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<nettime> We knew how to kill mammoths; how about corporations?
Roberto Verzola on 19 Sep 2000 08:23:39 -0000


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<nettime> We knew how to kill mammoths; how about corporations?


On the discussion whether corporations are humans:

Most legal systems today recognize the registered business firm as a
distinct legal person, separate from its stockholders, board of
directors or employees. In fact, laws would often refer to "natural or
legal persons". It should therefore be safe to conclude that such
registered business firms or corporations are persons (ie, organisms),
but NOT "natural persons", and therefore not humans.

Other social institutions have been created by humans (State, Church,
etc.), but they have never quite reached the state of life and
reproductive capacity that corporations attained.

It would be very useful to analyze corporations *as if* they were a
different species, and then to extract ecological insights from the
analysis. (By corporations here, I am basically referring to
registered business firms, or for-profit corporations).

Corporations are born; they grow; sometimes they die. They can
reproduce and multiply, using different methods, both asexual and
sexual. We have bacteria within our bodies as if they were part of us;
corporations have humans within them. Their genetic programming -
profit maximization - is much simpler than human genetic programming,
humans being a bundle of mixed and often conflicting emotions and
motives. Corporations' computational capabilities for such
maximization easily exceed most natural persons' capabilities.
Therefore they easily survive better in the economic competition.

It is profit that keeps corporations alive. They are genetically
programmed to maximize the flow of profits into their gut. To extract
profit from their environment, corporations transform everything into
commodities and then make profits by selling them or renting them out.
Corporations can transform practically anything into a commodity,
including corporations and profits themselves.

Today, corporations are the dominant species on the planet. They have
taken over most social institutions and other niches that humans have
originally created for themselves. The physical reach of the biggest
corporations span the entire globe. The term "globalization" can mean,
without exaggeration, the global rule of corporations.

The non-stop transformation of the natural world - the ecological base
of human survival - into commodities for profit-making has, in fact,
become a threat to the survival not only of human beings but of many
other species.

In the same way that we learned to domesticate plants and animals,
corporations have learned to domesticate humans. Much of today's
educational process is a process of corporate domestication,
reinforced subsequently by corporate-controlled media. Corporations
have perfected the art of training humans, using carrot-and-stick
methods, to keep them tame and obedient.

Of course, some humans have remained wild and undomesticated. But
today, they are outside the mainstream.

Corporations have trained domesticated humans to immobilize, maim,
kill or otherwise "neutralize" those fellow-humans who have remained
feral and uncontrolled by corporations. But there's a growing body of
feral humans who are now trying to learn how to disable, maim or kill
corporations.

Prehistoric humans knew how to kill the largest beasts of their time;
modern humans have not yet learned how to kill corporations.
Individual humans have practically no hope of fighting off a
determined corporate attack. Most confrontations between corporations
and communities of humans end up in corporate victory, with humans
ending up dead, maimed or subdued and domesticated, their human will
broken.

On those occasions when humans manage a victory, it almost never
results in the death of the attacking corporation. When corporations
lose a battle with feral humans, they can simply withdraw for a while,
split into several persons, combine with another person, change their
persona, or adopt other survival tricks which they have evolved over
time. In fact, when entering new and presumably wild territory, a
corporation would often clone itself and send its clone in. Even in
the remote possibility that the clone dies from human attacks, the
mother firm stays unharmed and as powerful as ever.

In prehistoric ages, our ancestors learned how to repel, disable or
kill an attacking mammoth; the challenge of our age is learning how to
do the same with corporations.

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