Friday, July 08, 2005


Corporate Monoculture beats the living spirit out of the old American Rebel

America was founded by rebels. Though we're talking very rich, land-owning and educated rebels... and rebel lawyers at that. As a people we were one of the first to give the Old Order governed by Monarchy and Divine Right the proverbial Bird. There's always been a touch of irreverence that streams through our blood and culture. It's what propelled the South to buck against the pressure to change from the North (though their drive to cling to their old order was based on the inhumane and unegalitarian practice of owning people). Rebel Culture drove our propensity for innovation in industry and technology. American ingeniuity and invention comes from our insatiable desire to make things work better and challenge older or more traditional ways of doing things. In the mid 19th Century to the mid 20th America spawned thousands of inventions and patents which powered the Engine of Progress and improved the standard of living for people all over the world (though some of these things arguably worked to actually enslave more of our time and restricted our leisure hours) including: The telephone, the lightbulb, the sewing machine, the telegraph, the polio vaccine, the computer, the automobile.

Our Rebel Attitude also fueled the ignition of a universe of music and popular culture which became beloved around the world... take for example, Rock and Roll and all it's subsequent and successive genres. Rebel Culture was what made us down right cool... black leather jackets, motor cycles, and slicked back hair... kids in bowling jackets who snap their fingers while taunting authority by yelling, "Hey, Daddio!" Later our rebllion took the form of peaceful protests. The rebellion embedded in the Civil Rights movement brought about necessary changes in our attitudes and how we viewed all Americans, all humans as people with equal rights and freedoms.

We are born rebels, damnit! It's deep in our blood. Yet there are forces in our culture and environment that are suffocating this truly American aspect of our personality. One is the giant of corporate monoculture. Within the incubators and hives of the Corporate world a new breed of drone is being spawned. In fact, the Corporate world breeds individuals who does not naturally challenge the order and structure of doing things.

Moreover, Corporations increasingly base success of their endeavors on achieving their goals at the LOWEST cost. This Wal-Martization of goal achievement results often in settling for the cheapest resources or unqualified personnelle. Furthermore, as the corporate leviathan grows its army of patent attorneys and it's legal department claims dibs on inventions that happen to pop up from honest innovators who are just trying to make a break for success. What's wrong with this picture?! Why should any would-be inventor even try to invent something if it will be swept up by an opportunistic vulture?

My list of complaints only grows with the passing of time.

So I say, in my most irreverent and rebellious American voice....



Berman savages various contemporary cultural phenomena such as the substitution of civility with corporate politeness ("thank you for choosing AT&T"), the widespread lack of motivation of youth, infantilism as ideology (flaunting the inability to grow up), entertainment substituting for education and the insipid "mental theme park" of the New Age industry. Citing the specific example of Deepak Chopra's book Escaping the Prison of the Intellect, Berman dryly notes, "The problem is that Chopra seems to be addressing an audience that for the most part hasn't managed to find its way into the 'prison of the intellect' in the first place."
All in all, Berman argues, the United States is free-falling to the garbage heap. Arising in its place is a brutal, global corporate hegemony pushing the culture of McWorld, empty of everything but schlock, social inequality and consumerism.


Response to Krawdad's comments:

I am hopeful too. Because I think that people still have the power to make choices to buck the system... and for us the under-represented it's 'la perruque' all the way, Baby. The first step to defeat is to acquiesce and relent to the notion that the megasaur businesses and organizations cannot be beaten. You may not be able to bring them down, but you can take a chunk out of them. If you look up the words "WalMart" and "Protest" on Google... at any time you will see a number of communities rising up to prevent the errection of a WalMart in their town or neighborhood... and, yes, I used the 'E' word with pun intended.

We can conscious purchases, whole/organic foods, local business guilds, and movements to buy from locally owned an operated businesses... we don't have to buy everyday, but making a purchase or two to a locally owned store, restaurant or business helps keep these places alive. We can purchase wisely and less often.

Also, style and fashion are still highly driven by subcultural inklings and tastes that marketers, try as they may to capture cannot completely harness. By the time they put it into play... style has evolved yet again. In a sense this almost always provides companies with new and innovative products. I do believe that corporations do have a good place in the sense that they proliferate some items, artforms to a larger audience. However, at the same time since they are so market driven... they often dumbdown these forms so they are palatable to the larger public. Look what they did to Hip Hop, but of course that's just my opinion.

However, at the same time... the corporate machine will always try to encompass and dominate as much of the topography or the market as possible. Sometimes you see them swell and pop like a big pus-filled boil because they simply can't hold rot in, more-likely because they have expanded without any truly well defined, goals vision and a strategy to insure the stability of the business. Corporate leadership justifies that downsizing is necessary to make a company leaner/meaner (in reality this tactic has often been used to gain approval from analysts and bring quick returns to shareholders). Yet at the same time they don't provide a good transition plan to ease the burden of the employees who must shoulder the burden of the work of their laid off peers. I've seen many a co-worker burn-out after a downsizing. Retention usually sucks six months to a year after the downturn. Most people in management and HR would argue (though not so openly) that this is a good way to wring out those who are not loyal to the company... or those who simply cannot cut the mustard.

There's just simply something sick about corporate dominance left unchecked.

Interesting though... if you want to know where companies give their money to politically/ or whom they support either side go here:

Figures where Outback Steakhouse and Applebees sunk their bucks no wonder their foetid food gives me gas.


Post a Comment

<< Home