The Corporation: trailer
"Corporations are artificial creations. You might say they’re monsters trying to devour as much profit as possible at anyone’s expense."
"They think they have feelings, they have politics, they have belief systems, they really only have one thing: the bottom line. How to make as much money as they can in any given quarter. That’s it."
"Running a business is a tough proposition, there are costs to be minimized at every turn, and at some point the corporation says, you know, let somebody else deal with that. Let’s let somebody else supply the military power to the Middle East to protect the oil at its source, let’s let somebody else build the roads that we can drive these automobiles on, let’s let somebody else have those problems, and that is where externalities come from, that notion of, let somebody else deal with that – I got all I can handle myself."
"Something happened in 1940 which marked the beginning of a new era. The era of the ability to synthesize and create, on an unlimited scale, new chemicals that had never existed before in the world."
"If I take a gun and shoot you, that’s criminal. If I expose you to some chemicals, which knowingly are going to kill you, what difference is there?
The difference is, that it takes longer to kill you."
"We are now in the midst of a major cancer epidemic—and I have no doubt and I have documented the basis for this, that industry is largely responsible for this overwhelming epidemic of cancer, in which one in every 2 men get cancer in their lifetimes, and one in every 3 women get cancer in their lifetimes."
"We know that people are consuming antibiotics through their food and we know that that’s contributing to antibiotic resistant bacteria and diseases. And we know we’re at a crisis when somebody can go into a hospital and get a staff infection and it can’t be cured and they die. That's a crisis."
"Our information that we receive does not include anything about the environmental conditions because until the environmental conditions become a commodity themselves or are being traded then obviously we will not have anything to do with that. It doesn't come into our psyche at all."
"Again and again we have the problem that whether you obey the law or not, is a matter whether it's cost effective. If the chance of getting caught and the penalty are less than it costs to comply, people think of it as being just a business decision."
"We are leaving a terrible legacy of poison and diminishment of the environment for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, generations not yet born. Some people have called that intergenerational tyranny, a form of taxation without representation, levied by us on generations yet to be. It’s the wrong thing to do."
"One of the questions that comes up periodically is to what extent could a corporation be considered to be psychopathic. And if we look at a corporation as a legal person, that it may not be that difficult to actually draw the transition between psychopathy in the individual, to psychopathy in a corporation.
We could go through the characteristics that define this particular disorder, one by one, and see how they might apply to corporations:
-Callous unconcern for the feelings of others
-Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
-Reckless disregard for the safety of others
-Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit
-Incapacity to experience guilt
-Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior
They would have all the characteristics, and in fact, in many respects, the corporation of that sort is the proto-typical psychopath."
"The corporation is not a person it doesn’t think. People in it think, and for them it is legitimate to create terminator technology so that farmers are not able to save their seeds. Seeds that will destroy themselves through a suicide gene. Seeds that are designed to only produce crop in one season. You really need to have a brutal mind. It’s a war against evolution to even think in those terms. But quite clearly profits are so much higher in their minds."
"If you’re a CEO, I mean, do you think your shareholders really care whether you’re Billy Buttercup or not? You know, do you think that they would prefer you to be a nice guy, over having money in their pocket? I don’t think so. I think people want money. That’s the bottom line."
"The fact that most of these companies are run by white men, white rich men, means that they are out of touch with what the majority of the world is. Because the majority of this planet are not a bunch of rich white guys. They’re people of other colors, they’re the majority. Women are the majority, and the poor and working poor, make up the majority of this planet. So the decisions that they make come from not the reality that exists throughout the world."
"When the US bombed Iraq back in 1991 the price of oil went from $13 to $40 a barrel for Christ sake! Now we couldn’t wait for the bombs to start raining down on Saddam Hussein. We were all excited. We wanted Saddam to really create problems. Do whatever you have to do, set fire to some more oil wells, because the price is going to go higher. Every broker was chanting that, there was not a broker that I know of that wasn’t excited about that."
"In devastation there is opportunity."
"One of the things I find very interesting in our current debates is this concept of who creates wealth. That wealth is only created when it’s owned privately.
What would you call clean water, fresh air, a safe environment? Are they not a form of wealth? And why does it only become wealth when some entity puts a fence around it and declares it private property? Well, you know, that’s not wealth creation. That’s wealth usurption."
"Public institutions can have a counter cyclic property. So that means that they can maintain employment in periods of recession, which increases demand, which helps you get out of a recession. A private company can’t do that in a recession. (It) throws out the work force cause that’s the way you make money."
"Comparing the marketing of yesteryear to the marketing of today is like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb. It’s not the same as when I was a kid, or even when the people who are young adults today were kids. It’s much more sophisticated, and it’s much more pervasive. It’s not that products themselves are bad or good. It’s the notion of manipulating children into buying the products."
"The more insight you have about the consumer the more creative you’ll be in your communication strategies. So if that takes a psychologist, yeah, we want one of those on staff."
"One family cannot combat an industry that spends 12 billion dollars a year trying to get their children. They can’t do it.
"They are tomorrow's adult consumers, so start talking with them now, build that relationship when they’re younger… and you’ve got them as an adult.
"The goal for the corporations is to maximize profit and market share. And they also have a goal for their target, namely the population. They have to be turned into completely mindless consumers of goods that they do not want. You have to develop what are called “created wants”. So you have to create wants. You have to impose on people what’s called a philosophy of futility. You have to focus them on the insignificant things of life, like fashionable consumption.
I’m just basically quoting business literature. And it makes perfect sense. The ideal is to have individuals who are totally disassociated from one another. Whose conception of themselves, the sense of value, is: Just how many created wants can I satisfy?"
"Corporations don’t advertise products particularly, they’re advertising a way of life. A way of thinking. A story of who we are as people and how we got here and what’s the source of our so-called liberty, and our so-called freedom. You know, so you have decades and decades and decades of propaganda and education teaching us to think in a certain way. When applied to the large corporation, it’s that the corporation was inevitable, that it’s indispensable, that it is somehow remarkably efficient, and that it is responsible for progress and the good life."
"Branding is not advertising - it’s production. And very successful corporations, the corporations of the future do not produce products. They produce brand meaning. The dissemination of the idea of themselves is their act of production. And the dissemination of the idea of themselves is an enormously invasive project.
So, how do you make a brand idea real? Well, a good place to start is by building a three dimensional manifestation of your brand. For a company like Disney it goes even further where it’s actually building a town, Celebration Florida. Their inspiration, their brand image, is the all American family. And the sort of bygone American town. And that’s where you see the truly imperialist aspirations of branding which is about building these privatized branded cocoons, which maybe you start by shopping in and then you continue by holidaying in but eventually why not just move in."
"What happens if we wake up one day, and we find out that virtually all of our relationships that are mediated between us and our fellow human beings are commercial? We find out that virtually every relationship we have is a commercially arbitrated relationship with our fellow human being? Can civilization survive on that narrow a definition of how we interact with each other?"
"People are always thinking, “Well, oh I know product placement. That’s when they put stuff in movies!” Well, yes kind of. I mean, that’s definitely traditional product placement. But real life product placement is just that: placing stuff in movies, but the movie is actually your life."
"If you want to be critical, if you want to go through your life like that, sure, be critical of every single person that walks up to you. But if they are showing you something that fits, and something that works, and something that makes your life better in some way, well then who cares. Again, just say thanks!"
"We’ve all been hearing about the announcement, that we have mapped the human genome. But what the public doesn’t know, is now there’s a great race by genomic companies, and biotech companies, and life science companies, to find the treasure in the map.
The treasure are the individual genes that make up the blueprint of the human race. Every time they capture a gene and isolate it, these biotech companies claim it as intellectual property. The breast cancer gene, the cystic fibrosis gene - it goes on, and on, and on. If this goes unchallenged in the world community, within less than ten years, a handful of global companies will own, directly, or through license, the actual genes that make up the evolution of our species. And they’re now beginning to patent the genomes of every other creature on this planet.
In the Age of Biology the politics is going to sort out between those who believe life first has intrinsic value, and therefore we should choose technologies and commercial venues that honor the intrinsic value. And then we’re going to have people who believe, “Look, life is simple utility. It’s commercial fare”, and they will line up with the idea to let the marketplace be the ultimate arbiter of all of the Age of Biology."
Human Genome Project
The Kept University
In an age when ideas are central to the economy, universities will inevitably play a role in fostering growth. But should we allow commercial forces to determine the university's educational mission and academic ideals? In higher education today corporations not only sponsor a growing amount of research—they frequently dictate the terms under which it is conducted. Professors, their image as unbiased truth-seekers notwithstanding, often own stock in the companies that fund their work. And universities themselves are exhibiting a markedly more commercial bent. Most now operate technology-licensing offices to manage their patent portfolios, often guarding their intellectual property as aggressively as any business would. Schools with limited budgets are pouring money into commercially oriented fields of research, while downsizing humanities departments and curbing expenditures on teaching. Occasional reports on these developments, including a recent 60 Minutes segment on corporate-sponsored research, have begun to surface beyond the university. But the larger picture has yet to be filled out. It is this: universities, once wary beneficiaries of corporate largesse, have become eager co-capitalists, embracing market values as never before. [...]
"I said you know this isn’t about being fired for no cause. You’re firing us because we refused to put on the air something that we knew and demonstrated to be false and misleading. That’s what this is about. And because we put up a fight, because we stood up to this big corporation and we stood up to your editors and we stood up to your lawyers. And we said to you, 'look, there ought to be a principle higher than just making money.'
And she wrote a letter back and said 'You are right, that’s exactly what it was. You stood up to us on this story and that’s why we’re letting you go.'
Big mistake. Big mistake. That says retaliation. You can’t retaliate against employees if they’re standing up for something that they believe is illegal, that they don’t want to participate in. So that gave us the whistle blower status that we needed in the state of Florida to file a whistle blower claim against our employer."
"There was an interesting connection between the rise of fascism in Europe and the consciousness of politically radical people about corporate power. Because there was a recognition that fascism rose in Europe with the help of enormous corporations."
"Mussolini was greatly admired all across the spectrum. Business loved him, investment shot up. Incidentally, when Hitler came in, in Germany the same thing happened there, investment shot up in Germany. He had the work force under control. He was getting rid of dangerous left wing elements. Investment opportunities were improving. There were no problems. These are wonderful countries."
"I think one of the greatest untold stories of the twentieth century is the collusion between corporations—especially in America—and Nazi Germany. First in terms of how the corporations from America helped to essentially rebuild Germany and support the early Nazi regime. And then, when the war broke out, figured out a way to keep everything going.
So General Motors was able to keep Opal going, Ford was able to keep their thing going, and companies like Coca-Cola, they couldn’t keep the Coca-Cola going, so what they did was they invented Fanta Orange for the Germans, and that’s how Coke was able to keep their profits coming in, to Coca-Cola. So when you drink Fanta Orange, that’s the Nazi drink that was created so that Coke could continue making money while millions of people died."
Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany
Fascism is as Fascism Does
IBM and Nazi Germany
"This is the proof that IBM enabled the Holocaust. The connection to New York is now proven," Wolfe, a former U.S. infantry officer who ran de-Nazification programs during the U.S. occupation of postwar Germany, said in a phone interview.
Fanta Soda by the Coca-Cola Company
"It should not surprise us that corporate allegiance to profits will trump their allegiance to any flag. A recent US Treasury Department report revealed that in one week alone 57 US corporations were fined for trading with official enemies of the United States, including terrorists, tyrants and despotic regimes."
"Corporations have gone global. And by going global, the governments have lost some control over corporations. Regardless of whether the corporation can be trusted or cannot be trusted, governments today do not have over the corporations the power that they had, and the leverage that they had 50 or 60 years ago. And that’s a major change. So, governments have become powerless compared to what they were before."
"Capitalism today commands the towering heights, and has displaced politics and politicians as the new high priests, and reigning oligarchs of our system. So, capitalism and its principle protagonists and players, corporate CEOs, have been accorded unusual power and access. This is not to deny the significance of government and politicians, but these are the new high priests."
"Social responsibility isn’t a deep shift because it’s a voluntary tactic. A tactic, a reaction to a certain market at this point. And as the corporation reads the market differently, it can go back. One day you see Bambi, next day you see Godzilla."
The Ecology of Commerce
"Before I read this book, I used to think that business and the environment were inherently at odds. But then I realized that this doesn't have to be the case. According to Hawken, the problem lies in our economic system's design, and no amount of management or programs is going to change that. In order to make things better, we're going to have to rethink our economic structure, and in that possibility is where Mr. Hawken finds hope."
Spooked: Espionage in Corporate America