Thursday, April 07, 2005

Conservatives & Corporations

Jason, at Libertas is exercised over the release of The Corporation, a documentery about corporations. More specifically, he is upset about this interview with the film's creators and reproduces this quote:
The corporation is a legal construct that allows people to concentrate capital, do business, and be irresponsible for the actions the corporation takes in their name. It's an irresponsibility machine. It's a license to amplify the worst aspects of human nature, to exploit, to harm -- even kill -- in the name of shareholders. One image that comes to mind is hundreds of Magritte's businessmen with bowler hats on, but instead of blank faces or apples for heads, they each have a gaping great white shark's open mouth full of crooked teeth, and they all have body parts sticking out and blood dripping down their nice white shirts.

Their rhetoric about shark's teeth is over the top, but the description of a corporation as an "irresponsibility machine" is apt. The documentary interviews most of the usual left wing suspects such as Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Howard Zinn. It should have also included an interview with someone like Wendell Berry, who published an essay in Another Turn of the Crank a few years back that stated:

They are not interested in the good health-economic or natural or human-of any place on this earth. And if you should undertake to appeal or complain to one of these great corporations on behalf of your community, you would discover something most remarkable: you would find that these organizations are organized expressly for the evasion of responsibility. They are structures in which, as my brother says, "the buck never stops." The buck is processed up the hierarchy until finally it is passed to "the shareholders," who characteristically are too widely dispersed, too poorly informed, and too unconcerned to be responsible for anything. The ideal of the modern corporation is to be (in terms of its own advantage) anywhere and (in terms of local accountability) nowhere.

It never ceases to amaze me the way conservatives are so fond of such unconservative institutions such as corporations and the military. It wasn't always the case. People like Russell Kirk and the Southern Agrarians could be strongly critical of corporations and Industrialism. A small Catholic publisher, IHS Press, is substantially devoted to republishing the anti-capitalist and anti-corporate tracts of conservative heroes G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.


Anonymous said...

I hope to do some blogging myself on this vital subject. Justus Moser, a German contemporary of Adam Smith had fascinating critiques of "the market" as it transformed the traditions and habits of his townspeople. Didn't conservatives (monarchists aside) once fret over the gigantic concentration of power in any hands? Thomas Frank is onto something when in What's the Matter with Kansas he cites conservative grassroots anger over the junk culture, and imemdieately votes in politicians on the junk culture take, who give Britney Spears a tax cut.

Michael Brendan Dougherty said...

Ah shoot- I didn't sign that comment. By the way, thanks for the link.