Corporate power wielded through limited liability status
20th March, 2001
‘Immortal’ and created solely to amass ever larger amounts of wealth, limited-liability corporations institutionalise dissatisfaction. They are, Derrick Jensen writes, the economic manifestation of the Buddhist notion of ‘hungry ghosts’ – spirits that roam the earth, always eating, never sated.
I teach creative writing at a super maximum security prison in northern California. The men I teach are called by the corporate press ‘the worst of the worst’: they are robbers, thieves, murderers. But I now understand that these men are amateurs. If they really want to succeed at their chosen professions, they are going about it all wrong.
They need to get themselves special ‘limited-liability get-out-of-jail-free’ cards. Because the truth is that all of the men in the prison where I teach have killed far fewer people, destroyed far fewer lives, stolen far less money than the average CEO of the average limited-liability corporation.
No one’s laughing. Here are two jokes, neither of which are very funny:
Question: What do you get when you cross a long drug habit, a quick temper and a gun?
Answer: Two life terms for murder, earliest release date 2026.
Question: What do you get when you cross two nation states, a large limited-liability corporation, 40 tons of poison and at least 8,000 dead human beings?
Answer: Retirement with full pay and benefits.
If my students had robbed or killed in the service of economic production, with...
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