1. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Corporatocracy (political science question?)

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Sifunkle, Aug 29, 2014.

    Apologies if this is similar to my previous post here (on corporate structure), but I think it's a distinct topic.

    I'm trying to suss out how a 'corporatocracy' (for the sake of discussion, can we take this to mean 'rule by businesses'?) would become established. Specifically, how a typical first-world capitalistic democracy could become corporatocratic over time.

    I suppose my view is that political decisions seem to always favour the bigwigs (at least in my own country; I imagine a certain amount of 'pissing in pockets' goes on), so this seems like an obvious conclusion (e.g. with privatisation, etc, maybe private business end up in control of the resources the government would need in order to effect policy, and take over?). But I'm sure democratic governments have policies in place to restrict the power big businesses could attain...

    I don't even know exactly where I'd be able to research such a topic. To the best of my knowledge, it's a theoretical model thus far (+/- a few scathing references made to exaggerate the flaws of current governance). It seems at a crossroads of politics, economics and business (I'm woefully ignorant in all 3 areas). Would 'political science' be the most relevant field?

    I can't even think of any fictional examples I've encountered that shed much light. Some works depict corporatocracies (e.g. Weyland-Yutani from the Alien franchise), but don't really go into the machinations thereof.

    Any suggestions appreciated!
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    You mean like some kind of Objectivist society? I'll not recommend Atlas Shrugged, the bible of Anarcho-Capitalism which also happens to be a heap of shit. But I would say there are small communities that have tried to have societies with non-government involvement in economics, like tax havens.
     
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  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Some people already argue that the US is becoming a corporatocracy. Here are two interesting links you might want to look at:

    Rise of the Global Corporatocracy
    Here's a review of the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

    Of course, to get more information on the subject, you'll have to look at books and journal articles.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would not be so sure about this. Also, I'd start with Noam Chomsky. He is accessible and knows what he's talking about.
    @thirdwind : 'Economic Hitman' is a chilling read. And people still wonder what happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine...CIA happened, that's what.
     
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  5. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Hah, yeah, I left that ellipsis just begging for someone to contradict me!

    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Looks like I've got some reading to do this weekend!
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I've never actually read it, but I've heard a lot about it. I think someone even mentioned it here on this forum (maybe it was you?). It's been on my to-read list for a while now, so I plan on getting to it at some point.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can save you a lot of time on Ayn Rand if you want. Narcissism, justifiable selfishness, and stupidity. There, now you don't need to read Atlas Shrugged. :p
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    It a worthwhile read, it makes sense of certain things, that's for sure.
     
  9. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you have a few years? ;)

    The extremely condensed version in the U.S. is this: When the U.S. had first gained its independence from Britain, the founders fought over how to construct the country. Alexander Hamilton believed that the mass populous of the country could not be trusted to take care of itself; morals weren't enough. So he imagined a system wherein the rich elites would be tied to the government, supposing that the rich would use their vast resources to support a strong government that would benefit the masses because it was in their best economic interest to do so (happy and more customers = more revenue).

    That's the political philosophy behind the decision. As to the how, I would say this: In the U.S. (and your country if you wish to mirror it), Lockean Liberalism (look up John Locke's 2nd Treatise if you want to know more) rules most of the economic decision-making. This philosophy states that people should be free to do what they want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else, leading to the argument that the government should not regulate the economy. The ideas of laissez-faire come into play here, with people believing that a truly free market is the best because it maximizes production.

    The problem with those two ideas is that they can create an elite-driven country when they combine. The benefits of laissez-faire are based on a free market where there are no monopolies and companies can easily enter and leave the markets, thus regulating the prices based on a market-driven supply/demand curve. In Lockean Liberalism, though, you can have company monopolies because the government isn't supposed to step in and tell them they can't have one.

    As the elites centralize more and more of the resources among themselves, they gain more power over others. The ideas of Lockean Liberalism come into play here, as these corporations have been given basically unlimited power to give their money to any political candidates they want (i.e. government shouldn't tell people what to do). Because of this, the rich can pay for politicians campaigns, etc. to help them in return for the politicians pushing for policy that can help the rich. To get their policy approved, the politicians conjure up the ideals of Lockean Liberalism and say the government is trying to take away your freedom. These ideas have become especially useful during and after the Cold War, as Communism was associated with being anti-freedom and associated with anything socialistic. This allowed them to frame any policy where the government would intervene to subdue corporation power as socialistic and, thus, anti-freedom.

    Runaway uses of Lockean Liberalism combined with laissez-faire principles and Hamilton's notion of the rich benefiting the poor (you can look up trickle-down economics) can cause a country to become run by economic elites. That can happen in your country too.
     
  10. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the OP should play Bioshock instead, a video game available for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. It's about an Ayn Randian society where an economic elite builds a no-government society on the bottom of the sea. It's critiques Randian principles while being fun to play, and it doesn't make you want to scratch your eyes out like when reading Atlas Shrugged.
     
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  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I agree. I do very much enjoy that game. Shame the other two BioShock games suck. I really wanted to love Infinite too.
     
  12. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Before I got to that last sentence, I wondered how you knew me so well ;)

    @Ben414 : That's an extremely helpful distillation, thanks so much! Encouraging too, as I was on the right track :) but you've provided some flesh to pad the bones, and some more robust terms to direct my research. Greatly appreciated!

    I'm a little out-of-touch with games, but might have some free time in a few months. Used to enjoy a game with something to say, so if Bioshock comes recommended I'll look into it (especially if it can be found at low cost :oops: , reflecting my means, not my attitude).

    I'm still fairly new to this forum, and wasn't sure how widely appreciated video games are here. One of the corporatocratic examples I had in mind was from a game: the Shinra company in Final Fantasy VII (which I played a long time ago). I remember one minor character from the game: a mayor widely regarded as just a public figurehead for the intrigues of the corporation. This is a feature of the type of society I'm referring to. Guess I'm already much closer to understanding how it would arise!
     
  13. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Sifunkle I'm glad I could help, especially if it helps another person find the masterpiece that is Bioshock. BTW, on the note of recommendation, Bioshock is the highest rated PC game of all-time by metacritic.

    Good luck with the story!
     
  14. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Continuum?
     

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