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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pledging Corporate Allegiance

It is a commonplace in Catholic theology that there is no necessary disagreement between being a Catholic and being a patriot. Following the example of Socrates, who chose death rather than disloyalty to the state that had raised and nurtured him, Catholic theologians have long held that we have a Catholic duty to be patriots.

But that raises an interesting question. If we owe loyalty to a country because of the laws and benefits it gives us, a la Socrates, then do we owe loyalty to a corporation for all the laws and products it gives us?

For it is certainly the case that corporations give us at least as much in this culture as our country does. Sure, the country lays down basic laws (speed limits, zoning ordinances and the like), but corporations also lay down laws concerning how to handle their products. If we don't change the oil in our cars according to the owner's schedule, the product will wreak it's due punishment on us as surely as the state would for violating a speed limit.

Socrates had the benefit of living in a simple world, wherein no corporate entities existed. Chesterton lived in England, where the international corporation really got established, but his life was not nearly as dominated by international corporations as are our own. Given that most of the original US colonies were founded by corporate business entities, did the British colonists properly owe loyalty to business before country? Given that most US laws are put into place through the lobbies of corporate America, do we owe loyalty to business corporations first and foremost?

When the international corporation that has paid my mortgage, fed and clothed my family, requires me via its by-laws or internal policies to do something that is contrary to the laws of the country I happen to currently reside in, which loyalty should hold sway, and why? For, certainly, the business corporation has fed and clothed me at least as much as the state - probably more so. Am I being unpatriotic when I quit my company for a higher-salaried position? When I whistle-blow on my company to the state? Am I a traitor, a treasonous individual, by choosing Walmart vs. Kroger as the patron who feeds and clothes me in exchange for my monetary allegiance?

If I am not a traitor by switching allegiance between corporations, why am I not?

Our forefathers gave up allegiance to their home country in order to immigrate to America. Is their decision to switch country allegiance a sin, a moral shortcoming, a lack of virtue? What would be wrong with us switching national allegiance according to how we like different sets of national laws in the same way that we switch allegiance to which cars we drive or which supermarkets we frequent or which house we choose to buy and inhabit?

Why should choosing national allegiance be so much more of a difficult thing than switching allegiance between sports franchises? In such a world, would we look down upon or punish people who wanted to join our team?

2 comments:

Terry Svik said...

Steve,
If you see this please reply. When you left Sacred Heart parish in Norfolk, NE I lost all interest in apologetics. The loss of my cousin Ron,to whom I was very close,last October to a workplace accident has brought into focus how fragile life really is and rekindled my interest in apologetics. I would love to have your email address in the event I have questions. I don't have Internet at home but I do have it on my smartphone, which on occasion I am smart enough to know how to use. My email address is tjsvik@gmail.com. If you see this and reply please mention something that only you and I know so I would know it's not from an imposter. Like maybe who was the pastor here when you were hired or my wife'said name
Terry Svik

Terry Svik said...

Steve,
If you see this please reply. When you left Sacred Heart parish in Norfolk, NE I lost all interest in apologetics. The loss of my cousin Ron,to whom I was very close,last October to a workplace accident has brought into focus how fragile life really is and rekindled my interest in apologetics. I would love to have your email address in the event I have questions. I don't have Internet at home but I do have it on my smartphone, which on occasion I am smart enough to know how to use. My email address is tjsvik@gmail.com. If you see this and reply please mention something that only you and I know so I would know it's not from an imposter. Like maybe who was the pastor here when you were hired or my wife'said name
Terry Svik