It may be a while since its release in 2004, but this is one of the best educational documentaries ever made. The film has an outstanding web site with a wealth of resources http://www.thecorporation.com/ and is based on the book The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan.
One of the main strengths of the film is the interviews with numerous corporate insiders and leading members of the anti-capitalist movement such as Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky
This documentary effectively documents the huge social and environmental harms done by corporations in the pursuit of profit. By extension you could also see the film as a critique of the neo-liberal policies which gave these corporations the freedom to do these harms and of the whole capitalist system which is based around the competitive accumulation of capital.
Social and Environmental harms done by Corporations
These are just some of the harms that Corporations are responsible for with occasional links and examples
1. Exploitation of people in sweat shops – Nike in numerous countries http://www.nosweat.org.uk/
2. Doing Environmental harm to keep costs down (externalities) Shell in Nigeria/ BP in the USA/ Union Carbide and Bhopal – http://www.bhopal.org/
3. Profiting from the poor through the privatization of things such as water – Bechtel in Bolivia http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoID=2015806822
4. Profiting from selling goods that are harmful to people and the environment – Monsanto
5. Profiting from war and fear – Halliburton in Iraq/ Coke in Bolivia – see relevant chapter in Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, also see http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine
6. Working with oppressive regimes in order to make a profit – Coke and the Nazis, Bechtel in Bolivia
7. Manipulating children to buy products they don’t need – McDonalds and Coke
8. Co modifying everything – Corporations try to own everything – some are patenting genes, and some have tried to ‘own water’ – critics say that there should be some things that are not for sale!
Excerpt from the web site
To assess the “personality” of the corporate “person,” a checklist is employed, using diagnostic criteria of the World Health Organization and the standard diagnostic tool of psychiatrists and psychologists. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social “personality”:
- It is self-interested,
- inherently amoral, callous and deceitful;
- It breaches social and legal standards to get its way;
- It does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.
Concluding this point-by-point analysis, a disturbing diagnosis is delivered: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a “psychopath.”
Interestingly, despite the huge amount of evidence that Corporations can be monstrous, there is recognition that the individuals within the Corporations may be the nicest people you ever meet, and the documentary concludes that what makes Corporations so bad is the competitive economic system in which they have to survive – Corporations, in other words, are seen as products of the Capitalist system.
The film is very easy to watch over a number of days because of its clear breakdown into a number of distinct chapters.