28. Corporate People
I watched the documentary ‘The Corporation’ the other day. It’s something that a friend told me to watch, after I had drunkenly ranted “Argh! It’s all about the loss of engagement, Lorraine!”
What I was trying to explain at the time by ‘the loss of engagement’ was my idea that we detach ourselves on busy public transport because we lose our personal space. Having our face on someone else’s shoulder can only be acceptable if we somehow disconnect that they are a real person. But because we do this, we lose our manners.
All we needed was to engage – look someone in the eye or acknowledge them in some way and it’s near impossible for them to tread on our toes accidentally and not apologise.
It’s this loss of engagement that supports anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour arises when a person loses empathy with another person.
When a mugger attacks (as we know they must be pretty f*cked up to do something as nasty as that) they are not thinking what a lovely person their victim is and how they don’t deserve it. They are doing it, by convincing themselves that this person isn’t real – or is evil in some way, or deserving of this treatment. It is precisely that lack of empathy that allows them to be able to do that.
Lorraine could see that I would be very interested in watching The Corporation as it discusses the biggest anti-social issue of all. The film explains how a corporation is technically a legal ‘person’, a group of people have come together for a business and would like that business to have the same rights as a person, so that the corporation can buy and sell property, borrow money, and can sue or be sued.
After the American civil war, the 14th amendment was passed to give equal rights to black people. However the corporate lawyers of the time used this to their advantage to gain equal rights for corporations, as they were ‘people’ too. During 1890-1910, 307 cases were brought before the court under the 14th amendment. 288 by corporations; 19 by African Americans.
The film goes on to say that, whilst a corporation may have all the legal rights of a real person, it has the overall objective to make money and a corporation isn’t a real person and is incapable of empathy. So these very anti-social ‘people’ are heavily involved in our lives.
The Corporation may try and fool us into thinking it has a soul by shouting corporate social responsibility loudly in tone of voice that matches its corporate brand guidelines, but we ain’t that easily fooled. After all, we would never steal money from a real person – yet if we get long changed in the supermarket – a lack of empathy in the corporate machine some how makes it different. Yet actually hundreds of real employees are affected very slightly by that.
This big old divide between us and them is a bit John Connor and Terminator, init…
This is what Microsoft said to me recently… case in point! No f*cking manners!
By Liz Akers