A corporate republic is a theoretical form of government run primarily like a business, involving a board of directors and executives, in which all aspects of society are privatized by a single, or small groups of companies. The ultimate goal of this state is to increase the wealth of its shareholders, and the government acknowledges its status as a corporation. Utilities, including hospitals, schools, the military, and the police force, would be privatized. Social welfare is carried out by corporations in the form of pensions and benefits to employees, instead of the state.

Corporate republics do not exist officially in modern history. Modern competition laws and the development of modern nation-states prevent a company from gaining or being granted such amounts of political power. Historical states, such as post-classical Florence and the East India Company, may be described as corporate republics. Political scientists[who?] have also considered state socialist governments (criticised as state capitalist) to be forms of corporate republics, with the state assuming full control of all economic and political life and establishing a monopoly on everything within national boundaries, effectively making the state itself equatable to a giant corporation.[citation needed]

Corporate republics are used in works of science fiction or political commentary as a warning of the perceived dangers of capitalism. In such works, they usually arise when one or more vastly powerful corporations depose a government either over an extended time period via regulatory capture or swiftly in a coup d'état.


See also: Chartered company

The typical examples of corporate republics throughout history are typically the imperial East India Companies and other such chartered companies during the early modern era, such as the VOC, or the Honorable East India Company. Lesser known examples include the International Association of the Congo (the predecessor to the Congo Free State), the British South Africa Company, and the Lanfang Republic.

Republic of Florence

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See also: Republic of Florence

The maritime city-state of Florence in northwestern Italy is argued to be a corporate republic based on two reasons. Like most of the merchant republics of Italy, Florence's social and economic life was dominated by vast guilds that regulate and control key industries in the city. The key difference between Florence and other contemporary republics like Venice was that the city was administered by a council, the Signoria of Florence, whose membership was restricted to seven major guilds of Florence. But due to the rigging of the Signoria electoral lottery system, members were typically those of influential families, making the republic an aristocracy. This was exacerbated by the legal restriction that elected offices are restricted to the family members of previous holders, which heralded the rise of the Medicis as a dynasty, legitimized by the 1533 ducal crowning of Alessandro de Medici, ending the Republic.

British East India Company

Main article: Company rule in India

Starting in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey, the Company under Major-General Robert Clive was able to enthrone a puppet ruler in Bengal and was awarded the diwani, the right to collect revenue in Bengal and Bihar. Under subsequent Governor-Generals and their Presidency Armies, the Company was able to establish indirect British Rule in the Indian subcontinent until the revolt by the Sepoys (native Indian mercenaries) in 1857 forced the British Government to establish direct colonial rule in India.

Dutch East India Company

Main article: Dutch East India Company

Another classic example of a corporatocracy, the Dutch East India Company (aka the VOC) was chartered by the Dutch Republic in order to monopolize trade in the East Indies and ensure the collective prosperity of the Republic. With the powers to conclude treaties, wage wars, imprison and execute convicts,[1] strike its own coins, and establish colonies,[2] the VOC created a vast corporate empire that set the standards for future transnational corporations.

In popular culture

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See also


  1. ^ Pressley-Sanon, Toni (April 2014). "Young Nic and Kennedy Joe, dirs. Slave Ship Mutiny. 2010. 60 minutes. English. U.S. PBS. $24.99". African Studies Review. 57 (1): 253–255. doi:10.1017/asr.2014.37. ISSN 0002-0206.
  2. ^ Gascoigne, John (2013-09-01), "The Globe Encompassed: France and Pacific Convergences in the Age of the Enlightenment", Discovery and Empire: The French in the South Seas, University of Adelaide Press, pp. 17–40, doi:10.20851/discovery-01, ISBN 9781922064523
  3. ^ ISBN 978-0-349-11762-1