A creature of lawyers

Written by Jonathan Rowe

As Adam Smith observed often, humans are social beings.  They have a capacity for empathy and a desire to be esteemed by their peers.  "Nature, when she formed man for society", Smith wrote in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, "endowed him with an original desire to please, and an original aversion to offend his brethren."  This desire actually goes deeper, Smith said, because we aspire to be "what ought to be approved of." 

    The corporation is a creature of lawyers rather than nature.  It embodies the pure financial calculus of the ciphers that inhabit the economic texts.  But there is a more fundamental problem--modern corporations lie outside the constitutional structure that the nation's founders erected to keep institutional power in check.  Smith could not have know that these lawyer-created entities would acquire the constitutional protections intended for human beings, through a Supreme Court procedure that was irregular at best.

Jonathan Rowe, State of the World 2008, pp.143-4.

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