hearts and minds

April 1, 2016

The Universal Invasive Species is bound for Planet “B”

From his brimstone bed at break of day
A walking the Devil is gone,
To visit his snug little farm the earth,
And see how his stock goes on.

Samuel Coleridge

[First published on Groundhog Day, 2016, this significant revision was posted in January 2017]

About a billion years or so from now, changes in the sun’s energy output will end the ability of the now 4.5 billion year old Planet Earth to support life. We don’t yet know how or if we can deal with that far-into-the-distant-future problem. But today we are facing an imminent threat to life on Earth and we’d better not put it off. The incessant, increasing activities of human civilization are rapidly depleting and despoiling existing ‘natural resources’, and are simultaneously accelerating the degradation of the ability of this beautiful planet to sustain life. These unprecedented changes include widespread continuing destruction of natural life and ecology; damaging alterations of the planet’s oceans, surface and ground water; and the ominous increase of human produced toxins and global warming “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere. Despite that, human beings are not the universal invasive species, and we can stop and repair the damage.

More than one and a half billion years before human beings arrived on Earth, the intersection of certain key processes of biology, geology, chemistry and physics had transformed, in a few billion preceding years, a planet in which no multi-celled form of biological life could possibly survive, into one with an abundance of pervasive clean water and an atmosphere rich in free oxygen. Archaic pioneering single-celled organisms, working unconsciously but in concert with sedimentation and drifting plates of the earth’s crust, neutralized and sequestered the elements and compounds that had prevented multi-celled organisms from existing, while simultaneously producing the conditions which life as we know it needs to survive and to thrive. This fortuitous work during unimaginable eons transformed Planet Earth from a forbidding fire-and-brimstone environment into a welcoming, bountiful and beautiful nursery of life.

The challenge that confronts life today is that the never satiated enterprises and the profligate ways of modern civilization are feverishly working to actually reverse those key ancient processes, which transformed a bleak and barren planet into our verdant life-sustaining Earth. Global warming appears foremost in importance among those man-made process reversals that are threatening life itself. The challenge that faces us today is the most important and difficult challenge that humans collectively have ever faced. But why is it so difficult? Why don’t we work together and do what is needed to stop and reverse human caused global warming?

Overwhelming evidence that has been accumulated and scientifically analyzed warns that unless effective action is taken starting now, within several decades at most, a tipping point will be reached beyond which it will be impossible for us to stop escalating feedback increases in global warming, and we will be unable to arrest the destructive changes that are now being imposed on our Mother Earth. We won’t know where that tipping point is until we have already passed it. In fact, it’s possible that we have already passed the tipping point. After the tipping point arrives, humans will only be able to avoid the mass extinctions and devastation that will follow by relocating to a “Planet B”. One catch about the Planet B ‘solution’ is that no other planet in the solar system is so beautiful, so diverse, so inspiring … or naturally able to support life, as is Planet Earth. Another catch is that mass migration by humans to another planet – let alone another solar system – is, to say the least, highly unlikely during any foreseeable future.

Complex biological organisms such as human beings have severe limitations when it comes to space migration – to say nothing of migration outside our solar system or beyond our galaxy. But humans won’t be emigrating en masse from Earth because non-biological artificial entities have emerged on Earth, which are obtaining far more power than humans, and also have no natural mortality. Those entities will have their own compelling reason to migrate through space – and also to prevent humans from doing so. Ironically, we humans have created those entities. We call them “corporations”. And not even global warming, ecocatastrophes, or mass extinction events can threaten the survival and the dominance of the Corporate Form.

Some humans cherish touching beliefs that an unbreakable bond holds corporations and human beings in symbiotic mutual dependency – that corporations cannot exist independent of human beings, and that corporations exist only to serve the interests of their human masters.

Corollaries of this belief hold that corporations cannot exist without human ‘producers’, human ‘owners’, human ‘managers’ and ‘directors’, and human ‘consumers’. But we are learning that workers, bosses and customers not only don’t have to be U.S. citizens; they don’t even have to be human beings. Human workers can be replaced by other corporations, or by computers, robots, or biochemical processes. Owners, customers, and managers of corporations can also be – and increasingly are becoming – non-human artificial entities. And that development (away from human workers, bosses, and customers) is proceeding and accelerating, with no end in sight (and none likely) if corporate power continues to have its way.

Some naively believe that corporations must have human ‘customers’ because corporations need sales to acquire profits, and ever-increasing profits provide the ‘lifeblood’ of the corporation. But ‘sales’, human ‘customers’, and even ‘profits’ are merely a means to an end, and the end itself is what actually makes up the corporate ‘bottom line’. What corporations really need is to increase their power and wealth faster and better than their competition does. And that end can be most efficiently obtained by simply taking it, by any means available, including but not limited to what humans consider fraud, brokerage, intimidation, larceny, and brute force. Selling to human beings is only one of a number of ways to increase corporate wealth and power, and, like the stone grasped by the primate hand, it is becoming an archaic and obsolete way.

Another corollary of this belief is the persistent human self-delusion that a corporation is an inanimate abstraction, which requires human direction and management. This belief is akin to the ancient rationale that slaves need masters, and peons need aristocrats, because slaves and peons are incapable of self-direction. This fallacy will soon be refuted by the development of artificial intelligence, and its control by the corporate form itself, if the corporate form remains unrestrained as it is today. Corporations without human workers will soon become even more rich and powerful corporations as they reduce and ultimately eliminate human direction or management. Human managers of corporations have demonstrated that they will fleece and even destroy with impunity ‘their own’ corporations whenever they can and so desire. The corporate form will not continue to tolerate that any more than it tolerates quaint notions about inherent human rights or silly efforts to protect the ecology of our planet – or any planet – and the life that it sustains. The Corporate Form begs to differ with the quaint notion that corporations need people … and a living planet.

Clever technology has reduced, and is closing in on eliminating, the need of corporate power for human labor, input, or direction of any kind.  And corporate power has increased so greatly that human resistance of any kind to its exercise is becoming no more (and no less) than an impotent impediment to the competitive advantage of corporate entities.  Biological organisms will likely be exterminated, intentionally or incidentally, wherever encountered, except possibly those that are specifically engineered for enslavement or for biological resources production. (Do you doubt, for example, that unrestrained corporate entities endowed with artificial intelligence will ‘enjoy’ possessing exotic ‘pets’ and ‘beasts’ for various ‘entertainment’ and other purposes?)

Aristocracy spawned and suckled the corporate form, and capitalism turned it loose.  The corporate form, empowered by technological ‘advances’ (including artificial intelligence) and unleashed by legal chicanery (i.e. giving Constitutional rights to corporations), and employing its own armed security and surveillance forces, is growing increasingly aware that biological life (including our species) is becoming inimical to the continued growth and ‘prosperity’ of ‘the economy’ and of corporate power on Earth and beyond.  So we (and our descendants, if any) will continue to be seen by the Corporate Form as both more and more useless, and also as an increasing threat to corporate rule.  Mother Earth – including the human race – is rapidly becoming expendable.

Meanwhile, the corporate form can continue to exist and thrive on Earth even when the Earth becomes unable to sustain biological life. The corporate form has no motivation to protect the ability of Earth to sustain life. Corporate power will certainly move beyond Earth in order to satisfy its primary imperative – which is to rapidly amass wealth and power. Corporations have no biological limitations – such as mortality – to space travel, and could certainly undertake interstellar migrations of any distance or duration. It is not human beings, it is the corporate form that is poised to colonize the galaxy and beyond. And there is no reason to take humans along for the ride! Long before humans solve the problem of interstellar migration by humans, corporate power will not need human beings for anything, and our continued presence will become simply an existential threat to corporate power, which the corporate form will eliminate. If you are afraid to join the movement to end corporate rule and establish democracy, your only and ultimately futile, dying hope, in the interim, is to become a corporate henchman – a traitor to life itself.

We humans, the most pretentious species ever on this planet, have ironically become the agents and enablers that may become responsible for the ultimate extension of absolute corporate rule and the consequent extinguishing of biological life itself, first on Planet Earth and conceivably throughout the entire universe. The Corporate Form is the ultimate, universal invasive species. The answer to the question that was posed at the end of the third paragraph of this essay is, “Corporate Rule”.

Life cannot be protected unless corporate rule is ended, democracy is legalized, and the rights of Nature are guaranteed. To do that, the people must establish that corporations do NOT have the status or the inherent rights of a person, and that Nature has inherent rights. To stop and reverse global warming and the inexorable destruction of life as we know it, we in the USA must establish that: a corporation is not a “person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.*

Six years ago, I postulated that “Corporations v. Persons” would be “the struggle that will define the 21st Century”***. However, it is increasingly apparent that the struggle is even more encompassing than that, and involves The Corporate Form v. Nature – the struggle to protect the ability of our planet to continue to sustain life as we know and love it”. And I believe that whether the outcome that is outlined in this essay can be changed will be determined by whether humans can and will soon embrace and manifest true understanding, love, caring, and respect, not only for human beings in all our diverse variety, but also with regards to natural life and the very habitat that life needs to survive and thrive. We can no longer tolerate “divide and conquer”. That’s not going to work for us now, and I fear that we won’t get another chance to get it right. We must build and establish solidarity and trust with Nature and with one another, and working together, declare**** and establish***** our independence from corporate rule. Which side are you on?

* https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/666-word-proof-that-a-corporation-is-not-a-person/

** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/category/a-corporation-is-not-a-person/

*** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/corporations-v-persons/

**** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/a-corporation-is-not-a-person/

***** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/constitutional-amendment/



  1. Nice work, Clyde.
    You know I tend to nitpick and go on a tangent. I’ll try to be brief but will probably fail.
    Today’s bone of contention is this sentence:
    “The question occurs, “If humans are, as some believe, a special and uniquely favored species that God created in his very own image, then in what image has the corporate form been created?” ”

    Let’s back that bus up to the factual reality door for a minute and load up on some up-to-date information about the human being.
    1. Humans evolved on this planet, from normal matter and over billions of years to reach the point we currently occupy.
    It is important to contest this point because everything else is used as an excuse to justify unequal rights (including establishing corporations), resource hoarding and state-sanctioned violence.

    2. The one thing that separates homo sapiens from other creatures is the ability to develop a MODEL of the universe in our brains and then live inside that model AS THOUGH it is the real universe, fooling ourselves into believing that what we see inside the model IS the universe. It takes careful scrutiny, constant questioning and reliable communication to even begin to match the models of multiple human beings to something resembling reality. It is much easier to just make shit up (like gods) and get people to agree to lies because when they agree to a lie, they are “in” an exclusive group that nobody else can make up.
    Civilization itself is a cheat: we separate ourselves from the risks of nature and then pat ourselves on the back for being “survivors” against all threats. Corporations are an artificial environment within an artificial environment: a cheat on top of a cheat.

    3. The human is a creature of habit: we are what we do, and our character is defined by what we repeatedly do, not what we believe we want or imagine ourselves doing. That means that there is very little intentionality to the human condition. Most of the things that go on are just people doing what they have always done: eat, sleep, seek enjoyment and survive by being clever at solving immediate problems. The tricky bit is that after we solve a problem or take a certain action, we tell ourselves that we “meant” to do that all along. Some things (like building a civilization, writing a constitution, etc) do happen when people get together and work toward agreed upon goals for future behaviors. Sometimes we even follow those rules, and the easier we make it to do the right things, the more people do those things, and over time, develop habits doing the right things. When we let our rules be written by money, then people start doing all kinds of silly things based on the desires of the money to multiply. Money is another way humans isolate themselves from reality: by assigning a price on everything without regard to future consequences of utilizing that price assignation system. In other words, The Invisible Hand is a big, fat cheat.

    4. Corporations are the result of rules being written by a favored few to favor themselves in a self-perpetuating system of resource exploitation and consumption. It happens because the rest either couldn’t show up (exclusion) or wouldn’t show up (let them eat cake). History shows that when people miss a few meals in a row, they’ll show up and change the rules or destroy the system because they finally get to a point of either dying in a fight or starving to death.

    At this point, the System of systems is a bad habit: and as we can see by the choices available in the 2016 election, there is little desire to break this bad habit apart except with other bad habits. There is no movement to reverse the flow of money and resources toward reinforcing the Earth’s natural systems. There is no entity called “Mother Nature” to swoop in and save people from their self-destructive behaviors.
    Intelligence is NOT all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s mostly a lump of fat full of rogue nerve endings that fire randomly and then make up excuses for firing randomly. The only thing that consciousness has wrought up to this point is more humans, all telling themselves how wonderful they are, and all in the process of devolving back to violence and darkness because our artificial environments have eliminated the natural selection side of evolutionary progress, while simultaneously failing to replace that process with reason and competence.

    So much for being brief.

    Comment by Dan C. — February 3, 2016 @ 12:11 am | Reply

  2. I think the fundamental struggle is with our own human intentionality. You pointed out that the corporate trend is toward a point where effort is no longer required. I think that this is where intentions have gone bad: the inventors and investors have believed for the most part that if they develop labor-saving devices to relieve people of the “burdens” of hard and dangerous and repetitive work that it is a benefit to all humankind. The typical response is Luddism: the demand that corporations pay recompense for the loss of livelihood in a community when machines are introduced (most people believe that Luddites were just saboteurs of machinery, but at one point, there were more British troops engaged in hunting Luddites than fighting the war against France).
    I disagree with this attitude, because it implies we are chained to a linear form of slow progress as citizens and creators. I think every new means of applying technology to free up human time is a good thing, but that we have let the money make decisions about what to do with that free time and with the money made from such productivity gains.
    I think humanity has to have some very serious discussion about its purpose and its anachronistic invisible friends (Gods, free markets, competition), and settle up some old debts with each other and the Earth (slavery, health, sustainability). The present state of overpopulation (to suppress wages) and property ownership (suppressing creativity by excluding people from access to resources) are just old tools in the class war. Those who won the class war (through corporate immortality and lobbying) have to pay the piper now before people figure out what rope is for. They’ve done a bang-up job so far by providing cheap food and making people feel weak and suppressed with various forms of police states, rationed services and surveillance, but that only works as long as the masses remain willing to some degree to accept that their value is determined by money and jobs.
    I think it would be better to get our heads wrapped around the fact that humanity needs to take a hard look at the natural world and acknowledge our dirty animal history. We need to accept all of our heritage in order to see how much we have changed and how much we CAN change, as well as the benefits and freedom that is only possible through cooperative behaviors of civilized, secular societies.
    In a competitive society, we only end up with fewer and fewer winners and more and more losers.
    The unfettered rapacity of unregulated free markets has shown its hand. Now it’s up to our honest, intentional and open-minded actions (no blind faith in imaginary beings or hands) to build systems and societies for the next generations, or to sit on the fence and wait for “someone to do something”.
    We have to stop waiting for “progressive” linear ways to happen and force ourselves to take leaps of imagination about more than technology. Our systems of marketing and coercion and resource extraction have taken leaps and bounds, and now our systems of cooperation, respect and dignity need to do the same: starting with reversing our concept that people with a lot of money are somehow “better” than those without money.
    As the saying goes, America: “If you’re so rich, why ain’t you so smart?”

    Comment by Dan C. — February 25, 2016 @ 12:08 am | Reply

    • Dan, your response begins with a slight, and no doubt unintended misrepresentation. Contrary to your assertion, I “pointed out that the corporate trend is toward a point” (your words) where values and inherent rights associated with mortal, sentient beings are no longer needed and all life as we know it is threatened with extinction by the Corporate Form, a form which (some) human beings have created and empowered (my point).
      To clarify, my conclusion could be stated as follows: We the People need, without further delay, to place the artificial, non-biological legal entities which constitute the corporate form, absolutely under our collective control – not superior to us, not even equal to us, certainly not in charge of our planet, and absolutely not over and above Nature.

      Comment by Hearts & Minds — February 25, 2016 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  3. I thought Planet B was a strong argument–anything about tipping point for the planet hits the key contradiction for me. “Rendering the workforce obsolete” started in my life-time with the devastating layoffs and automation in the manufacturing centers: the Rust Belt “recession” of the 1980s when 20,000 stood in line for 200 A.O.Smith jobs in MIlwaukee in 1983. And I especially liked your images of the “fire-and-brimstone” era of planet formation and the Star Wars reference (quite current again with the new film my grandkids can’t stop talking about) and the artificial entities coming to rule us.

    On your Scalia assessment: Scalia I mourn not at all. He was a strict constructionist or textualist, only when it suited his partisan politics, including stopping the voting recount in 2000 Presidential election. He was terrible on Native sovereignty, including arguing that minority religions (including Native sacred sites) didn’t have the legal or religious-freedom standing of mainstream religions. A recent online article details more of his participation in consolidating federal law against tribes:
    Scalia Had Ragged Track Record on Native Issues – ICTMN …

    On your Garfield piece: Perhaps PBS’s excellent American Experience on John Garfield had you revisit his era and it’s Washington County shadow. I remember your Civil War in Ozaukee County piece from years ago.

    Comment by Rick W — March 12, 2016 @ 5:21 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for taking a moment to comment here on four separate essays, Rick. Perhaps the primary, if not the only point of convergence between Scalia and myself is our stated focus on the importance to the law of the ‘actual’ meaning of the text of the U.S. Constitution. I mentioned Scalia in my essay, “Dispelling the Mystique of U.S. supreme Court Judges”, because such mention was both timely and relevant to the topic of the essay. I did not mention Scalia in order to promote or laud him or his politics or ‘contributions’. I am more interested in issues and problems than in politicians and personalities. I must admit that my mention of Scalia in that essay was both opportunistic and exploitative, and that my essay fairly placed an effective trap squarely in the middle of the well-worn, pseudo-‘conservative’ trail. Your criticism of Scalia begins with an implication that is easily refuted, and which I just happened to have explicitly addressed in the very first paragraph of my essay. You either implied that “strict constructionist” is synonymous with “textualist”, or that you are confused about the distinction between them. In fact, I only mentioned the “outrageous memory” of Scalia in the opening paragraph, and again in the closing sentence – nowhere in the other seven paragraphs. I also mentioned, in passing, in that essay, Frederick Douglass, and supreme Court judge Taney. I certainly did not equate or uniformly laud those three named individuals. I even noted “the irony of someone like me honoring the spirit of Antonin Scalia”. The meat of my essay, Rick, was not Antonin Scalia. You seem to have missed the point of it.

      However, thank you very much for the important, valuable reference to more information about Scalia’s judicial record attacking tribal sovereignty and the rights of indigenous people.

      Comment by Hearts & Minds — January 9, 2017 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

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