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Gentlemen's Honor (or How to Avoid Responsibility)

By       Message Vi Ransel     Permalink
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"Gentlemen"
hold honor in contempt,
a pitiful vestige of oblige, noblesse
except when it can be used
as cover inducing others
to subscribe as "gentlemen" hide
from its obligations
(That's why they invented corporations.)

paying other men
not only to protect them from being done to
as they have done to their brothers,
but to advance a dishonorable agenda,
their insatiable lust for naked profit

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and to mask the carrion stench
of their violent, rutting plunder
which relieves them of even the need to feed themselves
by appropriating the value of the labor of others.

Queen Elizabeth the First
created the East India Company,
the original transnational corporation,
which found India bountiful,
raped its resources and its people,
leaving them poor and abjectly subjugated.

This corporate structure separated,
for the first time in history,
the owners of an enterprise
from the actions taken by their companies
which was necessary for British exploitation
of its colonies both legally and morally

because Christianity considered
rape, murder and plunder as sin
and investors didn't want to be condemned
 - or sued -
for their blatant indulgence in them.

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So the legal fiction called a corporation
let owner-investors deny responsibility
for unethical and/or illegal actions undertaken
by "the corporation"
to pump up the enterprise's profitability

in spite of the fact that such despicable acts
were undertaken precisely to profit them
which is, after all, the principle purpose
of forming a corporation to begin with.

Human shields called managers/CEOs,
provided they stay "within the law",
have no responsibilities other than
to make as much money as possible

for stockholders, who are not kindly inclined
toward workers, communities or the environment,
which they demonstrate daily by detaching
their morality
from these acts' predictable consequences.

Picture, if you will, a corporation
making a chemical poison for profit
and being shocked to find people poisoned 
by their intentionally-created poisonous products.

Many of these poisons date from World War One,
developed as organophosphate chemical weapons.
And the express purpose of their original development
was a more efficient way to kill large numbers of humans.

And when the end of the war put an end
to murder as a method for profit,
corporations began to sell these WMDs
to kill bugs and weeds on agricultural products.

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(e.g. food)

Pesticides.  Herbicides.  Oil-based fertilizers.  DDT.
Phthalates.  Dioxin.  Asbestos.  BPA and PCBs. 
Pumped into vegetables, fruit and the meat that we eat.
They permeate the water table, even the air that we breathe.

But corporate investors didn't intend,
really, to commit global genocide.
Oh, no.  After all, it's just business,
and only a few million people have died.
 
Corporations spend billions of dollars each year
to make sure we'll buy what they're selling
and swear that these products aren't dangerous 
and they're shocked, shocked, I tell you

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Vi's works appear widely both in print and online. She conducts Poetry Workshops and gives readings in Central New York. Her latest chapbook is "Sine Qua Non Antiques (an Arcanum of History, Geography and Treachery).

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