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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pygmalion or Frankenstein's Monster?

I've been thinking about the ramifications of the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (Jan. 21, 2010), in which the Court gave life to the legal fiction of corporate entities by bestowing upon them the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. How will this turn out, not just in the electioneering context of the Citizens United case itself, but in the broader context of corporate activities? How will corporations use this precedent to shape their own futures and expand their rights/reach?

Will it be like the Roman myth of Pygmalion, with its happy ending of fruitfulness both for the creator and the created?

Or will it be more like that of Frankenstein, where Dr. Frankenstein gives life to a monster that, once unleashed, inevitably (and despite the monster's initial good intentions) destroys everything he holds dear? (Some might compare it to the legends of the Golem, but according to tradition, the Golem could not speak.)

My bet is that the proper literary analogy will turn out to be that of Pinocchio, except that when corporations lie, it will be their bank accounts and influence that grow.

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