by Peter Player
What are they, these giants of industry?
They stomp about our world, consuming everything in sight, buying everything, draining entire communities of life, polluting pretty much at will, and then move on. We protest, we do, to our elected representatives, and accomplish about as much doing so as we would have by slamming all our heads in our car doors in unison. “Sorry, folks,” we’re told, “we have to keep the campaign contributors happy.” We challenge the idea, in court, that money can’t unduly influence elections, and in the U.S. at least, a small majority of totally-unaccountable judges-for-life, who are apparently either corrupt or morons or both, decide that money can’t possibly corrupt elections.
Except in cases where it’s spent, of course. But that’s just quibbling over minor details, right?
But what are they? What are these massively-powerful, insanely-wealthy organizations that now rule our lives with iron fists, and who long ago discarded even the notion of wearing velvet gloves to soften the squeeze (velvet’s expensive – cuts into profits, you see).
They’re our children.
To have a little fun at the expense of people who richly deserve mockery: we built this. And aren’t we clever little monkeys for doing that?
Somehow, working in small groups, never with any kind of overall co-ordinated plan (the Illuminati take a lot of coffee breaks), we managed to push the process of evolution to the next logical step: creatures composed, not of individual cells, but of entire collectives of multi-cellular entities (that would be humans, in case you’re not paying attention), with huge swathes of landscape and all the technology our fevered minds could conceive grafted on for good measure.
Yes, I’m talking about evolution. If you’re a creationist, you’re excused. Go down the hall, turn right, and look for the room with the sign on the door that reads “Remedial Science.” Everything’s padded in there, so you won’t hurt yourself, but you’d better hurry if you want to get there for Nap Time. Now off you go – the adults are talking.
Where was I?
Ah, right, corporations as organisms.
And what do these organisms do? What is their purpose? Well, that depends on whom you choose to ask. If you ask a conservative economist, you’d probably get an answer something along the lines of “they compete with each other to provide goods and services to consumers, thus increasing wealth, and they would never, ever act to the detriment of consumers (they’re practically self-policing!), so there’s absolutely no need for some kind of forceful outside entity that can compel them to play fair, right?” If you ask someone who isn’t a complete idiot, “seek profit at all costs” would be a little closer to the answer you get.
They’re young, you see, these new organisms – just a few hundred years old as they’re currently constituted, really. Has any parent out there ever encountered an infant who was gentle and considerate and understood or cared about rules and etiquette when feeding time came around? And naturally, like most parents (and pretty much all engineers designing new machines), we made a few mistakes when we brought these things into the world. We forgot to include things like “the ability to occasionally not be hungry” and “ethics” and “the tendency to not be psychopaths” in their genetic make-up.
Design flaws; what are you going to do?
So, now we have these huge new entities that are still in their infant stages, with no inbuilt consciences, a total inability to ever consume enough to sate themselves, and absolutely no understanding of or interest in the well-being of the individual blobs of flesh that comprise their working parts – those are all interchangeable anyway, so why worry about any of them in particular? Except the bits at the top, of course – we built corporations in our image, so, just like us, most of the blood and oxygen and other resources go all the way to the brain, and if there isn’t enough to go around, the rest of the body can suck it – have to protect the important bits, after all. And how, exactly, did we choose to handle this new arrival to the ecosystem?
We busily demolished absolutely every structure that could possibly restrain our beloved spawn, because “government is the problem.”
Aren’t we just great parents?
What? Only fantastically bad parents allow their children to run around wrecking the entire world with absolutely no rules to guide them and no methods to enforce said rules?
You don’t say.
Perhaps we ought to do something about that – like not allowing our creations to destroy our house, when we have nowhere else to go. They don’t have to go away, but they do have to start learning some manners.
Right the hell now.
Maybe a lyric from the song Armed to the Teeth by Abandoned Pools said it best:
Giants of industry
Come on come on and try to eat me.