There is a new documentary, The Corporation, that addresses the issue of corporate personhood, a topic covered well in the book, “Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights,” by Thom Hartmann. Corporations Need Treatment, Documentary Argues is an article about the movie. Here is a blurb from the movie’s website:
- THE CORPORATION engages us in a darkly amusing account of the institution’s birth as a legal “person” whose prime directive is to produce ever-increasing profit for it’s shareholders regardless of the cost to anyone, or anything else. This pathological nature wasn’t always written in stone. 150 years ago a corporation was merely an organized way of doing business. Today it is is a global power.
- Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a “person” in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employees a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.
- Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation’s operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.
- In this feature documentary we see the people who inhabit the corporate “person” explore, and expose, the implications of being part of an institution that is required by it’s own laws to place the pursuit of profit over people. Over concern for the environment. Over even the planet itself.
- In production from the time of the loudest protests against globalization to the high-profile bankruptcies of companies like Enron, the filmmakers make this huge and complex topic easy to follow and riveting to watch. Behind-the-scenes tensions and influences are revealed in corporate and anti-corporate dramas through jaw-dropping case studies and true confessions.
- Featuring a multitude of interviews with CEO’s and top-level executives from some of the worlds largest corporations, representing a wide range of industries, including: oil (Shell), pharmaceuticals (Pfizer),computers (IBM), tires (Goodyear), carpets (Interface), public relations (Burson Marsteller), branding (Landor), and advertising (Initiative); as well as critical thinkers: Noam Chomsky, Peter Drucker, Milton Friedman, Naomi Klein, Mark Kingwell, Vandana Shiva, and muckraking filmmaker Michael Moore. Add to the mix a corporate spy, an undercover marketer, academics, pundits, historians and activists; deftly blend with newsreel footage, early TV advertisements, B movies, and corporate propaganda films and you have the fascinating, original portrait of an institution that is THE CORPORATION.
I want to be a corporate spy–that is, I want to spy on corporations. Of course, I have already cracked the Jams and Jellies Conspiracy, the More Raisins Conspiracy, the Chicken Bubbles Nanotechnology Conspiracy, the Space Balls and Ice Pirates Prophecy Conspiracy, the Jalepeno Pepper/Apple Sauce Lid Conspiracy, and the Fake Trees Conspiracy. If I put this on my resume, surely somebody from Corpwatch or Corporate Governance or When Corporations Rule the World will take notice. I’m thinking Pulitzer.
Multiple Corporate Personality Disorder, by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, the authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy, write about the insanity of corporations. They say that in effect, corporations are legalized venues for sociopathic behaviors that destroy people’s lives. Corporations get away with this behavior every day. Remember that Soros quote about being amoral–not immoral, but amoral. How is that not crazy? Coupled with the documentary, The Corporations, I am thinking that I’m not so crazy after all. I’m a sane person in an insane corporate world. This is exactly what David Edwards was talking about in his book, Burning All Illusions, in which he questioned the validity of psychoanalysis, claiming that people are having natural reactions to this insane illusory system in which we live. See the excerpted chapter, “The Wound Outside,” that is from Burning All Illusions. I share a few paragraphs:
- Thus we can see that corporate capitalism is fundamentally at odds with life. It is not even against our lives and for its own long-term survival; the logic of profit maximization in a free-market economy dictates that longer-term planning is subordinated to the needs of the day, the next quarter, the next financial year; and rarely beyond. Over and over again in this discussion we have surely been struck by the complete disregard the corporate system has for life generally – be it the poor of the Third World, the sanity of the first world, for the living creatures generally who get in the way. Concern for life just does not belong in the profit/loss equation. In our discussion of the desolated day-tripper, we saw that he was overwhelmed by a sense of deadness rooted in conformity. This is the real truth of the corporate industrial system-it is against life; it is a system for using living beings to create things, to create capital. To do this, it must turn human beings into producing and consuming devices that serve the needs of capital rather than the needs of human life. The environment provides the raw material for the machine, to be processed and transformed into profit, regardless of the needs of global environmental integrity.
- Because this system is against life, a shadow of death is spreading over the planet-over the minds and lungs of European children, as over the people of East Timor, as over the poor of Africa, as over the peasants and rainforests of South America. It is the shadow of life sacrificed for non-life. Remarkably, this process is only able to continue because you and I continue to believe that it is really on the side of life, that it is really for our best, for the progress of man and all life. Once again, we may remind ourselves that, just as the fiend is said to speak in the name of God, so the corporate killing machine speaks in the name of life.
Morpheus summed up well the impact of this psychotic, deceptive system in The Matrix:
- What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You felt it your entire life–like there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.
This unnatural, deceptive corporate world is driving me mad. All day it bugs me as I see hints of the glitches in the matrix, and it bugs everybody. Are some of our “insane” people just more aware of these glitches, of the sickness of corporate socio-pathology? Do we have a higher degree of mental illness now more than ever? Mokhiber and Weissman propose getting rid of corporations. In the least, we need to take control of the world away from corporations.
- Economic instability and social insecurity will lead to a rise in violence in the world because it is impossible to separate economic issues from social and political issues, [Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics] said.
- The loudest applause went to Stiglitz at Monday’s conference, “Globalization, economic and social security”, which drew more than 1,000 of the reportedly more than 150,000 people participating in the Mumbai WSF.
I’m glad this guy is saying this, but isn’t it obvious? What kind of world is this that when a person states the obvious, it is so counter to the deceptive spin of the media and the government that it draws the strongest applause of the conference? Stating the obvious is becoming a radical thing under this Bush Administration. How absurd.