Sunday, August 21, 2011

The chink in the armor

A profound and powerful corporatism is driving our world. We rely on corporate boardrooms for most every aspect of our lives. Even "public goods", ones that not all of fully support, like defense and military spending, are influenced heavily influenced by corporations. They are growing ever more powerful, and the government is relying ever more on them. Take for example the public-private partnerships that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson hails as the next big step in the quest for more efficient cars. Or the American Insurance Group, which our government called "too big to fail."

How is it that these social constructions, corporations, have become so powerful? I do not claim to know much about this. But no one can deny their power, so much so that many "environmentalists" think that working through the corporate world can yield larger changes than work through the policy world. This may be true, but it does something that I feel can be dangerous - it further legitimises their existence. Furthermore, I am always skeptical of the benevolence of entities that exist to make a profit. (Ambrose Bierce, in The Devil's Dictionary,  has defined a corporation as "ingenious device to obtain individual profit without individual responsibility.") Corporations as they stand must be taken down. As Scott Russell Sanders has written, "We need to restore the original definition of a corporation as an association granted temporary privileges for the purpose of carrying out some socially useful task, with charters that must be reviewed and renewed periodically by state legislatures."

At brunch yesterday morning celebrating Krista and Serge's wedding, I was in the company of some very astute people, and Professor Emeritus Ann Larimore (of Women's Studies and Geography) was one of them. (I am growing heirloom tomatoes in her front garden.) She has been highly involved in politics and activism, and thinks deeply about issues of justice and environment. She said, "There is a question that I have been asking for about five years now, a question that I do not have an answer to, and a question no one has been able to answer. With corporations, where is the chink in the armor? Is it possible to take them down?" Corporations have continued to find chinks in the legislative and regulatory armor of the government. There has to be a chink in their armor. We must take the metaphorical sword to them. We must.

As I wrote about yesterday, our individual activism must be projected outwards to coalesce into something social, something bigger than ourselves. I would be fascinated to see how our anti-corporate individual actions can form a movement big enough to find the chink in the armor, bigger than boycotts, bigger than buying local, more fundamental and more powerful than government regulation. Thoughts?


  1. What is it that you want to replace corporations with? After all, corporations are made up of people. Corporations have a board of directors all of which are human.

    If you don't have corporations, how will you design complex things like cars and computers?

  2. Kyle, as you may have gathered from the rest of the blog, Darshan wants to replace corporations with a pre-industrial anti-human "society," or, ideally, with the extinction of humanity. He doesn't want to live in a world with complex things like cars and computers--he wants to live in a world where rocks are afforded the same status, dignity, and moral weight as humans. Everything he ever writes expresses a deep hatred for humanity and freedom, and a love of totalitarian destruction of civilization.

  3. I'm going to have to agree with Kyle here. My biggest question with this post is this: why do we want to take down the corporations? Why is profit inherently immoral?

    Full disclosure, Darshan and I have very different views on the topics brought up in this blog, and we respect each other for it.