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Demons at work. Cartoon by the late Jack Gibson.

Are corporations a form of cancer?

If corporations aren’t demons then maybe they are cancers.

Personally, I think they are demons. As I’ve noted before, they tick most of the boxes to qualify. They are effectively immortal. They possess people – making those people act evilly in ways they wouldn’t dream of acting if they weren’t possessed. Corporations torment people as a matter of course and don’t hesitate to harm any other living creatures and the Earth itself in pursuit of their abstract goal. If corporations are answerable to some grand boss “devil” then the head honcho of the hell they create is obviously Greed – with a great big capital-ist “G”.

Granted, corporations make and provide all sorts of useful goods and services – at a price, and of a quality they determine – but we all know their over-arching purpose is to make profits for their shareholders. People have tried all sorts of ways to humanise corporations somewhat, devising policies and guidelines, talking a lot about social responsibility and even buying shares to get voting rights in bids to force corporations to consider things other than pure profit. Sometimes these things seem to work a bit, for a while, but not for long.

If corporations aren’t demons then they may as well be.

But if you don’t like thinking of these awful monsters we created to ruin our lives as demons then you might be more receptive to the idea of them as cancers. They tick the boxes for that diagnosis too. They grow on healthy communities, subverting normal “cells” to stop functioning beneficially and causing them to divert resources into growing the corporate tumour. As the corporate tumours get bigger they consume more and more resources, prevent healthy cell growth and poison their surroundings.

Either way – demons or cancers – corporations are not our friends, even though they spend a fortune in advertising, sponsorships and other forms of cosmetic propaganda to persuade us of their niceness and sincerity. Their DNA, their mission in life, their entire purpose is to extract every last skerrick of value from any part of their surroundings into which they can stick their blood-funnels (thank you, Matt Taibbi).

Having watched corporations are their work over the decades of my life, I can say they have fulfilled my expectations. As a denizen of the great white empire (thank you Indi) I’ve been in a position to observe their evolution and what I have seen fills me with fear and despair. I used to watch in horror as they committed their worst depredations in poorer parts of the world, knowing full well that one day they would do the same awful things in my privileged backyard. It’s the nature of the beast. First they exploit and torment those with the least protection, then they move against all the rest. I tried to warn my fellow citizens that if we let the corporations get away with their crimes against our distant, poorly protected brothers and sisters then our turn would surely come – and we would deserve it.

And here we are.

Corporate cancer-demons surround us. They are the “news” media that pour mind-pollution into our confused skulls. They are the banks that make us slaves to debt. They are medical and pharmaceutical corporations that hold us to ransom when we are sick. They are tech companies that spy on us, lie to us, rob us, extort from us and exploit us every way they can. They are the weapons makers that slaver after endless wars. They are the energy corporations that cheat us and poison us. Junk food demons. Gambling demons. Alcohol demons. Fashion demons. Demons of religions. A thousand variations on a corporate theme of lying, cheating and exploitation in the name of greed. They own our governments. They get the laws they want. And every year that passes their power increases while ours decreases.

We put them in charge. We feed from their toxic teats all the while knowing they are hostile life forms that will eventually kill us or enslave us utterly.

Sorry to be so dramatic and so pessimistic. On my more cheerful days I brush aside most of these black speculations and enjoy my life.

But there are days when I feel frankly besieged by these lying, cheating, inhuman entities that rule our lives more and more as the years pass.

On those darker days it seems to me that we increasingly live in a corporate hellscape where demons assail us from all sides, trying to take from us the only things we have to offer: our labour and our consumption. They want our labour at the cheapest price they can get it, and our consumption at the highest price they can extract.

It all seems so pointless and stupid and we are such silly lemmings for letting it happen this way.

I wonder what the corporate endgame looks like? Where does this process ultimately lead? I’d love to imagine that humans might take back control from the corporations, enshrining goals and values other than greed in our communities and ruling philosophies. I believe it can happen, but it’s difficult to see how the process could ever start, when these enemies are so single-minded, energetic, ruthless and immortal.

I want to see humanity win, but how in Hell can we make it happen?

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