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The Belittle Big Bodies Banzai: A Year-End OWS Salute and Immune Key to 2012

(Photo: Michael Kappel / Flickr)

Yes, Virginia, there really are silver bullets and here's a sterling one for you.

After a lifetime clashing with monstrous corporate bodies in the US, India and Japan, I hobble into the Occupation arena with a grateful hallelujah and some wild reconnaissance.

The hallelujah is a chorus, by the way.

It also arises from countless other US expatriates who have long lived abroad and prayed for signs of a Yankee spring, i.e. any American uprising against the rampant, corporate coup that's beggared the nation at home and scarred its honor overseas.

As for the recon, life in Asia teaches you to see the world as an interplay of living systems – ancient, healthy ones like tribes, wetlands and mammal bodies, and newly emerging malignant ones like megacorporations. It also suggests we're not simply facing a random series of fiscal, social or environmental crises, but a human/megacorps endgame battle for future of the earth.

Like the sorcerer's apprentice, we have conjured up an army of intended servant beings that have grown colossal, escaped our control and now overrun the planet. Indigenous leaders have begun calling big multinationals bodies an “alien invasive species” that menace their cultures and homelands more than any threat they've faced before.

In this view, Big Banks, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Agrobiz, Big “Defense” et gargantuan cetera are all variations of an emergent new life form – sensually/spiritually/morally blind superorganisms that are alive, in charge and out of control. These Big Bodies' sickening effects on our lands and lives are everywhere apparent, but the good news is that they are a monocultured mutation and remedies that incapacitate some may help to cure them all.

Regarding the Occupation itself, living systems theory sees its campsites as the inflamed lymph glands of a stricken body politic where immuno-activists swarm with urgent energy, preparing to mount a defense. Though managing occupation sites take enormous effort, they are important not as settlements, but as emergency rallying points where activists can strategize their remedial response.

The immune cell/activist analogy is not just a clever metaphor. Consider the striking parallels: both immunocytes and activists are always a tiny minority in their respective bodies; both rush toward signs of trouble instead of sanely scuttling away; and both include highly autonomous members with diverse skills cooperating for the greater good. Neither are guided by orders or commands, but by a shared sense of mission and intelligence regarding the threat they face.

Like our own lymph glands or immune cell nurseries, the occupation camps solicit vital knowledge and history. Besides the rising generation, grizzled veterans of earlier wars are welcomed to talk to youth and share their lore. They report on the greatest foes they have faced, what their weapons and weak spots are and how new recruits might best arrest their harms.

If the recon transmitted is exact and complete, the next generation of activists (or immunocytes) has a decent chance to prevail. If it's not, they move out half blind, poorly armed and doomed to needless peril.

With that fateful distinction in mind, I respectfully offer occupation world the following recon dump, a brief wrap-up of all I've learned from three decades of anti-megacorps war. It portrays big corporate bodies as actual tumors, our greatest evolutionary bane and the root cause of most earthly ills. It also suggests that 90 percent of the single issue harms we face could all be alleviated at once by melting Big Bodies back to human scale. And, finally, it offers a variety of ways to achieve just that and the rise of a post-corporate world.

All this immunological talk may sound unintelligibly odd to many, but I hope some of you share the same intuitions and can appreciate the solutions it prescribes. I sincerely believe it offers us a real silver bullet for all the symptoms noted below and many more you can probably add.

Big Body Diagnostics: Why Bigness Is Baleful (or Why the Fortune 2,000 Quite Literally Sucks)

Big Bodies Are Toxic to Democracy and Political Health

Created to function as literal tyrannies, corporations` are anti-democratic by design and the tech and policies they promote focus rather than disperse power endangering peace, health and human rights.

Big Bodies Devastate the Biosphere

Grotesquely engorged with plundered resources, public assets and/or third-world sweat, their cancerous growth drives mass extinctions, global toxicity and catastrophic climate change.

Big Bodies Stupefy Public Discourse

Besides flooding our societal nervous systems with propaganda, ads and trivia, they censor or distort any voices that speak out against their power or contest their right to dominance.

Big Bodies Kill Jobs, Sustainable Economies and Convivial Employment

Sociopathically prioritizing their own growth over all other human values, they destroy or export far more jobs than they create, trash communities, demean workers and deny them basic rights.

Big Bodies Stifle Human Progress

They wield corporatist influence to strangle competition, cripple markets, dissolve safeguards and attack any innovations that decentralize power or threaten their own growth.

Big Bodies Juvenilize Their Own

Using stress and chronic suction on members' attentional energies, megacorps repress their underlings' political/sensual hormones and suppress their longing for individuation, autonomy and adulthood.

Immuno-Activist Prognostics

Knowledge of what we're up against is empowering, but it's only a start. We also need a clear vision of what winning would mean to guide our strategies. We, therefore, propose a few mental exercises to clarify our goal lines and illuminate the field of play. See if any speak to you.

  • Envision human society as a work in progress that has largely rejected the yokes of theocracy, monarchy and imperial tyranny and now is preparing to overthrow corporate rule.
  • Envision an America where 99 percent actually constitutes a ruling majority with the sovereign right to protect its kids, communities and the natural surround from noxious corporate life.
  • Envision a world where corporations are too small, localized and democratized to systemically disrupt our communities, hijack our media, usurp political power or pillage the world.
  • Envision a ten-year timeframe to shrink all Big Bodies down to eco-friendly human scale (1,000 folks/$5 billion revenue max) and democratize their boards with potent stakeholder reps.
  • Envision corporate bodies chartered to be transparent, subserve the public good and divide in half like bee swarms when they reach too large a size.
  • Envision how many global activist campaigns would benefit from miniaturized corporate might.
  • Envision localized workplaces without steep hierarchies or profit-blinded callousness to people and land.
  • Envision freeing the market's invisible hand from the jaws of Big cartels and corporatist scams.
  • Envision a global uprush of awakening humans, who renounce competitive consumption as a yardstick of stature and cultivate their own inner gifts and communities instead.
  • Envision any other single occupation demand that would have more enduring impact on our lives, evolution and governance than swiftly and systematically belittling Big Bodies everywhere.

Therapeutic Prescriptions

If you accept this premise that giant corporate bodies are now the biggest threat to planetary peace, health and democracy, we face a formidable challenge, but a greatly clarified task. To radically downsize them over the next ten years, evict them from power and melt them back to healthy scale will require concerted action of many kinds as well as many types of talents. This is exactly how our immune systems dissolve many tumors and they have a lot to teach us now.

Like the occupation movement, one of the most attractive features of immune defenses is that they run quite effectively without formal leaders or hierarchies. Once the dendritic cells, the investigative journalists of the immune world, identify and publicize a threat, many other types of immune cells rally to subdue it using many different skills. The biological success of this model implies, of course. that activists don't need hierarchies either and that our fractious egalitarian diversity (which often bedevils occupation site politics) may be our greatest long-term strength. Consider the range of talents we could marshal against malignant corporate growth.

Diverse Paths to Big Body Deliquescence

  • Academic – researching living system pathologies; corporate/human competitive evolution; and the fastest, safest, most creative ways to shrink Big Bodies down.
  • Artistic – exposing the addictive delusions of the Big Body matrix, illustrating its harms and vulnerabilities and reconnecting folks to the grounding energies of their bodies and the earth.
  • Direct Action – resisting Big Bodies' expropriations, depredations and eco-social crimes.
  • Educational – liberating empty evening schoolrooms across the nation for students and citizens to jointly study and co-create post-corporate remedies for local, regional and global ills.
  • Electoral – strengthening anti-Big activists with public office and policy-making power.
  • Familial – supporting local farms, firms and organizations that create sustainable livelihoods; nurture convivial communities; and respect the environment.
  • Financial – shifting savings and capital away from Big Body accounts to credit unions, small businesses and community-strengthening investments.
  • Journalistic – focusing public attention on the systemic harms of Big Body hegemony and the countless ways they collude to extort our wealth, obstruct our growth and rape the earth.
  • Legal – challenging corporate supremacy at every level of governance and repudiating their right to subvert our democratic rights or dictate any rules.
  • Legislative – reconfiguring corporate DNA by rewriting their charters to delimit their size, powers and opacity and only conferring limited liability on those with multi-stakeholder boards.
  • Pedagogical – helping schools at all levels organize classes around real-world crises and harnessing youth's imagination and intelligence to solve real problems, not just pass tests.
  • Scientific – developing more open-source solutions to critical eco-social problems and new democracy-enhancing technologies that redistribute power and decentralize control.
  • Spiritual – channeling attention inward and initiating collective experiences of our ancient interdependence, latent powers and sacred unity with the living world.
  • Tricksteresque – monkey wrenching; Rev. Billy/Yes-Man-impersonating; WikiLeaking and otherwise creatively disrupting corporate assaults on the poor, the peace and the planet.

So, in summary, we offer a modest but inclusive proposal for all Occupationistas and other immuno-activists: Don't eat the rich, just belittle their tumorous bulk, doing whatever it takes. It will radically diminish their powers, harms and deadening distance from our world as well as empowering activists everywhere.

A Tea Party Postscript: Acknowledging Big Government Concerns

Agreed the government is also way too big and exorbitant, but most of its bloated regulatory organs were once devised to protect us from the sins, crimes and toxicity of unchecked corporate power. Now, largely captured by their regulatees, these countless “public” bodies shamelessly abet corporate takings and have also ballooned in scale. Similarly, our obscenely distended “Defense” Department has virtually merged with vast industry bodies whose health and survival depends on endless fear and wars. Since thousands of retiring Pentagon officials parachute into these bodies now, many are logically happy to ensure a steady supply of both.

Some analysts trace our government's swollen state to infection with malignant corporate memes that elevate autocratic control and endless growth over any other human good. As government swells in size, it also grows more opaque and unaccountable. Something's obviously gone terribly wrong when the sovereign people's activities are all buck naked to their public servants' surveillance, but the actions of the servants themselves are shrouded in state secrecy.

Big Government apologists reply that our industrial life-support systems are now so complex and vulnerable that we face perils everywhere and must constantly sacrifice freedoms to preserve our way of life. The sane retort is clear. If bigness breeds complexity so fragile it is threatened by personal rights, we must choose between hugeness and liberty and make that choice damn fast.

It's not like there aren't alternatives. Stakeholder directors could internalize regulatory oversight directly into corporate boards and allow us to shrink scores of “supervisory” agencies. The Swiss approach to national defense largely shuns War, Inc. bureaucracies. Instead it arms and trains all citizens as marksman guerrillas to secure the homeland on their own. Similarly decriminalizing victimless crimes would empty half our prisons, courts and oversized law enforcement bodies. Ending lavish taxpayer subsidies to big agrobiz, nuclear and fossil fuel bodies would ease the deficit, decentralize our food and energy systems and create millions of new jobs. Etcetera, etcetera.

So, yes, governmental bloat is a huge concern, but we can cure it far more effectively once we've dwarfed Big Bodies, expelled them from our capitals and reclaimed our sovereign power. It will take new laws and legislators to seriously shrivel government and we, the people, just don't have enough political clout to make that happen soon. Shrinking megacorps, however, is something we can all begin right now with a wide array of tools. It's us against them, my friends, the bipeds vs. the Big. The global endgame is on and no one will ever be safe again until we melt these monsters down.

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