The current neoliberal politico-economic regime in vogue around the world favours businesses, especially the larger and more exploitative ones, but this is not working for humanity or the earth.
Corporations have been creating damage since their inception. They have been increasingly curtailed by democracy, but they have been trying to undermine that.
We live in a highly interrelated world where several corporations have grown so large that they are larger and more powerful than many governments. They have used this power to pressure governments into giving them favourable commercial operating conditions that exploit their own people and resources, while allowing pernicious corruption that will be very difficult cultures to undo.
European colonial powers have long exploited their colonies for labour and resources, though most have supposedly granted independence to their former colonies, but that usually involved leaving the exploitative industries to continue unabated. Where revolutions did happen, often their leaders succumbed to the corruption by those exploiters. Most ex-colonies, especially in Africa, have not been left stable politically or economically.
This exploitation even exists in the exploiting countries, where most, while far better off than their counterparts in ex-colonies, are becoming increasingly less able to take advantage of their supposedly better opportunities. All this is because the type of exploitation allowed in colonies is in operation within the countries themselves. Well, it always has been, but the loss of exploitable colonies has meant the focus for those corporations has returned home.
However, we have come to see that the ever-increasing growth required by the neoliberal development model is not sustainable, especially not for the earth, but increasingly for the great majority of those living within supposedly affluent counties. We see attempts by those at the large corporations supporting efforts to undermine democracies to become more autocratic like the corporations themselves, having successfully undermined peoples' ability to negotiate better working conditions through unions.
In a democracy, people are supposedly able to vote for those they want to represent their interests, which for many workers meant having governments that supported their power to be part of the decision making processes within corporations. This is fortunately still the case in many European countries. With the push by corporations for less democracy, especially in English-speaking countries due to the huge influence of US political and economic thinking permeating them, there has been an actively-promoted public schism fomented to undermine trust in government.
Let's be clear here about the central tenet of neoliberalism, which is that governments, in being required to be supportive of their citizens by imposing restrictive laws on corporations, are somehow worse for people than corporations that are totally autocratic regimes that are not obligated to look after a country's citizens at all. This is nonsense, but it shows that the constant propaganda put out by nefarious thinktanks, and taken up by political parties and politicians happily taking donations from their shadowy sponsors, has been successful in subverting the thinking of many.
We have allowed ourselves to be influenced to think against our best interests.
What has blinded us to how much damage corporations have created has been that we have been given some of the benefits. This worked for us while those being exploited to make it happen were not visible to us. Now we are being the ones exploited because those corporations have gained too much power. We have given that to them in exchange for the bribe of supposed luxury. We may not see what we have so much as luxury, but it certainly is compared to those unfortunate to have been exploited for a long time out of our sight. We have become blind to our advantage.
The first step is to realise that not only are some more worse off than us, but that we all have been conned into having a lot less than we can have. What we have lost is what has been accumulated by a very few who are so greedy and blind to the suffering they have created that they are just satisfied with sitting on it. Of cource, we cannot all have mansions, multiple expensive cars and extravagant lifestyles, but a lot more could have decent housing, enough food and opportunities to be happy rather than stressed.
We need to reverse the thinking that corporations are more important than people. Corporations have no intrinsic obligation to look after us. Only democratically-elected governments can be made to do that, and that is what we must make them do. To distract us from this, we have had our minds bombarded with fake ideas of freedom that have only made us more exploitable. This is not just about dubious freedoms like not wearing masks that protect people from infection, but the constant push to repetitively buy useless and expensive goods and services to supposedly express our freedom to be individuals by those who just want to make money off us.
We have bought into many collective Pyramid belief schemes that do no more than hijack our freedom and bundle us up in confusion about what we can truly use our collective power for. We don't all have to be in each other' pockets, but we can try to be on the same page about where we want society to be heading. Many won't be interested, but if most can be clear about what we must curtail in order to release us from oppressive corporate tactics, we can make those into laws.
Unbridled corporate power is destructive, so that power, and its justification, needs to be brought to heel.
People should be first-class citizens, but what does that mean? Corporations get their power because they are legal entities that can enter into contracts in their own right, and so have some independence from those who are employed by it. Unfortunately, with increasing size, and because power and decisions are concentrated in a few people at the top, the power and influence of the corporation can be used to further the agendas of those few. Thus corporations become a power-amplifier, vastly increasing an individual's effectiveness beyond the single vote each they are allowed under a democracy.
The problems really come into stark relief when corporations can make donations to political parties and individual politicians to make or change laws to favour them, though really cementing their principals' societal position. Clearly, corporations must not be allowed to make such donations, as it is an abuse of power. But corporations and wealthy individuals also create thinktanks to write discussions papers to influence public discourse in their favour, and even write model laws to be implemented to also further their personal agendas.
The latter present a particularly egregious problem because they should be able to write such papers and model laws, but there should be a thorough vetting and rigorous public review of them before any consideration should be given to them, just because many have severely flawed reasoning and are merely fake placebos to justify very partisan outcomes, some very dystopian as far as peoples' wellbeing goes. Ideas are good, but giving credence and value to unfounded opinions without due and proper evaluation because of the undue influence of their peddlers should be prevented.
Unfortunately, many who run corporations and occupy influential societal positions have psychological traits that are toxic to those around them and should not be allowed to be in those positions. Those traits are quite well documented but their nature is that those possessing them can be very good at masking them and portraying themselves as better for their positions than they actually are, given how much damage they can cause, and have done over long periods. Screening for such conditions should be mandatory for many positions, especially for senior ones that can affect a lot of people.
Of course, we must still limit the possible damages by corporations, such as pollution or exploitation, but the above will go a long way to removing the avenues for societal damage by businesses so that we can have better discussions and planning for making business serve the needs of all people in societies, and not just the few at the top.