Ending the Corporation as a Legal Person


The Corporation as Person

If We End Corporate Personhood We Can Define the Terms of a New Economy
by: Thom Hartmann, Berrett-Koehler Publishers | Book Excerpt

The prevalence of the corporation in America has led men of this generation to act, at times, as if the privilege of doing business in corporate form were inherent in the citizen; and has led them to accept the evils attendant upon the free and unrestricted use of the corporate mechanism as if these evils were the inescapable price of civilized life, and, hence, to be borne with resignation.

Throughout the greater part of our history a different view prevailed.

Although the value of this instrumentality in commerce and industry was fully recognized, incorporation for business was commonly denied long after it had been freely granted for religious, educational, and charitable purposes.

It was denied because of fear. Fear of encroachment upon the liberties and opportunities of the individual. Fear of the subjection of labor to capital. Fear of monopoly. Fear that the absorption of capital by corporations, and their perpetual life, might bring evils similar to those which attended mortmain [immortality]. There was a sense of some insidious menace inherent in large aggregations of capital, particularly when held by corporations.

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 19331

Although the increasingly unrestrained marketplace that Teddy Roosevelt and Louis Brandeis warn of makes it hard for many companies to emphasize community values, some still do. Others are recognizing the need to respond to human demands for a cleaner, safer, less toxic world.

Additionally, many people are fortunate enough to work in an industry they love, and the love of railroads or automobiles or flying or medicine has motivated the start-up and the ongoing operation of many of what are now the world’s best companies. Read the rest of this story..

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