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Corporate Morality

Posted by Rick · December 15th, 2004 · No Comments

Constitutional Law mid-term today; no time for serious blogging. But I ran across an interesting blog a couple days ago after finding it on What It Is Today, a blog owned by an unnamed female newswriter who has a link to my blog. (I’ve now returned the favor.) A Theory of Power belongs to Jeff Vail. Jeff is the author of A Theory of Power — his website and his book have the same name — which is an analysis of pattern, hierarchy and human mechanics.

Jeff makes this comment about Corporations:

The corporation is a non-sentient structure. It doesn’t feel good or bad about what it does. Even its human officers aren’t really concerned with good or bad. By the very structural nature of the corporation, the humans behind the corporate front are only responsible for pleasing the shareholders. If responsibility for moral or just action exists at all, it lies squarely on the shoulders of the shareholder. Shareholders make their desires very clear indeed: they must choose between money and morality–the corporation cannot by its very structure make that decision for them. — Jeff Vail, Corporater Interest & Bhopal (December 7, 2004) A Theory of Power website.

This is the sort of thing I periodically try to explain. It’s not so much that Corporations are deliberately evil. This isn’t what makes them so destructive and fearful. The problem is that they’re simply amoral. The purpose and focus of a Corporation is to make money for stockholders. Period. In fact, they are required to do this by law, under threat of lawsuit if they fail to pursue this goal.

And if doing that means destroying lives, countries, cultures or the Earth’s natural resources along the way, it will be done. Again, not because Corporations are intentionally evil. It’s just that, in the absence of any check on their power, they can no more help doing that than a hungry dingo could help dragging a human baby off into the brush of Australia. (If it helps, substitute a San Diego-area mountain lion and a small girl.)

Jeff also has some interesting things to say about the Bush “plan” for Iraq and the possibility that an implementation of George Orwell’s “continuous state of ‘war'” via intentional instability — a model that may have evolved from strategies employed by the British government during their years as an empire — is at the root of that plan. Vail asks, “Is this the result of a new, intentional US strategy, or is it simply incompetence on the part of American foreign policy?”

Check it out.

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