THE CORPORATION AS HUMANITY’S SUPERVILLAIN
By Nasreen Gordon
Corporations are all about greed. Standing as the world’s dominant economic institution, these psychopathic ‘entities’ hold the world within their grip, exercising power and profit over governments and international organizations. It’s insane to believe that 69 of the top 100 economic entities are corporations rather than states, and yet we still hold corporations to minute responsibility. Billions of people’s lives are in the hands of a small number of individuals. Corporate capitalism is our number one enemy.
In order to be a good supervillain, you must: be convinced you’re the good guy, be vengeful yet cunning, well executed and lastly stop at nothing to get what you want.
They exhibit all of those qualities and more. I think the ‘good guy’ aesthetic has recently been curated by corporations rebranding. Corporations use branding to create unique and attractive qualities for themselves. “Corporations as brands have souls’ says Timon, which enables them to create ‘intellectual and emotional bond(s)” with the groups they depend on. Take the recent BLM movement, and the sudden race for corporations such as Nike and Amazon to show their support, in fear of social media slander. Was this genuine support for a movement challenging systemic racism or was it a way for corporations to hide behind a vein of ‘social acceptability and protect themselves from the guillotine of cancel culture?
I believe it is the amorphous character of corporations that enables their immunity. Is there a coherent definition of what a corporation is: are the ‘real entities’, are corporations, legal people, if they are legal persons can they be labelled as psychopaths? These are all questions that fuel the great debate of the type of role corporations play in modern society.
Corporations once existed as a small subset of society, however, over the last 150 years, they have transformed themselves into an unstoppable presence that presides over all government institutions. Market influence is undoubtedly one of our biggest concerns in government, as neoliberalist policies of non-regulation continue to grip our economic systems. Three key legal interventions have made the corporation the modern-day supervillain that it is, the first two were the innovations of limited liability and the granting of the corporation a legal personality. The third condition is its exclusive emphasis on profit. These three qualities combined is what has transformed corporations into modern-day supervillain. Corporation’s rule over the governing institutions of the global economy, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund support the rights of big business over the rights of the people and the environment. Countless corporate scandals have emphasized the need for stricter laws and legislation on corporations yet international governments continue to pledge their support for big business by being against treaties such as the UN treaty in 2016.
Dangerous by nature, the corporation is humanity’s supervillain as it does not exist to protect or nurture our existence, instead, it aims to commodify and profit off our everyday lives. Corporations have no collective empathy, and therefore are ready to f*ck over whoever and whatever stands in their way. For instance, take the history of corporations and the environment, the 2010 BP oil spill case to be specific, where over 130 million gallons of crude oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico. BP’s poor risk management, and failure to observe and respond to critical indicators contributed to the catastrophe of the Macondo well. This disaster was demonstrative of the cutting corners tactics that corporations employ in the hope to save profit, however, unluckily for the ecosystem, this resulted in one of the largest disasters in modern history.
The corporation is ‘an externalizing machine, in the same way, that a shark is a killing machine’ (Bakan, 2003)
If the world does not stand up to corporations and enforce laws to regulate the activity of TNCs and multinational companies then our future is no longer ours. Freedom will no longer be an option. Society’s main functions will be run for profit by private companies, our economy and jurisdiction system will be run by a small plutocratic elite. The poor will be the worst affected, a new system of feudalism tying them to the corporation. We are our own superhero, fighting united against a common enemy.