Kottke posts on the Sundance audience-award-winning film The Corporation, which asks why a corporation has the same rights as a human being in our culture. I believe this question is important, and will continue to gain relevance. I’ve long wondered how it is that many corporations act like such selfish, amoral assholes, while the people in them are often so wonderful. This film explores that question. From Kottke’s site, quoting material explaining the film:
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.
This may seem too pat for some readers, but I think these are core issues folks at Google are struggling with as they determine whether or not to go public. “Don’t be evil” and “amoral pyschopath” are not exactly compatible MOs.