Corporations Aren’t People—They’re A Lot More Powerful

In school most of us learned that humans are the dominant species on the planet. Many religions also assert that we are at the apex of evolution or the animal kingdom. We have “dominion.”

But after hearing Romney’s famous remark, “Corporations are people, my friend,” and in view of the recent Supreme Court ruling, I think it’s time to reexamine that concept.

When I went to Walgreens yesterday I couldn’t get the posted price until I joined their “club.” Ditto Ralphs, Vons, CVS and any other large chain. Blue Shield recently “migrated” my plan to another system, leaving me without reports on my claims. AT&T subjected me to weeks without a dial tone or Internet connection after “upgrading” my service. None of them gave a sh*t.

It is abundantly clear to anyone with a mind that the dominant species on the planet is – the Corporation. At one time it may have been the nation-state (think Greece) or perhaps even a large homogenous religion. But clearly the corporation, although it may not be a person, is an imposing organism.

Let’s think about who/what “we” are. First of all we’ve evolved from a number of subspecies and are made of trillions of individual cells, each one with its own instruction set (DNA) to begin an entire new human. These cells have organized themselves into units called organs and systems (circulation, digestion and nervous system) all composed of these cooperative sub-units called cells.

Neuroscience has recently suggested that our sense of individual identity (a Self) is merely the electrical combination of neural systems coordinated in our brains; and in face we’re really an interdependent organism that is part of a much vaster system called Life.

In fact biology has found that most of the cells in our bodies aren’t even “us” at all – they’re other micro-organisms, both beneficial and toxic, that we host oblivious to their existence.

So is it so far-fetched to go beyond metaphor and assert that corporations, composed of systems and cells of humans who are themselves composed of systems and cells, and running according to instructions (software and by-laws – and of course profit motive/intentionality) that have been created by humans, but now run automatically regardless of how is on the board of directors or CEO.

(If the CEO goes to jail, which rarely happens, the corporation continues according to its DNA).

If you object that a corporation doesn’t have a body—where is it written that all life is embodied? Don’t many ideas seem to have a life of their own, and besides, corporations seem to incarnate nicely into buildings and even “campuses,” not to mention shopping malls and golf courses.

We can also note how much corporate DNA has changed with technology. One used to be able to talk to a human representative of a corporation and occasionally get a human response to a problem. Now the systems in place (both technological and instructional) make that virtually (pardon the pun) impossible.

Unfortunately these dominant life forms do not understand much about natural life forms. The corporation consumes people and excretes profit. The chickens that lay the eggs that nourish the corporation’s humans at breakfast are mere commodities on its spreadsheet – they have no organic reality – just as if you ask a modern kid where do eggs come from, they will say Vons or Ralphs.

So it is hardly surprising that a dominant life form that is completely abstract (a mind form) would despoil the Gulf of Mexico and use public relations to clean it up, spreading corporate propaganda to its human cells rather than assuming “responsibility” because the concept of responsibility is simply not in corporate DNA.

(The exception to this is in the famous corporate “mission statement” that purports to support human values but is generally irrelevant.)

Of course corporations are also responsible for many of the positive modern conveniences we cherish, and our employment and material sustenance, especially in the “developed” world.

But it might be time to ask if the “systems” of control may not have gotten out of hand, a la “Terminator” or “The Matrix.”

After all, in 2008, when Treasury Secretary Paulson convinced the President and Congress that we were on an economic precipice that required an infusion of a trillion dollars into the banks (mega-corporations) and he was asked how he knew, he replied, “the computers told us.”

Uh oh.

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