Corporate power and state power

I'm curious to hear peoples' thoughts about an interesting passage from the first section of The Postmodern Condition, in which Lyotard argues, apropos of the shift in informational circulation and economic decision-making "beyond the control of the nation-states," that the questions defining our postmodern era will be along the lines of: "Who will have access to [communications satellites and data banks]? Who will determine which channels or data are forbidden? The State? Or will the State simply be one user among others?" (6).
When he's talking about, for instance, IBM as a purveyor and controller of information that has exceeded regulatory power, my initial reaction, as a soon-to-be law student, is that such corporate power still necessarily bends to whim of the state; if the private firm is too powerful, regulation must not be working (or not exist), but it could still work in theory. However, his image of the State as "one user among others" is compelling, if frighteningly so. In practice, regardless of codified regulations, it seems increasingly difficult to actually regulate anything; corporations can easily attract the best and brightest J.D.'s and M.B.A's to provide a thicket of effective immunity.
That said, is it simply naive to think that data consolidation, which is essentially the *problem* we see with mainstream media today, would be reversible given proper legal reform? Has corporate clout become de-linked from its legal origins (contract law, etc.) to an extent that it now no longer answers to any master?

Lyotard does not appear to make a judgment call regarding the IBM satellites and your questions, but he does speak of what might develop in the future

He notes the changing roles of the current institutions and structures in our world brought about by the "transformation in the nature of knowledge." This "could well have repercussions on the existing public powers, forcing them to reconsider their relations (both de jure and de facto) with the large corporations and, more generally, with civil society...and many other factors are already, at the end of the 1970s, preparing States for serious reappraisal of the role they have been accustomed to playing since the 1930s: that of guiding, or even directing investments."

Regarding your questions, I think Lyotard would say that are current institutions are outdated and will have to adjust to the events that he lists in the middle of page 6. The IBM example you mention shows that our current system fails to regulate IBM's control and economic power. Fortunately, it is hypothetical.

I can see this happening because I took a class that talked about the consolidation of the media. Capitalism is based in competition but its one-sided. The historical trend is that the small companies cannot compete with the large ones and simply go bankrupt or become absorbed by the big companies. As a result, there have been fewer companies but much bigger ones (is this the one user among others). If the trend continues, there might just be one company with unmatched power.

The text I am referring to is Robert McChesney's Rich Media, Poor Democracy and though written before 2000, I think it has very valid arguments.

Our capitalistic system seems to be leading towards a very bleak future. Hopefully, the soon to be lawyers like you will be able to deal with it. Haha.

I think you allude to it your post, but Lyotard seems to hold the state as an all-powerful entity and the lose of that power to corporations is evil, or at least not a good thing. I got the sense that the State's purpose is to serve and protect the individuals of the state. The encroachment of private institutions into historically State run operations limits the ability of the State to perform optimally. We can see this happening in America where large organizations, or a collective unit of people, give funding to a politician's campaign. That politician then carries out initiatives that favor those organizations over the public good.

It does seem very much like large corporations do not technically have a master (which might make your future job as a lawyer that much more complicated!).

Lyotard reiterates this type of point when he later says that "the central question is...who will have access to the information these machines must have in storage to guarantee that the right decisions are made" (14)? The answer seems to be that the large corporations will have access, and therefore make the decisions.

This reminds me of the role that the Internet plays in our world today. There is no real master to cyberspace, as every individual is his or her own master in this realm. As large corporations continue to dominate and reel in genius minds to its fields, it is concerning to think how the power of the State will diminish.