International Corporations Know — and Know How — They’re Raping Us

Eric Zuesse

On April 26th, Britain’s Guardian headlined “TTIP: Chevron lobbied for controversial legal right as ‘environmental deterrent’,” and allowed the public to see, in a more-raw fashion than has ever before been exposed, the extent to which the motivation behind U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals is actually to transfer to international corporations the sovereignty we traditionally attribute to national governments, so as to cripple the governments’ abilities to regulate against toxic products, exploitation of workers (extending even so far as to allow the outright murder of trade-union organizers), and even cripple the limitation of environmental harms such as global warming. (Of course, Obama’s rhetoric has always favored protection of human rights, which this and his other chief policy-thrusts are aiming to cripple and disable. The evidence for that duplicity from him can be seen in the links herein.)

With that article in the Guardian (and others which have been published exposing these things and even exposed the violation of the U.S. Constitution by these ‘trade’ treaties), Mr. Obama’s liberal rhetoric (such as his rhetoric favoring the Paris accord against global warming — an agreement which will become impossible to implement if these treaties become law) is shown to be hiding an agenda that’s more in accord with what Benito Mussolini called sometimes “corporationism,” and sometimes “fascism”; but, by either name, it’s control over the government by the top stockholders in international corporations. Mussolini, in turn, had learned his fascism from the economist Vilfredo Pareto, whose teachings had inspired the young Mussolini.

As Pareto himself said, 1 September 1897, in his essay “The New Theories of Economics”: “Were I of the opinion that a certain book would contribute more than any other to establish free trade in the world at large I would not hesitate an instant to give myself up heart and soul to the study of this particular work, putting aside for the time all study of pure science.” But what the international corporations call “free trade” isn’t quite the same thing that supporters of democracy would mean by that phrase.

Here are the sorts of things that Mussolini had learned from his revered teacher — and which Obama is trying to install not only in the United States but virtually worldwide via his proposed ‘trade’ treaties (and, if the following paragraph is too long for a reader, one can just skip over it; but, Obama is the most skillful practioner of this ideology ever, and this is the actual ideology behind his proposed ‘trade’ treaties — and behind much else of his actual policies, as opposed to his mere rhetoric, which so often contradicts his real beliefs):

Pareto rejected equality of rights; he said, in his 1906 Manuale di economia politica or Manual of Political Economy (in which he also introduced his Welfare Criterion, which is at the very foundation of today’s microeconomic theory), “The assertion that men are objectively equal is so absurd that it does not even merit being refuted” (Ch. 2, #102: “L’asserzione che gli uomini sono oggettivamente eguali è talmente assurda, che non merita neppure di essere confutata.”) (He repeated this at the back of the volume, on page 556: “Oggettivamente il concetto di eguaglianza degli uomini è assurdo.”) In the same chapter (#106), he said, “You see, now, how great is subjectively the concept of human equality, which objectively is nil. It is the means commonly used, especially in our times, for half of an aristocracy to tower and replace the other half.” In other words, it’s just a ruse by some aristocrats to fool and conquer not merely the masses but their own aristocratic competitors. Pareto believed strongly in human hierarchy, not in human equality. He had utter contempt for the public. They were to be tools and fools for use by the elite. He said (#101, item 4) “Faith alone strongly moves men to act; and so it is not desirable for the good of society that the bulk of men, or even many of them, deal with social matters scientifically. … Here we have an additional argument … which shows us how little wisdom is displayed by those who want to make everyone, indiscriminately and without distinction, participate in knowledge.” Only the aristocracy should be educated. Then, (#107), he went into a tirade against “those naive persons who, in several countries, have disrupted the army by allowing themselves to be carried away by declamations on justice and equality.” He asserted that, “The great error of the present time is believing that men can be governed by pure reason without making use of force, which is, on the contrary, the foundation of all social organization.” This very same writer, who was shunning the use of force for redistribution of wealth, was an impassioned supporter of force as “the foundation of all social organization.” In the same chapter (#117), he also said, “the ruling classes have always tried to speak the language of the people who valued not the most true, but the most convenient.” And (#109) he said, “The equality of citizens before the law is for many a dogma, and in this case escapes the critical test. If we want to talk scientifically, we will soon see that it’s not at all obvious a priori that such equality should be of benefit to society; and, indeed, considering the heterogeneity of society, the opposite seems more likely.” He believed in the ultimate goodness of war. In #35, he said, “European civilization is the the result of endless wars, and the overwhelming destruction of the weak by the strong accomplished, from this suffering … the present prosperity.” Eliminating the weak is the way to the good society, according to that view. In #87, he praised “wars, for it is in these that mainly appears the superiority of man,” by means of combat. For him, superiority meant subduing and controlling, if not crushing, the opponent; it meant one’s possessing superior power. In #39, Pareto specifically condemned “the empty words of meaning of the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man”; he detested the ideal of equality of rights: instead, to the winner should go the spoils; the weak should be commanded and exploited by the strong, he consistently argued. 

That is the underlying ideology behind Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals.

Here’s the way that Alfred de Zayas, the United Nations Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, referred to the basic problem here, called “ISDS” for Investor State Dispute Resolution, or alternatively the “ICS” for Investment Court System, when de Zayas was addressing, on April 19th, the EU Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human rights (and the link that’s supplied here is added by me, for clarification; it’s not by de Zayas):

Experience with ISDS over the past thirty years demonstrates that some countries have been forced to roll back social legislation and that in some cases governments have not even dared to enact environmental protection measures out of fear of being sued for billions of dollars before ISDS tribunals. This regulatory chill – we may call it regulatory freeze – has impacted not only developing countries. Even countries like Canada have preferred to capitulate to threats and demands emanating from the oil and pharmaceutical industries[7]. Germany is currently being sued by energy-giant Vattenfall because of its post-Fukushima decision to phase out nuclear energy, and the US is being sued by Trans-Canada for 15 billion dollars on account of Obama’s decisions not to allow the environmentally dangerous “Keystone pipeline” to be built. The latest assault on the right of sovereign States to protect the population and the environment is the outrageous ISDS case filed by Tobie Mining and Energy Inc. against Columbia, claiming 16.5 billion dollars in compensation on account of Colombia’s refusal to let the mining company expand into the Amazonian National Park and pollute the Amazonian rainforest.[8] … Bottom line: ISDS cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.

We should not be concerned only about the toxicity of future agreements such as the CETA[9], TPP, TTIP and TISA. … Studies about the impact of NAFTA show that the United States lost millions of manufacturing and other jobs that were relocated to Mexico’s maquiladoras, where not only labour costs, but labour standards and human rights protection are depressed. … In my reports to the HR Council and General Assembly, I propose to revise existing treaties by invoking the doctrine of severability and thus removing only those treaty provisions that are contra bonos mores, such as ISDS and “survival clauses”. …

At this juncture I would like to recall two ontologies that seem to have been lost in the ideologically-driven corporate narrative. First: the ontology of the State, its raison d’être, which is to legislate and regulate in the public interest. This includes taking preventive measures to avert potential harm to the population, e.g. as a result of fracking and other business activities. Second: the ontology of business, which is to take calculated risks for profit.  It is not for the State to guarantee the profits of an investor, who can obtain risk insurance and factor it in as part of the cost of doing business. …

It is futile to attempt reforming this fundamentally flawed system that has already caused considerable harm to the commonweal and brought benefits only to corporations and shareholders. ISDS and ICS simply fail the test of human rights. Alas, notwithstanding serious studies by economists, lawyers and judges, human rights impact assessments and expert reports with correct diagnoses, TNCs [Trans National Corporations] and their powerful lobbies continue pushing forward for a corporate take-over of democratic governance, which is incompatible with the three pillars of the Council of Europe – democracy, rule of law and human rights.

De Zayas has elsewhere said that the Obama-proposed international-trade deals, if passed into law, will lead to “a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots”.

That sounds somewhat like what Mussolini was describing as “corporationism”. However, after having lost WW II, the restoration of fascism in this far more sophisticated form — championed by Obama and others — might take over the world.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.