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History of "corporate-state"  
Posted by Brian D on November 16 2007, 13:01 » Uploaded 16/11/07 13:07  

The mention of the East India Company in Karl's earlier post reminded me of Buckminster Fuller's interesting take on the history of "corporate-state" (which arguably began with the East India Company - a forerunner of modern mega-corporations).

(Incidentally, Fuller's economic views mirror Chomsky's in key respects - especially the turning upside-down of conventional wisdom on public vs private funding. Fuller's analysis of how post-New Deal technological America was funded essentially by a "socialist" model pre-dates Chomsky's, and is all the more interesting for how it includes a broader history of technology in its scope).

Anyway, the East India Company bit I had in mind is from Fuller's book, Critical Path:

In 1600 Queen Elizabeth I and a few intimates founded the East India Company. Exercising her crown privileges, the queen granted the company limited liability for losses on the part of the enterprise backers. They could lose their money if the ship were lost, but they could not be held liable for the lives of the sailors who were drowned. While the owners could insure and very greatly limit the magnitude of their losses, the sailors and their families could not. "Ltd." – limited, in England – and "Inc." – incorporated, in the USA – and other similar legal definitions in all capitalist countries constitute "for ages uncontested" – ergo, custom-validated and legal-judgments-upheld – royal decrees greatly favoring big-money capitalism over the mortal breadwinner-loss-taking vast majority of the poor.

Elizabeth's East India Company scheme was to have her national navy (and armies) first win mastery of the world's sea-lanes. This advantage would thereafter be exploited by her privately owned enterprise. This scheme became one of the first of such national power structure bids for establishing and maintaining world-trade supremacy through dominance of the world's high seas', ocean currents', trade winds', critical straits', and only-seasonably-favorable passages' world-around line of vital and desirable supplies. All the other world-power-stature individuals who vied for supreme mastery of the world's high seas lines of supply also operated invisibly through monarchs and nations over whom they had sufficient influence. Through such behind-the-throne influence the influenced nation's resources could be politically maneuvered into paying for the building and operation of the navies and armies that would seek to establish and protect their respective privately owned enterprises.

With the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 the British Empire won "the world's power structures championship" and became historically the first empire "upon which," it was said, "the sun never sets." This is because it was the first empire in history to embrace the entire spherical planet Earth's 71-percent maritime, 29-percent landed, wealth-producing activities. […]

Building and maintaining the world's most powerful navy, the 1805 supremely victorious British Empire was to maintain its sovereignty over the world's oceans and seas for 113 years.

Concurrently with its 1600 A.D.-initiated two centuries of maritime and military struggle for world dominance, England was also developing a civilian army of the world's best-informed and Empire-backed scientific, economic, and managerial personnel for the most economically profitable realization of its grand, world-embracing strategies. To educate the army of civil servants was the responsibility of the East India Company College located just outside of London. (In 1980 it is as yet operating.) Its graduates went to all known parts of the planet to gather all possible data on the physical and human culture resources to be exploited as well as information on the local customs of all the countries large and small, with whom Great Britain and the East India Company must successfully cope and trade.

 

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