Good To Know: Corporate Reality Is Not The Default Setting

by | May 15, 2009

Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back by Douglas Rushkoff’ goes on sale June 2, 2009. In the meantime, here’s a trailer for the book to pique our interest:

I like that “create your own currency” idea. Sounds like Rushkoff has some radical, but right on, advice.

Here’s how the book begins:

Commerce is good. It’s the way people create and exchange value.

Corporatism is something else entirely. Though not completely distinct from commerce or the free market, the corporation is a very specific entity, first chartered by monarchs for reasons that have very little to do with helping people carry out transactions with one another. Its purpose, from the beginning, was to suppress lateral interactions between people or small companies and instead redirect any and all value they created to a select group of investors.

This agenda was so well embedded into the philosophy, structure, and practice of the earliest chartered corporations that it still characterizes the activity of both corporations and real people today. The only difference today is that most of us, corporate chiefs included, have no idea of these underlying biases, or how automatically we are compelled by them. That’s why we have to go back to the birth of the corporation itself to understand how the tenets of corporatism established themselves as the default social principles of our age.

Rushkoff is the author of ten books on media, technology, and society. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and the upcoming Digital Nation.