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The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of…
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The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (original 2004; edition 2004)

by Joel Bakan

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855718,032 (3.82)5
New Edition What would the world be like if its ruling elite was insane? The most powerful class of institution on earth, the corporation, is by any reasonable measure hopelessly and unavoidably demented. The corporation lies, steals and kills without remorse and without hesitation when it serves the interests of its shareholders to do so. It obeys the law only when the costs of crime exceed the profits. Corporate social responsibility is impossible except insofar as it is insincere. At once a diagnosis and a course of treatment, The Corporation is essential reading for those who want to understand the nature of the modern business system. It is a sober and careful attempt to describe the world as it is, rather than as corporate public relations departments would have us believe it to be. It reveals a world more exotic and more terrifying than any of us could have imagined. And although a billion dollar industry is trying to convince you otherwise, the corporations that surround us are not our friends. Charming and plausible though they are, they can only ever see us as resources to be used. This is the real world, not science fiction, and it really is us or them.… (more)
Member:ScienceHouse
Title:The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
Authors:Joel Bakan
Info:Free Press (2004), Edition: US ed, Hardcover, 229 pages
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The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Interesting information on economical and legal background of corporations, extreme left wing rubbish as to 'recipes' for improvement. ( )
  everfresh1 | Jan 8, 2011 |
Brilliant debunking of anything you thought was ever good about corporations (which may not have been much). Bakan goes through the rise of the entity of the corporation, from its humble beginnings a mere 150 years ago, to the Globe-strangling monster that it is today. Savaging the notion of benign, responsible corporate rule, the face behind the mask is called the Bottom Line: Bakan follows through the logic stemming from the legal construction of corporations and argues that it’s impossible for a corporate body to be anything other than an inhumane money-making machine. Shareholder profit is the only possible motivation a corporation can have. It would be ‘illegal’ to pursue any other avenue of action. If it pays to be nice to consumers in the West, so be it. If it pays to be nasty elsewhere, equally so be it.

Noting the powerful lobbying that got the corporation institutions away from being specifically chartered and limited in their scope to being recognised in law as people – whilst simultaneously having no conscience, and with no individuals actually being accountable or personally punishable by those laws – Bakan notes that if a person was to exhibit the characteristics of corporations they would clinically be classed as a psychopath.

The lengths to which the institutions will go to preserve their existence is revealed in the account of a little-heard of attempted fascist coup in the US during the Depression era. Their amorality is further exposed in the history of IBM’s work for Hitler with the Final Solution. Easy to read and gripping, the book concludes by arguing that we all need to remember that corporations are only imaginary concepts – unlike flesh and blood people – and they only exist because we allow them to. The rules allowing them to operate could be changed, if only we all insisted upon it.

” The idea that some areas of life are too precious, vulnerable, sacred or important for the public interest to be subject to commercial exploitation seems to be losing its influence. Indeed, the very notion that there is a public interest, a common good that transcends our individual self-interest, is slipping away. Increasingly, we are told, commercial potential is the measure of all value, corporations should be free to exploit anything and anyone for profit, and human beings are creatures of pure self-interest and materialistic desire. These are the elements of an emerging order that may prove to be as dangerous as any fundamentalism that history has produced. For in a world where anything or anyone can be owned, manipulated, and exploited for profit, everything and everyone will eventually be.” ( )
2 vote PoliticalMediaReview | Aug 4, 2009 |
資本主義の先進諸国における企業の性質を痛烈に批判する。​
冷酷なまでに株主の利益を最優先し、時としてその為に非道徳的行為、犯罪行為を犯す存在「​corporation」。しかし求められる贖罪は極めて軽く、再犯の歯止めとはならない。そして政府は、その冷酷非道を、企業が​尊守すべき唯一の法として定めている。​
企業の持つ法人格はサイコパスと言える利己的な性格を帯びている。この点について、私は私自身が資本主義社​会を生きる過程で、その企業的性格を自身の性格としてしまっているように感じた。思いやりにかけ、自分の事​しか考えない。しかも、それこそ企業が求める消費者像だと言う。私はまんまと引っかかったのか。​
今日、大企業の持つその強大な力は、政府を上回るように感じられる。自社の為に政策を転換させるなど、造作​もないはずだ。しかし本書は訴える。政府は弱くなってなどいないと。政府は単に、市民から企業にその恩恵を​シフトしただけであって、あくまで上に立つ存在なのだと。政府なくしては企業は成立しないのだと。​
企業など、法で認められた人格こそあれど、その存在は本来、虚構のはずだ。実態を持つ我々個人が、虚構に惑​わされる必要などない。その事を忘れないでくれと本書は言っているのではないだろうか。​ ( )
1 vote japboy | Jan 21, 2009 |
I thought this book might be an eye-opener and I wasn't wrong. Actually, I think I was aware of lots of the issues mentioned in the book, but had never quite thought through the possible implications or consequences.

Bakan spells them out in no uncertain terms. He discusses how corporations use cost-benefit analysis to assess the implications of their actions. Where it is cost-effective or profitable for them to break laws or regulations (eg in environmental or safety laws) - in terms of low risks of being caught and low fines vs potential for high profits - then they will break those laws. The cost-benefit analysis by GM to decide it was more cost-effective for them to pay compensation for injuries or disfigurement than to improve the design of their cars in terms of safety was absolutely chilling. These actions seem immoral.

And yet, as Bakan reminds us, those people who run corporations are legally obliged to work in the interests of the corporation, at the cost of everything else. Laws are there to be broken, workers are there to be abused, customers are there to be exploited - as long as those actions maximise profit.

He goes on to discuss the possible future of the corporation amidst increasing privatisation and individuals who are increasingly self-interested and unconcerned about the welfare of others. I think I found the following sentence to be the most sinister "A century and a half after its birth, the modern business corporation, an artificial person made in the image of a human psychopath, now is seeking to remake people it its image" (p135).

Thankfully, the end of the book deals with what can be done to contain corporations, such as increased regulation, holding managers accountable for the actions of the companies they run, proper funding of investigative agencies and massively increased fines for breaking laws. By the end of the book, I felt a little more hopeful than I had half-way through.

All in all, a very worthwhile read.
1 vote debulition | Feb 4, 2007 |
Joel Bakan calls for a rethinking of the corporate entity as we know it. An ambitious and way-out radical conclusion, but the premise and examples are well-illustrated and well-argued. Much more depth than the movie documentary based on the book. ( )
  modelcitizen | Apr 30, 2006 |
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New Edition What would the world be like if its ruling elite was insane? The most powerful class of institution on earth, the corporation, is by any reasonable measure hopelessly and unavoidably demented. The corporation lies, steals and kills without remorse and without hesitation when it serves the interests of its shareholders to do so. It obeys the law only when the costs of crime exceed the profits. Corporate social responsibility is impossible except insofar as it is insincere. At once a diagnosis and a course of treatment, The Corporation is essential reading for those who want to understand the nature of the modern business system. It is a sober and careful attempt to describe the world as it is, rather than as corporate public relations departments would have us believe it to be. It reveals a world more exotic and more terrifying than any of us could have imagined. And although a billion dollar industry is trying to convince you otherwise, the corporations that surround us are not our friends. Charming and plausible though they are, they can only ever see us as resources to be used. This is the real world, not science fiction, and it really is us or them.

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