'Corpocracy' is a system of rule by which commercial sub-societies, called corporations, govern the larger society. In the Course Books, the Gudersnipe Foundation might be thought a corpocracy; but its principal use identifies The Corporate Era, and the government of planet Altronis in the late Fourth Age.
A 'corporation' was an organization of businesses-people, organized to take control of all wealth and all resources (human and otherwise) within a particular trade, but later expanded to control the whole economy, and thence the whole society. Where multiple corporations existed, they assumed a fiction of competing amongst themselves, but co-operated secretly. Though they professed to 'generate wealth' and 'protect individual rights', their practices left more people out of work than in, and the 'rights' they professed were not named;–– or where named, not protected.
Almost any corpocracy had most or all the features listed here:
-- Industrialism (by which various corporations attempted control of all natural resources, and of all means of using the same);
-- Disbelief (cultivated among the citizenry, that any action heroic, righteous, desirable, or otherwise contrary to the corporations' purpose, could truly succeed);
-- Absorbtion (of all social functions);
-- Racism (by which certain ethnicities were denied respect and social status; lacked upward social mobility; overworked; treated as criminals by default; or otherwise abused);
-- Misogyny (by which women were refused privileges, often raped, denied respect, and portrayed in fiction as weak or sentimental where men were not; and by which advertisement became synonymous with prostitution);
-- Pollution (by which natural resources were exhausted; ecosystems weakened or broken; water-supplies polluted; food unwholesome; air filthy; cancers endemic; landscapes destroyed; poisons ubiquitous; etc.);
-- Slavery (often practiced in secret, or modified by minimal wages, to evade laws);
-- Inattention (to national borders; emergent corporations strengthened nationalism in the public, but ignored borders, treaties, sovereignties, geographic barriers, and laws of every kind);
-- Division (of ethnic groups, for reasons supposed antique but invented for this purpose);
-- Individualism (by which the majority of people were misinformed that the right to choose one's occupation, spouse, or hobbies took precedence over improvement of social/environmental/psychic conditions, and all correction was portrayed as a 'slippery slope' toward mass enslavement of the population);
-- Profit Motive (by which all worth was defined by wealth; all wealth by status within corporations; all status by the amount of money retained; money's worth by use in the most-powerful corporations; power by the extent of resource-control; etc.);
-- Reduction (of all scientific, civil, and humanitarian efforts to commercial interests);
-- Corruption (by which various corporations bought; bribed; blackmailed; lied; cheated; tricked; scared; and otherwise deceptively put themselves in control of the elected government, so that their desires came first in every discourse);
-- Deception (of the public, to keep its attention on fictitious 'threats' to its least-important freedoms while the more important were graduated out of practice, and to have them believe it within their power to become corporate officials, even when they could not);
-- Incompetence (by which every secretary, receptionist, supernumerary, manager, police-officer, etc. was trained to be stupid on the job; to deny all help to clients, in a tone of false politeness; and to treat every sign of agitation, on the part of their clients, as a sign of insanity);
-- Privacy (invoked by the owners of each corporation, to prevent their obedience to any law);
-- Anti-Intellectualism (very useful where analytical thought would prostrate the corpocracy, and where enforcement of real needs would keep money from its control); and
-- Ambiguity (by which 'rights' and 'traditional values' were invoked as excuses of their behavior, but never identified).
Corporations gradually replaced the standing government's functions (safety; medical care; response to disaster; publication of books; etc.) with departments of their own, and ultimately became synonymous with the government. Once there, they could be removed only by force. Any law diminishing the corporations' acquisition of wealth, even in the least degree, was accused of 'retarding economic growth' and abolished wherever falsely proven so.
A time and region in which the majority of inhabited planets belonged to corpocratic governments. See related article.