Life Incorporated

My fortnight is over today, so I thought I'd share with you what I'm doing now and next - as well as how to stay in touch if you want to.

In June I'll be releasing a new book and short film, Life Incorporated: How we traded meaning for markets, society for self-interest, and citizenship for customer service. They both look at the way human beings and corporations traded places, and how we came to accept corporatism as our dominant value system.

What I conclude is that our society didn't just end up this way. This landscape was cultivated over time. We are living on a playing field sloped towards corporate interests. Every day, we negotiate the slope to the best of our ability. Still, many of us fail to measure up to the people we'd like to be, and succumb to the tilt of the landscape. We buy from Wal-Mart and supermarket instead of the local druggist and farmer who they put out of business. We save to send our kids to private school instead of investing our time to make the public ones better. We spend our money insulating ourselves from the crime in our neighborhoods instead of our energy reducing the poverty and resentment feeding it. When things are tough, it’s every man for himself.

And the more decisions we make in this way, the more we contribute to the very conditions leading to this awfully sloped landscape. All things being equal, we’d rather be doing things differently.

But all things are not equal. Our choices are being made under painstakingly manufactured duress. We think this is just the way things are. But it’s not.

My book chronicles the way we got here, who wanted it this way, and why no one remembers what happened - from the renaissance era of corporate charters, centralized currency, and colonial expansion through industrial age experiments with fascism, right up to the inventions of public relations, self-interest, target marketing, and behavioral finance. Finally, I look at alternatives to corporatism - the kinds of bottom-up, local, and human-scaled efforts at meeting our shared needs that take place beyond the reach of centralized authorities, corporate monopolies, or interest-charging central banks. In many cases, these interactions transcend commerce altogether.

Until the book comes out and hopefully long after, I'm hosting a set of conversations at http://www.corporatized.net (or just go to rushkoff.com and click on Forums). I'm hoping it can be a place we can both deconstruct corporatized society and share our experiences of alternative strategies. I'll also be teaching a course on corporatism through the MaybeLogicAcademy.

With any luck, I'll be allowed to contribute to (or interfere with) the goings on at BoingBoing again next summer when the book is out and I'm on the road trying to pitch these ideas to the world at large.

In any case, it's been an honor and a pleasure to engage as a writer with BoingBoing - a publication and community I've been reading, admiring, and (to the best of my ability) emulating for over nineteen years. You are the shit.

Douglas Rushkoff was a guest blogger.