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There is already a long history in the United States of Corporations influencing legislation. Most notably legislation that:

  • Directly affects their regulatory requirements (or lack thereof).
  • Allows them a exclusive advantage in a particular market (by legalizing/mandating the use of a specific technology which competiters can't implement).
  • Grants them lucrative government contracts, sometimes along with legal immunity.
  • Tax free exemptions of many kinds.

But these actions have always been directly related to their specific industry. It seems now that there is a push to have corporations use their positions in society to directly govern in lieu of present Democratic structures¹,². That is to affect sociopolitical laws which have no direct correlation to their business. Two recent examples are the North Carolina Bathroom Bill and the recent Georgia Voter ID law. This would even mean overturning laws created through the Democratic process. To clarify what is meant by 'Democratic process', I mean generally from an American point-of-view:

  • Only elected officials propose, amend and ratify.
  • Transparent process that is technically independent of party affiliation.
  • Some system of checks and balances including a judiciary.
  • And any public referendums.

Along with this, it seems that there are now calls that corporations now permanently involve themselves in such governance³. Thus CEO's, executive boards, and boards of directors, would now effectively be vetoing and ratifying legislation. They would do this to prevent boycott's of their products and protect their 'bottom lines'. This departs from a Democracy in such that:

  • CEO's, including sports league commissioners, are not publicly elected officials
  • Executive boards and committees are not publicly elected officials
  • Boards of Directors are not (general) publicly elected officials
  • The primary motivation behind their actions is always to maximize profits and the long-term stability of their corporation - as it should be.

This is not necessarily a negative change to the political system. Corporations, especially modern ones, are often regarded as taking great strides to reduce waste in processes, reduce wasteful spending, and be agile in their approaches and responses. Further, their top decision makers are often in those positions due to merit and proven ability to manage. Such attributes are rarely comprehensively attributed to any government institution.

But of course, as these corporate employees are not elected, it would be very interesting to see how their decisions are accepted by the people who have to live under their decisions. Laws that come into existence and enforcement (or don't) because they allow a company to remain profitable may reasonably be challenged as not necessarily being laws that represent the will of the people, whether those people be in the minority or the majority, or both or either. And there is no system of checks and balances except that which is driven by profitability and stock price.

Another concern is that corporations must now redirect at least some of their efforts from operating their companies, instead to reviewing and rejecting/approving legislation. This involves expertise and training they are not likely to have. Certainly such expertise can be hired. But again, these are unelected employees who have as their main goal the best interests of the corporation in mind. This might significantly distract and detract the top leadership's ability to run the business to the fullest and best of their ability.

The ramifications of all of this is unclear.

With these considerations, both positive and negative, is there a genuine movement to partially replace some existing Democratic processes with a Corporatocracy? NOTE: I'm not asking whether this should happen from a 'right-versus-wrong' point of view. That is a matter of fierce philosophical debate. I'm asking if it is a real movement, and perhaps even if it has a plausible outcome - that is an actual Corporatocracy successfully replacing some previously standard Democratic processes.

¹ "A belated but growing corporate backlash came too late to halt the State's new election law."

² "The group is calling on corporate heads to meet in the coming days and agree to a press conference where they’d publicly condemn the law, publicly denounce similar measures in other states, support the current federal lawsuits against the State and express support for legislation. Those corporations would include AFLAC, Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot and more of the state’s largest employers."

³ "Instead, Ken Chenault said, they want those at the seat of power inside corporations to wield their influential resources, dispatch their lobbyists, and utilize other powerful tools to make their position known."

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    There has long been a segment of the political spectrum that has favored plutocracy. Since maybe 1960 this segment has increasingly aligned with Republicans, but it has existed since the Civil War, at least, aligning with whatever party served it's needs. – Hot Licks Apr 2 at 22:30
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    "it seems that there are now calls that corporations now permanently involve themselves in such governance." can you give an example of these calls? – James K Apr 2 at 22:51
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    "Is there a movement to replace some aspects of Democracy in the United States with Corporatocracy?" is an interesting and on-topic question, but then you describe examples where companies simply participate in the free-market and imply that they are examples of "Corporatocracy". So, either this is is push-question, or you've got a bizarre definition of "Corporatocracy". If you're actually interested in the question, ask it, without the current events – divibisan Apr 2 at 22:52
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    But you've made it very specific by mentioning particular bills. You make dramatic claims "there is a push to have corporations use their positions in society to directly govern in lieue of present Democratic structures" But you don't provide any evidence for these claims. As such my answer would be "This 'push' doesn't exist. Nobody is calling for corporations to permanently involve themselves in legislation" (or at most only fringe characters) The two examples you give seem to be a few individuals protesting after the law has been written. That's not corportocracy. – James K Apr 2 at 23:03
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    @ouflak I think it's too late for that. I think it's a pretty clear push-question, since it's entirely built around your argument that your 2 examples represent "Corporatocracy", which, frankly, makes no sense. Arguing that in the question would make it even more of a push question. If you're interested, ask a question that doesn't require us to accept your premise. Otherwise, it should be closed since all the answers are just going to be arguments for or against your premise, not answers to the actual question – divibisan Apr 2 at 23:03
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No. There is no such movement.

There are some individuals that use their personal wealth and standing to influence the population, and by influencing the population indirectly influence lawmakers on particular issues that they feel strongly about. There are some corporate boards that do likewise.

This might take the form of a "boycott" in which, for example, a performer refuses to perform in a particular jurisdiction while a law is in force.

Moreover there is more conventional lobbying: Corporations using consultants to contact law-makers directly on particular issues.

There is, however, no push from an established group to include corporations directly in the legislative process. There are no calls for the constitutional changes to be made to allow, for example, for corporations to be formally consulted during the drafting of legislation. Nor to give corporations a formal role in approving or vetoing legislation. There are no calls (from mainstream sources) for the USA to become a corporatocracy.

In general what people feel about Corporation influence in the law-making process depends strongly on what they feel about a particular law. If the corporation happens to support the same "side" that they do, then people have no problem with such influence. If the corporation happens to support the other "side" then they are opposed. There is no surprise that people are more motivated by particular issues than by general principles.

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  • Thanks for this. I do wonder if the idea that 'voting with one's dollars', such as boycotts (either by corporations or against them) could be considered the Democratic parallel to voting by the electorate in an election? This is kind of the reason why, though I rather strongly agree with the mainstream views on these particular topics, I've had some very uneasy feelings about involving corporations in these struggles. I support individual CEO's speaking out. It's their right. But corporations wielding their, at times mighty, influence just doesn't feel appropriate somehow, even if we agree. – ouflak Apr 3 at 0:20
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The USA was founded as a business empire and remains as such despite its democratic trappings. For example, Noam Chomsky pointed out - based upon independent research on political economy - that the ordinary citizen had little or no effect on the actual policy making of the USA, whilst corporations through their various lobbies, have an outsized effect - outsize in comparison to their numbers.

For example, The Business Roundtable, which is comprised of CEOs of USA corporations, defeated a key anti-trust ruling in 1975 and the setting up of a consumer watchdog in the following year. It also helped dilute the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act. That is, it's main success is in blocking labour law.

We can see this is the ongoing attempt to form a union in Amazon, where Jeff Bezos - who is part of a corporate union - is attempting to deny the benefits of unionisation to his labour force. Given that Bezos signed up onto 'Black Lives Matter' protest, and given that a large part of his labour force is drawn from the black community, he should make good on his promise. For example, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation it would be worth $45/hour, instead of the miserly $15/hour, but of course he won't, he was merely indulging in virtue-signalling.

More philosophically speaking, neoliberalism, is an attempt to impose market discipline on all areas of life - and not just the market. It attempts to impose this in healthcare, as in the internal market in the NHS and similarly on academia. It's for this reason it's also known as market fundamentalism. It is the ruling ideology of the corporatocracy. This philosophy was pioneered - under the tutelage of the USA - in Pinochet's Chile through savage violence, with over 3,000 'disappeared' and countless others forced into hiding or exile and then exported into the USA, the UK and elsewhere. It had an earlier precursor in Indonesia, where 500,000 leftists were killed.

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