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The Corporation

  • 21st May, 2004 at 3:43 PM

On Wednesday, I went out with Dave Coombs and Julie to see The Corporation. It is an intriguing documentary that tries to highlight how corporations, companies, and the people within do evil.

Now, Kelly will argue with me that The Corporation doesn't provide enough answers. Which, I suppose is too bad; since with answers, we could actually do something about this sorry state of affairs. Yet I believe that any damage done to the particular companies highlighted is offset by the awareness that the general public will have gleaned.

After all, how many of these people actually pay attention to the news, or the statistics? How many people know what does the company they work for do? And still sadder, the distribution of this film is limited, so few people will actually see it in theatres.

Once we had left the theatre, I wondered what Dave thought. After all, he helps manage the company that employs me. Now Avery, Dave and Ozzy are awesome people, and I trust them to do good. They contribute to Free Software, they treat their employees well, we like coming to work. But there's no guarentee that the company won't be taken over by other interests. Nor this there any guarentee that we always will be small enough that Avery, Dave and Ozzy can exert moral suasion over the people they employ. Is there anything we can do to prevent NITI from going evil?

And what can we do to stop our competitors from acting evil? Or corporations at large? For instance, one of the evils is the privitisation of fundamental human necessities. Like ideas. Many corporations are in the business of charging people for the use of ideas, even ones they come up with by themselves. These are called patents. Not only can you patent the idea of exercising a cat with a laser pointer, you can also patent compiling source code into programmes, or even snippets of human DNA.

So I've come to the conclusion that civil disobedience and non-violence may be the only way to effect change. So I ask you to support Free Software. Trade technical information freely, for the public good, even when you are forbidden from doing so. Spread culture friend-to-friend, instead of buying it from a large distributor. Buy fewer processed goods, try to get as close to the source as possible. Demand that your goods be Fair Trade. I have tried to maintain boycotts against companies with unfair business practises, but I no longer think that is sufficient.

Download this film over BitTorrent, and show it to your friends. I don't think the creator will mind.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
21st May, 2004 20:33 (UTC)

Chiron is a biotech company in Northern California. They patented the genome for the Hepatitis B virus. When Gen-Probe created a blood bank test kit that identified HBV, they sued, and in the end settled to get a cut of Gen-Probe's profits. I'm still outraged by that. They sued a company for making a blood test kit as if they *invented* the fucking disease!

But while I'm fully aware of how evil corporations can be, I don't think they are inherently evil, and don't like what I've heard of the documentary - essentially the idea that companies are evil, therefore even when you point out some good that they do, that just means your suffering from "false consciousness" and don't realize that that's evil, too. It was the gov't, after all, that came up with the stupid idea of patents, and let the corporationss patent these things.

But I'm sure I'll see it sooner or later. :)
21st May, 2004 20:44 (UTC)

I believe that your hearsay is a misrepresentation of the movie. After all, it showcases a corporation that tries to be sustainable, and a global citizen.

But it also points to corporations that do good locally, while being hypocrites abroad. And it also points out that the system is setup such that it is disadvantageous for corporations, and the people that make their decisions, to do what is good and right.

I think this film is more of a device. It's goal is to get people off their lazy asses and to do something. Dave said that he was angry after seeing the film, and if enough people get angry, maybe we can change the system so that corporations are rewarded for being constructive, instead of destructive.

21st May, 2004 22:11 (UTC)

Corporations will always be rewarded by money, so as long as they sell something people need or want, they'll do what they have to do to create those things.

The question after that is whether they should be curtailed by boycotts or policy when they start doing destructive things.

I definitely will see the movie.
24th May, 2004 17:55 (UTC)
So I've come to the conclusion that civil disobedience and non-violence may be the only way to effect change.

Amen. You forgot to mention 'trade music freely over the Internet, but support the artist by seeing their shows', or something equally flamboyant against the recording industry which I so hate, but those are my own beliefs.

Very succintly said (as in: when I get around to it, my spiel on The Corporationw will probably be a ramble). I owe you a drink when we meet next :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )