Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Corporatocracy (sometimes Corporocracy) is a pejorative term coined by proponents of the anti-globalization movement to describe a government bowing to pressure from corporate entities.

Critics of this term argue that the term has no real meaning in terms of political theory, arguing that a corporation is nothing more than a body of individuals, ruled by an elected governing body and executives appointed by that body. The government of a corporation is beholden to serve and satisfy its shareholders. However, others point out that pursuing the overriding shareholder interest in corporate profitability generally guides the actions of corporate governing bodies, and it is in the pursuit of this interest that corporations exercise their financial and marketplace power in order to influence public policy.

It is also true that while anyone can become a shareholder in principle, in reality it is frequently only the wealthy who can afford to own enough stock to directly influence the voting (and hence the activities) of a corporation. Hence the term "corporatocracy" might be considered somewhat synonymous with plutocracy, the government by the rich. Others argue that this does not matter, since it is likely that even if poor shareholders were in the majority, they will still vote for things which would make the company more profitable, in order to benefit the shareholders. This leads some to argue that the problem is in the premise of the corporation itself, and in the more recent trend in stock speculation, which more or less requires a constant growth in profits.

However, and in contrast, less financially affluent people have at times successfully managed to purchase enough shares to at least have motions submitted for consideration at shareholder meetings. On some occasions where enough publicity is generated, this may directly influence the voting, as the majority shareholders do not wish to suffer negative publicity by dismissing the motion. Several motions related to "corporate responsibility" have been passed this way in recent years.

Some would argue that a real corporatocracy can only appear when (and if) a government makes it legal to bribe politicians. That quickly makes politicians very corporate-friendly, and makes it easy for corporations to pass laws as they see fit. Many people in the United States believe the allowance for soft money contributions has created such a situation and view the contributions that prompted the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as evidence. Also, many argue that when the major media outlets are controlled by large corporations, access to information tends to become limited to what serves corporate interests, and corporate interests in turn are able to define the national political agenda. Finally when the majority of wealth of the politicians is invested into corporations, that gives politicians incentive to support the corporations.

The nature of corporations and stock market speculation makes some of the desires of corporations unexpected. For example, a national corporation in a purely national industry (non international), would be less worried about a universal regulation which would decrease profits, than a regulation that would target that individual company, since investors would be more likely to divest in the second case.

See also: corporatism, corporate police state, cyberpunk, disinfopedia, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky.