The corporation is today recognized as a basic force in American life but also as a major problem. It is challenged to answer for its failure to produce enough to meet the needs of the nation. It is challenged for its failure to produce safe and economical products. It is challenged to answer for its waste and its pollution of air, water, and earth. It is challenged for its influence on education, on culture, on politics, and especially on the politics of war.
This examination is long overdue, for the corporation has developed into a separate center of power. It is one which was not anticipated by or provided for in the Constitution. It is one which has not been subject to the general laws dealing with business and financial practices. And it is one which has assumed functions that go far beyond its original economic purposes.
What we have allowed to develop is a kind of corporate feudalism, one that fits the schoolboy definition of feudalism as a system in which everybody belongs to someone and everyone else belongs to the king. In its modern form, nearly every worker belongs to some corporation. Everyone else -- in civil service, on welfare, on workmen's compensation or social security -- belongs to the government.
A great corporation might be viewed as a self-contained feudal manor or barony. General Motors, for example, has its own financial institutions, its own distribution system, its own labor policy and social welfare program, its own security system and special investigators, even its own foreign policy. And the foreign policy of ITT in the case of Chile included an effort to have the United States government prevent the election of a certain presidential candidate in that country. Other multinational corporations run their own foreign policies.
I would hesitate to make a direct comparison between today's