What of the Corporation?

The corporation as a concept can easily be summed up by Rothbard, describing it simply as pooled capital among entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. However, the distinction then must be made with this libertarian conception, and the modern reality of corporations as subsidised leviathans that require massive subsidisation through transport subsidies, intellectual property monopolies and limited liability and corporate personhood through state granted charters. All of these limit the market from destroying the modern corporate form, which has huge diseconomies of scale and internal calculational chaos.

Without such subsidy, the corporate form would probably take a divergent position relative to time-space. Some would resemble the Mondragon cooperative system of worker-voters with a strong management, but with its capacities curtailed if need be by workers and firms. It is highly democratic and takes a stakeholder view of the corporate constituents. Similarly, it may take the form of a Kropotkinian confederation, with large companies at the centre and smaller stakeholders hedged throughout. This can be democratic for workers and entrepreneurs, but would be guided by the interests of that larger firm at the centre. Finally, we could see a system of contractual relations centred around one particular entrepreneur or firm. Such can be seen in the idea of a private city, with firms and ownership moulded into intentional communities by the larger area of land ownership or upward contractual relations.

Each of these represents something of an ideological ideal, so obviously none is a totalising alternative. Instead, each of these forms will take on each other’s characteristics, mixing into different economic and governmental systems. Some may look like a Moldbuggian corporate city, with power coming from the centre. Yet within this, there is the requirement of mutual contract, which inevitably opens the way to protest against and legal change within such contracts. The power of the crowd can temper the will of the lord. Equally, the knowledge problem of large, centralised systems means that corporations with power invested in the centre can only last if such power is diffuse enough to allow for individual creativity and decision-making, otherwise the needs for authoritarian control alienates workers and stakeholders, and leads to different economic avenues, leaving said corporation to be outcompeted.

An aristocracy of leaders and entrepreneurs may develop, yet even this is open to high levels of competition and the power of the commons in creating alternative narratives that unsettle settled power. Social hierarchies are inevitable, yet that does not mean a world ruled by corporations, but rather a series of different mutual situations that lead to different outcomes. High levels of worker ownership and autonomy in some areas, master-led guilds in other areas, and private cities lead by entrepreneurs and landowners in others. A lord only lasts as long as the commons accepts his/her position.

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