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Corporate Misalignment and the Circle of Human Concern
Professor john a. powell
Executive Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion
University of California, Berkeley
Union Theological Seminary| New York August 31, 2013
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Overview
1.
Domains of space: public/private?
2.
Non-public/non-private
3.
Corporate prerogative
4.
Circle of human concern
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Domains of Space
Public
Private
Nonpublic/nonprivate
Corporate
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What’s
the Fuss?

Theology/spirituality respond to some collective problem

Hubris/Islam Sin/Christianity Forgetfulness/Yoruba Ignorance/
Buddhism

Power/political Greed and stuff/economics
Being/theology/spirituality

Self
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Addressing the Misalignment of
Power



The issue isn’t public/private,
but public/corporate
Expansion of corporate
prerogative
Corporate space diminishes
public & private space
Private
Public
Nonpublic/nonprivate
Private
Corporate
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Domains of Space: Characteristics
Public
 Shared/communal
space
 Limited Privacy
 Everyone
welcome/permitted
 Rules and
regulations
Private




Individual space
Maximum privacy
Ultimate freedom
Minimal
government
regulation
 Minimal
surveillance
Corporate
 Not your space
 No public space
 Definitely not
private space
 No freedom
 It is neither private
nor public space
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Non-public/Non-private Space


This space is misleading for
individuals who enjoyed
neither public rights nor
private freedom
Today: immigrants,
incarcerated, disabled, and
other marginalized racial
subjects
Public
Nonpublic/nonprivate
Private
Corporate
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Historicizing Non-public/Nonprivate Space
from the past…
TO THE PRESENT
Immigrants
Slaves

Dred Scott vs. Sandford (1857)
Arizona SB 1070
 Immigration Reform Bill
Melenderes vs. Arpaio (2013)


Incarcerated/formerly incarcerated
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Historicizing Non-public/Nonprivate Space cont.
1851
2010
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Detention & Mass Incarceration as
“New Jim Crow”
Stop & Frisk
Floyd,
et al. v. City of New York (2013)
Stand-Your-Ground laws. States that
have these statutes…
1.Have
higher percentages of black populations
2.Are more likely to have a Republican governor
3.Have a higher incarceration rate and
number of law enforcement agents
4.Have
higher poverty rates
a larger
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Corporate Prerogative
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Expansion of Corporate Domain
When and how did the expansion of the corporate
domain occur?
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Expansion of Corporate Domain
cont.
The Gilded Age (1870s – early 1900s)
Lochner decision (1905)


Court said that legislatures couldn’t regulate the economy
Reminiscent of Tea Party today
Time period was also the era of
Jim Crow
Populist and Progressives fought corporate power and lost
Strategy was
not racially inclusive
Expansion of
Corporate Domain
“We doubt very much whether any
action of a State not directed by way of
discrimination against the Negroes as
a class, or on account of their race, will
ever be held to come within the
purview of this provision.”
— Chief Justice Miller
The purpose of the 14th
Amendment, known as equal
protection, was really focused on
citizenship
Corporate Personhood

Corporate attorneys used the 14th Amendment to argue that
States, which had chartered them, were restrained from
exercising powers over them
 Started in the 1870s and culminated in Santa Clara (1886)
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Legal Fiction
Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property.
Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is
a person.
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Corporations, Race, & the
Fourteenth Amendment
Just as the Court extended standing rights to corporations, it denied those rights to blacks. For example, from 1890-1910…
19
288
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The Reconstruction Court
Doctrine of
Corporate personhood
=
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Separate but equal
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Corporate Prerogative & Civil
Rights
The Gilded Age/Jim Crow decisions are part of a common
social structure

The exercise of social power through property rights continues to
mask the concomitant disempowerment of people of color

The Reconstruction Amendments have been hijacked to expand
corporate prerogative

Narrows the rights of those marginalized through a variety of legal
doctrines, including corporate personhood and through a discourse of
public/private
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Citizens United
1970s:
Justice Powell argued on behalf of
corporate speech
Citizens United v. FEC (2010):
distorts the democratic political process
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Example – Corporate
Misalignment
The repeal of Glass-Steagall

1933 law which separated
investment banks from
commercial banks

This law prevented commercial
banks from gambling ordinary
deposits on risky financial
instruments and speculation
Globalization

Realignment of structures

The Foreign Corrupt
Practices Act of 1977

Structural disadvantage

Strategic Oterhing
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Effects of Corporate Misalignment
1.
2.
Excessive corporate
prerogative distorts the
democratic process

Super PACs, Koch Brothers,
etc.

Tea Party
It effects “discrete and
insular minorities” as
markets, banks, and
corporations fail to serve
people as they were
intended to do and instead
only focus on profit for very
few
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The Circle of Human Concern
1.
What are the effects of this misalignment of
power?
2.
How does it impact where people are situated
within public imagination?
3.
What work does othering do for whom?
4.
Marginalization: What use?
The Circle of Human Concern
Sexual
Minorities
Mass
Incarceration
Citizens
Mothers
Children
Elderly
Undocumented
Immigration
Non-public/non-private space
Muslims
Who inhabits the circle of human concern as
a full member and who is pushed out of it as a
result of expanded corporate prerogative?
The Circle of Human Concern
LGBTQ
persons
Felons
Mothers
Citizens
Corporations
Undocumented
immigrants
Muslims
Elderly
Non-public/non-private space
Children
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Impacts on Racialized Disparities

Race serves as a way of understanding how people are positioned
within structures (education, housing, etc.)

How does the expansion of corporate prerogative impact
racialized disparities in structures?

For example: housing foreclosures due to subprime lending, which
occurred 5 times more in African American neighborhoods than in
white ones
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Perspective: Bernard Harcourt
Relationship between race, mass incarceration, & social control
Michelle Alexander (2010)
identifies a linkage between civil rights backlash
and increasingly draconian drug laws
Even
more explicitly than Alexander, Harcourt (2011) demarcates what we
consider spheres of appropriate and inappropriate regulation dating back to
the sixteenth century

Even if not so much in theory, a connection
exists between the penal sphere and the
so-called “private sphere”

Conservative position is in support of a
highly regulated sphere of social control
while maintaining limited or weak control
of markets
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Understanding Structures as
Systems
Physical
Outcomes
Social
Cultural
We are all situated within structures but not evenly

These structures interact in ways that produce a differential in outcomes
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Situated Different in Structures
Not only are
people situated
differently with
regard to
institutions,
people are
situated
differently with
regard to
infrastructure
People are
impacted by the
relationships
between
institutions and
systems…
… but people also
impact these
relationships and
can change the
structure of the
system.
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Realignment of Corporations

Corporations make good servants, but bad masters

Need for a realignment of corporations in a liberal democracy

Need for a transformative wave of individual, judicial, and
legislative actors

To build an inclusive democracy with a sustainable economy of
shared responsibility and prosperity
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Example – Realignment
Adkins et. al. v. Morgan Stanley
(2012)
http://www.aclu.org/big-profits-broken-dreams

Filed by ACLU because of
discriminatory practices in the
secondary housing market

Addresses the uneven racial
consequences of making
discriminatory lending profitable
Larry Summers
Achieving Transformative Change
Power
(Organization &
Collaboration)
Impact
Implicit Bias
(Communication)
Systems Thinking
For more information, visit:
http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/catalog/806639
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Institutional Corruption Map – Government
Value/Harm
Representative
Legislation
Distorted
Legislation
The Public
Elect
Representatives
Gifts,
Contributions
To Monitor
Depends on
Watchdog Groups
, Media, etc.
Funding
Special Interest
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