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The link and discussion are right here. What to chat tonight we tend to forget is that the victors of every battle for the last half a millennium have been the same — corporations. Gouging by Haliburton.
Destruction of communities by Walmart. Bonuses paid out to the executives of name-your-least-favorite-corporation-here. But corporate influence is more than that.
Deeper than that. Many of the specific incidents Rushkoff uses in his book are familiar, but stripped of marketing inventions, those events have a very different feel.
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Instead they actively worked against exploration to protect their own interests. Adam Smith, conservative saint, is revealed as a crusader against the spread of international corporations, as someone whose plea to preserve small, local business was co-opted to serve the corporations he was warning against.
How would the people screaming around the reflection pool this past Saturday react if you told them that a big part of what drove the American Revolution was not the unfair actions the British government, but the grinding tactics of British corporations? That it was as much about stopping laissez-faire economics, as it was about turning back taxation without representation?
If you think about it for a few minutes, you can come up with a justification about encouraging innovation by protecting investors from failing along with their ideas. The truth is, corporations are such a part of our lives that most of us are as likely to ask the purpose of the sun. And heck, every heartwarming story of a corporate CEO seems to start with the tale of how he or she drove three businesses into the ground before hitting it big, and who would want to mess with a system like that? Corporations were invented to stop all those things.
They were invented because the ruling class saw that the middle class was ascendant, what to chat tonight the would-be bourgeoisie were expanding their wealth and what to chat tonight to squirm out from under the thumbs of their upper-class lords. The aristocracy created the corporation to perpetuate the control of the aristocracy. Corporations are business at a distance. Work once or twice, or many times removed from the people who do the work. They allow difficult tasks to be performed by surrogates who may never had met the people they serve. They allowed the aristocracy to get their hands dirty without actually getting their hands anywhere near the dirt.
Why should we be surprised that modern corporations are increasingly reliant on complex and incomprehensible derivatives to fund their business, when they are themselves a kind of unquantifiable derivative of real people and real work? If a casino can what to chat tonight described as a machine deed to extract money from those who come inside, a corporation is a machine deed to extract money from everyone it touches. Not just consumers, not just investors, but also anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way of resources the corporation hopes to exploit.
The money from this machine is then funneled to a few people at the top.
Integral to every modern corporation is a model that incorporates literally the power structure of the late Middle Ages, and the colonization strategy of 18th century empires. The corporation establishes a beachhead in an area using any tactic necessary.
All of which helps provide the advantage that the corporation needs to offer goods in a variety and at a price no local operation can match. If local competitors do happen to prove particularly inventive or persistent, the corporation steps up the pressure by slashing prices well below costs. They have the resources to keep this up. If the locals still hold out, the corporation can open a second store, or a third, raising the stakes until at last the locals throw up their hands in surrender.
These are acceptable expenses. After all, once the corporation has finally driven local competition to extinction, they can always close the other stores and raise prices. And they will, because the intention is the same as it is everywhere else — exploit all local resources as completely as possible.
The structure of a corporation dictates how it will operate. The corporation is drive to act… like a corporation. Rushkoff provides numerous stories of the lengths that corporations have gone to in order to expand their reach. How do car dealers match demand to production capability after World War II? Again, some of these actions fit together so well that they seem like parts of a fabulous plot. But a plot is not required. The destruction of local businesses and the gutting of cities is only the medium-scale activity of the field on which corporations play. The structure of the loans, and the regulations that back them up, are deed like those of the most odious pay-day loan.
Instead they find that they are losing their best assets, surrendering their ability to control their own markets, giving up the ability to feed their own people, and providing cheap labor, raw materials, and a handy place to scatter the most toxic pollution. How could the actions of a group of bankers managing loans to countries who are already poor, be the source of such emotions? To make an appropriately corporate-driven analogy, reading Life Inc. Yeah, what else is new?
We criticize corporations for acting as if only the next quarter counts, but how often do we treat our own investments an not just our financial investments in the same way? How often is our response on any issue made on corporate terms, on terms that assume life is a zero-sum game where your advancement means my stagnation?
Just to give one example: language. How much grudging admiration have we given to the effect of death tax and partial birth abortion? And in reaction, how much time have we devoted to strategies that first require us to treat our fellow Americans as if they are idiots?
We roll our eyes at the antics of Glenn Beck, but if we feverishly look for ways to persuade rather than educate, how are we any better? You can run that experiment a thousand times, and you know who will win? The side that has the best professional marketeers.
You want to make a bet on which side that would be? What if, instead of marketing, we explain?