That corporations are pathological really should not be hard to understand. Their rationale is the maximisation of profit, and everything – bar their public image – is subordinate to that goal.
What is deeply troubling is that these pathological entities now have such a hold on our societies that institutions like the courts, which are supposed to offer a degree of protection, allow this pathological behaviour to go unchecked. A case in point is this astounding story of a Pennsylvania family whose lives were wrecked by a US fracking firm drilling next to their home.
Worried about the effects on their health from the pollution, the Hallowich family agreed to be bought out by the company, at a cost $750,000, so they could live elsewhere. But as with other families in this desperate position, they agreed as part of the deal to a life-time gag order to ensure they don’t speak about any damage to their health caused by the firm’s operations.
In other words, these companies are buying the silence of the people turned into guinea pigs by the fracking industry.
What makes this story even more appalling is that the company insisted on including the Hallowiches’ children, aged 10 and seven, in the deal. These children will be breaking the law if at any point in their futures they decide to speak about fracking.
The profound immorality of this provision, and that a court could accept it, should be obvious. The children will break the law if they talk in the playground. And their parents have effectively signed away their children’s rights to free speech for the entirety of their lives, even after they reach adulthood.
I am struggling to see what the difference in principle of this case is from black children being born into slavery because their parents were slaves. But doubtless someone from the company or the courts will be able to explain it to me.