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Read This Book: “Life, Inc”

As part of my research into the Connected Age, and why business needs to be more human, I came across Douglas Rushkoff’s “Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World And How to Take It Back.”

This is an important, eye-opening book. Rushkoff is a akin to Neo in the Matrix, seeing through our societal behavior to the corporatism that undergirds everything.

There are two main things I appreciate about this book. The first is political. In 2000, I caught a lot of grief for having supported Nader. My point at the time is that the difference between Bush and Gore was negligible. Nader’s point was that corporate influence had rendered the two main political parties nearly identical. While perhaps an unpopular opinion, I still believe that to be true — just look at how many of Bush’s policies Obama carries on. And real solutions for our social, economic, health, and environmental challenges will be neglected or heavily compromised, because of corporatism.

The other is professional. As I discussed in my post addressing bureaucracies, the prevalent belief is that this is how things have always been, and so this is how things will inevitably be. Rushkoff points out that much of what we take for granted — corporations, centralized currencies, real estate — are fabrications, created by the powerful to maintain their influence and inhibit people from engaging directly with one another.

Sometimes this book feels like medicine — reading it is good for you, but not necessarily fun. Nevertheless, it’s worth the effort.

  1. Peter,
    I haven’t read this book, though it’s been on my list for awhile. Your post (and likely Rushkoff’s book) evoke for me The Social Construction of Reality quite strongly. These things we take for granted — corporations, a two-party system, capitalism — are really invisible to most people.

    Thanks for having the power to see the invisible. The more people that do, the better.

  2. “The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”

    Wilde did not bother to explain that most people of this world refuse to perceive the visible, but prefer to fantasize about the invisible. For them it is an uncorrectible part of their genetic code. A condition referred to in a later theatrical accusation: “You can’t handle the truth!”

    But then who among us can?

  3. If Rushkoff actually ‘sees through’ social behavior, how then can everything be a fabrication?

    Rushkoff is just offering a different perspective on corporatism, not a ‘clearer’ perspective.

    You are taking Rushkoff’s ideas way to far by suggesting “business needs to be more human,” Rushkoff specifically argues that business should have less of a role in our lives.

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