Monday, May 05, 2008

kleptocray, plutocracy, and corporatocracy defined

klep·toc·ra·cy (klp-tkr-s)
n. pl. klep·toc·ra·cies
A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.


plu·toc·ra·cy (pl-tkr-s)
n. pl. plu·toc·ra·cies
1. Government by the wealthy.
2. A wealthy class that controls a government.
3. A government or state in which the wealthy rule.
[Greek ploutokrati : ploutos, wealth; see pleu- in Indo-European roots + -krati, -cracy.]



Corporatocracy (sometimes corporocracy) is a neologism coined by proponents of the Global Justice Movement to describe a government bowing to pressure from corporate entities.

According to the Global Justice Movement, while anyone can become a shareholder in principle, in reality it is frequently only the wealthy who can afford to own enough stock to directly influence the voting (and hence the activities) of a large corporation. As a result, the corporatocracy might be considered somewhat synonymous with plutocracy, government by the rich.

Some argue that a real corporatocracy can only appear when and if a government makes it legal to bribe politicians. According to this argument, that quickly makes politicians very corporate-friendly, and makes it easy for corporations to pass laws as they see fit. Supporters of this view in the United States believe the allowance for campaign contributions has created a situation allowing for pervasive regulatory capture, offering the contributions that prompted Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as evidence. Also, many supporters of this view argue that when the major media outlets are controlled by large corporations, access to information tends to become limited to what serves corporate interests, and corporate interests in turn are able to define the national political agenda. Finally, according to this view, when the majority of wealth of the politicians is invested into corporations, that gives politicians incentive to support the corporations.

According to supporters of this view, the nature of corporations and stock market investment makes some of the desires of corporations unexpected. For example, a national corporation in a purely national industry (non international) would be less worried about a universal regulation which would decrease profits, than a regulation that would target that individual company, since investors would be more likely to divest in the second case.

Some critics of this term argue that the term has no real meaning in terms of political theory, arguing that a corporation is nothing more than a body of individuals, ruled by a governing body (elected by its shareholders) and executives appointed by that body. As such, it is argued to have as much a right as any other body of people to exercise powers. Pursuing the overriding shareholder interest in corporate profitability generally guides the actions of corporate governing bodies, and it is in the pursuit of this interest that corporations exercise their financial and marketplace power in order to influence public policy. However, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Marsh v. Alabama (1946) that a corporation that acts like a government should be treated as one.

The U.S. as a corporatocracy
There are those who suggest and point to alleged evidence of corporatocracy within the U.S. government by looking at U.S. history with the actions of Sanford B. Dole in Hawaii, William Howard Taft and the Nicaragua Canal, Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Operation Ajax allegedly in support of oil interests and Operation PBSUCCESS in support of United Fruit Company. They may believe Richard M. Nixon played a role in the overthrow of Salvador Allende Gossens to attempt to prevent the Chilean nationalization of copper, on the grounds that nationalization crimped U.S. based Anaconda Copper and Kennecott Utah Copper.

Those disagreeing with the above would argue the United States government was "protecting" America from Marxist governments, "freeing" people of those countries, acting against undemocratic governments, protecting United States citizens or acting for a variety of reasons other than supporting corporate corruption.

The term however is more accurately used to describe actions of Corporations interested in maintaining laws they consider positive for their interests and thus makes it a question of resources to spend (it can be cheaper to give money to a few individuals than to bow to strict laws that cost a lot).

Corporatocracy is also used by John Perkins in his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to describe a system of governance controlled by "big corporations, international banks, and government" (Perkins / Plume paperback edition, 94). Harking back to the "military-industrial complex," Perkins claims the corporatocracy is manifested in the following cycle: the World Bank issues loans to developing nations to pay for large-scale development projects; contracts are then doled out to a handful of U.S. engineering firms; as a result, these countries become ensnared in a net of interest payments and debts they cannot repay. U.S. corporations benefit through increased profits, and the U.S. government benefits through securing its political clout and control over developing countries with vast natural resources. According to Perkins, the majority of people in those countries do not benefit since a large portion of their country's budget goes toward servicing the national debt instead of improving living conditions.

Perkins claims that the convergence between big corporations, international banks, and government - according to him, the three pillars of corporatocracy - allows "economic elite" to move easily between these sectors. He offers several examples, including that of Vice President and former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney (Perkins / Plume paperback edition, 91).

The concept has been used several times in literary fiction. Two recent examples include David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (2004) and Max Barry's Jennifer Government (2003). Both are dystopian novels which portray the complete political and social dominance of corporations. Mitchell uses the term Corpocracy. Both novels can be interpreted as making a satirical comment on the current unchecked power of corporations in our societies.

Main article: Megacorp

Those who discuss coporatocracy often tender Singapore or Chile under Augusto Pinochet, where the state supports a strong free market, with weak and sometimes nonexistent political freedom as examples of Corporatocracy. Although the corporations do not rule Singapore, the state often supports them.
See also

This entry is related to, but not included in the Political ideologies series or one of its sub-series. Other related articles can be found at the .

* Anarcho-capitalism
* Corporate abuse
* Corporate police state
* Corporatism
* Crony capitalism
* Kleptocracy
* Juristic person
* Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
* Megacorp
* The Corporation
* Captive State


* Perkis, John. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Plume Books 2006 ISBN 0452287081
* Current Era
* Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
* Canadian Action Party

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[Greek kleptein, to steal + -cracy.]

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