Life Inc.

Douglas Rushkoff

There’s a heavy overlap between Rushkoff’s work here and Adam Curtis’ fascinating documentary The Century of the Self. And, of course, with The Corporation. And loads of other recent documentaries and books. Which is to say, at a certain level, our culture is waking up to the realities of corporatism, shaking off its enveloping myths.

The heavy overlap means that many familiar with this burgeoning field will be familiar with much of Rushkoff’s material. But his bold narrative, clear prose and shrewd mind make this an essential book. Of course his thesis fortuitously coincided with a financial crisis that has borne out many of his ideas. If you want to know the story behind the news stories we’re now bombarded with, read this: the relationship between state power and big business, the unreality of financial speculation, the housing market, the nature of modern money itself, all are laid bare with panache and lively observations.

Rushkoff’s done a great piece recently on Edge.org (‘Economics is not a Natural Science‘), in which he says: “If science can take on God, it should not fear the market. Both are, after all, creations of man.” It is indeed about time that science made good on its claims to serve human welfare and challenge irrationality. To me and many others, the reasons to challenge corporatism are plain even if it carries on keeping us mollified with material goods. No one wants a wake-up call in the form of ecological catastrophe; but after the unthinking, set-in-our-ways reactions to the global financial crisis, I wonder what it’s going to take. Science is the backbone of campaigns combating climate change; perhaps it’s about time it stepped up to the challenge of a key cause of climate change: runaway corporatism.