The corporation

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The Corporation, a film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan

Jenny Haines

The Corporation has been around for some time, but it is still showing in various places and will hopefully come out on video for hire. It’s a long movie by current standards, at three hours, but well worth sitting all the way through.

It has won the the Audience Award for a World Cinema Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and nine other international audience choice awards.

At the current stage in the evolution of capitalism, we are told that the corporation is the peak of capitalist development in the arrangement of business affairs and production. But is it? Is the corporation the best way capitalism can order its affairs? What can we, the people, do to ensure that corporations and those who manage them are held accountable for their words and actions?

The Corporation is a film by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan about the evolution of the joint stock company into the all powerful, multi national corporation of today. The film draws out the interesting point that in the US these powerful corporations require registration, and can be deregistered quite easily for a range of reasons.

Once deregistered they have no legal right to operate as a company and would be required to cease production. Corporations are legal persons at law. The film analyses what sort of people corporations are, and using a World Health Organisation Psychometric Test determines that corporations are in fact psychopaths, who have a distorted view of reality, no feeling, no guilt, and no ability to take responsibility for their actions. To determine this the film uses the FBI’s 10 top analysts of psychopaths.

Also interviewed are seven corporate chief executives, three vice-presidents, two whistleblowers, one broker, one spy and personalities such as Naomi Klein, Tom Friedman, Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore.

Michael Moore, among other contributions, is shown with a choir of ex-smokers who have had laryngectomies, using their voice vibrators to sing in the lobby of Phillip Morris headquarters. Moore originally did this for a program shown on SBS, The Naked Truth, but in the context of The Corporation it packs real black-humoured punch! Mike Moore is also seen interviewing the founder of Nike, who he discovers has never been to Indonesia to see the Nike factories in operation. On-camerat, the founder of Nike refuses Moore’s invitation of an all-expenses-paid trip to Indonesia, but then thinks about it for several weeks and rings Moore to say he may be prepared to go.

Towards the end the film draws out examples of communities and organisations taking power in their own hands and using communtiy action to limit and confine the power of corporations over their lives. For suggestions on how to join this international protest by acting locally, see The Corporation website.

The Corporation is entertaining, but it could also be used by schools, universities and libraries for education, because it is thought-provoking and challenging.

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