The Corporation

When we were thinking of examples of a pair of things that we normally don’t necessarily associate with each other that we could apply cultural logic to, as defined as

-a broad pattern, set of practices, or set of rules that crosses many levels of a culture

I thought of the comparison of the two things (in this case in order to make a statement about society and the corporation) in the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, and its corresponding film The Corporation. Essentially the authors take the practices and characteristics of a psychopath as defined by some standard, accredited source (I cannot remember if it was an international/American medical or psychology foundation or something like that) and applies that checklist (set of rules, patterns, and practices) to a corporation, coming to the conclusion that a corporation is by definition of its practices and views logically the same as a psychopathic person. Below is the trailer for the film:

I think the interesting notion is that a corporation, though comprised of a group of people, is like a person, an accountable entity unto itself, in the legal system, but does that imply then that a corporation itself has a morality and responsibility? That in removing one individual from the legal accountability of the corporation gives fodder in supporting the argument that one can then remove (individual) morality, responsibility, and accountability? That is, can “good” people be leaders of “evil” corporations?

1 Comment

  1. chmbrigg

    Very interesting question, Laura. Without getting into a more lengthy rumination on the nature of “evil” and “good” and the various definitions for this, i’ll say that I actually think it’s hypothetically possible for a “good” person to be a leader of an “evil” corporation, since a) a corporation as an entity is, technically, its own entity – that is, it can (technically) exist without any people, and b) there are times in a corporation where the leader is faced with “wicked problems” of whether she is going to rob Peter to pay Paul (again hypothetically) by deciding, for example, to take away money or opportunity from one of either the shareholders (some of which may have children to feed), or the workers (who also may have children to feed), or the customers (children again – you get the idea). In such wicked situations, the dynamics of the corporation might actually be such that its leader may not have the power to change it.

    With this being said, however, i would question the “goodness” of anyone who is leading an “evil” corporation without either trying desperately to change it, or to leave it. Hitler, Himmler or any other “H” Nazis could not merely clap their hands, walk away from WWII, and say that the sovereign state of Germany was at fault for the holocaust.

    In America, though the legal immunity corporations provide the individual is a problem, the bigger problem (and deeper cause of the first problem) is a society filled with citizens whose moral aptitude is so emaciated that their consciences demand nothing more than legal compliance.


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