The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy by Noam Chomsky

by Noam Chomsky
Feb 5, 2010

Jan. 21, 2010, will go down as a dark day in the history of U.S. democracy, and its decline.

On that day the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government may not ban corporations from political spending on elections—a decision that profoundly affects government policy, both domestic and international.

The decision heralds even further corporate takeover of the U.S. political system.

To the editors of The New York Times, the ruling “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.”

The court was split, 5-4, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called “conservative”) joined by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds and maneuvered the court into using it to push through a far-reaching decision that overturns a century of precedents restricting corporate contributions to federal campaigns.

Now corporate managers can in effect buy elections directly, bypassing more complex indirect means. It is well-known that corporate contributions, sometimes packaged in complex ways, can tip the balance in elections, hence driving policy. The court has just handed much more power to the small sector of the population that dominates the economy.

Political economist Thomas Ferguson’s “investment theory of politics” is a very successful predictor of government policy over a long period. The theory interprets elections as occasions on which segments of private sector power coalesce to invest to control the state.

The Jan. 21 decision only reinforces the means to undermine functioning democracy.


But cost-cutting cannot be seriously undertaken when largesse is showered on the drug companies, and healthcare is in the hands of virtually unregulated private insurers—a costly system peculiar to the U.S.

The Jan. 21 decision raises significant new barriers to overcoming the serious crisis of healthcare, or to addressing such critical issues as the looming environmental and energy crises. The gap between public opinion and public policy looms larger. And the damage to American democracy can hardly be overestimated.

via Movements at The Moving Planet Blog – The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy By Noam Chomsky


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5 thoughts on “The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy by Noam Chomsky

  1. Pingback: Artificial People by Rand Clifford « Dandelion Salad

  2. If we don’t believe in the freedom of others giving opinions, whether it be political and or corporate to name a few, we do not believe in freedom of speech at all. Freedom of speech is the basis of a free society. To agree or not is our right, which is also freedom . (In our effort to silence those we despise we inadvertently silence ourselves.) Sadly the fascist control of main stream media has silenced the education of many, by keeping good men like Mr. Chomski out of the loop.
    If you cannot understand or are not given the opportunity to hear or read the wise words of an elder who has dedicated his life to save our lives through knowledge and the wisdom he has attained from his own walk on this planet i suggest that you turn off the tv; and pick up one of his books, dictionary in hand and get an education…
    To try to change the system from the top down has been a failure from the git go. To many shady deals have to be made, compromise turned into complicity. Controlled media has to be changed(Media- the foundation of our FREE? society.) Is that possible??? Turn off the tv. Have a news print ” BONN” fire…That will get their attention. Look how the white rose has morphed into dandelion salad… Change for the better is possible. We have many among us that have walked the path and are urgently waiting to be heard, understood and they deserve our respect and attention. Mr Chomski has been writing about our future for decades. Now is the time for action, ”We the people”. Not we the CORPORATIONS…
    We are on a road trip to perdition. Our leaders are asleep at the wheel; dreaming of money and more money, while we have troubled or drug induced sleep in the back seat as we go ninety plus towards the cliff… Kinda like Thelma and louise, ”just not as sexy.”


  3. Pingback: Bill Moyers Journal: Responding to Citizens United + What’s next for campaign finance? + Margaret Flowers + Lobbyists « Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: Debunking Corporate Free Speech « Dandelion Salad

  5. Do we actually believe that corporations are not already buying elections? Of course not! Like Noam says, “Now corporate managers can in effect buy elections directly, bypassing more complex indirect means. ” But now we will ensure by passing a constitutional amendment that individuals that incorporate or pull their resources as a corporation for a specific cause will muzzled. The corporations such as Johnson and Johnson will still be able to side step this the way they always have, while a group fighting against lets say, corporate high jacking of elections will have to be silenced. In our effort to silence those we despise we inadvertently silence ourselves, or at least set future precedents to do so. Lets not forget also that the corporation that was eventually involved in the courts decision, Citizens United, is hardly the greedy corporate conglomerate that Noam refers to, but rather in their words “ organization dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control. Through a combination of education, advocacy, and grass roots organization,..” Just like so many other organizations, with different goals that now we would choose to silence, just because we don’t like EXXON.

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