Corporations Running the World Used to Be Science Fiction - Now It's a Reality
Corporations Running the World Used to Be Science Fiction - Now It's a Reality
A view of New York City's business skyscrapers Randy Pertiet under a Creative Commons Licence
By Aisha Dodwell / newint.org
Oct 13, 2016

Imagine a world in which all of the main functions of society are run for-profit by private companies. Schools are run by multinationals. Private security firms have replaced police forces. And most big infrastructure lies in the hands of a tiny plutocratic elite. Justice, such as it is, is meted out by shady corporate tribunals only accessible to the rich, who can easily escape the reach of limited national judicial systems. The poor, on the other hand, have almost no recourse against the mighty will of the remote corporate elite as they are chased off their land and forced into further penury.

This sounds like a piece of dystopian science fiction. But it’s not. It’s very close to the reality in which we live. The power of corporations has reached a level never before seen in human history, often dwarfing the power of states.

Today, of the 100 wealthiest economic entities in the world, 69 are now corporations and only 31 countries.* This is up from 63 to 37 a year ago. At this rate, within a generation we will be living in a world entirely dominated by giant corporations.

As multinationals increasingly dominate areas traditionally considered the primary domain of the state, we should be afraid. While they privatise everything from education and health to border controls and prisons, they stash their profits away in secret offshore accounts. And while they have unrivalled access to decision makers they avoid democratic processes by setting up secret courts enabling them to bypass all judicial systems applicable to people. Meanwhile their raison d’etre of perpetual growth in a finite world is causing environmental destruction and driving climate change. From Sports Direct's slave-like working conditions to BP's oil spill devastating people's homes, stories of corporations violating rights are all too often seen in our daily papers.

Yet the power of corporations is so great within our society that they have undermined the idea that there is any other way to run society. We are all too familiar with hearing about the threat of ‘losing corporate investment’ or companies taking their business somewhere else as if the government's number one task is to attract corporate investment.

It is this corporate agenda that permeates the governing institutions of the global economy, like the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, whose policies and operations have given more importance to the ‘rights’ of big business than the rights and needs of people and the environment.

The problem of unrestrained corporate power is massive, and it requires a massive solution. That is why Global Justice Now is launching a petition to the UK government demanding that it backs the new UN& initiative for a legally binding global treaty on transnational corporations and human rights.

This UN treaty is the result of campaigning by countries from across the global south for international laws to regulate the activities of TNCs. In June 2014 they successfully got a resolution passed in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) establishing the need for such a treaty.

A working group of member states has been set up to take the treaty forward, chaired by Ecuador, they have met once already in 2015, and have the next meeting scheduled for October 2016 to discuss the scope and content of the treaty. Meanwhile, civil society groups from across the world have come together and formed the Treaty Alliance movement which aims to make sure the treaty comes in to being with truly meaningful content.

Although it may sound like a boring technical process, this treaty is something we should be excited about because it provides a huge opportunity in the fight to restrain corporate power. It has massive potential to withdraw the privileges that corporations have gained over recent decades and force them to comply with international human rights law, international labour law and international environmental standards. It would oblige governments to take the power of corporations seriously, and hold them to account for the power they wield. This would standardise how different governments relate to multinationals which means that rather than allowing them to play countries off against one another in a race to the bottom, it would force minimum standards.

But the UK government, well known for its cosy relationship with corporations, has so far refused to take part in this UN treaty. And the UK are not alone, most other EUcountries are also opposed to the treaty.

We need to make sure our government doesn’t pass up on this rare opportunity to provide genuine protection for the victims of human rights abuses committed by multinational corporations and place binding obligations on all governments to hold their corporations to account for their impacts on people and the planet. 

That’s why groups across the continent are joining forces to make sure their leaders participate in the Geneva talks this October. The petition launched today, urging governments across Europe to participate in the Geneva talks will be delivered to national and EU leaders on 12 October.

Of course, the battle against corporate power has many fronts and the UN treaty is only one part of it. At the same time, we need to continue to develop alternative ways to produce and distribute the goods and services we need. We need to undermine the notion that only massive corporations can make the economy and society ‘work’. Food sovereignty and energy democracy are just two examples of how it is possible to build an economy without corporations. But as long as corporations do play a role in our economy, we need to find ways to control their activity and prevent abuses. This is why we need to fight for this UN treaty.

The alternative is that we continue to rush towards the dystopian vision of unchallenged corporate power. We cannot allow this to happen. We must fight back.


You can sign the petition on Global Justice Now’s website.

* These figures have been taken from a direct comparison of the annual revenue of corporations and the annual revenue of countries. Sources: CIA World Factbook 2015and Fortune Global 500.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,236 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 4,216 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 4,119 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 3,498 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 2,751 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 2,635 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 2,332 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,879 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,559 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,541 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 1,426 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,398 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,329 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 1,016 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 910 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 569 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
The Price of Certainty
7 min · 490 views today · It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong...
True Justice Should Have Compassion in It
Thich Nhat Hanh · 487 views today · I believe that true justice should have compassion in it. When someone does something harmful, destructive, the destruction is done not only to the person who is the victim...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 436 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 351 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Corporations Running the World Used to Be Science Fiction - Now It's a Reality