Who Says We Can't Curb Corporate Power?

12 ways to reform global Goliaths

| May / June 2003

Modern life is now so dominated by global corporations that it is difficult for many people to imagine how the world might go on without them. But business has been with us since the dawn of civilization and it can assume many other forms. Transition to a more democratic economy becomes easier to visualize once we recognize how many human-scale, locally owned enterprises already exist. They include virtually all of the millions of local, independent businesses now organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and cooperatives, as well as worker-owned businesses. They include family businesses, small farms, artisans, independent stores, small factories, farmers’ markets, community banks, and so on. In fact, even though these kinds of businesses get very little government support, they are the primary sources of livelihood for most of the world’s people.

Very few of our daily needs cannot be met by small and medium-size enterprises cooperating within a market economy. But this economy would be characterized by a multitude of small players rather than a handful of giant, absentee owners. And these stable businesses can operate without anonymous stock market investors, limited liability schemes, and the bizarre legal status of corporations as human beings that prop up large companies today.