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TV Tropes Monday: Corporate Warfare



Tweet of the Day: Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters


One of the defining characteristics of nation-states is their monopoly over the use of violence, either as a tool for policing or as a tool of statecraft. So, if you have corporations whose power rivals or exceed that of nations, they may also acquire said monopoly. The way you exercise such monopoly is through police and military forces.  And if you happen to have a military force available, why not use it?

If you do, then you have entered the realm of Corporate Warfare.

Contrary to popular belief, warfare is not profitable, unless your business is warfare, such as a weapon manufacturer or a mercenary company. The investment on military equipment is difficult to recoup outside of a direct sale to a third party. Weapons either kill an enemy or go unused. The best you can do with a piece of military hardware is to recycle its components for a fraction of the cost of creating the weapon in the first place. Yet the temptation to use military force to right a perceive wrong, intimidate an opponent or make a quick grab of resources could be tempting enough for a corporation (or members there of) to take military action.

Corporate Warfare can also be seen as an extension of Corporate Espionage, but with deadlier consequences. This is the scenario common to most cyberpunk stories. Corporations are willing to use violence but in a limited fashion and for limited gains since they are well aware that the cost of prolonged conflict can eat up any gains from it. In other works such as historical fiction referencing the British East India Company or a work of science fiction set at the interplanetary or galactic level, these entities are corporations in name only, acting like states and motivated by the same goals as nation-states.

And finally, since nation-states claim a monopoly on the use of violence within their borders (or it would not be a monopoly) their is good reason for states to curve or even eliminate the growth/existence of such forces.


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