Imagine a world where the means of production are owned by society. Profits are collected and go towards Public benefit, and decisions are made by those who will be affected. Would that world not be superior than our own? The system of private ownership allows individuals to profit off the labor of others, externalize social costs, and manipulate and erode popular control over the political, social, and economic spheres. What does the current system do that it has advocates?

The primary law of the system is profit. Jerry Mander examines 11 laws of corporate behavior, generalizable to individuals in the capitalist system by way of inference, and to the system as a whole by necessity (“The Rules of Corporate Behavior”, The Case Against the Global Economy (1996), edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith, pp. 309-22). They are:

(1) “the profit imperative” (315), where individuals and corporations, by the laws of the capitalist system,
must take in more income than they expend. Mander says “the profit imperative and te hgrowth imperative are the most fundamental corporate drives; together they represent the corporation’s instinct to live” (315).

(2) “the growth imperative” (316), where growth of the company, and its profits (and its corollaries among individuals and political bodies) it transformed into an imperative. If profits are a necessary requirement for maintaining class status generally, and profits are consequently valued, then of course the push for ever greater profits increases in importance, at the expense of one’s competitors, competition in the market, and society at large.

(3)”competition and aggression,” where the individual and corporate pushes towards profits and growth lead to a dog-eat-dog, zero sum game. You must secure your position, for no one is looking out for you . . . you are consequently expected to cooperate and seek the benefit of the Team, but are constantly looking for an aggressive edge over your competition in the job market–above other corporations, capitalists, employees, etc.

(4) “amorality,” where “corporations do not have morals or altruistic goals . . . so decisions that may be antithetical to community goals or environmental health are made without misgivings” (317).

(5) “hierarchy,” where “corporate law requires that corporations be structured into classes of superiors and subordinates within a centralized pyramidical structure” (317).

(6) “quantification, linearity, and segmentation,” where “corporations require that subjective information be translated into objective form, that is, into numbers . . .[which] excludes from the decision-making process all values that cannot be quantified in such a way” (318).

(7) “dehumanization,” where “corporations make a conscious effort to depersonalize” (318), creating elaborate structures of rules for behavior on the job, and managerial discipline.

(8) “exploitation,” where “profit equals the difference between th amount paid to an employee and the economic value of the employee’s output . . . [and thus] is based on paying less than actual value for workers and resources” (319).

(9) “ephemerality [the quality of being transitory] and mobility,” where “corporations . . . have no commitment to locality, employees, or neighbors . . . [and so in] having no morality, no commitment to place, and no physical nature . . . a corporation ca nrelocate all of its operations to another place at the first sign of inconvenience” (319).

(10) “opposition to nature” where “corporations themselves and corporate societies are intrinsically committed to intervening in, altering, and transforming the natural world . . . [where] all manufacturing activity depends upon intervention in and reorganization of nature” (320).  This fact, combined with the imperative to grow, results in an ever-increasing consumption of natural resources, many of which either reproduce less quickly than they are extracted, or do not reproduce.  In other words, “the net effect is the corporate ravaging of nature” (320).  This results in a variety of phenomenon, from pollution to corporate contributions to global warming.

Finally, (11) “homogenization,” where “all corporations share an identical economic, cultural, and social vision and seek to acceperate the social and individual acceptance of that vision . . . [and so] life-styles and economic systems that emphasize sharing commodities and labor, that do not encourage commodity accumulation, or that celebrate nonmaterial values, are not good for business” (320-21).

Why is this relevant?  Corporations and corporate interests are the driving forced behind the global economic and political structures today.  They are the distributors of wages and goods, they control the media and the government, and they operate by these laws.  In this first examination of the laws of the corporation, we can already ask–do we want anything that operates by these laws determining the future of our world?

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