Something has gone terribly wrong. Unquestionably, but seemingly inexplicably, we now live in a world where the market has infiltrated every area of our lives.
In Life Inc., brilliant and charismatic cultural theorist Douglas Rushkoff argues that we no longer know who we are, or what we want. Everything, especially authenticity, is branded. Real community and real intimacy have broken down, replaced by market-tested cures for everything from weight, to conception, to poverty, to food, to finding a mate. The market, and its operating system, Corporatism, is no longer something people build and control. Rather, it builds and controls us.
Rushkoff, in tracing the roots of corporatism from the Renaissance to today, reveals the way it supplanted social interaction and local commerce and came to be regarded as a preexisting condition of our world, from the history of public relations to the relentless gentrification of America's urban neighborhoods. And he shows us how to fight back: how to de-corporatize ourselves, disengage from branded expectations, think locally, and return to the real world of human activity. As Rushkoff puts it, "Micro-decisions are what matter."
©2009 Douglas Rushkoff; (P)2009 Random House Audio
"This is a provocative and controversial look at the dark side of corporatist effects on our economy. Douglas Rushkoff explores the various ways, some you may never have considered, that innovation and commerce can be stunted by corporations. Whether or not you agree, you will find this book challenges some of our basic assumptions about how our economy works." (Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe)
"There are few more important subjects in the West today than the corporatization of public and personal space and few writers as well-suited to the subject as the always insightful and provocative Doug Rushkoff. A terrific contribution to an urgent debate." (Naomi Wolf)
This book took a critical look at the role of corporation and their effect over the last 500 years. But it's a bit light on what you can actually do to change things. Corporations are myopic and self interested in a way that humans aren't. And they are sucking value out of the world. However, I don't think the solutions he proposes are up to the task of fixing the problem.
He's right in saying that the internet is not a panacea. But he's unduly pessimistic about what's happened to the internet in the last 12 years. The hardcore internet (open, unstructured) has decreased an as a relative proportion of whats going on on the internet, but has increased in absolute terms. The emergence of the user friendly (sometimes cooperate) internet is not a sign that the hardcore one is dieing. As long as we have net neutrality the hardcore internet will be going strong.
I have enjoyed Rushkoff's PBS Frontline specials in looking at American media. I was not expecting an entire book connecting every company to Nazi Germany. Buy a Starbucks... Fascist. Purchase a nice home in the suburbs, connection to Nazis.
He wants to demonize the corporation... and really all companies and promotes the idea of the State making those decisions for us for a more equal and Marxist way of life. He ignores that individuals have the choice to drink a Starbucks or a choice to drink tap water. He views all of life as an uptown New Yorker and thinks that all white people have the same values that he has had and he now feels guilty for being richer than those in the slums. Somehow, this is not his fault, it is the corporations that have brainwashed into beliefs that he would not have otherwise had.
This is the first Audible book that I have wanted a refund on in over three years.
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