Power Inc.

David Rothkopf’s Power Inc. is an outstanding primer on the evolution of the relationship between states and corporations. Starting in 13th century Sweden with the foundation of a state mining company, Stora, and continuing through the present day, Power Inc. demonstrates how the corporation, which was once an instrument of the state, has, thanks to the legal developments of corporate immortality, limited liability, and artificial personhood, transcended national boundaries, eroded state sovereignty, and taken on many of the political functions states once performed. Because these corporations, by design, act without regard to public interest, Rothkopf suggests that what’s’ needed is a new kind of capitalism that can harness the productive power of the corporation while restraining its most rapacious impulses and steering at least part of its force toward public goods. At 360 pages plus notes, Power Inc. can’t be comprehensive, but it is a fine place to start for anyone who wants to understand where we are, how we got here, and which direction we should go if we want to maintain our status as citizens, not just consumers.

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