Duck! and Gather

... for the money has gone too far.

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People vs. Corporations

People vs. Corporations

Studying the Fourth Turning, I come to the conclusion that the nature of the impending crisis facing America will take the form of People vs. Corporations.

Why “vs”? Why does the crisis necessarily mean a struggle between two or more opposing forces? The answer is: because history says so. Every one of the six major American and English crises identified by Strauss & Howe going back to the 15th century -- starting with the English War of the Roses (1459-1487), and up through the Great Depression and World War II (1929-1946) -- involved a confrontation among two or more forces. I’ll expand on this in a later post.

Another thing to keep in mind is that neither “People” nor “Corporations” are meant as pejorative terms. I mean, I’m a person and you’re probably a person too, and that seems OK. Moreover, just because corporations are fictional persons (under the law), the fact they are "fictional" doesn’t make them “bad”. Hey, I enjoy a good fiction from time to time. “Corporation” is just a legal notion describing one way of organizing people. In a later post, I will explain my view that, in the past, this legal notion (“Corporations”) has proven quite useful for the People.

Well, if the Corporations have been so useful for the People, why would the People and the Corporations be facing an impending battle? In a later post, I’ll cite some folks who say that the Corporations have gone too far. Some even say that the Corporations threaten the very existence of the People. In some posts, I’ll offer a few examples from our everyday experience of Corporations "going too far." Hey, even Mr. Bush seems to agree that some of these examples constitute "going too far."

Note that I didn’t say this battle would be about Democracy vs. Fascism, or Freedom vs. Economic Totalitarianism, or the People vs. Aliens. Labels like that tend to be about “spin”.

Nor did I say this battle would be between "Business" and "Anti-Business". Anti-Corporate does not mean anti-Business. A Corporation is just one form of doing business. There are other forms. Business has been conducted through forms other than the Corporate form from the dawn of recorded history. But it is the form of business defined by American corporate law, and the sort of behavior which that form uniquely enables and encourages, that has put Corporations on a collision course with the People -- a collision that may play out in the next American crisis.

Similarly, I didn't say the battle would be between the rich and the poor, the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, or the blue collar and the blue blood. The next crisis won't be a class struggle -- assuming, of course, the notion of "class" is still coherent in a nation that, not once but twice, elected a man of the "social class" from which came Mr. Clinton. Recall that at least one thing held in common between the "blue collar" Mr. Clinton and the "blue blood" Mr. Bush is the affection both men bestowed upon the Enron Corporation.

Finally, I didn’t say this battle would be about Liberalism vs. Corporations, or Anarchism vs. Corporations, or Terrorism vs. Corporations, or Communism vs. Capitalism. Nope, I’m saying this battle will include anti-Leftists, anti-Anarchists, anti-Terrorists, anti-Communists, Capitalists, and even Right-Wing-Angry-White-Men, all on the side of the People. The common thread among the People will be that they will be people.

In fact, in a later post, I’ll explain my view that these People will turn out to be the very same sort of people that fought and prevailed in the previous six major crises that Strauss & Howe identified. That's because the people who fought and prevailed in each of those previous crises were the same sort of people who had fought and prevailed in the crises that had preceded their own. And so on back to the War of the Roses. It's sort of like Groundhog Day -- same kind of people, fighting for survival every 80-100 years.

Given this view of mine, I was curious to see whether anybody else who read the Fourth Turning had come to the same conclusion. But searching for “corporations” in Strauss & Howe’s message boards, I couldn’t find anybody saying what I’m saying here. Similarly, searching in late 2003 for “corporations ‘fourth turning’” on the web, I came up dry again.

Maybe that means I’m wrong about People vs. Corporations. If so, yay! I say "yay" because if I’m not wrong, then, as I’ll explain in the next posting, this battle may prove to be particularly tricky, complex, and precarious. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just watch The Simpsons than have to worry about stuff like that.

[posted: 12/10/03]

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