Ming the Mechanic:
Corporate Psychosis

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Corporate Psychosis2004-01-30 12:12
by Flemming Funch

Kottke has a post about the move The Corporation and accompanying book. A quote from The Corporation:
Considering the odd legal fiction that deems a corporation a "person" in the eyes of the law, the feature documentary employees a checklist, based on actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and DSM IV, the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. What emerges is a disturbing diagnosis.

Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation's operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.
It makes sense. And of course not all corporations are like that. Corporations that are run purely for a profit motive and that lack any people-oriented culture are mostly like that. Good capitalistic theory says that a corporation HAS to have exclusively a profit orientation. Luckily not everybody's thinking like that. The Kottke article mentions a quote from a book:
A business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.
Unless of course if somebody owns that business and they decide that it is. Which they do a lot of the time. A corporation is a convenient way for individuals to covertly act as psychopaths without owning up to any responsibility for it. And of compelling other people to do the dirty work involved, again without responsibility.

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30 Jan 2004 @ 16:10 by istvan : I am glad
someone noticed it.  

30 Jan 2004 @ 18:39 by b : Absolute Nonsense
A corporation is a structure. Anyone can have one by paying a fee.
There are tens of thousands of corporations of all different size structures. From a sole incorporator to to a fully reporting board and table of organization. A corporation is often an employer. This article about a documentary film mentions the people in a corporation who do the dirty work. And would that be cleaning the floors and emptying the trash? Or is it the sale of a product or service? Such bias to think that a physciatrist could analyize all corporations as a person when these doctors medicate anyone they think has a disorder as a routine. It is true that most corporations do business. Some corporations are non profit. A corporation is a reporting entity to a State in USA. So they are regulated. Because some people in some large corporations have misused investor money does that mean that all corporations misuse investor money? That is the nonsense this film and article is based upon. Bias and misunderstanding at best.  

31 Jan 2004 @ 07:27 by ming : Corporations
I don't have much respect for psychiatrists myself. And I've started corporations myself as well. But I do agree strongly with the observation of shortcomings in the laws that allow corporations to exist the ways they do. The problem is that a corporation is a legal person. But a legal person that, for some, control the manpower of 100,000 people. But which still is controlled by a handful of people, a board and some officers. And for the benefit of some different people, the shareholders. And it is limited liability. Meaning, if it makes a huge mess, somebody might sue it to hold it accountable, but it can essentially just be closed, and the perpetrators can walk away, if they can point out that it was basically the corporation doing it, rather than them personally.

Groups of people who have work to do together need structure, of course. That is not inherently bad. What is bad is that such a structure is allowed a life of its own as an unaccountable super-human. And that there's a mechanism in place where large numbers of people (stock holders) will support and fund it, without any concern for whether they like what it does. Lots of otherwise nice and normal folks will happily own stocks in Monsanto or Microsoft or Haliburton, just because their stocks are a good deal, but wouldn't dream of doing the deeds themselves that they're actually doing.  

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