States. Others will follow.
Some might label my corporate musings as conspiratorial paranoia. Yet conspiracy is simply another human trait that would attempt to contain the evolution of anationals within our human boundaries. Conspiracy by definition suggests that anationals are somehow more aware of the global shift taking place than nation-states and thus are light years ahead in their planning and efforts. Along the bell curve, some nations such as China are able by their historical circumstances to have a much longer planning horizon than others. Similarly, some anationals are much more aware of their future posterity than others and are acutely acting on their global economic advantages. As a whole however, nation-states and corporate-states are adrift in this sea of evolution, making short-term sustenance moves, as they are able.
Great white sharks instinctively know that they must sometimes migrate throughout the entirety of the ocean, but like humans they give their greatest weight of thought to their next meal rather than where they will be during mating season. Yet, somehow the world aligns to bring them home again, and it will also align to reposition the power of anationals higher in the hierarchy of states. Thought to how nation-states must react to this realignment is warranted.
What this realignment means for humanity is unclear. The role of the nation-state to serve its people, economically and otherwise, providing a balance along the life wheel of work and play, protection and freedom, stability and exploration, sustenance and opportunity is becoming increasingly threatened. People’s allegiances to corporate-states will strengthen as realignment intensifies, threatening national allegiances and humanity’s balance further unless we learn to coexist. Shifting our current paradigm of the corporation will serve us well in that effort.