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Life Inc: The Movie

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I got mugged on Christmas eve and, I went up to my apartment and immediatly posted on our local parents list the street I got mugged on and when it happened and I got two emails back within an hour not from people concerned about me asking: "oh are you ok? I hear you got mugged.." but complaining that I have posted the exact spot where the mugging had taken place because what I've done might adversely affect their property values. It was enough of a shock that it made me want to look at how had this happened to people how had a neighborhood become more concerned with its property values than people's experience of one another and their own town? What I started to do was look at the different ways we as modern Americans have become disconnected from one another disconnected from the places we live disconnected from the value we create and even disconnected from our own sense of self worth and I came to the conclusion that corporations and the corporate mindset or what we could call corporatism were really at the center of this phenomenon I wrote this book because I realized that people are accepting the ground rules of our society as given circumstances and walking around utterly unaware of the fact that these rules were written by people at a very specific moment in history with a very specific agenda in mind. If you look at today, what kind of world are we living in? We're living in a world where if you want to make money you've got to work for a corporation. If you want to make what we call money the money you are getting is Central Bank issued currency there is really no way to prosper in today's world without selling out. "Anyone who has an insurance policy, a bank deposit, or a share of stocks is helping to finance our business system." That equation was really put in place during the Renaissance. We've been taught that the Renaissance was one of the great golden ages of civilization The Renaissance was not a golden age it was the end of a golden age. The Renaissance was the moment in history when kings decided they were going to monopolize all of the value that people were creating throughout Western Europe, so instead of letting people make stuff and trade stuff they created the chartered corporations. Monarchs were losing power and losing money, and they needed a way to control the rising merchant class. So they picked individual businesses to charter and in return for the exclusive control over an industry, or over a region that company would then give the king shares of stock. People would have to work for corporations instead of letting people in different towns make their own money everyone would have to use the coin of the realm Instead of people creating, and trading, and selling art now you would have to have a sponsor, a patron, who would then bring you to court and let you be an artist. This centralization of power continued right through to our own time. The industrial age was really about perpetuating this dehumanizing trend. We like to think of the industrial age really as "Oh, we created all those machines, so that we had better production" No. What the industrial age really was about was disconnecting human beings from their own labor, from their own consumption, from their own pleasure. The society that we built for the industrial age, was built to mythologize the mass produced object. Because we needed to create a society of consumers who thought that buying all of this stuff would somehow make them happier. In America in particular we promoted the cult of the individual as the path to real happiness. Then I am going to be happy by making myself happy When even this whole notion of a self who is going to be made happy somehow in isolation from all the other selves... is real. When I was a kid, I was raised in a middle class neighborhood of Queens and the houses were so close together that we had one barbecue pit in the middle of our big shared backyard and every Friday night someone would torch up the barbecue and kids would bring things and we would have this weekend long cookout. As my dad started to make money we moved to better neighborhoods. We ended up in Westchester where we had our own house with our own big yard and our own big barbecue. But then the barbecue became an event for just our family so instead of barbecueing with the neighbors we were barbecueing almost competitively against them you know, they would have porter house, we would have sirloin they have filet minon, we would have to buy some even better.. So, the actual joy of the barbecue was gone. Now, sure the GNP went up because more grills were being sold but the actual community spirit, the fun of the barbecue was taken away. Most of us spend so much time working and consuming that we have very little time and energy left to do anything that has to do with other people. By the time you're done with work, and buying, and Costco and Walmart, it's all you can do is sit on the couch and watch a little bit of television before you go to sleep. It's really hard to muster the energy to get together with other people and the more we behave as individual actors in competition with one another the harder it is to encounter one another in a friendly way. I made friends with a guy, John, who has a restaurant named Comfort and he started an expansion but couldn't get money from the bank to finish it. So we came up with the idea for him to develop something called Comfort Dollars. So, for 100 dollars you get 120 Comfort Dollars to spend at his restaurant. You get a 20% return on your investment, and he gets the money he needs to expand his restaurant cheaper than he could get it from the bank. And this is the kind of thing that people can do anywhere, start investing in one another and with one another and make their towns better actually earn returns that you're not going to get from your Smith Barney broker - I promise you that - and see the return of your investment in the place you actually live. That's not hard to do. That's why it is so funny and sad to me today that Obama talks about the financial crisis as a banking crisis. And the first thing we have to do is rescue the banks Vikram Pandit, CitiGroup, 45 billion dollars John Stump, Wells-Fargo Lloyd blankfiend, Goldman Sachs, 25 billion each It's as if he doesn't understand that the banks are the very things that sucked us dry in the first place. the banks are not the institutions to be rescued The banks are the institutions that we need to let die so that we can get on with business. "You found a flaw... in the reality..." ''... a flaw in the model that I perceived... is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak." This isn't just a crisis this is actually an opportunity. This is probably the first moment in the last couple of hundred years that we've had to rebuild our society and our economy on principles that serve humanity instead of killing life.

Video Details

Duration: 9 minutes and 11 seconds
Year: 2009
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Producer: Douglas Rushkoff
Director: Douglas Rushkoff
Views: 1,240
Posted by: josemurilo on Oct 6, 2009

A nine-minute history of corporatism, by Douglas Rushkoff. "How the world became a corporation, and how to take it back".

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