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REACTION PAPER:

THE CORPORATION

In Partial Fulfillment
For The Requirements
Of

THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD SOCIAL


SCIENCE 15

Submitted by: JONATHAN B. TAYDAC

Section: BSA- 1A

Submitted to: SHINJU C. LINGBAWAN


Instructor-1

Date Submitted: NOVEMBER 29, 2019


The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by University of

British Columbia law professor Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer

Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation. Bakan wrote the

book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming

of the documentary.

The documentary shows the development of the contemporary business

corporation, from a legal entity that originated as a government-chartered institution

meant to affect specific public functions to the rise of the modern commercial institution

entitled to most of the legal rights of a person. The documentary concentrates mostly

upon North American corporations, especially those in the United States. One theme

is its assessment of corporations as persons, as a result of an 1886 case in the United

States Supreme Court in which a statement by Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite[nb 1] led

to corporations as "persons" having the same rights as human beings, based on

the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Topics addressed include the Business Plot, where in 1933, General Smedley

Butler exposed an alleged corporate plot against then U.S. President Franklin D.

Roosevelt; the tragedy of the commons; Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning people to

beware of the rising military-industrial complex; economic externalities; suppression of

an investigative news story about Bovine Growth Hormone on Fox affiliate television

station WTVT in Tampa, Florida at the behest of Monsanto; the invention of the soft

drink Fanta by The Coca-Cola Company due to the trade embargo on Nazi Germany;

the alleged role of IBM in the Nazi holocaust (see IBM and the Holocaust);

the Cochabamba protests of 2000 brought on by the privatization of a municipal water

supply in Bolivia; and in general themes of corporate social responsibility, the notion
of limited liability, the corporation as a psychopath, and the corporate personhood

debate.

Through vignettes and interviews, The Corporation examines and criticizes

corporate business practices. The film's assessment is affected via the diagnostic

criteria in the DSM-IV; Robert D. Hare, a University of British Columbia psychology

professor and a consultant to the FBI, compares the profile of the contemporary

profitable business corporation to that of a clinically diagnosed psychopath (however,

Hare has objected to the manner in which his views are portrayed in the film.The

Corporation attempts to compare the way corporations are systematically compelled

to behave with what it claims are the DSM-IV's symptoms of psychopathy, e.g., the

callous disregard for the feelings of other people, the incapacity to maintain human

relationships, the reckless disregard for the safety of others, the deceitfulness

(continual lying to deceive for profit), the incapacity to experience guilt, and the failure

to conform to social norms and respect the law.

First of the points this documentary has tackled that I have notice would be the

difference in the business environment before and today. In the past, all that a

business would pursue would be to breakeven from the cost of operating the business

and earning beyond that was considered a bonus. However, contemporary businesses

today, I believe spend half the time minding their own business and the other half

monitoring their competitors’ moves and constantly on the lookout for events that they

could use to benefit them. Just like dirty politics as we call it, there are a lot of hidden

secrets to the success and downfall of business tycoons. Some of the well-kept

secrets that have been revealed by this documentary would be the reality of the

bargaining activities of corporations to fight for their rights that human beings alike
enjoy, the business hoax against the United States President Franklin Roosevelt, the

suppression of a news-worthy story of a television station so they could protect certain

parties affiliated to them, and the most trivial among all would be the alleged

involvement of IBM in the historical Nazi holocaust that destroyed so many lives

(Bakan, J.). Indeed, what can be a matter of just being provided quality products and

services for consumers like us could come from controversial undertakings waiting to

be avenged.

The second point that awakened my cognizance was when the writer of the

documentary tagged corporations today as either being a person or a psychopath

(Bakan, J.). It was for me automatic to comprehend how corporations are so much like

people. They have rights to intellectual property, tangible properties, properties that

are backed up by contracts and trusts which a company could always fight for to propel

a peaceful and at the same time speedy development of their business. Aside from

that, just like people, corporations have certain needs that would smoothly fit Maslow’s

hierarchy – Physiological needs that pertains to legal documents, capital, manpower,

& goods needed before they could start operating the business; Safety from market-

reach-devouring competitors; The need for belongingness in a certain business

category, being fully equipped for competition; Achieving utmost self-esteem by being

top of mind of not only one’s chosen target market but including those that are not;

And lastly, the highest would be self-actualization where competitors’ moves does not

directly affect one’s business performance anymore. However, what is naked to

consumers’ eyes would be corporations has one with a dark side that seeks to leave

a trail of destruction, whenever it goes out on a profit-making initiative. Incidentally, it

does not regret having done wrong as an average person does. For the most part,
corporations aspire to make maximum income per unit of input used in the production

process. From The Corporation documentary review it is evident that employees know

that they are not free to do as they please, as pointed out by Sam Gibara, former CEO

and chairman of Good Year Tires (Achbar, Abbot: The Corporation).

As shown in the film, corporations will go to the extent of making even the

tragedy of others a business venture, in total disregard of what befalls others as

recounted by Carlton Brown (Achbar, Abbot: The Corporation). It is noted in the

documentary that corporations have made profits out of everything, including those

that are essential to human life.

Corporations are out to maximize the monetary outcome of every input they

employ in production and are, for the most part, less concerned with who gets hurt.

Corporations need some legal framework to ensure that they take into consideration

the effects of their business ventures to society and protect themselves from being

unfairly labelled.

Nowadays, there is a legal requirement that a certain percentage of their profits

should be given back to society through corporate social responsibility. It is therefore

not objective to make a conclusion that corporations are ruthless and will make their

income and walk out, not caring about their repercussions to the general society.

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