Review: The Corporation (2004)

5 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Easy to Understand Itemization of the Fraud Inherent in Any Corporation,

May 2, 2006
Jane Akre
I admire a number of the reviews that have already been posted, and am doing this one primarily as a personal record and for those that follow my reading in non-fiction about national security and national competitiveness (690+ reviews).

This is a superb DVD. I did not realize there was a book by this name, but all things being equal, the visuals that come with the DVD, and the shorter time to absorb the message that can been carefully crafted, make this a great value.

For those that were not around or students in the 1970's I have to say that Barnett and others did a lot of study on the topic of out of control ungovernable unregulatable multinational corporations, and a lot of this was anticipated thirty years ago. However, this DVD provides a wonderfully coherent and fresh look at some key points that need to be understood by the general public.

* Modern corporation is today's dominant institution, with global reach and global impact, yet it is ungovernable by national or state or local governments, has limited liability, and seeks to maximize internal profits by externalizing all possible costs including environmental degradation, the importation of poverty, spread of disease from lack of health benefits, etc.

* “A few bad apples” (e.g. Enron, Worldcom, Exxon, etc) is a “jingle” that has been used to cover up the fact that a lack of ethics is a predominant characteristic, not an exception. See my reviews of Lionel Tiger (The Manufacture of Evil), The Informant, The Cheating Culture, etc.

* The corporation is a paradox–it creates great wealth, and it also does great harm. It is, however, an ARTIFICIAL creation, and we have it in our power to reverse its limited liability status.

* The corporate agenda does indeed compete with the public interest agenda, and can be likened to the damage that occured with the loss of the commons–while the corporation has done much good, the concept of the people belonging to and being at one with the land was lost forever when the land could be “owned” by an artificial person as well as a real person.

* Corporations can and tend to be psychopathic. The definition of a psychopath includes callous unconcern, unable to maintain enduring relationships, reckless disregard for tohers, deceitfullness, inability to experience guilt, failure to conform to social norms–gosh, this defines the Bush White House, not just corporations. It also defines the media, religions, and some labor unions. No wonder we have problems!

* The corporate mind-set is divorced from the good of the group–only a corporation would develop the concept of a terminator one time use seed, or throw away goods.

* 9-11 was capitalized on by traders, as was the war in Iraq. I am reminded of General Smedley Butler's recommendation in “War is a Racket” when he suggested that when the US goes to war, everyone in the private sector be absorbed into the government at enlisted and junior officer ranks, and not allowed to carry out war profiteering.

* The DVD does a good job of examining the sophistication of marketing, describing it as a smart bomb in comparison to early day “bb guns.” The DVD discusses the seduction of the consumer and the use of branding as an invasive form of producing customers almost against their common sense (because of this DVD I am buying the book NO LOGO).

* Corporations today are allowed to patent life, which is wrong and was always excluded, until a court did not realize that a microbe was life, and considered it a chemical formula instead. From that mistake, hundreds of cases have been filed by corporations under the laws intended to protect the life and property of former slaves.

* The DVD expresses concern over who might protect the public interest when information is controlled and filtered by the corporations. Monsanto is troubling case study, with good coverage in this DVD of how they were able to deceive EVERYONE in the US from academics to reporters to regulators, but only because they did not do their homework. In Canada, Montanto was stopped in its tracks by effective food safety regulators.

* The DVD is somewhat inflammatory in attempting to make the case that corporations not only helped fascism in Germany but are a form of fascism themselves. There is something to that, just as the is something to the reports that the major Nazis resettled in the USA and produced Karl Rove and Otto Reich as well as some really really bad covert operations and regime changes against democracy and in favor of dictatorships.

* The DVD ends on two notes, one troubling and one positive. The troubling note is that corporations are now trying to take over water, privatizing water, to the ridiculous point that in Bolivia the natives were not allowed to collect rainwater–this is not only obscene, but radicalizing. On a positive note, the DVD ends with an interview of a person describing in Spanish how many small battles are being won, and the corporations are being beaten back.

This is a very fine DVD, which joins Lords of War and Ghandi among others in my serious collection. Very worthwhile.

See also, with reviews:
The Informant: A True Story
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story

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