“The Corporation” is an award winning Canadian documentary that explores the structures and autonomies of modern-day corporations. The film is the brainchild of Canadian law professor Joel Bakan. When the film was being produced, Bakan accompanied it with a book named “The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power”. “The Corporation” elicited mixed reactions from the stakeholders of globalization when it was released in 2003.
There are those who felt that the film was an instrument of environmental destruction, imperialism, and inequality. All stakeholders of globalization have strong feelings towards the film’s claims. This paper seeks to prove that “The Corporation” offers valid criticisms on capitalism and corporations.
The film starts by giving a synopsis of what constitutes a corporation in America. According to the film, there was a legal revolution that occurred during the 19th century.
This revolution was responsible for giving corporations a personality. Today, companies enjoy the same legal rights and privileges that are enjoyed by citizens. Therefore, because corporations enjoy individual rights, they have the ability to flourish just like human beings. Given that corporations have person-like privileges, the film sets out to investigate what ‘kind of a people’ corporations are.
According to the film, the corporation fits into the profile of a psychopath. This deduction is based on numerous interviews that were conducted on employees, chief executive officers, and captains of industry. It is observed that a corporation has traits that resemble those of a psychopath.
First, the corporation only serves its own interests the main one being to make money on behalf of its shareholders. In addition, just like a psychopath, the corporation puts other corporations at risk in order to put itself on a vantage position. This means that corporations are willing to harm employees, the environment, and their own customers in the process of achieving their goals. The corporation’s main tool is manipulation.
Other psychotic actions that are synonymous with the corporation include lack of remorse even after wrongdoing. In addition, the corporation usually considers itself as the best entity among its competitors and lacks empathy. Corporations only have superficial relationships that are often initiated by public-relation officers and marketers. The film successfully portrays corporations as having similarities to clinically insane persons.
Most agents of globalization blame captains of industry for the sins that are performed by corporations although the actual problem lies with the corporations’ structures. The film is able to give captains of industry a human-face that is different from that of corporations. Managers and chief executive officers only align their actions with the needs of their corporations and capitalism in general. Acceptable and standard corporate strategies are responsible for making good corporate leaders do bad things.
The actions of several captains of industry are not in line with their personal characters but they are just manifestations of corporate needs. For instance, in the film an advertising executive is shown rationalizing her decision to exploit the children’s habit of nagging their parents.
The executive concludes that she is playing her role in the society by engineering that particular advertising campaign. There are other instances of corporate deceit that are propagated on behalf of the corporations in this film. For instance, a tobacco boss goes home with a clear conscience after a day’s work. While the claims that are made by the corporate heads seem befitting, they are inaccurate. While the corporation is able to distance itself from the evils of its employees, the employees cannot successfully do the opposite.
The corporation also comes off as a divisive element between the government and the public. In times of conflict, the government always sides with the corporations at the expense of the general public. The much valued public-private partnership only survives at the expense of citizens.
The external environment of the corporation is always harmed at the expense of the corporation’s internal environment. The policy makers (in this case the governments), usually value the corporations’ tax remittances over the wellbeing of the citizens and the environment.
There are several instances where corporations have gotten away with poisoning the environment and mass exploitation of a country’s citizens. Oil spills and use of slave labor are examples of the external harms that are usually perpetrated by corporations. Corporations will not hesitate to profit from national and international tragedies. This cements the film’s claims that corporations are psychotic in nature.
The only alternative to corporations and their structure is social bureaucracy. This is where bureaucracy is modeled to favor socialism as opposed to capitalism. The similarities between corporations and states make it hard for governments to rise against the evils of corporations. Modern states work hand-in-hand with corporations to foster their internal environments at the expense of the external environments that house the citizens.
“The Corporation” offers some useful insights into the ills of capitalism. The film investigates the situation in several countries and how corporations manipulate political situations. Even though there are few alternatives to corporations, the answer lies in restructuring the present corporate structures.