Known by a variety of misleading names (free ports, free enterprise zones, special economic zones) charter cities are sections of a country handed to corporate entities that are excused obligations to law, regulations and democratic accountability.
In charter cities the following are at the whim of their “owners.”
- Workers’ rights (rates of pay, working conditions, hours of work, sick pay)
- Health and safety regulations
- A place to live
- Access to legal redress (for example, for unpaid wages or for assault by corporate militia)
- Right to vote (for local administration)
- Human rights
- Free speech
- Right to protest
In a charter city landowners and businesses pay no tax. No corporation tax, no import tax, no value added tax.
A charter city is an ultimate operating model of capitalist exploitation. It is the epitome of libertarian economics.
For wealthiest and most exploitative capitalists a hindrance to satisfying their greed is that governments need to be wary of opinions and desires of their populations, particularly in democracies. People demand amenities that can include adequate healthcare, education, housing and wages as well as free speech, the right to protest, and access to legal assistance and justice; they want to be paid reasonably and have income security, they want somewhere decent to live without extortionate cost, they want the necessities of life to be affordable, etc. Governments cannot do everything the extreme exploiters want them to do.
Charter cities erase the problem of democratic accountability. Any concerns about public opinion, voters’ opinions, are absent. Charter cities erase the problem of abiding by the law. They erase the problem of legal action to redress wrongdoing. They erase the problem of exploitation being lessened by human rights. Bereft of those concerns, they are an orgy of corporate fascism.
Every capitalist government has protections for cross-border trade as a nod toward protecting jobs and income of their populations. Charter cities are connected by tariff-free, tax-free, law-free, regulation-free trade. Free from democratic accountability there are no have barriers to ultra exploitative cross border trade.
In USA and UK in 1980s sustained destruction of governments’ social responsibility coupled with theft of public services was followed by capture of public services in Russia by criminals after the the end of USSR. Both events caused a huge redistribution of wealth in favour of a few international businesses.
“Ownership” of public services, and public land, is targetted by wealth gatherers due to the impossibility of people avoiding use of the services. Their income persists because public services are, by definition, a necessity.
Exploiters were buoyed by the success of wealth concentration at that time, particularly wealth resulting from theft of vital public services, but they were still obstructed by democratic accountability. They wanted to take another step toward total control of all wealth.
The concept of charter cities was a dream of extremists for decades but became an aim in the late 1990s. Baker Street Herald’s The Tabula Rasa – A Clean Slate is an excellent account of who, what, why and how the idea of charter cities developed, from conception through to actualisation, including details of the main protagonists.
The charter city community is not just a few greedy capitalists with money to spare for influence; it is an industry of persuasion, coercion, propaganda and misrepresentation by focussed assiduous libertarians at overtly influential think-tanks and faux colleges funded by extremely wealthy business people. It is international, or stateless. It considers itself post-state. It is capable of ensuring government policy follows a path that is exactly what extreme exploiters want; it is capable of strong-arming governments into giving up land to speculators and thieves. Its aim is cancellation of the nation state.
Protagonists in charter city conception and creation are embedded in think-tanks and lobby groups and are in advisory roles for governments. However, the boundaries between government and think-tanks, and between governments and corporate activists, evaporated over the last four decades. Today, particularly in UK, there is no distinction between a lobbyist or think-tank member and a politician in government. Most cabinet members in Tory government are corporate and/or think-tank plants; some were founders of think-tanks.
Kwasi Kwarteng, Liz Truss, Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak, Suella Braverman and Jacob Rees-Mogg (and former Tory MEP and current UK Board Of Trade member Daniel Hannan) are among senior Tory politicians whose objectives are as far away from democratic accountability as it is possible to be and who played and play an active role in pursuing a system of government that not only supports charter cities but, ultimately, want the UK to become a charter territory.
Brexit was devised (many years ahead of the 2016 referendum), developed, promoted and directed by the same activists who seek imposition of charter cities, and was conceived as a tool to adjust governance away from democratic accountability and in favour of corporate control. With an extremist libertarian Tory government in power (at least until 2024) and all EU laws and regulations eschewed (on workers’ rights, heath and safety, food regulations, access to justice. etc.), there is little to brake the progress toward a system of governance entirely, without any deviation, acting for exploiters.
The dismissal of maritime staff by P&O last week (March 17th 2022) was possible due to legal status of UK ports. No employment law was adhered to for the sackings nor for the terms of employment of staff hired to replace those dismissed. The owner of P&O, DP World, is an “owner” of charter cities. The appalling actions against workers by P&O are an example of the operating process of charter cities.
Everything that DP World did was with full support, agreement and prior knowledge of Tory government.
Shanker Singham, a product of wealth concentrators’ training school St. Paul’s School, has a thirty year history of assisting handover of public wealth to exploiters. His achievements include advice on privatisation of fuel supply in UK, legal manipulations in Russia after end of USSR to enable criminals to steal public services and amass huge wealth, direction of undemocratic governments in South and Central America to give away their countries’ wealth to USA corporations, and in-house adviser (director) of Tory decisions on Brexit.
Singham is a designer of the concept of charter cities, a developer of how they exist, and a manipulator of governments to establish charter cities via a variety of legal tricks and financial bribery and blackmail.
In interviews and presentations to libertarian foghorn outlets, he explained – that is, he presented fallacious arguments – why he thinks charter cities are a marvellous idea and how easy they are to start. The two blogs below include line-by-line analysis of his expositions from two interviews. They include links to audio of the interviews.
It is useful to listen to the interviews to hear how, via a matter-of-fact tone of voice, Singham elucidated coldly his warped vision with repetition of mendacious analysis and conclusions. He and other contributors spoke as if detached from most of the population of the world.
Charter cities exist. The Tory government is part of their development and imposition. Most UK newspapers, TV and radio channels are either ignorant or complicit, or both. The media and political reaction to the behaviour of DP World and P&O was critical but it failed resolutely to acknowledge how and why they were able to do what they did.
Popular criticisms of the Tories, though valid, are tame compared to what they have planned. There is no point appealing to justice, democratic responsibilities or social responsibilities when addressing Tories. Liberals in UK are self-neutered blinkered ignoramuses.
The current capitalist epoch is a disturbing endgame. Fifty percent rises in home fuel bills, twenty ambulances queueing at A&E departments, one hundred lorries queueing at Dover, no right to protest, vicious welfare policy toward people with disabilities, right to vote eroded via voter ID plans, direct interference by government in political education in schools, cancellation of citizenship without legal defence, the right of military intelligence to murder without consequence, and more, are just opening salvos. Charter territories are much worse.