Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing Power

Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing Power

Postby Oscar » Sun Sep 25, 2016 3:01 pm

Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing Power

By: Susan George First published in English in 2015

Description

Lobbying has long been part of the political landscape. But in recent years links between big business and government have become stronger and more far-reaching than ever. Global corporations now demand control over decisions affecting labour laws, finance, public health, food and agriculture, safety regulations, taxes and international trade and investment. They even claim the right to private tribunals where they can sue governments for passing laws that could harm their present or future profits.

These business elites don t want to govern directly. They operate behind the scenes - directing planning, setting standards and fashioning government to maximise their own profits. Thanks to the UN Global Compact they have extended their influence to the highest levels of multilateral decision-making and now, via the Davos-inspired Global Redesign Initiative, they are setting their sights on managing world-wide public policy.

Elected by and accountable to no one, secretive and highly organized, these shadow sovereigns are destroying the very notion of the common good and making a mockery of democracy. It is high time we challenged this assault on our rights and our institutions. In this incisive and clear-sighted book Susan George provides us with the practical knowledge to do just that.
Oscar
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Re: Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing P

Postby Oscar » Thu Oct 27, 2016 9:48 pm

The Rise of the Illegitimate Authority of Transnational Corporations

[ http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepic ... rporations ]

Thursday, 03 December 2015 00:00

By Susan George, Polity Books | Book Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing Power:

We're surrounded.

Everywhere you look you find masses, droves, gangs of unelected, unaccountable, profit-oriented individuals, corporations and new institutions surfacing everywhere, making official policy in areas ranging from public health to food and agriculture; from taxes to finance and trade. Some are lobbyists for particular private companies or for entire industries, others executives of the world's largest businesses, often with a turnover much greater than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many of the countries where they operate; more and more often, the entities they have created have become quasi-governmental bodies cooperating across national frontiers.

Their role is overtly political and they exercise illegitimate power. They work through lobbies but also directly through governments - not just by convincing elected officials to pass this law or that one, but also through obscure 'expert committees' or ad hoc bodies whose quiet 'mission creep' may gain them official standing. Their activities may be carried out for the benefit of a single company or for an entire industry.

Sometimes they form their own powerful international organizations with large budgets devoted to intervention in world affairs. They have become expert in the careful preparation of strategic trade treaties to be negotiated in secret but under the constant surveillance of corporate delegates.

They've got ordinary citizens under their broad thumb, an appendage also used to thumb their noses at the public interest and the common good. Throughout North America and Europe in particular, this corporate spawn is spearheading an important political shift that I call the 'rise of illegitimate authority,' and the constellations of organized interest groups constitute a genuine threat to democracy.

....government in the usual sense, carried out by clearly identifiable, democratically elected officials, is gradually being eroded, sometimes even supplanted by shadow 'governments' to which these officials have made huge concessions. This may happen by choice, because officialdom is scared of the giants or admires and wants to pander to them. To be more generous, the bureaucrats and leadership may simply be blind to the long-term implications of their choices. In any case, they have handed over substantial power to these behemoths that now make decisions in innumerable areas that affect our lives.

I've chosen to call these giant corporate actors 'transnationals,' or 'TNCs,' rather than 'multinationals,' which many people use; first, because TNC is the official United Nations usage; more importantly, because the executives who occupy the upper, strategic levels of the largest companies are usually natives of the same country as that of their international headquarters. The companies they run are certainly 'multi'-national in the sense that they have offices, sales and production facilities in a 'multi'-tude of countries, but their top people retain their most relevant family, social, political and cultural connections in the country where they were born and brought up. They understand how to operate there and have easier access and closer relationships with the government. They will lose less time getting things done in the corporate interest.

For such reasons, the CEO, COO, CFO - Chief Executive, Operations or Financial Officers - like the heads of R&D or executive board members, are more likely to be nationals of the headquarters country than to be foreigners, even nearby foreigners. In this sense, even among the largest corporate entities, Nestlé is Swiss, Total French, General Motors American and Siemens German, no matter how many countries they may operate in.

Perhaps locals are also considered potentially more loyal, although to succeed in the business world such virtues as patriotism or loyalty are necessarily reserved for the company itself. Top executives have scant concern for the ultimate fate of any of the countries where the company has facilities, including their own. If higher profits demand it, they must and will readily close down plants or sack workers, whether fellow-citizens or not.

Since the onset of neoliberal politics at the beginning of the 1980s, which accelerated at the end of the Cold War in 1991 when the Soviet Union disappeared, the number of TNCs has soared. Globalization has given wings to the giant corporations and helped them to create their own meta-organizations to deal with particular world spheres such as trade and the environment. Other outgrowths are both 'meta' - above or beyond in Greek - and 'mega' - great or powerful - such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), better known by the name of the Swiss skiing resort where since 1971 it has met yearly: Davos. The growing ambition of the Davos cluster of organizations can be simply defined: to run the world.

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[ http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepic ... rporations ]
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