An Exposé of Legal Tyranny
C. Middleton | Australia | 02/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an extraordinary film about the creation of the American corporation, its legal organizational model, its global economic dominance and its psychopathic tendencies, and its incredible ambition to influence every aspect of culture in its unrelenting pursuit of profit.
The Corporation was spawned from Joel Balkan's in depth book, "The Corporation: A Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power". (Due to be released in March this year) The film and book begins in the 18th century, in the establishment of the 14th Amendment. Initially the 14th Amendment was designed after the Civil War to give ex slaves' legal rights, like any other citizen of the United States, but through a maze of legal precedents, the business corporation organization model was now deemed a "legal person" with all the civil rights accorded to a citizen. This highly absurd precedent has paved the way for corporations to literarily get away with murder, because a "corporation" is not an individual that you can put in jail. In effect, a corporation has no moral or social obligations; their only obligation is the pursuit of profit. This film offers numerous examples of unethical practices resulting in death for many people, and because of their status under the 14th Amendment, and endless legal loopholes, have gotten away with terrible crimes against humanity and the environment with no more than a fine, a mere slap on the wrist.
As the law treats corporations as "persons", Balkan thought it appropriate to put the various behaviours of these companies under psychological examination. What this psychological study illustrated is that corporations, as "persons" behave and display the symptoms of the clinical psychopath. A psychopath typically does not have a social conscience, is guilt free after committing heinous acts, and will destroy anything or anybody that prevents them from attaining the object of their particular obsession - in this case, the relentless pursuit of profit.
This documentary took several years to produce with over 650 hours of footage, director(s), Jennifer Abbot and Mark Achbar, had to chisel down this amazing amount of material into a comprehensible film. What is most astounding is the range of people interviewed for this film, that argue from all sides of the "corporation issue": Ira Jackson, Ray Anderson - CEO of Interface, the world's largest carpet manufacturer; Noam Chomsky, Richard Grossman, Howard Zinn, Michael Moore, Milton Freidman - Noble Prize winning economist; Jeremy Rifkin - President, Foundation of Economic Trends; Dr. Robert Hare - Consultant to the FBI on psychopaths, and many more individuals from all sides of the debate.
When Balkan wrote his book and then collaborated with Mark Achbar to produce this film, what they did not want was the film to appear as just some left-wing diatribe, attacking the corporations, but to illustrate to people how the corporation began, how they have evolved and what they could well turn into if the people do not become involved in the democratic process, ensuring our governments take back the reigns of power.
After viewing this film, it becomes all too evident that these large corporations have too much power, whose mandate is not the common good of the people, and who will go to any lengths, legally and otherwise, in the pursuit of profit and the bottom line.
I believe this is one of the best and most important documentary films to be made in many years.
An engrossing film
Erica Anderson | Minneapolis, MN | 02/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"2004 was the year of the documentary. Documentaries were huge over the past year from "Control Room" to "Outfoxed". Obviously the biggest of the documentaries was Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11". After seeing that film, I was definitely interested in seeing other documentaries. Another great documentary I had seen last summer was "The Corporation" which is based on Joel Bakan's book of the same name. Unfortunately it was shown in few theaters other than in big cities like where I live. After seeing the film, I went out and bought the (overpriced) book. I had to laugh at the fact that the book was barely 100 pages and was priced at (...) at Border's. Unlike most films that were originally books, "The Corporation" remained faithful. For 2 1/2 I was engrossed with the film.
The film kicks off with the subject of how the environment is effected by corporate America, which eventually led to sweat shops. The topic of the dangers of globalization is nothing new but it certainly made me look at drinking milk in a whole new light. If you drink milk, make sure that there is no 'special' ingredient (like farmers trying to chemically force their cows to produce more milk). I also was seeing red when two newscasters in Florida were pretty much shut down on this particular story no thanks to upper management at the tv station they worked for (owned by Rupert Murdoch).
I was also repulsed by the suggestion that IBM had donated some of their equipment to Adolf Hilter so he can keep track of the population numbers in his concentration camps. I really don't know how much truth is to that suggestion but it is pretty compelling, if not revolting (if it is true).
Another fascinating segment in the film was how a town in South America revolted against its fascist regime because the government officials then made the locals pay for water, including rain water they would collect. Who on god's green water is greedy enough to charge for rain water?!
What really turned me off was when the film briefly discussed about advertising and how marketers aim towards children. I don't have any kids (nor do I plan on having any) but I felt dirty after seeing this segment because I enjoyed some of the products by the companies that were aiming at kids to nag their parents into buying their stuff for them.
Michael Moore does make a cameo appearance in the film. He shows a couple of clips from one of his earlier films "The Big One" in which he goes after corporate America. I think Michael's role in the film was to provide some levity in an otherwise dour film.
For me personally I loved this film. I had no problems sitting through the 2 1/2 hours. Some people might have issues with that. I always was aware of the dangers of globalization and free trade so nothing really new in this film was talked about. This film is unequivocaly one sided since it does criticize big corporations but then again the whole point of this film is to exposing corporate America and just how corrupt corporations can be. I am so glad that this film is finally coming out on dvd this spring. I am definitely planning on buying it. It is one of my favorite documentaries of all time."
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
L. Klingle | Warwick, ny USA | 01/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"***FANTASTIC FILM***...And I'm a Conservative!!!..........
This should be required viewing in all schools and should be played quarterly on all PBS stations in the Country as a reminder...The politicians need a good kick in the ass and know they work for the public good, not the corporations...Corrupt officials and big business must be prosecuted...Lobbyists should be banned...The people have to take back this Country...NOW!!!"
The Corporation Is A Sociopath
The Spinozanator | Waco, Texas | 04/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
As a small business owner, I am attuned to the impositions of governmental intrusions. I decided to read the book - and then subsequently saw this documentary - in order to get a more balanced view. Although this author definitely has a bias (addressed at the end of this review), he does not come across as overtly fanatical, and has plenty of examples to document his position.
The corporation is compared to a sociopath. The sociopathic personality is irresponsible, manipulating, grandiose, lacking in empathy, has antisocial tendencies, refuses to accept responsibility for its actions, and cannot feel remorse....Many of the attitudes people adopt and the actions they execute when acting as corporate operatives can be characterized as sociopathic.
Moreover, by the legal way a corporation is set up, its only motive is profit. Every action taken, no matter how altruistic it looks, has to ultimately be a search for profits. Otherwise, the corporation is subject to litigation by the shareholders. The corporation is deliberately programmed and legally compelled to externalize (dump) costs (pollution, for example) without regard for the harm it may cause. Every cost it can unload onto the general public is a benefit to stockholders - a direct route to profit.
Many major corporations habitually engage in criminal behavior with records worse than even the most prolific human criminals. GE collected 42 heavy fines over 11 years - akin to a hardened repeat criminal receiving occasional hand slaps while on perpetual parole. Corporations don't mind chalking these fines up as a cost of doing business - then delegating a committee to figure out how to cover their tracks better in the future. Sounds a lot like a sociopath.
Within the past 20 years, corporations have really gotten in bed with government in the United States. Billions in PAC money is spent every year for lobbying and political contributions. A grateful politician must find it difficult to turn someone down who has given a hundred thousand dollars to his campaign. How can virtually unfunded (by comparison) watchdog groups compete with this machine aimed toward sugar-coating their industries and de-regulation?
On the other hand, the corporate structure has provided financing for businesses that otherwise would not have been, providing jobs for workers and income for investors. Corporations have played a major role in the dominant economy the US has developed - an economy that is envied throughout the world. Corporations should be seen for the non-altruistic entities they are, and every effort should be made to make sure they continue to thrive with proper regulation - admittedly a tightrope act.
The other fault I find with this documentary is its view on globalization. Every market transaction makes all parties better off. Even Asian sweatshops have full employment because it is the best option their workers have. Antiglobalization protesters say that world trade is something imposed on third world countries by rich countries, but win/lose thinking is wrong when it comes to economics. Trade gives poor countries access to markets in the developed world and the opportunity to work their way out of poverty. The loudest complaints against the antiglobalization protesters come from the developing world. Sweatshops played an important role in the early journey out of poverty by (among others) "asian tigers" South Korea and Taiwan. Have you ever heard of American workers applauding the closing of a factory in the US? It has been suggested that the antiglobalization coalition should be renamed, "The Coalition to Keep the World's Poor People Poor." Every economy that participates in global trade benefits, even when they have to start with sweat shops.
Despite these deficiencies, I recommend this documentary highly. There is no question in my mind that corporations act like sociopaths - it's in their charter (genes). There is also no doubt in my mind that our politicians, in their votes, exhibit sociopathic traits they borrowed from their corporate contributors or from lobbyists representing the corporate mindset. This is a captivating five - star documentary.