Customer Review

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take the red pill..., July 22, 2009
This review is from: Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back (Hardcover)
PROS: -Very fast and engaging read. Entertaining and provocative.
-Personally - hit very close to home on many points regarding how we are suckered in to so many corporate schemes on both large and small levels. Especially impactful when discussing how little value we create and how little value we give our own lives, working every day just to survive long enough to work another day.
-Fascinating take on the Dark Ages, Renaissance, and rise of corporatism that came of these periods, and how it relates to our lives now.
-Easy to follow explanations of the cause and effect relationships between corporatism and our lives unraveling.
-On-point analysis of the current state of American society and, most importantly, WHY it is the way it is. Personally I felt like he was expounding upon the exact complaints I've been voicing gradually over the past 10 years, such as: Why don't I know/see/interact with my neighbors? Why can't I walk/bike to all the stores I need to get to? Why don't I know who made my food, or even what state it's from? Are there ANY small businesses left? Why do all the radio stations suck? Do I actually own my home when I own a home? Why does buying a car feel scarier than getting married? Why don't my kids play outside? Why can't I sell my house? Why don't I watch the news anymore? Who has my name and contact information and purchasing history? Why am I so fat? Why do I own so much crap? Why are we always at war? Will I ever be out of debt? If the apocalypse came tomorrow, and I survived, would I be able to support myself for more than a few days? And so forth.

CONS: -At times I worry about the generalized and simplified chains of cause/effect that are spelled out when summarizing the past 600 years or so, especially in areas that run counter to traditional history education. My hope is that the explanations are not always weighed down in excessive detailed analysis due to the relative shortness of the book and the bigger point that is being made. I would trust that his numerous sources cited would back of many of the bolder claims he makes. As a teacher I have no problem doubting that the textbooks have taught us anything close to the truth anyway.
-Solutions? While I felt appropriately cynical, angry, and disgusted by our current state of the world, as well as relieved that I'm not alone in feeling disconnected from reality and other people, I also am eager to know how to change things. After all, the subtitle does include "and How to Take It Back." After 200+ pages of hearing how this Matrix was created, I was a little disappointed to read only a very small handful of concrete ways to unplug ourselves. Even the traditional ideas about how to contribute (corporate & private donations, environmental awareness, etc) were pretty much torn apart as either having minimal net impact OR as only feeding into the same broken system in the long run. I feel compelled to action but with no real direction on what to do, I'm still plugged in...

Overall, a very fresh and eye-opening perspective on how we've come to depend on corporations for everything, and how this has resulted in a complete meltdown of our human essence. If you are feeling disconnected from the real world and disconcerted by the commercialism engulfing everything, read this book to understand why things are the way they are and who is responsible. If you want to know what to do about it... hopefully he'll come out with a sequel!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 20, 2009 2:02:34 PM PDT
Nolagal says:
excellent review. the things you wonder are the things I wonder too. Though, I hadn't thought about the one regarding do I really own my home once I've paid for it! You must know something I don't.

But I often think about the concept of ownership in general. When you step back from it, way back, it just doesn't seem right. If we can't own the air, how can we own the water? If we can't own the water, how can we own the trees? If we can't own the trees, how can we own the earth?

Does the person who sucks up all the air first get it all? Because essentially that is what happened with land. Whoever got there first owns it. Eventually there is none left to be had.

Posted on Oct 12, 2011 9:23:12 PM PDT
CMOS says:
I suspect most of the gushing reviewers have never read a word on this guy's background: he's a media critic / "philosopher" basically. So, do we want an analysis of corporate growth and process from a media guru? I suppose you could argue it since the media itself has become so corporatized but OTOH not much academic background to suggest he understands the underlying processes any better than the rest of us. Still might get a copy though. Can't hurt to have an outside perspective.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 5:30:10 AM PDT
Lear'sFool says:
I don't think the book is supposed to analyze "corporate growth/processes" but rather to explain how the institution of the corporation is coming to shape our cultural and cognitive space, which I think falls well within the purview of a media theorist/philosopher.

Posted on Aug 6, 2012 7:19:05 PM PDT
I'm with E$ on this one. Having read a couple of Rushkoff's articles and then a reference to Testament Vol 1, which I ordered, I thought, Someone thinking outside the box. And bought Life ... I like revisionist history more than most but there were too many 'reaches' but I continued on. and then his examples of 'unplugging', no, really?

People with good intentions and NO business model. Others without a clue other than maybe getting a government grant of some type -- this is unplugging?

Who needs a subsidy if you have a good product or service? If you're wrong, you lose. That's why, as of last month, I have two books listed on Amazon. If they bomb, so be it, no whines from me, I am responsible.
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