SAP Meme B: "Big Bodies Suck!"
"Blessings on those who dare to revision the foundations of our common life. Strength, endurance, and quick-firing synapses to those bold minds, as they confront the Big Bodies now dominating our society and despoiling our planet. The work of insight and reconceptualization may seem lonely at times and abstract, but it benefits all beings, for it is essential to the Great Turning to a sustainable civilization." - Joanna Macy
All our meme intros should and will be prefaced with a reminder that memes are contagious how-to molecules of information. For example, they can tell you how-to play a game, practice a faith, pronounce a language, or in this case, perceive the dominant entity of our age. There are other memes for corporate beings that suggest you look at and understand them as "artificial persons", "legal fictions", "agglomerations of property", etc.
Personally we've never found this vagueness very useful for understanding what exactly you are facing when one of them swoops in and clearcuts a forest, plunders your economy or amputates a mountaintop. At the scenes of such crimes you get the distinct feeling that something very supra-personal, non-fictitious and highly animated has just trashed the neighborhood and while you may be able to identify its logo or read its name you still can't see (or stop) it very well.
Big Body - Minimal Definition
"Any large, bureaucratically or hierachically organized social body that persists in time, enjoys at least partial autonomy and economically supports a large number of functionaries, if not all its membership" - with "large" meaning a number too numerous for mutual acquaintance or direct face-to-face interaction - arbitrarily, say, 500+.)
Big Body Life Force Revelations
The Big Body meme, however, helps you see big organizations as true living systems with behaviors, instincts and agendas of their own. From 9 to 5 each workday, they function exactly like true superorganisms that are feeding, digesting, excreting (lots of excreting), learning, communicating, modifying their environment and evolving really fast.
This is hardly a new or outlandish idea. Royal Dutch Shell exec Arie de Geus' book The Living Company makes that precise case and was named "one of the Best Business Books of 1997 by Business Week, Financial Times, Management General, and Quality Digest." System science pioneer James Grier Miller explained the concept in great detail in his 1978 opus Living Systems and many other scientists and philosophers have presented similar thoughts on "social superorganisms" since the 19th century.
You can read about many aspects of the Big Body meme in an online manuscript called "Are Corporate Bodies Really Alive?– Learning to See Earth’s Dominant Species" as well as in the links below, but here we just want to suggest why you should bother.
"Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” - Sophocles
Big Bodies are alive, in charge and out of control
You have no doubt already noticed corporations dominate our governments, economies and popular culture; and we can no longer constrain them with traditional means now that they control our politicians, courts and media. For countless activists around the world this is, needless to say, discouraging as hell. As is our recent win-loss record against their depredations. Collectively - on our watch, mind you - they have bankrupted our nations, mass produced our wars, raped the wilderness and poisoned the planet. Collectively they are killing us and we can't just keep fighting them and their symptoms one by one.
Looking at mega-corporations as huge cancerous superorganisms, however, offers a fresh view of their natural history and new strategies to bring them to heel.
Most importantly, it helps you see:
- their energy systems and physiology are all essentially the same
- they can freely interbreed (eg, nuke makers with media, banks with manufacturers, Big Oil with Big Pharma)
- they constitute a singular "species" of life with common traits and vulnerabilities.
All may have been cute, cuddly and even useful when they started, but as they grow monstrous, their initial pledges of social utility are forgotten and they start pursuing growth for its own sake. They thus begin to "merge", "diversify" and "conglomerate" and soon enter their cancerous phase.
Just as there are many types of tumor, GE, Walmart, Boeing, Monsanto, Microsoft, Citibank, ExxonMobil and Halliburton may show superficial differences in target territory and dietary preference, but their basic physiology is nearly identical and an intelligent immune attack that can reliably disable one would likely imperil them all.
Anthroculture: Making Small Members for Big Bodies
All Big Bodies feed heavily on their members' ki or attentional energies for their own development and growth. They must therefore forestall revolts among milked members who notice and resent this suction's toll on their own maturation, health and sexuality. Historically, the easiest way to keep slaves, livestock and organizational underlings free of such adult concerns has been to disable the glands and molecules that allow them to grow up.
Ming China used the knife; modern Japan, repressive schools, soy and stress. Both techniques cut males down to docilely incorporable size; both have their pros & cons; and both are undeniable milestones in the evolution of anthroculture. We are also advised to study this tech for both defensive and offensive reasons. Specifically, it can aid us in protecting our kids and helping the incorporated grow up may be a crucial tactic for melting Big Bods down.
Japan's Viagra, karoshi deaths & boy bra sales way up; dissent, sperm counts & birth rate, way down.
So that is what we're working on here, a broad spectrum antidote to corporate plagues and contagious ways to get our incorporated fellows looking into their mirrors, hearts and pants. If those goals also interest you we invite you to devote some time to our efforts below, especially the "'Belittle Big Bodies' Banzai" and the "Contract on Corporate America." Then meditate a bit on what our world might look, feel and function like if all huge bodies everywhere were returned to human scale.
Sampling of Big Bod Meme-seeding Sorties
|Job-seeking - So you want to be an Orthodoctor? | Slightly offbeat introduction|
|Academic - The Big Body Problem | Environmental conference presentation|
|Journalistic - Shrinking Corporate Tumors With Immunogentility | Truthout.org Op-Ed|
|Cyber-colloquial - Are Corporations Really Alive? | Cyber-conference Archive|
|Book draft - Are Corporate Bodies Really Alive? | Full resulting manuscript
|Sci-Fi - Annals of the Great Fruition | Alien insights into the corporate plagues on Earth|
|Chautauqua-esque - New Chautauqua to Quell a Corporate Coup | Event site archive|
|Manifestive - The Contract on Corporate America | SAP Campaign Manifesto|
|Metaphorical - Lusions: Bio-Social Parallels for a Theory of Gaian Disease | Reading collection|
|Adbustered - Big Medicine: Introducing Anti-Corporate-Biotics & Immunogentility | Adbuster article|
|Radio Logical - Saying Hello and Goodbye to the Corporate Person | WBAI radio program|
|Radio Whimsical - The Big Medicine Show | Radio program pilots|
|Cine-didactic - Ki & the Powers of Japan | Film on attentional magic, grex evolution & corporate bodybuilding|
|Indie Mediated - Truths with Consequences: Indie Media Power vs. the Corporate Coup | Conf site archive|
|Para-political - A Broad Spectrum Antidote to Corporate Pathology | Wlad's 2000 NH VP Primary run|
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- the molecule of male maturity
History in your Pants
Wlad's Kyoto Mayoral Report
Big T causes Aggression - Not!
New York Times Article
"This American Life" Episode
Low T by the Numbers
Trouble with Testosterone
Provisional Campaign Themes
studying CORPORATE LIFE
BIG BODY HEURISTICS
March 2000 Cyberconference
(Are they now our dominant species?)
Living System Perspectives on Corporate Evolution, Anatomy and Eco-Social Pathologies
"A fascinating conceptual breakthrough."
- - David Korten
"An extraordinarily imaginative
and important idea."
- - Howard Zinn
"If the co-operation of some thousands of millions of cells in our brain can produce our consciousness, a true singularity, the idea becomes vastly more plausible that the co-operation of humanity, or some sections of it, may determine what Comte calls a 'Great Being'." -- J.B.S. Haldane, On Science & Ethics
"Our species shares the biosphere with an exponentially larger, more powerful and rapidly evolving life form that may not necessarily share our values or aspirations.... These bodies' scale and activities now pose a clear and present danger to our cultures, environment and evolutionary future." From "Are Corporations Really Alive (and now our dominant species?)" 2000 cyberconference intro
"We live in the age of corporate organisms. Though no formal announcements have been issued it's becoming harder to ignore that they have wrested control of the earth from homo sapiens and supplanted us as the planet's dominant species. It is they - the multinationals, government bureaucracies, religious hierarchies, military bodies, et al. - not individual humans, that generate our era's character - its patterns of wealth & poverty, its technological progress & ecological peril, its entertainment & political agenda. They have, in short, taken over..." -- E Pluribus Yamato: The Culture of Corporate Being
"There is currently protest about big corporations being given too many rights, but that is not really the right approach. It is like saying a slave owner is too brutal and he should be nicer to his slaves. Or that a tyranny is too oppressive and it should be a little less oppressive. That is not the right demand. Regarding tyrannies or slave owners, we should not say they should be nicer, we must say that the institution itself should not exist." - Noam Chomsky