Fri May 21st, 2010 at 12:00:43 PM EST
... is something we don't have yet, but which could influence policy in a positive way. I'd suggest a formal international agreement to dismember rogue corporations in cases of egregious social and physical harm to individuals and ecosystems, with total shareholder loss and no compensation.
If corporations can be treated as individuals for their own benefit, they should certainly be treated as individuals where punishment and restitution are required.
Currently BP is the most obvious candidate, but there's every reason to enshrine this in law as a general principle.
What's powerful about the idea isn't the immediate likelihood of legal change - it certainly won't happen yet, and it may not happen ever - but the framing, and the implication that corporations can be held accountable, and that populations have a legal right to retract the legal privileges under which corporations operate.
While I don't support the death penalty for individuals on both humanitarian and legal grounds, corporate wrong-doing is often so spectacularly damaging and murderous that it reliably overshadows simple homicide cases.
And yet - there's no accountability for corporate crime. Currently it's almost impossible to prove individual culpability at board level, and corporations are rarely punished with more than a fine and a slap on the wrist.
The threat of formal dissolution could do more to concentrate the minds of shareholders and executives than any other legal instrument.
Potentially, this could be an immensely powerful and useful progressive instrument - and it could be time to push for it, and to get the meme circulating more widely.