This didn’t just happen.
In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed, as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that they’re no longer even aware of it.
This fascinating journey, from the late Middle Ages to today, reveals the roots of our debacle. From the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of MySpace–the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc. exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business.
Most of all, Life Inc. shows how the current financial crisis is actually an opportunity to reverse this six-hundred-year-old trend and to begin to create, invest, and transact directly rather than outsource all this activity to institutions that exist solely for their own sakes.
Corporatism didn’t evolve naturally. The landscape on which we are living–the operating system on which we are now running our social software–was invented by people, sold to us as a better way of life, supported by myths, and ultimately allowed to develop into a self-sustaining reality. It is a map that has replaced the territory.
Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An excellent but hard to review book.
What a fantastic book "Life Inc." is, and what a creative mind and passionate writer Douglas Rushkoff is. This book is full of valid, alternate, positive ways of looking at things in a new and different way. Every few paragraphs there is a new important idea or concept to consider or the kind of thing I would love to see debated or discussed in the national media. That can be my only criticism, is that there is so much here, most of it I agree with to some extent or the other, and much of it that I am sympathetic to, but some of the logic lacks rigor.
For instance corporations are routinely criticized, and I, personally am critical of corporations, but not all corporations are evil and there are qualities of large scale enterprises such as the economy of scale that do make corporations very efficient forms of activity - so the problems are not just due to the existence of corporations. To be fair, I do not think Rushkoff means to make this particular argument but the concepts are often so complex there are occasions where he tried overreach and the point gets lost.
There is one part of one chapter where Rushkoff takes aim and criticizes Malcolm Gladwell's books that had me chuckling. I find both of these authors to be wonderful thinkers and storytellers but I and most readers filter what we read before we accept anything totally and to read a kind of put-down of Gladwell's work was an example of where I think Rushkoff slightly derails. Reading Rushkooff and Gladwell I feel similarly and find these types of books have value when they are well written. My comparison would be that Rushkoff is more clear in stating his biases and an unapologeticly and uniquely a fact-based leftist.
What I like about Rushkoff's book is that he makes an attempt to discuss new ways of measuring things than by the yardstick of money as it has been defined historically by corporations and the "ruling classes" - to not always to serve everyone equally. Rushkoff pressents good questions and martials strong arguments to support the necessity for questioning how we define, maintain and increase our humanity in a world of increasing complexity and disparity in wealth and power.
Whatever your political affiliation you can end up be stronger by letting Rushkoff challenge your beliefs. A must read - 5/5.