Are Corporations Monsters — or Dragons That Can Be Trained?
A company is a modern-day Frankenstein’s monster. Legally it’s an “artificial person” and like the pitchfork and torch-bearing mob the corporation is also protested by violent crowds. Accused of countless atrocities the corporation is seen as vampiric in how it feeds on our time and energy, releasing us at retirement as dried out husks of our former selves.
Our response to the “monster” says more about us than the monster itself. The true monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was not the creature but the fearful and violent mob. Monstrous acts are ultimately the act of real people. Blaming an entity that only exists as a government registration is as crazy as blaming ghosts.
The idea of the monstrous corporation is ubiquitous in culture. The modern day villain is often the desperate CEO with a secret agent. Luckily we have a long history of epic tales about how to deal with monsters and it’s not a story about conquest. Rather these stories show us the folly in dealing with monsters as something to be eradicated.
The corporation is a monster in the same sense that the creatures in Pokemon are monsters. They are used by people for different purposes but ultimately they are trained creatures. They can be trained poorly or they can be trained well. As creatures the idea they are evil only reflects the destructive and fearful person who holds such an idea (can you imagine a character in Pokemon claiming that all Pokemon must be killed? That would clearly be a villain).
The correct response to the corporate “monster” is taught well in How to Tame Your Dragon. It is not the destruction of the monster that proves your worth but your ability to engage the corporation, work with it, and ultimately create mutually beneficial relationships. The era of “corporation as evil” is over (AKA the 90’s) and a younger generation is growing up happy to live in a world of peaceful coexistence with corporations. They are no longer monsters that must be destroyed but creatures that must be cared for.
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