The plural of person is corporation,

or people. If we pretend otherwise we’ll continue to fail in admitting the new player in our society, a long lasting one that we should both fear and control.

You know, corporations are people. This guy is right, but for the wrong reason:

It is not because “everything corporations do, goes back to people”, the audience laughs so hard at that one, it is because we have laws on top of laws that state loud and clear that corporations are persons, and we confuse persons with people! These laws go back to the Roman Empire and there is a decent logic behind their existence.

Yet, corporations basically don’t exist and we play pretend all of our life that such a thing as an imaginary person offers us milk, or honey, or cars or sometimes even tap water. This is crazy. There are groups of people who work so some of this stuff gets to us.

In reality, corporations are not something you can neither put your finger on, nor grab. It is amazing how many times people blame corporations, how many times people praise corporations, how many time people fight corporations and so on.

Here is the main problem we should tackle instead:

Mens sana in corpore sano

Corporations are incorporated persons.

Anima sana in corpore sano

People are animated persons.

Incorporated persons are imaginary creations of humanity so that certain human activities become manageable. Animated persons are creations of nature so that life continues to exist in an unpredictable universe. Seriously, capitalism should be far more humanist than it is.

This idea that a company is a person with legal rights and obligations has got people really confused. In the movie “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” I think the last shot is about how United Carbide never appologised. United Carbide, now Dow, cannot apologize, because it doesn’t have the living experience required for apologizing. United Carbide can only pay, and the sole problem is that it paid too little.

Here is a map of what a corporation is versus what people are:

People                      Corporation
Thrive Grow
Legacy Continuity
Meaning Profit
Globetrotter Multinational
Talented Innovative
Caring Involved
Communion Social Responsibility
Open minded Forward looking

Corporations need to grow, people need to thrive.

The idea that management, employees, stock holders are just minions of this giant that tells them what to do, and that we as citizens should solve our matters with the giant, instead of the people who run it, it is essentially disturbing.

If corporations are people, should they be able to marry and adopt children? With the rise of A.I. will the lack of physicality of corporations finally cease to exist, as they will get a voice through software robots and possibly in fifty years maybe physical robots?

Corporations are, when regarded as people, actual real life Gods, or at least super people. It is because they are served by thousands of followers. They are not sleeping, they live for hundreds of years. They are in multiple places at once. They have super human clout or influence.

Their voice is louder than any human’s. If a corporation commercially invests in promoting an idea, it will be hundred of times more effective than a genius Nobel prize winner.

Corporations don’t feel pain. They don’t feel hunger. They don’t have parents suffering for their failure or their disease. Corporations can become so complex that their ownership is takes basically a super investigation to uncover. In this sense they have their own will, but unlike our will, they have no kinds of attachments, no higher goals, no moral compass inside.

The state must ensure the corporation’s mind is sane and the human’s heart is healthy.

When i’m, in any way, harmed by a corporation, I can indeed sue a deep pocket. But, God, is that hard. One could argue that suing a rich person is not much easier. The more resources your enemy has, the harder your fight will be. But with an invisible enemy, a body-less possibly eternal imaginary being, it is a lot harder. There is no eyes to look into, no hand to hold, no ear to hear your crying, no wife to soften a husband, no child to ask why. It is a lot harder to get what you’re owed by a corporation.

In this respect, corporations should be oriented towards social service, by default. In reality, the goal of a corporate entity is to have people eager to interact with it. A corporation builds that eagerness, which is a form of response to willingness, by propaganda which is nothing less than the promise of delivering a better future and brands which are nothing more than shiny gift wrapping against the promise of delivering core human values. It doesn’t matter if the corporate entity is a church or an oil behemoth. Jesus is as much of a brand as Shell is.

The only way to approach such an idea of social service as the main goal for any corporate entity is to introduce a negative price for social responsibility performance in the stock markets. Not fines and class action suits. Not inspectors and permit withdrawals.

Shoulds. Corporations should not be fought against because they don’t exist. Corporations should be integrated in society. They should have education applied so they’re civil. They should be ingrained since birth with a moral compass, just like we, the other persons, are born with one.

A greater care should be awarded to life itself. For example, more and more companies tend to phase out the human support and customer service. The problem is not one of a luddite nature. The problem is that when you have a serious and urgent matter, or when your service is bad, you can neither argue with, nor explain to a robot voice that tells you what number to push. Also, corporations can legally do the following:

  • you file a complaint
  • they call you and gather information
  • you never hear back
  • another person calls you and asks the same questions again
  • you never hear back
  • you get the wrong answer to your complaint
  • you file a more angry complaint
  • the corporation denies service, by “mistakenly” canceling your contract

By not charging you the corporation is free of liability, but as a “consumer” person, there should be a price paid for the days of your limited life wasted because of the corporation. Since such minute trials cannot be efficient, we should have laws so that corporations externalize their internal complaints to state authorities and other laws that keep decent human customer service in place. Just as, for example, in most civilized cities you cannot build offices if you cannot provide parking, in the same way you should not be allowed to scale business if you cannot provide customer support.

But that is just an example. In reality countless examples happen every day. Are we doing anything about it?

Between fully socialist and fully liberal societies you have to choose who will be your invisible handler, the “default” care taker, the secular God: government agencies or corporations. This is a profoundly non human attempt at common good. It is funny that neither approach allows the individual to thrive.