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Thought: If Corporations Are People, Let's Treat Them Like People

So, I've been giving it a bit of a think, and I think we've been going about opposing corporate personhood all wrong. I mean, yeah, by any common sense definition, WalMart's not a person. It's a series of stores and office buildings which people fit inside. People, as a rule, generally don't hang out inside other people, yet another reason I don't support fetal personhood. But this isn't about fetuses. It's about corporations. Although I suppose startups without enough funds might be classified as fetal corporations.

Anywho, I was saying something about corporations being people. With Citizens United declaring money speech and the Hobby Lobby case meaning corporations can have religious beliefs, in addition to other cases, I think we need to rethink things. I'm not sure opposing corporate personhood is a viable strategy. I think we need to embrace corporate personhood.


Now, I know you're probably thinking "You're fucking nuts, Santos. That's crazypants." Well, yeah. It is. But hear me out.

So, you might have heard of Slavoj Žižek. Earlier this summer he got busted plagiarizing white supremacists . Now, Žižek isn't supporting white supremacy here, but still. Anyway, that's all beside the point. Žižek's a dude who does a lot of thinking, often about capitalism and Star Wars and Coke-a-Cola.

A couple years ago I read a book by him, The Fragile Absolute: Or Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting for?


It's an interesting read, to be sure. The thing I took away from it at the time was that he seemed to be arguing that the most radical way to resist was to embrace. Don't resist, but join in wholeheartedly. Effectively, kill the institution by submitting to it. Kill it with kindness.

Sounds almost entirely stupid, right? I know. But, in the context of corporate personhood, it almost begins to make sense.


So what do we do? How do we take corporate personhood and use it to our advantage?

Well, I think we can start by removing the limits we put on corporate personhood. Let the corporations experience what it's like to be people for real. Let them realize how much it kind of sucks to be a person.


Now, the following is based on an extremely flimsy and completely uncredentialled understanding of psychology. It is in no way meant to disparage anybody who has a personality disorder, nor is it meant to be an accurate reflection of psychological practice.

This sheet says it comes from the APA, so that's good enough for me. It's a list of diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV and DSM V for personality disorders.


Corporations want to be people? Maybe we should have them see shrinks. I mean, they certainly have personality disorders. DSM V criteria include:

Significant impairments in self (identity or self-direction) and interpersonal (empathy or intimacy) functioning.


Corporations have boards of directors with a bunch of contradictory ideas. They exist in multiple locations at once. Sounds like significant impairments in self functioning to me. The completely single-minded drive toward profits and nothing else gives them a self-direction, but it completely nullifies the ability to function interpersonally with any degree of empathy or intimacy. Check.

One or more pathological personality trait domains or trait facets

Well, there's lying. There's gleefully ensuring workers are in poverty. There's killing people. Check.

The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.


Triangle Shirtwaist. Royal African Company. Pink slime. Check.

The impairments in personality functioning and the individual's personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual's developmental stage or sociocultural environment.


Since they're people, we;re going to understand developmental stages in human, people terms. And doing this stuff? Not becoming of a person who has hit the developmental stage where they realize other people exist and have feelings. Check.

The impairments in personality functioning and the individual‟s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).


Something tells me check.

So corporations are people. In that case, let's have them evaluated. Perhaps send them and their directors to therapy.


If corporations are people, let's borrow from the Hobby Lobby decision and say that firing people constitutes an abortion. Outside a clinic (and without a license to practice). I mean, if fetuses are people, why not employees? If we, as people, have a sincere religious belief that firing someone is aborting them, then we should be able to compel the corporation to keep the employee or at least not take any actions that would lead toward abortion.

Since corporations are people, if a death occurs because of their actions (or their negligence), let's charge them with murder. Let Florida or Texas figure out a nifty new execution method for these really big people. I'm liking the idea of demolition, personally.


Now that corporations are people, let's tax them when they relocate overseas like we do to all other American citizens.

Eventually they might just realize that being a person isn't all it's cracked up to be. Since fighting corporate personhood hasn't made it go away, the answer might really be to speed it along. We the people are the Blue Fairy, and we have the power to turn PinocchioMart into a real boy. And when he gets swallowed by a whale, turned into a jackass (oh wait, he already kind of was one), and learns what it's like to bleed he's going to wish he had just stayed a corporate marionette.


Image Credit: A Little Reality

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