Corporations are one of the most potent forces dictating and circumscribing how our lives are lived and undermining the survival of the world's ecosystems. Ways of effectively challenging their power and fighting for real democracy are being constricted. This project aims to explore the ways in which corporations exercise power over the decisions made in what we call a democracy, and the ways in which their ideologies and discourses facilitate this by co-opting and/or suppressing people's active democratic participation.
The injustice of 'corporate rule' in a nominally democratic country is a potent call to arms for many social and environmental justice campaigners. The phrase has often appeared in anti-corporate campaigns, reports, leaflets, posters and slogans on banners. It is not a throwaway slogan. It is an expression of the way people see the world working and the way decisions are made in our corporate-dominated political and economic systems.
The Corporate Rule project takes this idea, which speaks profoundly to people's sense of injustice, and itemises it to show the processes, networks and structures of power by which, in the UK and beyond, corporations can be said to rule: What aspects of our life do they rule? What mechanisms do they use to do so? And what is their impact on the sociopolitical organisation of society?
Corporate Rule is essentially a web-based resource featuring new and old research into the relationships between corporations and various social, economic and political structures and institutions. Some of the content will also be published in the future as a series of topical briefings.
The project examines the many aspects of UK and world politics where 'corporate rule' operates, including:
- revolving doors between government and business, which influence the decision-making process through lobbying, political donations, corruption and so on;
- the global governance and financial institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF;
- corporate control over technology, natural resources and consumer goods;
- the privatisation of public services and its impact on people's livelihoods;
- corporate media and PR;
- corporate philanthropy and so-called corporate social responsibility.
By examining these broad topics, we want to draw attention to the fact that the 'problem' is bigger than corporations simply having undue influence over supposedly democratic structures; it is a telling sign of the dominance of neoliberalism. The project, thus, provides an accessible entry point into an in-depth understanding of our current economic and political order, which affects every part of all our lives, but which is so often mystified by the mainstream media. The project also highlights alternatives to this mode of living and organising, providing examples of real democracy in action and looking at ways forward in opposing corporate rule.
The project is managed by all members of Corporate Watch as a collective project. This ensures that it utilises the combined knowledge and experience of the coop members, as well as the combined wealth of experience of other writers and activists we each work with. Needless to say, the project also invites contributions from researchers, activists and campaigners.
We hope we are creating a dynamic showcase for some of the best independent, corporate-critical writing today, sparking debate and provoking action.