The Corporation

The Corporation is an excellent political documentary about the struggle against and alternatives to corporations as legally defined persons. It is remarkable, both in terms of its good quality and in terms of its argument and, for the last third of the movie, its sense that despite the first two thirds of doom and gloom, there really is some hope. Also remarkable is Interface founder and CEO Ray Anderson. (The scene in which he speaks to his fellow CEOs has to be seen to be believed.) In the movie, he was very eloquent, very passionate, but never over-the-top in his belief that there is a business case to be made for being sustainable. He reminds me of Dave Pollard, who has a must-read weblog about how he not only hopes to live a sustainable lifestyle but makes the case that living a sustainable lifestyle can also be done at a profit.

That's not to say I don't have problems with it. A few times it begs the question by presenting evidence and assumptions without making its conclusion explicit. It is also a changing visual document (or, if you will, a motion picture), so there's not much time to digest one argument before it proceeds onto the next. Evidently there will be a companion book, and books are better in letting people pause to consider an argument, evidence and conclusions than movies. I like the documentary format, but it can be just as manipulative as the advertisements that The Corporation criticizes.

I can't really recommend this movie as much as I'd like to to people who are anti-capitalist or anti-globalization. You've already seen Michael Moore's films and read Naomi Klein's or Noam Chomsky's books. They appear in the film and say what they've already said. If you want to see Michael Walker of the Fraser Institute squirm—since he is the only person—then okay, to you that's probably worth the price of admission. No, instead, this movie is for those who are cynical of the environmental and anti-corporatist movement. The scenes involving Ray Anderson will be of particular interest. The environmental and anti-corporatist have an image problem primarily because, yes, the corporate anti-environmental agenda is the dominant one, but it's also because they have so-far failed to make the case that pursuing an environmental agenda is in the best interests of corporations, or, even better, that even being a large corporation is not in corporations' best interest. Dave Pollard believes that a case can be made that bigger is worse.

Not mentioned during the movie is the libertarian view towards corporations and their legal status as persons. Not being a libertarian myself, and not to tip my hand as to what I believe is the libertarian view, I'll let the experts field that one.

A note about the movie title: I use the feeds that Feedster generates on several searches, mostly for favourite musicians, authors and book titles. The phrase "the corporation" is not highly unique on the Internet (unlike, say, "moneyball" or "dizzee rascal"), so I've had to add words like "documentary" or "movie", which still doesn't narrow things down completely. An alternative approach might be to see who links to and who links to Another note: it probably has to do with its so-far-limited worldwide release, but before watching it, the only reviews I had read about this movie came from weblogs. Now that I've seen it, if you've written a review of the movie on your weblog or know of someone who did, feel free to email me the URL and I might link to it.