slate magazine’s headline today says it all so well…
its just that the gepetto of american campaign finance is infinitely creepier than disney’s version.
in nothing short of a prostituting of the first amendment today’s supreme court ruling on Citizens United vs The Federal Election Commission, the cap on corporate campaign donations, put in place to try to ensure that ‘one person-one vote’ was not was drown out by lobbying funds, was lifted in order to free corporations to their ‘right to free speech’… a right granted previously only to the ‘all men’ of that same constitution.
with today’s ruling, corporations continue to be led by men and women to the top of the food chain. noam chomsky ‘s film ‘the corporation’ – viewable in full here – might remind us that corporations have long been that very apex and needed no further leading, yet there is something in today’s ruling that smarts. (oh-to-say-the-very-least). while american women waited until 1964 to be granted legal personhood, and african americans waited until 1965 for that same recognition, today corporations, economic entities without bodies, without human let alone animal, vegetable or mineral form, earned legal recognition as part of the ‘all men’ entitled to free speech.
when gay americans cannot find their way to equal rights under the law, what does it mean when the very same groups to support the ‘sanctity of marriage’ deny the very difference between, let alone sanctity of, living bodies and corporate economic holding structures?
over the last year or so, i’ve been following levi bryant and others in their search for an object oriented ontology. a flat ontology that would cede all objects – be they human, plant, worm, poem or passing emotion – equal ontological footing. the work is rigorous, the ideas are compelling, with part of their impetus coming from an anti-humanism, from the felt need for animals and environment to displace an anthropomorphic priority with ontological equalities of varying sorts. for all the obvious reasons this is critically important work.
and yet what would latour say about today’s ruling? is it a move in the right direction – granting things other than humans all the rights that humans want to claim and amass? (to be clear, we are not talking here about a universal claim to ‘human rights’ – something clearly as much a product of liberal economics as corporations themselves – but of legal rights. rights granted in the united states by the constitution.) or is it a misstep, a giant leap, actually toward a heightened sort of anthropomorphism that elevates human abstract production even beyond the status of the human?
there is a scene in the Grapes of Wrath where steinbeck has already written today’s verdict. when big bank officials descended like locusts to evict the farmers of the american 1930’s, when ‘the bank’ bought land out from under the farmers who worked it…
It’s not us, it’s the bank. A bank isn’t like a man. Or an owner with fifty thousand acres, he isn’t like a man either. That’s the monster.
Sure, cried the tenant men, but it’s our land. We measured it and broke it up. We were born on it, and we got killed on it, died on it. Even if it’s no good, it’s still ours. That’s what makes it ours – being born on it, working it, dying on it. That makes ownership, not a paper with numbers on it.
We’re sorry. It’s not us. Its’ the monster. The bank isn’t like a man.
Yes, but the bank is only made of men.
No, you’re wrong there – quite wrong there. The bank is something else than men. It happens that every man in a bank hates what the bank does, and yet the bank does it. The bank is something more than men, I tell you. It’s the monster. Men made it, but they can’t control it.