I am working on a short story set in a world where governments have been usurped and now has been replaced by mega corporations that span the Solar system. They have there own mini armies, colonies, assets, citizens, workers, research facilities, AI bots and currency. In the story I would like to flesh out a flashback, the years from 2025 to 2075 which essentially would detail how the transition have happened, from democracy to corporate feudalism. The transition from the world as we know it now, to the proto-mega corporation era. The key question here would be how would a mining company for example be able to amass so much power, be able to issue its own currency, own its assets and have its own global citizens. I would then be able to extend this proto-mega corp to a Solar system spanning mega corp from there.
closed as off-topic by Ash, elemtilas, JBH, Nahshon paz, Mołot Oct 7 '18 at 18:57
This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:
- "You are asking questions about a story set in a world instead of about building a world. For more information, see Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened?." – Ash, elemtilas
There are a few factors that would help:
- Lots of money.
- A larger army (more cash potentially means more troops).
- Weaker central governments in the regions they work in (thus reducing oversight, and possibly justifying the number of hired guns...I mean, corporate security personnel). This is probably the key one - complete anarchy is probably too expensive to exploit, but a government that's too strong can rein in the corporation too much.
There's a few historical examples that are worth looking at:
- The British East India Company. They were initially granted a monopoly on trade between England and anywhere east of the Cape Good Hope; eventually, they essentially ruled the entire Indian subcontinent, and at their height had a standing army that was twice the size of the British Army. However, after the Indian Rebellion in 1857, the British government did revoke their charter.
- The United Fruit Company. They ruled large parts of Latin and South America in all but name, to the point that the term "banana republic" is derived from their effective ownership of Honduras.
- The Hanseatic League were looser and less well-defined than the above two, but they managed to bully a lot of local rulers into providing tax and toll exemptions for their trading posts.
However, none of those ruled every part of people's lives. As @AlexP pointed out, that's
expensive and likely tedious an onerous economic and regulatory burden. It would be far more likely that the corporations would consider that Somebody Else's Problem and attempt to just offload it to the state.
How to become so powerful?
Gradually. Intel spends 12 bln usd on r&d in 2017, so spent a few more times than my country (Poland) for that purposes (both private and public sector combined). Does it raise any eyebrows? Nope. Does a private oil rig looks improper? (except Deepwater Horizon ;) ) Space X? They are even liked. Would anyone object a private space mining venture?
Oh yes... space mining venture requires some infrastructure. No gov to provide that? Happens. The corporation would have to build it on its own.
How it happened? Well, compound interests...? Private ventures tend to outperform public ones. In long run it means simply outcompeting govs from space exploration. Shareholders tend to be overly impatient with quarterly earnings, but are not as irresponsible as voters who simultaneously demand more free goodies and tax cuts. Oh... In that time (2025-2075) huge gov investments weren't exactly the priority, as govs were being crushed under costs of retirement spending. Nothing could be done about it, as retirees are very disciplined electorate, so no politician would seriously dare to cut spending on them.
The only missing piece is getting a few dozens of space outpost being officially recognised as state like entity. Maybe some lobbying would be necessary, or maybe after a while of keeping them under some equivalent of flag of convenience, they would officially declare independence from Liberia or Panama.
I somewhat doubt companies taking over states part. It would be rather new high profit outposts were corporate property, while hollowed out states technically speaking exist.