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Old 07-16-2004, 09:02 PM   #1
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The Corporation

I might check out this "documentary" as well, and Roger Ebert gives an interesting review of the film:

It begins with the unsettling information that, under the law, a corporation is not a thing but a person. The U.S. Supreme Court so ruled, in a decision based, bizarrely, on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. That was the one that guaranteed former slaves equal rights. The court ruling meant corporations were given the rights of individuals in our society. They are free at last.

If Monsanto and WorldCom and Enron are indeed people, what kind of people are they? The movie asks Robert Hare, a consultant who helps the FBI profile its suspects. His diagnosis: Corporations by definition have a personality disorder and can be categorized as psychopathic. That is because they single-mindedly pursue their own wills and desires without any consideration for other people (or corporations) and without reference to conventional morality. They don't act that way to be evil; it's just, as the scorpion explained to the frog, that it's in their nature.

Having more or less avoided the corporate world by living in my little movie critic corner, I've been struck by the way classmates and friends identify with their corporations. They are loyal to an entity that exists only to perpetuate itself. Any job that requires you to wear a corporate lapel pin is taking more precious things from you than display space. Although I was greatly cheered to see Ken Lay in handcuffs, I can believe he thinks he's innocent. In corporate terms, he is: He was only doing his job in reflecting Enron's psychopathic nature.
So I guess this thread can be multipronged:

1) Talk about the "documentary."
2) Should corporations be considered as "people"?
3) Are corporations inherently psychotic?



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Old 07-16-2004, 09:07 PM   #2
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I saw this documentary months ago when it first came out in Canada, and it was very good. It's a charming, funny look, sort of a la Michael Moore, except without the bombastic anger. A must see film for all of us who are the victims of the corporate empire, and you'll walk out with a sense of empowerment. There was one CEO of a carpet manufacturing corporation who completely changed the way he ran his business, and it's just incredible to see him talk, because it's just one guy who saw the light, yet it leaves you with a feeling of optimism.

Definitely two thumbs up.

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Old 07-16-2004, 09:25 PM   #3
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That's so strange. Corporations are people?
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Old 07-16-2004, 10:39 PM   #4
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I've very ambivalent thoughts about the corporation (the idea not the documentary, which I have not seen).

My general thought is that corporate 'accountability' (to shareholders) will never be good enough, until everyone is a shareholder. And by definition, would that not replace the nation-state as a focus for the common good?

Worrisome. I like some of the more recent ideas of corporate accountability that includes social and environmental aspects, but once again, is that not by definition creating little nations-within-a-nation?

The legal status of corporations is, like a lot of legal things, a useful absurdity. We live with absurdities all the time, so why not this one as well, I guess.

And finally, my main thought on the subject: every business has a right to make a profit, but every business also exists within a wider society. Profit with no reference to society at large, is pure evil. And no, I'm not exaggerating.
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