The Independent Newsweekly
|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|March 10, 2004||
Vol. 1, No. 216
Fighting for the corporate soul
Sister Rita Larivee, SSA, NCR associate publisher
Looking for a film that will enlighten, if not challenge, your understanding of the corporate world? You might want to catch a showing of "The Corporation," a documentary by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan.
The film engages the viewer in the corporation's evolution as a legal "person" whose primary objective is to produce ever-growing profits for its shareholders regardless of the cost to people or anything else. It lures the viewer into the inner workings by treating the corporation as a "person," not in the juridical sense, but truly as a person with whom we can perform psychiatric assessment and evaluation.
The documentary uses actual diagnostic criteria from the World Health Organization and the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -Fourth Edition), the standard tool of psychiatrists and psychologists.
In short, the case is made that the corporation has the same pathological nature as a psychopath.
At the moment, it is mostly available in Canada, but should be in U.S. theaters by June. You can also view clips on the film's Web site.
Typically I would not recommend a film I have not seen, but many good films today never make the big movie houses. And without advanced notice of when it will be available, the chances of missing it are great.
The film features many interviews with CEOs from some of the world's largest corporations and is quite timely in today's environment of corporate scandal and high-profile cases such as Enron and Martha Stewart.
So, like it or not, the corporation has become the dominate institution of our day. Healthcare, education, media, etc., are all operated under the aegis of the corporation. Even farming, once the domain of the family is now big business with little left that resembles the human qualities of warmth and wholesome care for its animals. Whichever direction we look, organizations once considered leaders in ethical behavior and the qualities by which a society ought to live are now overshadowed by a world of secrets and behind-closed-door arrangements that never see the light of day.
A particularly uneasy but often overlooked aspect of the corporation is the rights it may claim under the protection of the law by virtue of its status as a person. In a world where human rights are still wantonly abused, it behooves us to know as much as we can about dominate powers claiming similar rights.
Can we change the corporate structures? I don't know, but I personally look forward to any new insight I can get into the system and what might be possible for planning a better world.
(Editor's Note: A promo for "The Corporation" says it stars: "seven CEOs, 3 VPs, 2 whistleblowers, 1 broker, 1 spy and 1 really big mess. With Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klien and Milton Friedman as themselves. Special guest star: The FBI's top consultant on psychopaths.")
Rita Larivee is NCR associate publisher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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