Monday, April 4, 2011

Special This Week: Series on Corporatization

This week I will be writing a series of posts on corporatization and its effects on our social lives. This series is an experiment in a number of ways.

One, it's series of posts on a single topic. Normally, posts are on whatever tickles my fancy at the moment.  There are themes that I return to, but this is the first time that I've focused on a topic for multiple posts in sequence. Two, I'm going to be posting every day for a week. Normally, posts appear when I have time, but taxes are coming up and my urge to procrastinate has been especially stoked. Three, I'm aiming to have these posts be shorter than usual.

I haven't always been anti-corporation. I thought of them as a necessary evil at worst and part of the landscape at best. Over the last month or so, current events, a book, articles, and some videos have solidified my opinion that corporations are bad for us. Corporations have changed our culture and political systems in undesirable ways. We need to get them out. I'm not one for complaining without providing a solution, so at the end of the series I'll discuss some interesting ideas and experiments in removing corporate interference in our lives.

The source that has been most influential to me on corporatization is Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back by Douglas Rushkoff. (To be completely accurate, I listened to it as an audiobook.) It was one of the most amazing books that I've read in quite some time. In it, Rushkoff gives a history of the corporation and how it has insinuated itself, not just into commercial transactions, but our assumptions about how we should live and our relations with each other. By doing so, the book sheds new light on why I always feel like I have to resist being put into the neat containers. I always thought this was social-cultural pressure. Well, it is, but the root cause of this configuration of social-cultural pressure is corporatization.

A series of videos by Annie Leonard called "The Story of Stuff" has been a lot of fun to watch. It's a series of short videos featuring Leonard narrating animated stick figures that is both educational and entertaining. It's the latest installment in the series takes on "The Story of Citizens United vs. FEC," the case where the US Supreme Court rule that corporations could spend as much as the wanted in political advertising.

Add to this some articles on the psychopathic tendencies of corporations and a presentation by Lawrence Lessig on the need for citizens to take democracy back from corporations. If it was just one essay or video, I'd be less persuaded, but I am seeing a preponderance of evidence. 

The solutions to corporatization typically involve fostering local person-to-person relationships, different arrangements for commerce, activism, and activism. We can resist at a personal level by buying less or choosing to buy more ethically. We can also scale up our resistance by supporting an Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, stating that corporations are not persons. Resourceful people all around us are coming up with creative solutions.

I'll be interested in hearing your feedback from the experiment-- what's good, what's bad, what to keep, what to throw away.

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