Most legal systems today recognize the registered business firm as a distinct legal person, separate from its stockholders, board of directors or employees. In fact, laws would often refer to “natural or legal persons”. It should therefore be safe to conclude that such registered business firms or corporations are persons (ie, organisms), but not “natural persons”, and therefore not humans.
Other social institutions have been created by humans (State, Church, etc.), but they have never quite reached the state of life and reproductive capacity that corporations attained.
It would be very useful to analyze corporations as if they were a different species, and then to extract ecological insights from the analysis. (By corporations here, I am basically referring to registered business firms, or for-profit corporations).
Corporations are born; they grow; they might also die. They can reproduce and multiply, using different methods, both asexual and sexual. We have bacteria within our bodies as if they were part of us; corporations have humans within them. Their genetic programming – profit maximization – is much simpler than human genetic programming, humans being a bundle of mixed and often conflicting emotions and motives. Corporations’ computational capabilities for such maximization easily exceed most natural persons’ capabilities. Therefore they easily survive better in the economic competition.
It is profit that keeps corporations alive. They are genetically programmed to maximize the flow of profits into their gut. To extract profit from their environment, corporations transform everything into commodities and then make profits by selling them or renting them out. Corporations can transform practically anything into a commodity, including corporations and profits themselves.
Today, corporations are the dominant species on the planet. They have taken over most social institutions and other niches that humans have originally created for themselves. The physical reach of the biggest corporations span the entire globe. The term “globalization” can mean, without exaggeration, the global rule of corporations.
The non-stop transformation of the natural world – the ecological base of human survival – into commodities for profit-making has, in fact, become a threat to the survival not only of human beings but of many other species.
In the same way that we learned to domesticate plants and animals, corporations have learned to domesticate humans. Much of today’s educational process is a process of corporate domestication, reinforced subsequently by corporate-controlled media. Corporations have perfected the art of training humans, using carrot-and-stick methods, to keep them tame and obedient.
Of course, some humans have remained wild and undomesticated. But today, they are outside the mainstream.
Corporations have trained domesticated humans to immobilize, maim, kill or otherwise “neutralize” those fellow-humans who have remained feral and uncontrolled by corporations. But there’s a growing body of feral humans who are now trying to learn how to disable, maim or kill corporations.
Prehistoric humans knew how to kill the largest beasts of their time; modern humans have not yet learned how to kill corporations. Individual humans have practically no hope of fighting off a determined corporate attack. Most confrontations between corporations and communities of humans end up in corporate victory, with humans ending up dead, maimed or subdued and domesticated, their human will broken.
On those occasions when humans manage a victory, it almost never results in the death of the attacking corporation. When corporations lose a battle with feral humans, they can simply withdraw for a while, split into several persons, combine with another person, change their persona, or adopt other survival tricks which they have evolved over time. In fact, when entering new and presumably wild territory, a corporation would often clone itself and send its clone in. Even in the remote possibility that the clone dies from human attacks, the mother firm stays unharmed and as powerful as ever.
In prehistoric ages, our ancestors learned how to repel, disable or kill an attacking mammoth; the challenge of our age is learning how to do the same with corporations.