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Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights Paperback – April 24, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies.” ―Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capitalism and The Ecology of Commerce

“Hartmann combines a remarkable piece of historical rersearch with a brilliant literary style to tell the grand story of corporate corruption and its consequences for society with the force and readability of a great novel. I intended to take a first quick glance and then couldn't put it down.” ―David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World

Unequal Protection should be in the hands of every thinking American. If we do not awaken soon, democracy will be replaced by a new 'Third Reich' of corporate tyranny. To be aware of the danger is the responsibility of each of us. No one has told us the truth better than Thom Hartmann. Read it!” ―Gerry Spence, author of Give Me Liberty

From the Publisher

"If you wonder why the corporate world constantly lurches from malaise to oppression to governmental corruption and back, Unequal Protection reveals the untold story. Beneath the success and rise of American enterprise is an untold history that is antithetical to every value Americans hold dear. This is a seminal work, a godsend really, a clear message to every citizen about the need to reform our country, laws, and companies."
--Paul Hawken, author, Natural Capitalism

"I am grateful for this gift. It should be in the hands of every thinking American. If we do not awaken soon, democracy will be replaced by a new 'Third Reich' of corporate tyranny. To be aware of the danger is the responsibility of each of us. No one has told us the truth better than Thom Hartmann. Read it!"
--Gerry Spence, author, Give Me Liberty!

"This extraordinary book combines meticulous historical and legal research with a clear and compelling writing style to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the incompatibility of corporate personhood with democracy, the market economy, and the well-being of society. Complete with a practical program for essential reform to restore the rights of real persons - including model legislation - it is essential reading and an invaluable reference work for every citizen who cares about democracy, justice, and the human future."
--David C. Korten, author, When Corporations Rule The World

"Unequal Protection is a blueprint for revitalizing the spirit of American democracy. Sometimes you have to understand the bad news in order to appreciate the good news. Thom Hartmann connects the dots in a way that is a tremendous gift for our generation of Americans."
--Marianne Williamson, author, Healing the Soul of America

"Essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of democracy, both here and abroad. With devastating precision and well-reasoned passion, Thom Hartmann shows the reader precisely how the corporate entity gained such a perilously dominant role in the life of a nation whose founders meant for its politics to respond to the concerns of people and communities, not return-seeking corporations."
--Jeff Gates, president, Shared Capitalism Institute, author, Democracy At Risk

"We thought it was only in science fiction that things created by humans could actually take over what is inherently our human heritage. But Thom Hartmann shows how we've already let that happen on a frightening scale - not in Frankenstein's monsters or Kubrick's creeping computer Hal - but in the corporations that present their friendly 'faces' to us as if we have nothing to fear from this ultimate usurpation of our rights as real humans."
--Ed Ayres, Senior Editor at Worldwatch and author, God's Last Offer

"For years, Thom Hartmann has been asking the important questions and inspiring people to act on their solutions. Now he tackles one of the hardest - how democracy in America and worldwide has been eroded by unaccountable corporate power. He looks at the structures that encourage destructive behaviour and offers alternatives. Fascinating history told engagingly. We need books like this to find a way forward."
--Paul Loeb, author, Soul of a Citizen

"Hartmann goes where no person has gone before - towards uncovering the true history of how corporations and the wealthy people behind them transformed our law and culture to usurp democracy. This book is an inspiration to all groups and communitites and explains why we must rethink our engagement in single issue struggles and move towards the assertion of direct, democratic control over corporations."
--Thomas Linzey, Esq., Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

"Many consider Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address to be the penultimate statement of our nation's spiritual mission. It's climactic words resolve that 'government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.' But we are today allowing a rise of corporate dominance that is producing a 'government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation.' Our government has lost track of its mandate to serve the public interest and seems increasingly to do the bidding of corporate interests. The consequences - for human rights, social justice, public health, and the environment - are catastrophic. How has this come to pass? And most critically, is there anything we can do about it? Unequal Protection is nothing less than an act of compelling and heroic sanity. It is THE book to read if you want to perceive corporate dominance clearly, become more able to stand in its way, and more able to uphold the true values of this nation."
--John Robbins, author The Food Revolution, and Diet For A New America

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (April 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579549551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579549558
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,266,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thom Hartmann is the four-time Project Censored Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of 23 books currently in print in over a dozen languages on five continents.
Hartmann is also an internationally known speaker on culture and communications, an author, and an innovator in the fields of psychiatry, ecology, and economics.
The co-founder (with his wife, Louise) and former Executive Director of The New England Salem Children's Village (1978) and The Hunter School (1997), he has led national innovations in the areas of residential treatment for abused children and private/public education for learning-disabled children.
He has helped set up hospitals, famine relief programs, schools, and refugee centers in India, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, Russia, and the United States through the German-based Salem International program. Formerly rostered with the State of Vermont as a psychotherapist, founder of The Michigan Healing Arts Center, and licensed as an NLP Trainer by Richard Bandler (who wrote the foreword to one of Thom's books), he was the originator of the revolutionary "Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis" to understand the psychiatric condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
A guest faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont, he also synthesized the "Younger/Older Culture model" for describing the underpinnings - and possible solutions - to the world's ecological and socio-political crises, suggesting that many of our problems are grounded in cultural "stories" which go back thousands of years.
Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" to make the movie "The 11th Hour" (in which Thom appears), and Warner Brothers is making a movie starring DiCaprio and Robert De Niro from the book Thom co-authored with Lamar Waldron, "Legacy of Secrecy."
Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their "Heavy Hundred" ranking. His radio show is syndicated on for-profit radio stations nationwide by Dial-Global, on non-profit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio, on cable systems nationwide by Cable Radio Network (CRN), on its own YouTube channel, via Livestream on its own Livestream channel, via subscription podcasts, worldwide through the US Armed Forces Network, and through the Thom Hartmann App in the App Store. The radio show is also simulcast as TV in realtime into nearly 60 million US and Canadian homes by the Free Speech TV Network on Dish Network, DirectTV, and cable TV systems nationwide.
His evening TV program, The Big Picture, is wholly owned by his own production company, produced in the RT studios, and licensed to and carried by Free Speech TV in the US, and into over 600 million homes in 104 countries via broadcast and cable by the RT TV network, and distributed worldwide on the web on Hulu.
As an entrepreneur, he's founded several successful businesses which still are operating, and lived and worked with his wife, Louise, and their three (now adult) children on several continents.
He was born and grew up in Michigan, and retains strong ties to the Midwest, although he and Louise have lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Germany, and Oregon...and now live on a boat in Washington D.C. with their attack-cat, Higgins.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Hartmann's analysis of the roots of corporate power is essential reading. He undermines the policies that have protected corporations for over a century. Legally protected today, corporations were long subject to general suspicion. Government charters to operate a business contained many constraining clauses that are now missing. How and why did this change come about? Should government constraints be restored, and if so, how would be brought about? Hartmann presents the history, issues and solutions to the growing corporate takeover of the global commons.
He opens by reminding us that the "commons" once represented a village pasture, shared by all. In modern times he argues the same concept embraces the entire planet. The sharing implies common sense be applied to its use. We are beginning to understand our planet is "the commons" for all humanity. Every human has some rights to that commons, but shares a responsibility for its well being. That set of rights and responsibilities is set by the community as a whole, not by any one individual. The community concept, however, is based on the idea that its members are essentially equal. The corporation, due to its amorphous structure and unique powers has gone beyond community ideals.
The history of corporate power rests on continued attempts to upgrade an "artificial" entity to a "natural" one. Hartmann traces the erosion of that ideal through this book. An early chip was taken when Queen Elizabeth I granted Francis Drake "freedom from liabilitie" to go pirating. It was an omen for the future. Although the Framers of the Constitution of the United States were vociferous in their resistance to corporations, events pushed their ideals aside.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To say the bookshelves are flooded with political fodder these days is an understatement. Some blame the state of the nation on "Stupid White Men", others talk about "Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism". No matter where you look or what you read, the mudslinging is intense. At times, these authors make EMINEM's rap "battles" with gangsters in the movie "8 Mile" look like an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Unequal Protection, however, is not one of these books. It is an historical documentary of sorts that traces the history of the corporation and its role in society from the East India Company, through the FORTUNE 500 of today. It examines the people, actions, beliefs, and mistakes that have led to the extreme concentration of power and wealth among a select few global corporations.
While laying the foundation for the future of the United States, keeping power in the hands of the people and preventing institutions similar to the East India Company from gaining unlimited economic and political power was one of the key drivers. For many years corporations were kept relatively well in check and responsible to the people and governments that granted them the right to exist.
The passage of the 14th amendment, intended to give all persons (not corporations) equal rights, combined with a ruling in single court case that has been mistakenly interpreted to define corporations as "persons" like you and me opened the door to all kinds of crazy claims by corporations.
Subsequent claims and court rulings have directly and indirectly granted corporations virtually unbridled power through creative legislation and enabled some to operate with no consequences whatsoever for damaging and deadly actions.
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Format: Hardcover
Margaret Mead's "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has..." has proven right many times. Hartmann's UNEQUAL PROTECTION is a great case study: here, it's one person, a court reporter, who changed history with a set of "headnotes". Thom Hartmann discusses the case of J. C. Bancroft Davis and his impact on globalization today in his fascinating study on the rise of corporate dominance around the world. At the same time, and in the spirit of Margaret Mead, he also calls for grassroots and community action.
Hartmann's starting point is the question: How did corporations manage to become persons before the law with, at least, the same rights as human beings? How did corporations change from being "virtual entities", meaning that they were subject to the controls and supervision by local governments (and humans), into becoming legal entities equal to citizens but without the restrictions and responsibilities placed on people. How have "multinational corporations become the tail that wags the dogs of governments of the world"? Well it's the result of a US Supreme Court Decision regarding the Fourteenth Amendment. Or is it?
Hartmann delves deep into US Constitutional history to set the framework in which the fundamental issue of corporate personhood has to be understood. He traces the concept to its roots in 1886, and to court reporter Davis, the official recorder for the Supreme Court Case: The Southern Pacific Railroad vs. the Santa Clara County. Corporate personhood was introduced during this case, but not, as constitutional and corporate lawyers have assumed for some 120 years, by the Court - but by David in the headnotes.
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