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The Corporation

A big hit in Canada now receiving theatrical release in the U.S., this 2½-hour film documents the extent to which the modern world is dominated by the institution of the business corporation.   As the narration notes, “Like the Church, the Monarchy and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution.”   The film asks the most urgent question that there can be, namely: can the Earth and its people survive in the long term if the world continues to be run in the interests of corporations rather than in the interests of its people and the environment?   Almost certainly not, is the convincingly-argued answer.  

The film is a sobering portrayal of the relentless corporate attempt to own everything, including life itself (as the film’s website puts it, “In a bid to own it all, corporations are patenting animals, plants, even your DNA”); to colonize our minds; and to shape the world-order.   Although a bracing anti-corporate polemic, the film evinces a nuanced view of the corporation, tackling for example the interesting issue of whether “the institution or the individuals within it should be held responsible”.   Additionally, as the film’s website points out, among its interview subjects “are CEOs and top-level executives from a range of industries: oil, pharmaceutical, computer, tire, manufacturing, public relations, branding, advertising and undercover marketing.”  

I especially welcomed this film because, in my experience, to even suggest that corporate rule is not the natural order of things is to invite the charge that you’re a commie who thinks that we should all live in the woods.   Co-directed by Mark Achbar (who co-directed one of my favorite documentaries, “Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media”) and Jennifer Abbott and written by Joel Balkan.

By the way, below is a link to the film’s excellent website.   Check it out for a wealth of information and fascinating history, as well as the amusing contention that, based on “actual diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the DSM-IV, the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists”, if the corporation were a person (as indeed it is in the eye of the law), its personality profile would be that of a psychopath.

- Aug 6, 2004 

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