There’s a fascinating interview in the Guardian today with the screenwriter and director of the latest Bourne film. This is the paragraph that really catches my eye on what the auteur in question really thinks on the subject of corporations (the bold is mine):
“It’s not good for landlords to not live in the neighbourhood. That’s the problem with corporations – there’s no one home. You have this shell that is unaccountable. And yet at the same time there is somebody that sits in a dispatch office and says: I know that truckload of products is defective but I have to meet my quota.’ That’s the moment when the human leakage sets in. I’m not sure we’re evolutionarily ready to have corporations; I’m not sure they’re a weapon we deserve.“
This is an extraordinary take on the problems we’re all having with the figure of corporate bodies – whether, that is, we work in them, work under them, work despite them or work against them.
Is perhaps the problem here that 21st century corporate figures will become, shortly down the line, the next Darwinian level up from human beings themselves? And are we currently suffering from the anteroom of that gear shift – where corporations are creating themselves on the backs of human beings, despite the latter’s congenital inability to be moral in moments of great temptation?
That is to say, it’s not corporate bodies which pose the greatest problems; it’s not even systemic abuse caused by environments which predispose us to doing evil. Rather, it’s our own humanity which leads us to take an unjustifiable and inappropriate advantage of the grand power that corporations are in theory able to afford us.
The corporations aren’t blundering elephantine destroyers, after all. Instead, it is ourselves who find we are not up to the challenges of working together with another species: a species which has come to replace us in all its organisational flair.
Maybe the best corporations are the ants of this century: equipped with a merciless ability to disregard all personal consequences alongside an organic capacity to learn from individual mistakes.
So will we end up being replaced by automated corporates which replace our sinful selves with algorithms and computed exchanges? It’s a possibility, I’m sure. But it would be a negation of what it is to be human. The right to make mistakes; the liberty to pick and choose. This is what makes us what we have been.
Curious, then, how we all feared that a dehumanisation as mentioned above would finally come from the mid-20th century Communist states – only for corporate capitalism to demonstrate that it is far more suited to the task of gutting our most precious freedoms.
Evolution doesn’t always mean life gets better.
Certainly not for the species being replaced.
And anyone who tries to tell you that survival of the fittest is the way forward probably has a very good reason for doing so.
Very good, that is, in the sense of very bad.