Do-It-Yourself Regulation

In a recent post at the UK’s Libertarian Alliance Blog, Director Sean Gabb points out that “government charters, grants personhood to, mandates sales for, creates price floors for, regulates industries to eliminate competition for, allows former employees to regulate their own, responds to lobbying by, bails out, subsidizes, [and] is comprised of politicians whose campaigns are financed by … corporations.” Whew! So in light of this, “Corporations should be policed by … ?”

So if not the corporate state, who should regulate big business and restrain corporate malfeasance? The ultimate answer to corporate power has several different facets. The first is what P2P Foundation Director Michel Bauwens calls the crisis of realization: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to monetize innovation and information as sources of revenue. Innovations in technique actually reduce GDP by reducing the input costs of a given standard of living, and the monopolies required to enclose innovation and information as sources of revenue — despite the desperate move toward increasingly draconian “intellectual property” law — are becoming unenforceable.

Second, as James O’Connor argued in “Fiscal Crisis of the State,” states are becoming fiscally exhausted to the point of bankruptcy from providing the subsidized inputs without which giant corporations wouldn’t be profitable. As is the nature of subsidized inputs, the demand for them grows faster than states’ ability to provide them. So corporations are becoming progressively hollowed out just like states.

Meanwhile, as the network revolution reduces the transaction costs of organizing outside institutions to zero, the DIY Regulatory State will be able to coordinate boycotts, culture-jamming, Wobbly-style open-mouth sabotage, wildcat strikes, and the like, far more effectively than ostensibly “countervailing” (but de facto collusive) regulatory institutions ever did. Frank Kernaghan’s culture jamming and the Coalition of Imolakee Workers were the Altair of this model. The string of victories from SOPA to ACTA to the Susan Komen Foundation to Virginia’s trans-vaginal ultrasound mandate were its Apple II. It’s not even into the Macintosh stage yet; that stage may be reached with smart-phone apps coordinating boycotts through barcode swipes.

Oh — don’t forget large-scale doxing operations by LulzSec or whatever its current successor happens to be calling itself at any given time, airing caches of executive emails from different Fortune 500 corporations’ C-suites every week detailing their legislative and regulatory slush funds, the CEO’s taste in kiddie porn, his call girl expenses, and his gleefully chortling “F*** Grandma Millie” memos.

As Vinay Gupta commented on Twitter, “Stratfor and HB Gary were just destroyed as credible actors.”  So what happens when the doxing of Monsanto or Shell, on the scale of HB Gary and Stratfor, is combined with a culture jamming campaign on the scale of Frank Kernaghan’s public relations kneecapping of Kathie Lee Gifford, a sweatshop workers’ sympathy boycott on the scale of the Imolakee campaign against Taco Bell (coordinated by an app or utility on your smartphone), “search engine pessimization” via semantic tagging and Google-bombing, and an old-fashioned “corporate campaign” like the one against J.P. Stevens in the 1970s by umbrella coalitions of community social justice organizations, unions, and churches? And you can also throw in smart-mob swarming and radical street theater at senior management’s homes, churches and country clubs.

If the HB Gary and Stratfor attacks were Hiroshima, these future full court presses will be Bikini Atoll in comparison. And believe me: They’re coming. To coin a phrase, “Expect us.”

Those mofos are goin’ DOWN. I luuuuv the smell of corporations burning in the morning.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory