[NetBehaviour] Corporate Dominance of Every Aspects of Our Lives Is Suffocating us.
dyske at dyske.com
Sun Aug 9 02:15:44 CEST 2009
Interesting. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about this "local" movement.
I didn't realize how much our local communities have been destroyed by the
corporatization of the world until I had a child. I suspect, from this
interview, that the same happened to Rushkoff. Until you have a child, you
don't really need your local community. You don't even need to know who
lives next door to you. It was only after I had a child that I made a
concerted effort to get to know my neighbors. First it was motivated by my
concern for the safety of my child, but more importantly, parents need to
know the neighborhood people so that their children can make friends and
learn to socialize. Suddenly privacy and individualism aren't such sacred
This is a difficult topic to discuss. Depending on how you frame your
argument, you can come across sounding like you too are just interested in
serving your own interests.
When I was still living in Japan, the farmers there had powerful political
influence. They managed to convince the government to heavily tax imported
agricultural goods, so that they can stay competitive. In some cases, they
even managed to ban importing of certain goods (like oranges). This angered
the US especially during the years when the US auto industry was losing the
market to the Japanese automakers. At the time, I simply saw the Japanese
farmers to be lobbying for their own self-interest, and I felt annoyed by
them. I figured, if they couldn't compete with the imported goods, they
About 10 years ago, I read Jane Jacob's "The Death and Life of Great
American Cities", which caused a fundamental shift in the way I viewed
"communities" in general. I then had a child 4 years ago, which changed my
view of the very community I live in. What finally convinced me of the value
of "sustainability" of local economies was this interview by Judy Wicks in
The Sun Magazine. I highly recommend reading it:
Unlike Rushkoff, she manages to explain it all without giving into anger. I
feel inspired and motivated by her because she proves by her own examples
that a life of sustainability is a fulfilling and rewarding way to live. I
want to do it, not because it's the morally right thing to do, not because
we need to fight the evil corporations, but because it is a great way to
A few years ago, for my own business (graphic design), I started shifting my
focus to small businesses, especially to the local businesses in my
neighborhood. I have to say, it has been a lot more rewarding than working
for corporate clients.
Although Rushkoff did not discuss this in his interview (I haven't read his
book), I believe the main reason why we "internalize corporate values" is
because they are indeed seductive and even addictive. Any time we form a
group, the identity of each member is exalted. This exaltation is highly
addictive. Designing a promotional flier for a local business can be as
difficult as designing a graphic sequence for a television commercial for a
major corporation, yet the amount of recognition and respect you receive
from the latter is much greater.
When you work for an international organization like Red Cross, you could
secure a meeting with the president of the US relatively easily, even though
it would be impossible if you try to arrange the meeting under your own name
alone. When you are a writer for New York Times, you can get access to all
sorts of powerful people. That type of association is so powerful that some
degree of it still comes with you even when you become "a former New York
Times writer". Many successful people wisely navigate their careers and
climb up the ladder by making the right associations with powerful
corporations and institutions. Many successful men go through a period of
depression after they retire from powerful corporations because their
associations are severed and they feel naked without them. They don't even
know how to define themselves without corporate or institutional
associations. Even fine artists do the same with their associations with
galleries and museums. We are all guilty of this.
Rushkoff makes it sound as though the reason why corporate values are so
dominant is because some powerful people are controlling us behind the
scenes (which is also the way he talked about the business of advertising).
I disagree. We are all suckers for the power that corporations and
institutions can give us. This, I believe, is the main reason why corporate
values are so dominant in our culture. The real cause is our own egotistical
vanity, which is what destroyed the local communities. While we all focused
on changing the world through the power of mega-corporations and
mega-institutions, our local communities were being destroyed.
Now, our local communities are so broken that we cannot even let our
children go out on to the street to play by themselves. At least in New
York, the streets have become much safer than they used to be several
decades ago. When my wife grew up here, it was a very dangerous place with
drug dealers and criminals everywhere, but she was still allowed to go out
to a store on her own when she was around 8 years old. This can never happen
now even though it is much safer. Why? Mainly because our local community is
broken. Not many people on the street would even recognize my daughter. My
neighbors don't work for local stores, they work for various corporations
that have nothing to do with our community. We don't have any reason to get
to know them. Even if they explained to me what they do for their
corporations, I probably wouldn't understand. They might be powerful at
work, able to deal with millions of dollars, reach out to millions of
people, yet they have no contribution to our local community. When you look
at it this way, you realize how surreal it is.
419 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 4:40 AM, marc garrett
<marc.garrett at furtherfield.org>wrote:
> Corporate Dominance of Every Aspects of Our Lives Is Suffocating us.
> By Helaine Olen, AlterNet.
> Author Doug Rushkoff warns of the dominance of profit and consumerism in
> our mindsets, and offers a way out of the corporate culture.
> Are we all corporate shills? That's the thesis of Doug Rushkoff's
> provocative new book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and
> How to Take it Back.
> Rushkoff, the new media theorist who came up with the term "viral media"
> in the early 1990s to describe how advertising concepts replicate in the
> virtual world like fast moving viruses, is now arguing that the
> corporate values of business, profit, and consumerism have so infected
> our lives that we are no longer cognizant life can be lived any other
> way. We are victims of a dysfunctional societal relationship -- one that
> has come to seem so normal we are almost incapable of processing of how
> screwed up it really is.
> NetBehaviour mailing list
> NetBehaviour at netbehaviour.org
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