Life Inc

Life Inc

How the World Became A Corporation and How to Take It Back

Book - 2009
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Random House, Inc.
This didn’t just happen.

In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed, as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that they’re no longer even aware of it.

This fascinating journey, from the late Middle Ages to today, reveals the roots of our debacle. From the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of MySpace–the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc. exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business.

Most of all, Life Inc. shows how the current financial crisis is actually an opportunity to reverse this six-hundred-year-old trend and to begin to create, invest, and transact directly rather than outsource all this activity to institutions that exist solely for their own sakes.

Corporatism didn’t evolve naturally. The landscape on which we are living–the operating system on which we are now running our social software–was invented by people, sold to us as a better way of life, supported by myths, and ultimately allowed to develop into a self-sustaining reality. It is a map that has replaced the territory.

Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.

Baker & Taylor
Analyzes the ways in which corporate interests dominate life, citing the impact of branding and marketing on everything from health care to relationships, and makes recommendations for achieving authenticity and disengaging from commercial expectations.

& Taylor

Analyzes the ways in which the author believes that corporate interests dominate life, citing the impact of branding and marketing on everything from health care to relationships, in a report that makes recommendations for achieving authenticity and disengaging from commercial expectations.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781400066896
Branch Call Number: 306.0973 Rus
Characteristics: xxv, 274 p. ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Life incorporated


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Jul 04, 2018

Life Inc. offers an important reality-check about the corporatism and "economy" that we take to be natural organisms rather than cultural artifacts constructed from particular events and interests. It ruthlessly pulls apart so many facets of modern life that go unquestioned by most. For anyone who has felt so many frustrations with capitalism and with the direction of society that they have trouble voicing them, Life Inc. might feel like your conscience on a long-winded rant - moving frenetically between subjects for critique that don't seem related yet completely are.

Of course, the downside of the "epic rant" format is that it serves more as a good read than as a sturdy tome to use in the construction of an alternative way of living. While most of what Rushkoff has to say rings true, it is also difficult to reference him as an expert on history or economics, especially when his sources are mostly just references to news articles supporting the validity of events he mentions. More importantly, an opportunity to inspire change is missed as the book rushes through the tail end where alternatives and positive examples are demonstrated. The author laments the cynicism that stops anyone who knows there's something wrong with society from actually doing anything about it, yet the book is mostly a pile of cynicism with a terribly under-explored ending of optimism.

Altogether, this is an ESSENTIAL read for everyone who wants to cut through the song and dance of "business" and "economics" to get a different perspective on the structure of our world today. It leaves plenty of room for more solid academia and more productive texts to follow, but it remains a great introduction - or if nothing else a satisfying verbalization of so many things that go unsaid all too often.

Feb 10, 2015

This is a great book for challenging how our Western "developed" economies work and function and the roles that corporations play in every facet of our daily lives. There's not a whole lot of "how to take it back" in this book though. Reading this didn't make me think materialism or corporatism are the Devil, but I think it's good to get perspectives that challenge the conventions of our system and am now ever so slightly more mindful about important topics such as community and participating in society in such a way as to make things better for everyone.

Jan 31, 2014

Do not read this book! Instead, go out and invest in/buy stocks of, drone manufacturing companies, Monsanto and the organ harvesting industry! Just being sarcastic - - although Michael Perelman's "The Invention of Capitalism" is still my favorite in explaining this, Mr. Rushkoff's book is also quite good! How many people really understand what World War I was about (a battle between the bankers and the royalists over control of money creation)? Or that the longest continuing, and oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere is the City of London Corporation, which essentially bought out the British Royal Family in the early 1700s by leasing to them, in perpetuity (as in forever), at rockbottom cheap - - and frozen - - 1700s' prices, the choicest real estate in London and surrounding England? Few, I'll wager. . .(The upper echelon royals are those who in turn lease out the leased lands at exorbitant prices [shillings on the thousands of pounds] and the lower echelon royals, such as Princess Di's family, are the rent collectors.)

understandinglife Oct 01, 2011

I learned a lot about the world we in live and how it was shaped by corporations. I also found the anecdote that the author presented in the beginning of the book telling of the times because it illustrated the kind of mindset people have under this corporate system.

Mar 11, 2011

Passionate, intelligent and well researched. Unlike the Value if Nothing, it actually made the system of valuation seem absurd momentarily. I thought I can live a happier life outside the bounds of money. That is until I kinda got bored at the end and needed a Starbucks, and I was informed that they only take cash, credit, debit or gift cards.

Dec 23, 2010

An excellent book on how corporatism infests many spheres of modern life. The chief direction the author suggests activists may wish to pursue is towards local currency's.
Rushkoff intelligently points out that huge volumes of "virtual capital" effectively destroys real, created value and can often be deployed at cross purposes; where one subsidiary of a conglomerate profits from the externalities generated by another.
Though the book feels rushed and somewhat less persuasively argued in the final few chapters, the authors call to action generally rests on sound, well rounded arguments.

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