wade tillett on 18 Sep 2000 15:33:05 -0000

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Re: <nettime> draft article on WTO

david teh wrote:

> yes you're quite right, i think.  limited liability is
> in my view a more integral attribute, as you don't need
> to incorporate to make profits; but i don't think that
> the profit motive serves us badly as a unifying rubric
> for discussing the corporation.

i think there is are two possible 'evils' though: profit, or lack of

> but i don't think that it follows that corps should be
> treated like humans...

i don't think so either necessarily, i was just asking how could they not
be treated like humans? is there historical evidence or any ideas on how
corporations could be made sub-human instead of super-human? it seems to
me that then we are talking about the demise of the corporation.

>  not to put too fine a point on
> it, i think one of the key distinctions here is that
> although they might long be 'treated' like humans, the
> trick is to get people to think of them otherwise. that
> is, not to rely on this old line about them being 'made
> up of real people'. because they're not - they're not,
> while working for these bohemoths, 'real' people in any
> material sense (any sense that would cause us to have
> hope that the business of corps will be discharged any
> differently).

but the reason they are not 'real' people while working at a corporation
is because of the limitation of liability and responsibility. a sort of
mass mentality occurs. while working for the corporation, people often
cross moral lines which they would not cross individually, but feel
justified, or at least relieved of responsibility, because they were
pressured or instructed to do so by the anonymous corporation (or client
or market or whoever you can blame). this is why i found rtmark's idea
very interesting (making shareholders responsible for the actions of
corporations). i also think that we must be responsible as consumers as
well. what i believe to be the real villain is not the behemoth
corporation but the real people who pretend not to be real people because
they are isolated from the effects and responsibility of their choices by
the legal wall, the majority, and the aggregate. we can no longer afford
utopias without responsibility (be it corporate or leisure). perhaps the
problem with corporations is not in that they are treated like humans, but
in that they are not treated like humans. (a corporation is made up of
real people, however corporations are treated in such a way that they are
shields which allow these real people to act without responsibility).

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