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Culture Change

The corporado's life and its antithesis

by Jan Lundberg

The image of the corporado — executive, investor, bandito of business, marauder against the public trust — obscures the interesting life of a consumer generally at rest in a social bubble.  From what I observed up close, for many a corporado the relations with family and friends are so shallow that the terms "family" and "friends" are too generous.  But a so-called master of the universe grins and bears it.

The sudden and permanent deprivation of fossil-fuel efficiency for the masses is about to close an interesting period of history:  The beginning of the end of the climate as we know it is at least as noteworthy as the relatively recent advent of fantastic plastic electronic entropy devices.  Corporados, you're clever, and most of you are basically nice people, but gracias para nada.

With no regard and with little hope on the part of the affluent player for his or her descendents in an increasingly uncertain world, the fancy car is not yet going out of style.  Having more material wealth is far and away the main measure of happiness for all who cling to the dominant culture.  A lot of that happiness depends on status achieved by acquiring property and lots of cash.  Other values such as family, career, and artistic creativity are runners-up, usually in that order.

Respect and accomplishment in societies more traditional than the U.S. are not so dependent on material wealth.  It used to be even in the U.S. that someone's experience, knowledge and ethics supplied individual wisdom that was vital to pass along to the family and community.  Now, it is widely considered appropriate to pick up some commercial magazine's tips on family relations or — even more "crucial" to society's happiness — losing weight.  The elders and their wisdom, love and willingness to help guide the younger generations are ignored and put away in retirement- or nursing-homes — often in such a fashion designed to suck their money.

The typical corporado's life and that of many of his or her family members is to a great extent empty of meaning.  This has been said so often that there must be great truth in it.  We can go further and say that most corporados are sell-outs; that they sold their souls.  Maybe it's not rare anymore that few people used to aspire merely to make a lot of money by sacrificing their own independence for a materialist dream.  

Due to mass media and state schooling, the background of people "lucky" enough to come into the corporate world is the pursuit of materialism and being followers.  The propaganda conceals this and portrays a great culture — that can't quite comprehend U.S./corporate genocide of Iraqis, Vietnamese, and other peoples.

A day in the "life"

The feeling between friends within a corporation or inter-corporation is a semi-warm experience where the best they can do for one another is go that extra mile by taking the time to get together, by God, to hang out over cocktails or racquetball.  This cuts into time for the two dominant portions of the corporate worker's routine: working in the box (punching the clock), and being in the box-sanctuary called home.  The norm is that there would be family there who expect the corporado to predictably be present for breakfast and, often, dinner.  Lunch at home with a siesta?  Try some lazy, backward country, buddy!

The corporado couple gets a baby-sitter and goes over to another corporado couple's house.  This is bonding:  They can talk about their bosses or underlings and the fine ways of spending money — adding a room to the already more than adequate-sized house or trying that expensive new frou-frou restaurant.

The worker drones/slaves are worse off according to material values that have overtaken cultural traditions such as family togetherness.  A non-executive worker is more preoccupied than the corporado with paying bills and avoiding job-harassment and termination.  These are considerations for the corporado as well, but the lower-paid working class gets the repetitious, tedious, dangerous work.  

At the Arcata Post office recently, a sign was visible that says "I used to have a life, then I got this job!"  What a way to live: to kiss your dreams goodbye and wake up to the illusions of freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  People assume the present predicament and rigged game is the only way.  This brings us to the alternative to the lifestyle of the corporados and most workers.

Corporado's opposite in Babylon

Unfortunately, for most of us to grasp the concepts of many a free person's ways of living, it is first necessary to see all too close up the dreary, limited consumer life that is dominated and manipulated by corporations and government.  Some free thinkers have a natural aversion to compromising their principles, or may want to live only in a less artificial environment (such as Humboldt County, whence I write).  Large, overcrowded cities are a main feature of the corporate empire's domain.  A federation of competitors euphemistically employs the masses and thus has its way with law and commerce.  People's rights and the environment are not corporate concerns.  

But the narrow corporate mind-set can dominate persons and their families where no one lives in urban sprawl or has to commute by toxic transportation.  It is the same mind-set of mediocrity — of accepting the latest U.S. war of aggression, generally bowing down to flag-draped or religious authority — that pushes certain children or ex-spouses away from the corporados' dominion, toward building a life of honoring the inner self and respecting community.

A community benefiting from a corporation's sponsorship of a sports team does not really reflect a strong community when the corporation's pollution may be giving aspiring team members asthma or cancer.  "But hey, those logos on the jerseys are sharp.  And what do you say we go rent some DVDs afterwards?  But no documentaries on native people's environment being stolen — no more accidental turkeys from that video store!"

Living a free life is not easy in Babylon, but it is done all the time almost everywhere.  To a reggae beat, in B minor, when you can feel you've escaped from the box:

I wanna be free
I wanna be free

I think I'll get some bread
With local goat cheese please
Free is in my head
Not manifestively

I wanna be free
I wanna be free

There is no doubt in me
In this economy
Freedom is around
And sometimes can be found

Who's free
Who's free

Our things material
Have made us very ill
In nature and my heart
Is where I'll make a start

I'm free
I am free
I'm free
I am free
You're free
You are free
We're free

We all have some kind of artistic talent.  When we go for it, when we share it, this fills us and some of our observers with contentment and inspiration.  As creators, we cherish art's feeling and concepts and would not trade the experience for a more opulent home or newer car.  We find ourselves applying our art to our beliefs, such as for peace or for the protection of an ancient forest.

Movements thus receive their impetus, not from the corporado and drone.  Ironically, oppression prevents much participation from those who should most be protesting and getting active.  Saving the biosphere is still considered too offbeat and uneconomic.  Brainwashing tells us, for example, we can just buy our food and water instead of obtaining them directly in clean forms that we can trust through intimate, local knowledge.  Rather than participation and creation, the spectacle generally occupies corporado and drone alike.

The liberated soul may be cast off from the corporado-led system, except for (a) walking on the corporate-state's property, or (b) availing oneself of the fringe institutions such as thrift stores, food banks, and Earth First! groups that provide support during campaigns.

It's quite a challenge to live freely and in freedom.  It requires solidarity if one is not rich, but some money is needed at least on occasion.  For someone living in this Babylon, even a mellow rural part of the U.S. where a peace sentiment prevails, there are ties that bind in harmful ways.  One needs a room that he or she can call one's own, but to have it securely without a huge outlay of cash may mean not being able to leave for long until one would come back to it.  The presence of family or a commune helps provide security and continuity.  By contrast, the corporado has a relationship with someone else based more on money, and the home is not ancestral much anymore in modern society.  The corporados' and workers' security may be in hand, apparently, but can't be easily held for one who could somehow get an extremely rare sabbatical and go off to live in a very foreign land for a half year.

It is an illusion that security is achieved for the corporado and the rich when it is material-based: the economy is false, as it is more and more reliant on consumer spending.

The affluence of American Life (i.e., rich U.S. citizens) is dependent on sucking the life out of the soil, depleting the water, fouling the air, and changing the climate.  Foreigners far away and immigrants in the U.S. are exploited for the consumer fantasies of the unconscious corporados and wannabes.

Leading any life that includes frequent motoring and using a computer is not the opposite of the corporate life.  The Nazi who revved up his motorcar to serve the Reich and do personal errands made no more pollution of the air and water than the similarly dutiful and self-centered executive/worker of today who — more knowingly — distorts our climate and adds to noise pollution.

A different kind of life is one that no longer serves the corporate state nor puts up with it in one's daily environment.  This can take the form of stopping thoughtless motorists from idling their noisy machines when someone is trying to sleep.  The solution can be to leave the "neighborhood" altogether to reside where it is clean and quiet — without a car and other polluting technology.  Good luck if you try this during pre-collapse in civilized (occupied) areas.

Cultural revolutionaries are on the loose and making things happen.  They provide occasional novelty for the nightly TV news.  They may not succeed in depaving the middle portion of your street for nut trees and berry bushes — leaving bike/walking paths in front of each row of residences that lead to renewable-energy powered trolleys.  But the residents themselves may all too quickly wish to bring such changes about when oil virtually runs out.  As the imminent peak of oil extraction starts to choke off the extremities and limbs of the corporate entity/dominant society, the heretofore unfree masses will at first be at a loss to provide for themselves.  It's probably going to be an ugly scene as strife is pushed to the limit as most petroleum-dependent people will not survive.  

Meanwhile, the freedom-loving, independent segment of the population should be tapped for its knowledge of sustainability before the curtain of delusion comes crashing down.


- Pravda (Moscow) printed the above Culture Change Letter in Spanish: Corporado's culture.
- Read related articles: Shattering illusionsTragedy of money relations and the alternativeWhy money and materialism aren't the answerCivilization's weakness evident in family trends  
- A new Gandhian movement is explored in the previous Culture Change Letter, #42
- The next one is on water privatization.
- check out the Fall of Petroleum Civilization

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Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing:


Articles of interest:
Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results.  WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California . Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)



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