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THIS CHARTS THE SPECTACULAR RISE OF THE CORPORATION AS A DRAMATIC, PERVASIVE PRESENCE IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. FEATURES ILLUMINATING INTERVIEWS WITH NOAM CHOMSKY, MICHAEL MOORE, HISTORIAN HOWARD ZINN ... AS WELL AS CORPORATE HONCHOS, WHISTLEBLOWERS & BIG BUSINESS SPIES.
An epic in length and breadth, this documentary aims at nothing less than a full-scale portrait of the most dominant institution on the planet Earth in our lifetime--a phenomenon all the more remarkable, if not downright frightening, when you consider that the corporation as we know it has been around for only about 150 years. It used to be that corporations were, by definition, short-lived and finite in agenda. If a town needed a bridge built, a corporation was set up to finance and complete the project; when the bridge was an accomplished fact, the corporation ceased to be. Then came the 19th-century robber barons, and the courts were prevailed upon to define corporations not as get-the-job-done mechanisms but as persons under the 14th Amendment with full civil rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (i.e., power and profit)--ad infinitum.
The Corporation defines this endlessly mutating life-form in exhaustive detail, measuring the many ways it has not only come to dominate but to deform our reality. The movie performs a running psychoanalysis of this entity with the characteristics of a prototypical psychopath: a callous unconcern for the feelings and safety of others, an incapacity to experience guilt, an ingrained habit of lying for profit, etc. We are swept away on a demented odyssey through an altered cosmos, in which artificial chemicals are created for profit and incidentally contribute to a cancer epidemic; in which the folks who brought us Agent Orange devise a milk-increasing drug for a world in which there is already a glut of milk; in which an American computer company leased its systems to the Nazis--and serviced them on a monthly basis--so that the Holocaust could go forward as an orderly process.
The movie goes on too long, circles too many points obsessively and redundantly, and risks preaching-to-the-choir reductiveness by calling on the usual talking-head suspects--Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore. And except for an endlessly receding tracking shot in an infinite patents archive, there's scarcely an image worth recalling. Still, it maps the new reality. This is our world--welcome to it. --Richard T. JamesonSee all Editorial Reviews
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The Corporation was spawned from Joel Balkan's in depth book, "The Corporation: A Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power". (Due to be released in March this year) The film and book begins in the 18th century, in the establishment of the 14th Amendment. Initially the 14th Amendment was designed after the Civil War to give ex slaves' legal rights, like any other citizen of the United States, but through a maze of legal precedents, the business corporation organization model was now deemed a "legal person" with all the civil rights accorded to a citizen. This highly absurd precedent has paved the way for corporations to literarily get away with murder, because a "corporation" is not an individual that you can put in jail. In effect, a corporation has no moral or social obligations; their only obligation is the pursuit of profit. This film offers numerous examples of unethical practices resulting in death for many people, and because of their status under the 14th Amendment, and endless legal loopholes, have gotten away with terrible crimes against humanity and the environment with no more than a fine, a mere slap on the wrist.
As the law treats corporations as "persons", Balkan thought it appropriate to put the various behaviours of these companies under psychological examination. What this psychological study illustrated is that corporations, as "persons" behave and display the symptoms of the clinical psychopath. A psychopath typically does not have a social conscience, is guilt free after committing heinous acts, and will destroy anything or anybody that prevents them from attaining the object of their particular obsession - in this case, the relentless pursuit of profit.
This documentary took several years to produce with over 650 hours of footage, director(s), Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar, had to chisel down this amazing amount of material into a comprehensible film. What is most astounding is the range of people interviewed for this film, that argue from all sides of the "corporation issue": Ira Jackson, Ray Anderson - CEO of Interface, the world's largest carpet manufacturer; Noam Chomsky, Richard Grossman, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore, Milton Freidman - Noble Prize winning economist; Jeremy Rifkin - President, Foundation of Economic Trends; Dr. Robert Hare - Consultant to the FBI on psychopaths, and many more individuals from all sides of the debate.
When Balkan wrote his book and then collaborated with Mark Achbar to produce this film, what they did not want was the film to appear as just some left-wing diatribe, attacking the corporations, but to illustrate to people how the corporation began, how they have evolved and what they could well turn into if the people do not become involved in the democratic process, ensuring our governments take back the reigns of power.
After viewing this film, it becomes all too evident that these large corporations have too much power, whose mandate is not the common good of the people, and who will go to any lengths, legally and otherwise, in the pursuit of profit and the bottom line.
I believe this is one of the best and most important documentary films to be made in many years.
Therefore corporations are very fond of fascist regimes, such as Nazi Germany, where IBM offered support with their machines counting the deaths in the concentration camps. Corporations themselves sometimes behave as mass murderers, like the asbestos companies. They sometimes hire murderers, like Chiquita did in Colombia, to kill syndical leaders. Corporations deplete our natural resources, like Big Oil does. Corporations pollute our environment and our food with artificial chemicals, causing a cancer epidemic, affecting nowadays 44 % of the men and 38 % of the women, following Dr. Samuel Epstein.
Corporations are so powerful that they are never prosecuted. If necessary, they change the legislation to suit their interests. They even succeeded patenting things that were impossible to patent - life itself, as Jeremy Rifkin explains.
Corporations got so powerful they determine how governments should behave, even if they go broke. Then the government must help them, socializing the losses to the people in general.
Corporations always want to make more and more money. They see "business opportunities" in every imaginable service to the people. Noam Chomsky gives his point of view on the privatizations we suffered in the last decades : "Privatization does not mean you take a public institution and give it to some nice person; it means you take a public institution and give it to an unaccountable tyranny". In this movie the example is showed of the privatization of Cochabamba public water in Bolivia, but you can also consider what Enron did in California, what the "health companies" did with health care in the US (look at Sicko by Michael Moore), what the pension funds are doing with our expected retirement money, etc.
Michael Moore sometimes wonders why companies finance his films, but then he considers that when he succeeds making money for the big media companies, they're fine with whatever he says. Corporations think people are too numb to do something. Moore hopes however that people will stand up from the couch, and do something. Will you ?