Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Corporation or Governement, or....?

My friend Jeremy over atGlassdimly tweeted this article about Tea Party rhetoric last week. The author makes the interesting observation that one could replace in most instances "Government" with "Corporations" and the rhetoric makes sense and according to the author would actually get it right and be a movement one could get behind. The assumption here though is that we need government even big government to keep corporations at bay and in check. What is assumed is that our lives simply need to be and will be dominated by large impersonal entities: Government (the State, Nation/State) or corporations. It is true that we are so dominated. In my last post here, I conclude with wondering if we could spend our energy on alternative ways of existing, living and making a living. This post wants to channel our anger, our reforms into supporting the State and pushing the State to curtail corporations. But can we turn our imaginations to both? Can we say no to both forms of impersonal distant entities that seek to tell us how to live and wish us to exist as good workers and/or good citizens. Is it true that the only possible means to curtail corporations is another Goliath? Is Leviathan the only counter to the Corporate Goliath? Follow these metaphors and perhaps we have an answer. I have little faith in either giants of our age to truly care. Sate and Corporation should have limits and they should be human ones, humans not other impersonal institutions, not merely rules and regulations and laws. This article about a small artisonal creamery that ran afoul a state regulator applying regulations intended for larger mass operations where bacteria on fresh strawberries is a real issue, should cause us pause. This is perhaps is a cautionary tale of a reliance on Government and a world dominated by Corporations: A regulator seeks to apply the law, which currently makes no distinction between size of opperation. What protects in one instance keeps something good from being produced in another. I'm also here not against all regulation, or advocating no role of Government, but questioning how we think of this, and in ways that make a necessity of the State that as our caretaker. What is the relationship between the rise of the larger corporation and large government? Why have we accepted that we need corporations to provide us with say ice cream. It seems we have come to believe that we can't survive and live without large Government and the large corporation. I think this should be challenged. Whether or not the Tea Party is so challenging certainly is questionable. However, I do find it interesting that the corporation that is behind this doesn't present itself as a larger impersonal corporation. Rather the Koch brothers are the image of this corporation. To such an extent that it is hard to believe that Koch industries is this massive operation. Cynically (most likely) the Koch corp understands something important, that people respond to the personal touch, even if it is simulated. Thus as I see it its not that the Tea Party could switch its target and get it right. but that our dependence on corporations and the State is what should be our target. A State as caretaker and defender of the poor is perhaps not in fact the sort of power we want to give to any large bureaucratic institution. By the same token depending on large corporations to bring us our food and other necessities of life and depending on them to provide our income and living is also not the wisest nor most satisfying way to live. Granted in our time and place Corporations will employ a large number of us and we will consume the products they provide, and to that extent we may need the State to step in, but simultaneously some of us should perhaps seek to live an alternative existence and as much energy as we spend pitting the State against Corporations and into regulations etc. should be put into creating these alternative local spaces of personhood and true humanity.