The Rise of the Illegitimate Authority of Transnational Corporations

George, Susan

Date Written:  03/12/2015
Year Published:  2015  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX18435

Transnational corporations are demanding the right to what they call "competitiveness": lower taxes, control over lawmaking, and the right to sue governments for affecting profits. In her new book, Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations are Seizing Power, Susan George shines a light on the secret corporate coalitions that are influencing critical government decisions and posing a direct threat to democracy.



Everywhere you look you find masses, droves, gangs of unelected, unaccountable, profit-oriented indi­viduals, corporations and new institutions surfacing everywhere, making official policy in areas ranging from public health to food and agriculture; from taxes to finance and trade. Some are lobbyists for particular private companies or for entire industries, others executives of the world's largest businesses, often with a turnover much greater than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many of the countries where they operate; more and more often, the entities they have created have become quasi-governmental bodies cooperating across national frontiers.

Their role is overtly political and they exercise illegitimate power. They work through lobbies but also directly through governments - not just by convincing elected officials to pass this law or that one, but also through obscure 'expert committees' or ad hoc bodies whose quiet 'mission creep' may gain them official standing. Their activities may be carried out for the benefit of a single company or for an entire industry.

Sometimes they form their own powerful international organizations with large budgets devoted to intervention in world affairs. They have become expert in the careful preparation of strategic trade treaties to be negotiated in secret but under the constant sur­veillance of corporate delegates.
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