Imagine a world where global multinational corporations have the power to sue any government that passes laws or regulations that have negative impacts on their current or future profits. Imagine that they could bring the case to a private tribunal whose judges are private lawyers working for other large multinational corporations, who sometimes bring cases to the same tribunal on behalf of their corporate employer. Imagine that such private tribunals can override decisions made by the highest courts of the country being sued. Imagine that there is no limit to the amount of taxpayer money the tribunal can order the defending government to pay the corporation who brought the suit. Imagine that the proceedings of these tribunals are both secret and cannot be appealed.
Well, this is the world that twelve nations, including the US, will be living in if they ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a deceptively named “trade agreement” that will have broad impacts on many aspects of social life in the countries that bind themselves to its dictates. If you think of the system of law in a particular country as its social operating system, then you could say that any nation which signs the TPP will effectively override its social operating system with one that elevates current and future corporate profits to the highest value of society.