Science Fiction Today – Corporations

CWhile they often get a bad rap in today’s world for being too big and powerful, they usually get an even worse rap in the future – having spread beyond national boundaries and governmental controls. I’m of course talking about Corporations. Love ’em, work for ’em (and therefore can’t express an opinion), or hate ’em, Corporations are a fact of modern life.

Corporations are not inherently evil, but instead are dictated by a whole lot of people’s opinions and choices, between management, share holders, and all the individual actions of the employees. Just to throw out one really recent example of how a Corporation can be an interesting entity, take Starbucks – between their #RaceTogether initiative, and their support of same sex marriage in their home state of Washington, they’ve gotten a whole lot of press, and a whole lot of people both for and against them. Big actions, big consequences; so what might this look like in the future?

Corporations and Peace?

So you’ve probably heard of these theories from economist Thomas Friedman: the Golden Arches theory, and the updated Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention. Basically, the idea is this: two countries that both have the same Corporation doing business within their borders will not go to war with one another. It’s somewhat both cause and effect: they are likely peaceful or stable countries to begin with, and they would not immediately want to go to war and risk their relationships in terms of what these Corporations bring to their country.

So while they may not be the most sound theories, more of an educated assumption about national decision making – they are interesting theories taken into the future. As Corporations, and their related business and supply chains, increase their business and how many countries they are in – so too could spread world peace. Certainly at least, these theories would suggest that there’s much more chance and time that would be given to diplomatic means of peacekeeping!

Those Evil Multi-National Corporations…

Umbrella Corporation LogoOf course, then there’s the sorts of futures where we see Corporations evading all of the laws, evading taxes, taking over, out of control. And really, there’s no better example than the Umbrella Corporation.

Created a super-plague that turns people into Zombies? Check. Unleashed it on the world to see what happens, and maybe create super-soldier in the process? Check. Totally unable to stop what you’ve caused? Check. Totally survive the ensuing apocalypse and continue to cause problems? Check. I guess I’m basing this more on the Resident Evil movies than the games, as I’ve seen more than I’ve played, but it’s pretty much Umbrella’s deal that no one can stop them, and they do bad things because they can. Like GLaDOS! In fact, I’ll leave you with Still Alive. We do what we must, because, we can.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!

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26 responses to “Science Fiction Today – Corporations

  1. Always interesting how corporations take on their own personalities, just like countries do. 🙂 I know some of this is purposeful — they want people to think of themselves as “the kind of person who buys Apple” or “the kind of person who goes to Starbucks,” because creates walking advertisements and huge brand loyalty. Same with countries wanting patriots.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw crud, I am both of those things… But it’s a good point 🙂

      Very often in near-future (or even some far-future) science fiction, we make that personalitied corporation the villain. Generally with a CEO who is the evil mastermind, but not always – sometimes their product, like in I, Robot. Sometimes the whole ruling board, sometimes shadowy and clandestine and meeting via virtual meetings. Evil consensus thinking!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve never understood Umbrella’s business plan. If you kill everyone, who buys your products? What ARE your products, anyway, besides germ warfare…. which you knowingly use.. to destroy all your customers? I think in their back story they started out as a pharmaceutical and cosmetics company? How do you go from that to:

    “I know, let’s kill everyone on the f***ing planet just to see what happens?”

    “I think they may affect our share price.”

    “We’ll bounce back! When we’re the only company left on the stock market, our index will be through the roof!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re certainly the most profitable company when you’re the only company left… but also the least profitable. All in how you spin it, right?

      Smaller versions of their plan you see in stories all the time… the sneaky pharmaceutical company releasing a plague they already have the antidote for. It’s the latter part that Umbrella forgets… antidote, guys. Whoops.

      Like

  3. NotAPunkRocker

    I want to know how Acme is still in business with all the junk they sold the coyote. or do you think they knew it was a coyote buying things and sold him junk because he couldn’t complain? Hmmm…

    (Good post! 🙂 )

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Funny enough I knew what Umbrella was long before I ever saw any of the movies or played the games… 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    Liked by 2 people

    • It definitely has that reputation, it’s such a perfect archetype of the evil corporation. Their name even! They were made for this. For one purpose: apocalyptic shenanigans.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  5. Fantastic post (I’m giving it a procrastination comment). Two things about corporations:

    1. You are right, they are not inherently evil. They’re just a mode of organization. The reason they are so powerful and are capable of so much evil, I think, is that they distribute responsibility in a way that makes it difficult to hold actual people responsible for bad things.

    2. Corporations are legal persons, so they have a huge financial advantage over individuals. They’re like immortals.

    I’m gonna drop this in the sharing queue while I’m here. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • With their fights over copyright, Disney in particular seems to be working to prove corporate immortality… Grinding the public domain to a stand-still in the mean time.

      And the diffusion of responsibility is a really good point, and is the sort of thing that you also see with countries, nationalism and patriotism, and some of the other comments here on the thread. But that really just means that corporations have the potential to function like mini-countries that cross international borders. Well, some are bigger than a lot of countries…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I find it amusing when the evil corporation just does evil things because…well, why? Unless it has money in it, I don’t see it happening. Not that I am a big fan of many corporations, since they have a tendency to focus on the quarterly bottom line and forget the long-term view. When making money is aligned with the greater good? Well, then look out!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your comment about the short term quarterly view is a really good point, and I think it explains the sub-prime mortgage disaster. I think you had a lot of employees thinking about their short-term personal goals, probably people at the top looking quarterly or maybe annually… And dealing with mortgages, which are a 30-year, long-term money-maker and relationship-builder.

      Whoa sorry, just channeled my years working in banking.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m interested in seeing the day when Corporations become a new political party, perhaps even elected officers into the field. Part of me wonders if we might not need two presidents in the U.S. eventually, one to handle domestic issues, and another to handle international communications (particularly since the former requires business and social economics sense, and the other usually requires understanding of military and international customs.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • So one would come from like a Governor background, and one would come from like a Secretary of State background.

      So why choose between Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush when we can have both!

      Joking aside your point is very logical – I just wonder if it’s likely… There’ll be more politically minded posts coming up this month when we can wonder again!

      Liked by 1 person

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  13. Chappie’s actually a bit odd in that the corporation isn’t evil. The boss, Sigourney Weaver, is a perfectly reasonable person who makes perfectly reasonable decisions. Her employees, unfortunately, are a bunch of nuts who do dumb things. One of the plot problems in the movie, really… Tossing around the idiot ball.

    Liked by 1 person

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