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The pathological pursuit of profit and power by Joel Bakan Viking Canada www.penguin.ca

Brilliant debunking of anything you thought was ever good about corporations (which may not have been much). Bakan goes through the rise of the entity of the corporation, from its humble beginnings a mere 150 years ago, to the Globe-strangling monster that it is today. Savaging the notion of benign, responsible corporate rule, the face behind the mask is called the Bottom Line: Bakan follows through the logic stemming from the legal construction of corporations and argues that it's impossible for a corporate body to be anything other than an inhumane money-making machine. Shareholder profit is the only possible motivation a corporation can have. It would be 'illegal' to pursue any other avenue of action.  If it pays to be nice to consumers in the West, so be it. If it pays to be nasty elsewhere, equally so be it. Noting the powerful lobbying that got the corporation institutions away from being specifically chartered and limited in their scope to being recognised in law as people - whilst simultaneously having no conscience, and with no individuals actually being accountable or personally punishable by those laws -  Bakan notes that if a person was to exhibit the characteristics of corporations they would clinically be classed as a psychopath. The lengths to which the institutions will go to preserve their existence is revealed in the account of a little-heard of attempted fascist coup in the US during the Depression era. Their amorality is further exposed in the history of IBM's work for Hitler with the Final Solution. Easy to read and gripping, the book concludes by arguing that we all need to remember that corporations are only imaginary concepts - unlike flesh and blood people - and they only exist because we allow them to. The rules allowing them to operate could be changed, if only we all insisted upon it.  

" The idea that some areas of life are too precious, vulnerable, sacred or important for the public interest to be subject to commercial exploitation seems to be losing its influence. Indeed, the very notion that there is a public interest, a common good that transcends our individual self-interest, is slipping away. Increasingly, we are told, commercial potential is the measure of all value, corporations should be free to exploit anything and anyone for profit, and human beings are creatures of pure self-interest and materialistic desire. These are the elements of an emerging order that may prove to be as dangerous as any fundamentalism that history has produced. For in a world where anything or anyone can be owned, manipulated, and exploited for profit, everything and everyone will eventually be."

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