Occupy Economics, Part 5: Corporate Personhood, Democracy, and Occupy

Summary: Corporations are the Frankensteins of contemporary capitalism, acting as vehicles of capitalist class power. They are the modern Trojan horse that smuggles market logic and the private power of capital into democratic spaces and practices. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010) did not establish corporate personhood, but it did lift almost all limitations on corporate cash into electoral politics. This teach-in discusses the specifics of Citizens United, the history of the corporation and of corporate personhood, as well as the perverted logic of the Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), which ruled that money is political speech. It also takes up the radical individualism and rights-centric nature of political liberalism to demonstrate how liberalism’s abstract understanding of politics leads to corporate personhood. Finally, we see why Occupy is a democratic alternative to this form of politics.

Dr. Chad Kautzer is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado Denver.

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