November 27, 2004

The Corporation

Dave Pollard has been reading The Corporation, and outlines some of the book's criticisms of corporate behavior, along with a possible antidote:

In Bakan's book, he describes the modern corporation as being certifiably psychopathic, according to standard psychological criteria. He cites:

  • callous unconcern for the feelings of others
  • incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
  • reckless disregard for others' safety
  • deceiving others for personal gain
  • incapacity to feel guilt
  • failure to conform to social norms and lawful behaviours

These criteria fit the Bush Regime, and to some extent to every recent US administration, just as much as they apply to most modern corporations. Many have already noted that the behaviour of most American citizens today with respect to Bush's excesses resembles that of an abused spouse or child. The citizens of America are treated not merely as consumers of political propaganda, but even worse, as employees of Corporation America, humiliated, forced to do degrading work, and constantly having their benefits taken away from them while the executives pocket more and more money themselves.

This got me thinking about Thom Hartmann's prescription (in Unequal Protection) to remove 'personhood' rights granted in 1886 from corporations -- and hence deprive them of the 'right' to give money to politicians and political causes and parties; the 'right' to locate anywhere they want even after multiple criminal convictions or where their presence is predatory and will devastate local entrepreneurs; the 'right' to dominate military production and lobby for wars to increase demand for such products; the 'privacy right' to block government investigators and conceal crimes; the 'right' to economic activity free of regulatory restraint and to buy, sell and own other corporate 'persons' (this right, for other persons, is called slavery, and it leads to oligopoly, the 'cornering' of markets, price-gouging and other market-distorting behaviours). Hartmann also calls for the automatic revocation of corporate charters (requiring immediate liquidation) for extreme or recurrent criminal activity. ...

I'd only note that the implied critique is assumed in most circles to be speaking of the major multinationals and mega-corporations who operate virtually above the law, unless they happen to step on the wrong toe or undergo a major flameout. In other words, we aren't talking here about the archetypal family corner store.

Posted by natasha at November 27, 2004 12:46 AM | Economy | Technorati links |