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Disembodiment

July 19, 2016

Since a corporation is not a human being, it has no human rights that can be violated through regulation or taxation.

But do not restrictions imposed on a corporation also restrict the activities of individuals?  Not unless they are explicitly written to apply to individuals as well as corporations.  And if they are not so written, a man may do business on his own account without limitation even while corporations are being strangled by regulation.  He may collaborate with partners, or even with the general public in an informal association.  There is nothing a corporation can do that he cannot do as well, except perhaps that it may grow larger, richer, and more powerful than his business ever will.

Economics are only the proximate cause of the corporation’s power in the twenty-first century.  The ultimate cause is the special treatment accorded by the state to a relatively small number of individuals and businesses in allowing them to form corporations in the first place.  Because of the ways in which corporations may evade taxes, pay nominal tax on only a tiny portion of their income, protect their owners and officers from liability and prosecution, and so on, they are not merely an alternative form of business organization, but a way of privileging certain individuals above others.  The corporation, like currency, is by its very existence a form of artificial interference with market forces.

This interference arises from the way in which the corporation, while only a conceptual entity, is permitted to behave as if it were a human being exempted from many of the laws that govern the actions of individuals.  Take away that permission – again a benefit granted and enforced by the state – and draw a firm line between the personal and the conceptual, and the advantages of the corporation as a business structure disappear.  As it is only a concept, a corporation has no right to special treatment in any case.  Nor do its owners by virtue of their ownership.  To deprive them of the benefits of incorporation would only be to place them on an equal footing, as individuals, with the rest of humanity.  Abolishing the corporation, or squeezing it out of existence, is a validation of human rights and marks a weakening rather than a strengthening of state authority.

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