Letter to the Future. II - Personhood.

18 February 2010 Personhood. Weeks ago the United States' most revered court acknowledged corporations as people, specfically approving their ability to contribute unlimited quantities of money to the campaign efforts of politicians. A question is posed to us with this declaration. It is not the first time the question's arisen, and far from the last I'm afraid. The question goes back at least as far as post-Civil War America, the end of the 19th Century. Our 14th Amendment granted certain rights to African Americans, among which the right to own property was included. But in the decades bookending the turn of the century, court cases concerning the individual's right to own property were not dominated by newly freed slaves but corporations cashing in on their status of person. I'm sure with hardly a minute of research an earler exampe would jump out. Nonetheless, the question I reference sounds to me something like this: are we the only species to extend our notion of ourselves to a synthetic construct devoid, nevermind underserving, of life? What do we declare of our personhood when we turn to the corporations at our flanks - those entities inundating us with proposal, bargain, and personal compromise - and declare their existence equal to our own in the way of rights and the privelage of enriching pursuits? If I might be so bold, it should shame us to pain to realize we defend the playgrounds of capitalism and the corporate cohorts that gather there with more zeal than we reserve for the children of slave wage workers in Hong Kong, than for the faces of brothels inescapable, than for the lungs beneath Appalachia's blue collars. I wonder what definition of personhood exists for you to grasp in the future you inhabit. I implore you, Future, find the history of personhood and the media through which it still travels to you in pure forms. How easily will we allow the exalted title of "person" to be passed to inanimacy? Remember your poetry and your history, your math and your exploration, your pondering over the stars and the taste of a lover's kiss and then decide if you will dismiss it all, negate its vital role in the decision, the germination of personhood. And if your soul rebels, if your essence rises up and demands you defend the divinity of personhood, then reject the thievery of it by precepts of profit and edicts of perpetual inequity; require standards of life that allow life as opposed to survival; refuse to do anything but fix your gaze intently on the treasure immutably interred in the humans amongst you; reach out from your material casing, the barriers of stuff which threaten each human with life incommunicado; revive the rumble of revolution that brings cities into their streets and reminds them that behind the walls, the glass, the insulation, the silence that cacophonous markets orchestrate there are people very much worth our time, our attention and our reverence; find a vision of personhood for yourselves, Future, that includes all that humanity can offer in all her varied lands and languages. Lift that above the markets and steel and currency, proudly rejecting those conjured entities of enterprise as imposters and unworthy of the title, the veneration, the opportunity of person. Erik in the past

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