I have an omnibus post in the works on the corporate push to replace national sovereignty with rule by international boardrooms (yes, that's a fair description). The post is unfortunately incomplete.
But the story below gives me a handy real-world example to start with, an entré into that tale. Listen and learn (and keep the light on; this is a tad scary).
In general, the corporate-sovereignty story goes like this:
- Nations have national courts, including a Supreme Court, the top court in the country.
- National courts operate under the nation's constitution, its "supreme law of the land."
- In the U.S. and many other countries, treaties are folded into the constitution and become part of that "supreme law." (Think about it; this is the only way treaties can be enforced.)
- NAFTA and other "free trade" treaties have their own court system, operating by rules specific to the language of that treaty. In NAFTA's case, it's the NAFTA court.
- Corporations can sue nations, states, and municipalities in NAFTA court for "lost profits" due to regulations (among a variety of other reasons).
- Courts that are structured like the NAFTA court have jurisdiction that is superior to the member nations' court system. This jurisdiction is given to them by the language of the NAFTA treaty.
- Because treaties like NAFTA are folded into national constitutions, international corporations have found a way to establish a new international system of dispute resolution that trumps national governments.
- In this new system, corps rule.
This is the "one-world order" your grandpa warned you about. But he thought it would be libruls, or the Trilateral Commission, or the Bilderberg Group in charge.
Nope; it's our friends at GE, Walmart, Nestlé, and the gang at Mouse (sorry, the folks at Disney) that will soon have the nation's nuts in their squirrel-like hands.
Now the news — there's another big trade deal coming down the pike, a Barack–era special. Did you know that? I'm not surprised.
In case this is news to you, here's all you need to know:
- It's called the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" (TPP)
- Eight nations are involved; yes, eight.
- Obama the Rubinite loves it.
- He's trying to keep it very-very secret.
- It's got one of those sovereignty-killing courts in it.
The detail, from the excellent Zach Carter at HuffPost, writing about a newly leaked document (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):
A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.I know we sometimes playfully exaggerate here at La Maison; this isn't one of those times. Please read the rest of this stunning report. It's all there — discussion of sovereignty issues, environmental issues, info on corporations suing governmental entities, all of it. Props to Zach Carter for another excellent piece of reporting.
The leaked document [pdf] has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives.
The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive....
The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration's advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.
Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.
This is hugely on the Maison radar, so do stay tuned. I've written much about the ongoing Billionaire's Coup. Citizens United is a major national piece of it, though certainly not the only one. (Political capture of both parties by Money, which predated Citizens United, is another.)
These "free trade" courts are one of the most important international pieces, because they're institutional, enshrined in law.
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