I was reading an article in the New York Times about Annie Leonard’s film “The Story of Stuff”.
In the article it mentioned how her film was rejected by some places of education because the portrayal of corporations as fat suited men with dollar sign bearing top hats was anti-capitalist.
I have another view of corporations: corporations are entities. They have names, they have faces, through their employees and offices they have a body, they have a financial life, and death. They even have legal rights. The fat suited men, whether sporting dollar signs or pumps, are only puppets who can be replaced easily to ensure the optimum health of the corporation.
The ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, and other peoples throughout history created gods and goddesses who controlled their lives and many people spent their lives in service to these gods. We have created—not gods and goddesses—but nonetheless, beings without physical form whose lives are greater than those of our own.
Is this a problem? Many a Christian, Muslim, or Jewish would rightly object to the possibility that corporations could not possibly be anti-monotheistic. Well, don’t worry, that’s why we call them corporations not gods.
This analogy could be amusing aside from the fact that there is a real truth to it. Do we want to see this truth? Can we dare to envision a future without corporations, without being overwhelmed by fear, even for a few seconds,? They do not help us to lead happy and healthy lives. They do not help us to be brave or free.
The problem is what they feed on. Corporations can only survive if they keep people consuming things at an increasing rate. When people stop buying, when people learn to meet their own needs, then corporations suffer. And their voices, through our media, tell us that for our own good, we need to need them. They tell us that we cannot stop spending, we cannot learn to take care of ourselves. That would be anti-capitalist. They treat capitalism as a religion, not as an economic structure.
What they feed on is human need, a need that can only flourish in a human attitude of inadequacy. Only when people are unhappy do we spend money as a way to find happiness. As a society we idolize those who can spend the most money. Our heroes: sports stars, actors and actresses & musicians are those who can spend the most money. Some people even become our heroes just by spending money. Our faith is in the corporate world, as religions worldwide fade in significance, they have become who we truly believe we need to accept into our lives.
Our entire cultural mythology is about corporations and the heroes and heroines who support them. This is not anti-capitalist, this is not even truly anti-corporation, there are many other conscious corporations and co-ops out there trying to fight back. This is about watching humanity as a whole and seeing patterns emerge. I too need money to live. And money is made by corporations.
All systems live to perpetuate themselves, and every morning we choose to be part of the corporate system. Being conscious of the fact that we are making a choice is the first step to freedom.