The Corporation

The Corporation is a 2 1/2 hour highly structured documentary directed by Mark Achbar, who produced and directed the Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media in 1992.

For anyone who is interested in the rise of “The Corporation” as a governing institution in the United States, Canada and the world, this is a movie to see. It felt like 2 1/2 hours of a college class on the coming and going and status of democracy, civics, economics, history, health, geography, manufacturing, industrialization, globalization, agriculture, the environment and every other facet of 21st century life – especially information media. That’s what Manufacuring Consent is about: the power of visual and aural language to create non-critical citizens and consumers.

From the dominance of the monarchy, the church and democracy has emerged “The Corporation.”

One of the most fascinating parts of the film is about how “The Corporation” has come to have the legal status of an individual but when a person sues it, no one is responsible (sound like ENRON?). The film then analyzes “The Corporation” according to the Handbook Of Diagnosis And Treatment Of The DSM-IV Personality Disorders; a very creative method I must say. Another impressive point was about the interest of Corporations, and the people that run them, for short term profit at the expense of the environment: the film calls it “the death of birth.”

The film was not entirely negative; it showed how one corporate head of a carpet manufacturing company came to realize the non-sustainability of his company’s products and the stages he went through to become corporately responsible. The film left plenty of space for creative “action” on the part of viewers.

Besides the linguist/political-economist Noam Chomsky, the filmmakers also interviewed Michael Moore and several activists and economists from major universities – and a woman from India who headed a movement to overthrow the use of one-season seeds, that is, seeds forced on farmers that did not generate seeds for the next planting season. She was successful. The whole issue of “copyrighting” DNA so that individuals and universities and nations can “own” life, is frightening, yet Maryknoll Productions has already documented this in its videos 8 – 10 years ago about sustainable crops around the world and the influence and impact of the World Bank, WTO and IMF.

There’s too much in this film to review – if you can, see it yourself. If you are interested in media literacy education or cultural studies, you will find much material for teaching about the power of “The Corporation” within what we hope and pray, is democracy. The film asks: but for how long?

Then see The Manchurian Candidate about the rise of corporation politics: Manchurian Global. I wonder, did the cineatic right hand know what the left hand was doing? The Corporation has to be a contender for Best Documentary at the Oscars. It has already won many awards, including one at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Fear is another theme that runs through “The Corporation.”

Attention anyone interested in social justice and principles of Catholic social teaching: you can find them all questioned and applied in this film; they make an effective viewing lens for watching almost any media artifact:

1) The inherent dignity of the human person, 2) subsidiarity: that no higher level community should strip another community of their capacity to see, judge and act on their own behalf, 3) that the common good be the determinant of economic social organization, 4) the universal destination (or distribution) of goods because ownership of property is not an absolute right, 5) solidarity, the alternative to globalization based on empathy for others, 6) an option for the poor from the social, economic and cultural vantage point of the least among us and finally 7) the integrity of creation.