Upon reading about the Supreme Court’s decision to reject a corporate spending limit for political advertising, I couldn’t help but think about the movie The Corporation.

The Corporation is an editorializing documentary whose premise is that the modern corporation—given many of the same rights in the U.S. as an individual citizen—has the textbook behavioral markers of Antisocial Personality Disorder.

In other words, if the corporation is an individual under the law, it is, from a psychological perspective, a sociopath.

Manipulative? Check.

Pathological liar? Check.

Remorseless? Yup.


What kinds of politicians do you think a sociopath will support with its near-unlimited advertising budget? I’m gonna hafta say not the same ones I think would be good for, oh, the sustainability of life on earth.

I don’t mean to drive this blog into the Bog of Eternal Stench (politics), but does it feel to anyone else like we’re witnessing (well, some of us are waging, I suppose, but I feel more like a witness) a kind of epic battle to determine the very narrative of what it means to be America these days?

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SHYA SCANLON is the Fiction Reviews Editor for The Nervous Breakdown. Scanlon's work has appeared in the Mississippi Review, Literary Review, New York Quarterly, Guernica Magazine, Opium Magazine, and others. His book of prose poetry, In This Alone Impulse, was published by Noemi Press in January, 2010. In 2009, his novel Forecast was serialized online across 42 journals and literary blogs as part of the Forecast 42 Project. Forecast will be published by Flatmancrooked in December, 2010. He received his MFA from Brown University, where he was awarded the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction. Please visit him at www.shyascanlon.com.

14 responses to “Who Would Hannibal Support?”

  1. Ducky Wilson says:

    You must be sitting at my family’s dinner table. You pick all the hot topics we debate.

    I have a friend who works as a profiler in NY. She told me they did a study comparing CEO’s of major companies, hollywood producers and sociopaths.

    They all three profiled identically.

    My mom lives in a small town where she used to get veggies at the farmer’s market and milk at Braum’s. Walmart came in and basically shut every other grocer/drugstore out of business. As soon as those businesses closed, Walmart raised its prices.

    I have worked both for mom and pop and for the corporation, and I like neither. Prefer to work for myself. I wish everyone could. To me, that’s the American dream.

    Thanks for stirring the pot.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Re: working for yourself.

      That’s what baffles me about the health care debate. I wish the Dems would make the argument that the current health care system is anti-business. How many would-be small business owners and entrepreneurs don’t start up a company because health insurance costs tether them to their day jobs? The system chokes innovation — it kills small business, and it killed General Motors — and is therefore anti-American.

      What pro-business Republican would reject that argument?

    • Shya Scanlon says:

      Dove-tailing this conversation into one below about artists being paid, I’d argue that entrepreneurialism IS the true American art form.

  2. As an outsider, seriously, American politics, especially in this day and age, is fascinating to me. So much more so than my own country’s back-and-forths. And this corporation stuff is news that is only slowly trickling through to us over here.

    One question is, I guess, who would Hannibal of Carthage support?

  3. The fact the Supreme Court just ruled that corporations will soon be able to advertise nationwide during election season is beyond scary. We are already a polarized nation with a growing segment of separatist politics and ideologies–and now defense contractors and health insurance companies, etc. will be allowed to pour millions into television and radio ads? That is bothersome. I never thought I’d prefer lobbyists.

    • Shya Scanlon says:

      Yep. Not to mention how this will all play out on a small scale. Huge companies will be able to come in and meddle with local elections. I foresee the election of far fewer mayors who support local business, and far fewer local judges who rule against Walmart in land use litigation.

  4. Don Mitchell says:

    I think it’s a horrible decision.

    I did hear a commentator (on NPR) argue that the corporations might move cautiously, reasoning that if they can’t be sure their target audience is of a single mind on some issue or candidate, that they might not want to risk alienating the others. Maybe.

    I do think that this might draw the corporations out from behind their shadow-masks (you know, “Committee for a Responsible xxxxx” and the like) and force them to say, in effect, “This is us, and we support this candidate. . . .” at which point an informed electorate might work out what’s in it for the corp and act accordingly.

    However, I’m not sure confident about that “informed electorate” part.

    I’m just hunting for a way out of the gloom that I feel about this. These are pretty feeble glimmerings.

  5. Becky says:

    Well, to answer your question, a sociopath would support any politician, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, whose aims and intentions best suit their own or could be manipulated to suit their own.

    Sort of like big pharma siding with the Obama admin on health care in exchange for guarantees that they would remain largely untouched by increased regulation.

    The idea that Republicans are entrenched in corporate interests in a way that Democrats are not is one of the main bits of deluded demagoguery that needs to fall away before people are going to reject the two-party system and all the corruption (corporate and otherwise) it has engendered.

    • Shya Scanlon says:

      Oh I couldn’t agree more. This is way beyond a Democrat v. Republican issue. The interests of big business are exactly that: interests of big business. The bigger the better, and whatever it takes to maintain that equation will be done.

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