Re: Hey, Where’s My Corporate Dystopia?
I love Kevin Williamson’s piece on the intersection of corporation-phobia and sci fi. It could launch a much longer conversation, but as I am on deadline, I’ll make one quick point. Corporations are not always dystopian villains. The trick, as Kevin knows, is for the corporation to be firmly yoked to the power of the state. The best example of this sort of thinking comes from a fiction writer of sorts, Robert Reich. In his book, The Next American Frontier he envisioned a future where “geographic entities” — i.e. states, counties etc. — slowly melted away. Here’s a brief discussion of it from Mickey Kaus’ brutal takedown of Reich in the New Republic over 20 years ago (not online):
drove Re-ich to aehocaie an extreme- fe)i in of corporatism. In exchange fbi “lestructuriug assis- taiiee,” businesses would “agree to maintain their old work forces intact” c-\c-n 11they closed plants or eli\c-rsi- f’lcel into new product lines. W’orkc-rs we)uld panic ipate- in management, in elfc-c i bc-ce)iiiing citizens of ihc-ii companies. Thev weiuld be- le-luc taul to leave, lie’caiise- bu.siness enterprises would “large’h replace- geograpbic iurisdictic)ns its coudtiits cjf goverumeut support fe)i cco- iioniie and liuinau deve-lopment.” Welfare, bealth eaie, day care-, c-veii Social Security would be flispensed by ce)mp;uiies, not by tbe ge)veriimeiit. “Business e-iilc-r- prise.s.” Reic h declaic-d, “are rapidly beconiiiig the- c en- tral mediating structures in Ame-rlcan society, replacing geographic communitie-s as the- locus e)f social services atui. indeed, social life.” As proof Of this rather stariling pre)posiue)n, Reich offered a few I’acteiids alioui ihe growth of employee benefits (e-.g.: “Some companies bavc” eonstriicted town houses fctr their employe-es”),