Welcome to the Corporatocracy - where Life is Nasty, Brutish, and Short

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could give corporations the power to commit genocide with no consequences. The High Court has agreed to hear the case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum which could give corporations immunity from any civil suits for engaging in some of the worst violations of human rights around the world that you can think of.

According to the Alien Tort Act law – private parties are responsible – and can be sued – for violations of international law. However – a recent Second Circuit court decision – ruled that corporations are not considered “private parties” and thus cannot be sued or held liable for breaking international law. The ironic thing here is this is essentially a corporate personhood case. If corporations are people – and can spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections – as the court ruled in Citizens United – then as people corporations should be held liable for atrocities committed abroad. But should the Supreme Court reconsider corporate personhood in this case – strictly to benefit corporate interests – then the consequences could be disastrous.

As Second Circuit court judge Pierre Leval wrote last year in his dissent, “So long as they incorporate, businesses will now be free to trade in or exploit slaves, employ mercenary armies to do dirty work for despots, perform genocides or operate torture prisons for a despot’s political opponents, or engage in piracy – all without civil liability to victims.” Welcome to the corporatocracy – where – to quote Thomas Hobbes – life is nasty, brutish, and short.

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