Life Inc: Chapter One, part one


19 Responses to “Life Inc: Chapter One, part one”

  1. rushkoff says:

    Yeah. Fascism. I used the word in the introduction, with a whole bunch of caveats.

    They did “pull notes” or something like that. Removed all the anchors from the text. Here’s some of the footnotes from that chapter. I will look for the real file and attempt to format it asap. What you’ll see below is the quote from the book, like “most history books recount” – and then the reference. When it’s formatted like they did it in the real book file, it’s not so hard to see like it is here.

    Once Removed: The Corporate Life- Form
    4 Most history books recount For the best descriptions of late Middle Ages and
    Renaissance life and commerce, see Fernand Braudel, The Wheels of Commerce:
    Civilization and Capitalism, 15thÐ18th Century (Los Angeles: University of
    California Press, 1992), and Carlo M. Cipolla, Before the Industrial Revolution:
    European Society and Economy, 1000Ð1700, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton &
    Company, 1994).
    8 A Child Is Born For a comparison of perspectives on the agendas behind the birth
    of the corporation, refer to the following scholarly books and articles that
    formed the basis for my own inquiry: George Cawston and A. H. Keane, The Early
    Chartered Companies: 1296Ð1858 (New York: Burt Franklin, 1968). Ann M. Carlos,
    “Principal- Agent Problems in Early Trading Companies: A Tale of Two Firms,” The
    American Economic Review 82.2 (1992): 140Ð45. Ann M. Carlos and Stephen Nicholas,
    “Giants of an Earlier Capitalism: The Chartered Trading Companies as Modern
    Multinationals,” The Business History Review 62.3 (1988): 398Ð419. Ann M. Carlos
    and Stephen Nicholas, “Agency Problems in Early Chartered Companies: The Case of
    the Hudson’s Bay Company,” The Journal of Economic History 50.4 (1990): 853Ð75.
    Ann M. Carlos and Stephen Nicholas, “Theory and History: Seventeeth Century
    Joint- Stock Chartered Trading Companies,” The Journal of Economic His

    tory 56.4 (1996): 916Ð24.

    Jones and Simon P. Ville, “Theory and Evidence: Understanding Chartered
    Trading Companies,” The Journal of Economic History 56.4 (1996): 925Ð26.
    Jones and Simon P. Ville, “Efficient Transactors or Rent- Seeking
    Monopolists? The Rationale for Early Chartered Trading Companies,” The Journal of
    Economic History 56.4 (1996): 898Ð915. Shaw Livermore, “Unlimited Liability in Early
    American Companies,” The Journal of Political Economy 43.5 (1935): 674Ð87. Janice E.
    Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State- Building and Extraterritorial
    Violence in Early Modern Europe (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994).

    8 “The state ought to rejoice” John Brathwaite and Peter Drahos, Global Business
    Regulation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 445. 12 “The class of
    citizens who provide” James Madison, Letters and Other Writings of James
    Madison (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1865), 476. 13 “The defendant
    corporations are persons” Thom Hartmann, Unequal Protection: The Rise of
    Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights
    (New York: Rodale Books, 2002), 105.
    15 The anti- Semitic diatribes Ford published Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translated
    by Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1939), 639, and Steven Watts,
    The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American 15 (New York: Knopf, 2005).
    15 American corporations from General Electric Graeme Howard, America and the New
    World Order (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), and Max Wallace, The
    American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich
    (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003).
    16 Although he had run for reelection Edward L. Bernays, “The Marketing of National
    Policies: A Study of War Propaganda,” Journal of Marketing, Vol. 6, No. 3 (1942).
    16 Instead of letting them rule themselves Edward L. Bernays, Crystallizing Public
    Opinion (New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 19.
    16 Consumers are easier to please Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda (1928) (Brooklyn,
    N.Y.: Ig Publishing, 2004), 51, and Larry Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L.
    Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2002), 92.
    18 “be, if not literally worldwide” Niels Bjerre- Poulsen, Right Face: Organizing
    the American Conservative Movement 1945Ð65 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press,
    2002), 117.

  2. @mro says:

    As I state in the Metaverse Manifesto, the power shifted through history in relation to the means of production. Guess what, the very means of production now lie in the hands of the individual, and this is why the corporate system is, in some quarters, collapsing.

    Be cautious, however, when big media begins to announce its own collapse, through its own channels, because in no way has it given up its own monopolistic struggles. “The old corporate media will post these insights as their own product. ” – Metaverse Manifesto

  3. 13strong says:

    I can imagine you promoting this book on The Daily Show. If it happens, try and get a few words in edge-ways!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow. All you posters *do* realize there is more than one chapter to this book, right? And that is is only half of the first chapter? I dont think the author is attempting to come to any conclusions in here, just laying out the groundwork for the long history and changes that the Corporation has come through in the past ~800 years.

    That said, this does indeed whet the appetite for the entire book. I dont buy many books (since most of them are indeed published by major corporations – irony) but I might actually pick this one up. Keep up the good work!

  5. urshrew says:

    Two powers seem to be at work in your narrative: the desire to expand capital laterally and the desire to funnel capital vertically to a select few.

  6. rushkoff says:

    From your lips to their ears. I ended up saying something that could be construed as mean about John Stewart – but I said the same things about myself in the very next paragraph (about the contradiction in using corporate media to make anti-corporate arguments). The point I was trying to make is that we’re all still engaged with corporations and corporatism, even as we attempt to dig ourselves out. It’s not as if we just change the entire landscape overnight. Or that we even should.

  7. kpkpkp says:

    I though I read about Life, Inc. being recorded but now cannot find the article.

    Is this (will this be) available as audio?

  8. 13strong says:

    “The point I was trying to make is that we’re all still engaged with corporations and corporatism, even as we attempt to dig ourselves out.”

    That’s a pretty straightforward idea – one that I thought resolved years ago. God knows that anyone who has at any time dallied with anti-capitalism or anti-corporatism has had to recognise that fact, myself included.

    I would have thought John Stewart himself would understand that as well – he seems as aware as anyone that he occupies a slightly absurdist position in the media and political landscape – a mainstream comedian on a corporate network delivering more reliable news analysis and more insightful political and economic commentary than most news pundits or newspaper commentators.

    Anyway, would be great to see you on there. Regardless, I’ve pre-ordered the book, and I look fwd to reading it.

  9. Citryphus says:

    Your notion of “corporatism” seems to be intertwined with state monopoly. You have to start way back in history because today, in most of the developed world, the percentage of corporations that enjoy some state-sanctioned monopoly approaches zero. Royal charters, guilds, unions, and licensing regulations all use law and power to exclude outsiders and all have the goal of creating an anti-competitive moat for the benefit of insiders. None of this has anything to do with a limited liability structure. It’s patently obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Although I find this chapter of your book to be contradictory and incoherent, from the general tone I take it that you have some romantic or paleo-Marxist notion of the primacy of manual labor and lack a thorough understanding of the value that “merchants” and other service businesses create or the risks they take. It would take another book to list everything that’s wrong with your book.

  10. nerak says:

    Thanks for the sources! I wont analyze/criticize the book until I’ve read the entire thing. I’ve found that the beginning does not always represent the whole.

  11. Anonymous says:


    Back then, buttons!
    Now, Cable!

  12. SorryNED says:

    “Moreover, the emphasis of business would shift from the creation of value by people to the extraction of value by corporations.”

    Corporations ARE people. Yes, they are separate legal entities, but behind the veil, they are collections of ordinary people who organize themselves to distribute risks and rewards.

    Though your aims hopefully become clearer in further chapters, I’m not sure how your corporate origin stories provide any useful lens with which to view modern corporations. In modern regulatory environments, corporations cannot be monopolistic (apart from natural monopolistic situations such as utilities). Nowadays, anyone can get a state charter and form a corp. The corporate form now exists as a democratizing tool, not a facist one.

  13. catbeller says:

    Corporations are creatures of the Crown. They are birthed in government, protected by government. They have no other existence but that granted to them by governmental power, backed by tax-paid police and miltary forces. They don’t actually exist: they are fictions created to shield real actors from personal liabilities for their actions.

  14. Citryphus says:

    Gee Catbeller, that sounds awful. Except that individuals are also protected by government and it’s tax-paid police and military forces. And free individuals are free to form associations. And unlike a partnership, where liability is joint and several, meaning you can be liable for the entire debt of the partnership if your partners can’t pay, a corporation limits your liability to the amount of your investment. This makes a corporation a more attractive organizational structure if you need capital for your venture from people who are not interested in hands-on management of the business.

    The corporate structure doesn’t shield anyone from from criminal liability for their actions; that’s simply incorrect. Break the law and corporation law will not protect you. Fail to run your corporation according to corporation law and a judge will “pierce the veil” and officers will become personally liable for all debts.

    It’s really time to retire the use of corporation as a pejorative euphemism for “big business.”

  15. mdh says:

    anonymous at #2 – read the post.

    I think it’s brilliant, and rather spot on.

    Judging by the tone of the detractors, different perspectives can be scary. I guess nobody likes it when their cargo cult is questioned.

  16. Big Ed Dunkel says:

    What you are referring to is fascism. Well, call it that.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Err the invention of the corporation had nothing to do with “monarchs”; the corporation was created in Venice when local merchants started to pool their money to hedge the risk of launching trade expeditions to Constantinople (the mother of all high-risk high-profit ventures) and invented the “share and dividend”concept in the process. Sorry if it’s less fun than the “evil tyrant finding yet a new way to concentrate power and money in its hands” theory, but the Venitian merchant’s inventiveness and sense of adventure deserve their due recognition.

  18. nerak says:

    I’m interested in reading the book, but are you citing any of your sources? As a social science major my brain tends to spasm if I dont see some footnotes or parenthetical citations.

  19. chrism says:

    All good stuff, but I’m waiting for something that significantly moves the arguments of Joel Bakan’s book on. Not to mention internationalises it; the major flaw of that book was its focus on American law and business. Keep going, Doug…

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