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Let's say that somewhere in Wildspace, there is a Corporatocracy. This Corporatocracy is ruled by a what is essentially a parliament, with membership restricted to those Corporate-Nations above a set threshold of assets. This Council controls access to banks/credit, guarantees that contracts and debts are enforced, maintains social order, and ensures that the interests of the Empire as a whole are maintained.

Here's my question: Would such an Empire allow it's members to go to war with one another? Or, as they would say it in corp-speak, would member corps be allowed to attempt a "Martial-Acquisition"? A Hostile-Takeover involves legal and financial machinations to seize control of a firm. A "Martial-Acquisition" uses military force to seize control of a firm and its assets.

While there is a lot of story telling potential to be had in taking the normal conflicts depicted between megacorporations and just writing them into the legal system, I'm not sure just how plausible it is.

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    $\begingroup$ They probably wouldn't allow it, but if these nations are large and powerful enough? Who is going to stop them? Unless a sizeable majority of this parliament forms an alliance, the warring parties could do what want. All kinds of interesting political story-telling possibilities come to mind: divided and polarised parliament, representatives of minorities suffering in the war trying to rally support for a federal intervention, lawsuits against those who don't want to intervene in courts which could be corrupt, powerless or under severe pressure... $\endgroup$
    – 11684
    Feb 2, 2017 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @11684 I did have in mind that the Corporate-state's Parliament controls some form of national forces that can be deployed against threats to the stability of the empire. The states founders no that conflict is going to happen, so they built in a system regulate rather it rather than curtail it and force the fighting into the shadows. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2017 at 19:39

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The big question is: What gives the greatest profits?

Competition has been shown to be a driving force in boosting innovation in that sector. This means that to keep up each company must continually revise its methods to improve efficiency, keep up with customer demands, think of new ways to provide goods.

Unless, of course, they can just shoot anyone who seems to be over taking them.

So with wars possible it seems competitors wouldn't thrive. A rich investor could, of course, run a private army - an army which promises to protect whomever seems to have the best ideas. This protection would, however, come at a cost to the profits made and reduce the amount of money which could go back into innovation.

All business have to put some money into protection one way or another so these private armies run by rich investors are an equivalent for your world (picture something like dragons den but those with new ideas apply for protection instead).

The Corporatocracy would have some point at which it would step in, perhaps some projects/businesses which are untouchable too. It has to, above all else, aim for the greatest profits now and in the future.

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  • $\begingroup$ My idea was that whom ever founded new that conflict between corporations was inevitable, so they built in a means to regulate that conflict to a degree instead of trying to suppress it. Business need to go through all manor of paper work to merge or acquire another. My idea was that one had to get the clearance to begin a "Martial-Acquisition" and the allowance had strict rules that had to be followed to the letter or risk laws of the clearance and various penalties. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2017 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps having certain allowed targets then? A board of directors who can be targeted where the day-to-day running of the business is a no-go. The board then vote to promote someone else to the board, the idea is that the other company want to get someone on their pay roll on the board until they own the whole board. This would become a more tactical war based on assassination, espionage and bluffs. Enough conflict perhaps but without disrupting the profits too much. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2017 at 20:05
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Even if not, it might happen anyway. Several feudal lords would have military disputes even if such was illegal, frequently. Sometimes they did have legal or semi-legal backing for their claims to land or the like, and I expect that would be very true of inter-company battles.

Now, there are two routes. One is the official unofficial, simply if you kill everyone on Alpha Centauri and pry the land deeds from their cold, dead hands, then you are the owner unless someone with authority decides to launch a legal case against you (you probably bribed or killed the local magistrate while you were at it). Your overlords may be able to harm you over this, so you'd need to properly politic.

The other route, is that it isn't legal, but quite doable. If you check the right boxes, and after taking over the planet send out a message, "oh, everything is fine, don't worry about our earlier distress calls," then everyone ignores it because you're fulfilling that planet's contracts as the last owners did.

Either way, I expect this may involve a lot of layers of the company, directly and indirectly. The people competing for the top spots in the board will likely see capturing assets through military force as an acceptable election strategy.

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  • $\begingroup$ The idea behind martial-acquisitions was that the Founders knew that conflict was inevitable and built in a control mechanism, rather than trying to squash it completely. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2017 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ Well, as I said, there is the official route and the unofficial route. Often, people prefer the unofficial one, as you can allow it to happen, turn a blind eye--or you can punish people for it at your discretion. $\endgroup$
    – J. Doe
    Feb 2, 2017 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Forgot to tag again @Trismegistus $\endgroup$
    – J. Doe
    Feb 2, 2017 at 20:37
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Assuming a deeply immoral and cynical council, members of the council might secretly provoke a war between smaller (non-council) members, as a way of eliminating potential future rivals and as an excuse to step in and liquidate the offenders "for the good of all", but the disproportionate good of the council members

Also, the power of courts is ultimately backed by the potential for force, and in your scenario there are courts run by the council. If a corp or group of corps tries to form their own collective with their own rules, and ignores the courts long enough, the council must either act by force, or lose power, relevancy, and profit.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's kind of the idea. From the story side I'm not trying to build away from conflict. From the world-building and in-universe side, the idea behind martial-acquisitions was that the Founders knew that conflict was inevitable and built in a control mechanism, rather than trying to squash it completely. $\endgroup$ Feb 2, 2017 at 20:15

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