- "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."
– John Stuart Mill
Legal development of the concept of corporate personhood might intersect with disruptive market forces in unexpected ways in the future, changing the emphasized “person” in a system of government from natural people to corporations, ranging in size and power from the gigantic megacorporation to the private contractor. Once the state begins to operate predominately in terms of corporations, the state may be assumed to be practicing some form of venture politics.
It is assumed that these states will be maximally libertarian, with the state serving only to enforce terms of agreement between the “persons” of the state. Given that the primary ethical responsibility of the officers of the corporation are to produce maximal shareholder value, there will be a strong market orientation to the interchange between persons as well. In a venture politic, identity is constructed in terms of market forces and power expressed in the ability to extract favorable terms within the market. New identities could emerge as a matter of course, as opportunities within the market and society are identified and filled.
This highly abstracted notion of what it means to be a “person” will have significant cultural effects. Can an identity be passed from one biological person to another? Is a family an enterprise? Can one biological individual possess multiple, overlapping and inter-competing personages? These and many more questions will require fundamental interrogation of the underlying principles of governance that have existed for centuries. The answers may be disconcerting.