From When Corporations Rule the World, Third, 20th Anniversary Edition

Twenty years ago, the title When Corporations Rule the World evoked for many people a question: Do corporations rule the world? Events of the past twenty years have erased all trace of doubt. Indeed, they do. And the consequences are dire.

Our future depends on replacing a life-destroying capitalist suicide economy with a living economy devoted to life’s service. The need is urgent and imperative. The time to debate whether it is necessary or even possible has long passed. We must turn what seems politically impossible into the politically unstoppable. And we must do it in a blink of history’s eye.

In 1995, the seeds of resistance to corporate rule — which captured global attention with the 1999 Seattle WTO protest — were just beginning to germinate. Local-economy initiatives were few and scattered and had yet to coalesce into the global new-economy movement now emerging and gaining momentum by the day.

As the momentum builds, corporatists respond with assurances to the public that if government and special interest citizen advocates will just get out of their way, profit-driven corporations will create jobs for all and heal the environment. These assurances wear increasingly thin as the same corporatists spend billions of dollars on PR campaigns and political lobbying to defeat any initiative that might benefit people and the rest of nature at the expense of corporate freedom and profits.

The ruling institutions of the suicide economy cannot reform themselves from within for a simple reason: Their structure limits human decision making in their service to choices that maximize short-term profits. A system designed to maximize short-term profits free from the expression of moral sensibility drives inevitably toward ever-increasing inequality, environmental destruction, and political corruption. This inherently self-destructive economic system is like a cancer cell. It can destroy itself and the body on which it feeds; it cannot heal or replace itself with a healthy cell.

Even if modest internal reform is possible, marginal reforms can at best slow the damage. Humanity will continue on its suicidal path for so long as we accept the premise that money is wealth and that control of our means of living is best left to a global alliance of “too big to regulate” money-seeking corporate robots devoted to amassing monopoly power to extract unearned profits. . Our human future requires a different system based on authentic values and valid assumptions. We are only beginning to recognize the scope and depth of the implications.

To succeed in the daunting task of securing the future of humankind, we must be clear on the magnitude of the challenge, the forces aligned in our favor, and the critical needs and breakthrough opportunities.