Thursday, August 09, 2007


Every viewing of The Corporation (spoiler) brings with it a proliferation of new ideas from whatever group I watch it with. This makes it a great documentary: it shows you exactly how bleak things really are, right now and not in the future, and does not make you want to give up. If I were a movie, I wouldn't mind being that one.

When H, Maddy, Mark, T-bone, A and I watched it a few weeks ago in L.A., H's new innovative idea was that if these corporations are legally human beings, and these legal human beings have all the salient characteristics of a sociopath, why not have the state declare these human beings legally insane, therefore legally incompetent to act on their own? A, a law student himself, foresees some legal troubles on that front, but I wonder if you couldn't make it happen with a crack legal team—the sort that would include a reformed corporate lawyer, someone who's been employed by the state as a social worker or legal psychiatrist, a defense attorney who's worked with sociopathic clients. Certainly it's going to take a lot of work, but if you're dealing with intelligent people anyway I think it would be a joyous challenge and thought experiment.

Speaking of thought experiments, one thought of mine that developed from this viewing of the film—I'm not quite sure what about the film made it so clear to me, but it did—is that there is much more to the anti-immigrant legislation than meets the eye. I mean, that's obvious, but specifically, I think it's about the imminent refugee crisis that will follow from coastal flooding.

Consider: there has to be a conservative think tank out there dealing with the realities of global warming and the imminent social changes that will accompany it. As Annie pointed out, it would really be the strongest explanation for George Bush's sustainable Crawford ranch. Bush and/or someone close to him is thinking about where the country and the world are likely to be at in the next fifty years, and he's aiming to keep himself and his family safe and comfortable. (The last article in that linked bunch would, I think, have it otherwise—the Bushes' leftist environmentalist architect, David Heymann, sees it as simply a good working relationship between himself and his clients. Mr. Heymann sounds like a pretty great guy, and I hope he'll forgive me my cynicism.) If indeed the serious conservatives are considering imminent possibilities (can possibilities be imminent?), it follows that a think tank would do so on the macrocosmic as well as microcosmic level. Which is to say, they're considering the kinds of things scientists working for Al Gore mentioned, and one of the most vivid images in An Inconvenient Truth was that of the refugee crisis that will arrive as rising ocean levels and the resulting coastal flooding has its disproportionate impact on the global south. (Which I recognize is a really reductive term, but allow me to use it once.) The United States, which as a body of land is going to have a much easier time surviving a season of coastal flooding than, say, island nations, would still be a reasonable goal for persons displaced by such weather conditions. As Gore presented it, and I was fairly convinced, we'd be seeing a refugee crisis the scale of which we ain't never seen.

And it can't be that conservatives are completely ignoring this prospect. That's one of the most important things I've learned from thinking about the Project for the New American Century (*how* does that swing being a nonprofit, bydeby?): folks on the left have a tendency to assume that folks on the right just Aren't Thinking About It, or Just Don't Get It, and that's foolish. I've made that point before, but I want to keep emphasizing it. So if even folks like Cheney are thinking about climate crisis, Cheney and whatever senators he's got in his pocket must be thinking about ways to look out for Number One. And a very good way to do that would be to have legislation in place that puts foreign nationals entering the United States, in manners legal, illegal and in-between, in a very difficult position from the get-go, before we're flooded with people in even more acute need than those entering now.

We need, and can be, thought groupings that are as good as theirs, albeit less exclusive. I mean, yes, I'm sure there are a ton of important leftist think tanks in D.C. that I don't know about. But I think we'll be much the stronger if our thinking isn't done in tanks—I guess that's my Harry Potter-based view of the world (or maybe I should give myself credit and realize that I believed emotional connection in politics was essential even before I read Harry Potter). Tyromaven's already getting some wonderful group connections and thinking together—there was a meeting on connections of thought and action out of diverse passions and needs a couple of weeks ago, the Radical Futures Working Group, which was pretty bloody awesome—and every viewing of The Corporation (at this point, all two of 'em, but let's do it again—seriously, even if I don't know you, let's hang out and watch it) makes me feel that thinking together, that having a group of intelligent people with different perspectives on and connections to the corporate-controlled world, is really what makes the difference, is really what puts together exciting ideas with a realistic and idealistic bent. Who wants to be on the anti-corporate crack legal team?


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