Thanks to Dick Overfield for transcript checking
R.K.: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio show WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, New Jersey reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey. Online at iTunes. Look for my name, Rob Kall, K-AL-L or go to opednews.com/podcasts and you can find hundreds of interviews there.
My guest tonight is Joel Bakan. He is a professor at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law. He studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and served as Law Clerk in 1985 for Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada. He wrote the book and created the movie, The Corporation:The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, one of the most successful documentaries ever produced. The most successful one ever produced in Canada. And more recently he is the author of, Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children. Welcome to the show.
J.B.: Thanks for having me on, Rob.
R.K.: It's a pleasure. You have done such an important work. I know it's been years ago, but can you" the book and "The Corporation" movie, it seems that both the books you've done and the movie are very related. Can you describe the message of both of them, briefly and we can jump into some newer stuff?
J.B.: Well, I suppose the message is that we have created an institution that is, if you were to analogize it to a human being, would be psychopathic in terms of its character and then we've given it increasing amounts of power to the point where arguably it now plays a substantial role in governing society and in governing those who allegedly govern us.
So, it's really an attempt to reveal that; to challenge notions that corporations are benevolent or socially responsible at their core and to just suggest that we the people need to reestablish, or establish control of these institutions so that they can't sort of willy-nilly trod upon public goods.
R.K.: And how about your newer book, Childhood Under Siege?
J.B.: Well, I suppose, related to what I just said, the one public good that's quite important is that of childhood and that of the well being and health of our children. And in "The Corporation" I look at that albeit as sort of a one part of one chapter. And as I was writing, The Corporation, I was also-I have a couple of young kids- and I started to become really interested in that and I thought as I was doing, The Corportation, this is something I want to return to and do a fuller treatment of. So I wrote this last book which basically is a vastly expanded look at that issue of what happens when we let this psychopathic institution loose on those who are most vulnerable among us, namely our children.
I look at the issues that are important these days, marketing to kids, pharmaceuticals, the pharmaceutical industry and how it targets kids, the unique vulnerabilities of kids to environmental toxins, the corporatization of our school system, the re-emergence of child labor in the United States and in Canada. So those are sort of the range of issues I look at.
R.K.: Okay. So you did the movie, "The Corporation," ten years ago. Actually longer, it actually came out I think in 2003. What have you learned since then and how is your thinking changed? Do you see things as better or worse?
J.B.: I have learned the project was a massive failure if measured from the perspective of trying to change the course that we sort of identified our society was on because our society has continued on that course and I think things have in many ways become worse. I mean, if worse is defined by corporations having a more substantial role in governing society then things have become worse because they do.
And they do in part because of the successful ideological move that the corporate sector and industry have made which is to convince, I think, a broad swath of public thinking, and certainly thinking among governments, that corporations are, in fact, benevolent. So, the central message of our film about the institutional character of corporations seems not to have much of an impact, at least on the broader society.
At the same time, and I am forever an optimist, I understand your show is based on an optimistic premise that our society is becoming more bottom up and at the same time I do remain optimistic that people, both individually and collectively, eventually can see through the ideological charades that are put before them. I think the Occupy movement was a great example of that.
I think a smaller movement here and there and increasing dissatisfaction with the way things are on main streets and small cities" I mean we are seeing indications in many different places and many different ways that the corporate agenda is starting to be seen for what it is and that people are starting to believe they need to do something about it. That is because I think it's related to some of what has happened since "The Corporation" film and book. There is a wide-spread view among economic and political elites that capitalism has triumphed and that we're at the end of history. That this is" we've tried socialism, we've tried all these other things, but now we have finally reached the system that is going to be with us for all time.