Saturday, January 23, 2010

economic cyborgs

Warsocialism | In The Absence of the Sacred, advertising executive and economist Jerry Mander uncovers the true nature of corporations:
The corporation is not as subject to human control as most people believe it is; rather, it is an autonomous technical structure that behaves by a system of logic uniquely well suited to its primary function: to give birth and impetus to profitable new technological forms, and to spread techno-logic around the globe.

We usually become aware of corporate behavior only when a flagrant transgression is reported in the news: the dumping of toxic wastes, the releasing of pollutants, the suppression of research regarding health effects of various products, the tragic mechanical breakdowns such as at Three Mile Island, in Bhopal, or in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Sometimes we become concerned about a large corporation closing a factory, putting 5,000 people out of work, and moving to another country.

Even when we hear such news, our tendency is to respond as if the behaviors described stem from the people within the corporate structure – people who are irresponsible, dishonest, greedy, or overly ambitious. Or else we attribute the problem to the moral decline of the times we live in, or to the failure of the regulatory process.

Seeing corporate behavior as rooted in the people who work within them is like believing that the problems of television are attributable solely to its program content. With corporations, as with television, the basic problems are actually structural. They are problems inherent in the forms and rules by which these entities are compelled to operate. If the problems could be traced to the personnel involved, they could be solved by changing the personnel. Unfortunately, however, all employees are obligated to act in concert, to behave in accordance with corporate form and corporate law. If someone attempted to revolt against these tenets, it would only result in the corporation throwing the person out, and replacing that person with another who would act according to the rules. Form determines content. Corporations are machines.
Corporations – by their very structure – are forced to exhibit Mander’s eleven inherent rules of behavior: The Profit Imperative, The Growth Imperative, Competition and Aggression, Amorality, Hierarchy, Quantification, Linearity and Segmentation, Dehumanization, Exploitation, Ephemerality, Opposition to Nature, and Homogenization. Form determines content. Corporations are machines.

Corporations do not “need” such things as clean air, justice, truth, beauty or love to survive. The only thing that large for-profit corporations “need” to survive is PROFIT. It is impossible for these corporations to forego significant monetary profits for moral reasons. If managers sacrifice significant profits to save important natural ecosystems or a community’s quality of life, they may be fired and/or subject to stockholder litigation. Management must bend itself to the corporate will and that will is to enrich the rich. Today, the richest 1 percent of America’s families controls 28 percent of the nation’s wealth and 60 percent of the nation’s corporate stock. (one-dollar, one-vote)

Thus, a large corporation may be seen as a man-made life form, a beast with a will of its own: an “economic cyborg.” Visualize a powerful creature that has humans for talons, a bank vault for a heart, computers for eyes and an insatiable need for PROFIT. The economic cyborg – a “terminator” – a machine in human disguise!

Economic cyborgs ingest natural materials (including people) in one end, and excrete un-natural products and waste (including worn-out people) out the other. Cyborgs have no innate morals to keep them from seducing our politicians, subverting our democratic processes or lying in order to achieve their own selfish objectives. Moreover, cyborgs are only nominally controlled by laws, because the people who make our laws are in turn controlled by these same cyborgs. Today in America, we live under the de facto plutocracy of the economic cyborgs. (one-dollar, one-vote)