Modern Manifesto in Defense of Citizen Public Against Corporate Fascism,
Preliminary note: there are some really excellent reviews of this book that I admire and recommend be read as a whole.
Although I have reviewed a number of books on the evil of corporate rule disconnected from social responsibility such as democratic governance normally imposes, books such as Lionel Tiger, “The Manufacture of Evil,” and more recently, John Perkins, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” and William Greider, “The Soul of Capitalism,” this is the first book in my experience to actually focus on the pervasive process of branding and the spread of corporate control (into schoolrooms and chambers of governance), and also focus, with great originality, on the emergence of an active citizen-based opposition to corporate dominance.
In terms of lasting effect, the most important value of this book to me has been the identification of the World Social Forum as a “must attend” event. I plan to do so.
The bottom line in this book, at least to me, is that government has failed to represent the public and sold out to special interests. The author notes how the US helped derail a United Nations effort to establish, in 1986, a transnational oversight body to help avoid the “race to the bottom” and develop standards of equal opportunity and human rights for labor. Other books, such as “The Global Class War” have focused on the emergence of a global elite that works together to exploit the public and the workers, and that is a part of this story.
The author is very forceful in singling out Microsoft as an exploiter of temporary labor, and goes on from there to highlight both the sweatshops overseas and the “temp” gulags here in the USA, not least of which is Wal-Mart, where other books give us great detail.
I learn for the first time about “culture jamming” and the rise in activists who seek to out corporations, I am reinforced in my view that corporate facism is rampant in America, and I am much taken with the quote on page 325, from Utah Philips, to the effect that those killing the earth have names and addresses.
I am inspired by the author’s discussion of “selective purchasing” as the ultimate means of bringing corporations to heel. WIRED Magazine has explored how bar codes can be used to connect potential buyers to all relevant information. Whereas before I have advocated information about water and oil content, now, instructed by this author, I believe it should be possible to also acquire information about labor content (hourly wages, benefits or not, cost paid to labor for the item) and source of capital.
Over-all the book discusses the broken relationship in the triad between the people, the government responsible for representing them, and the corporations that exploit them as consumers and employees and stockholders. I put this book down reflecting on how much power individuals actually have, and how little they know about how to use it.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming