Short Story: Great Harmony, Great Harm

The question that comes up most often is, “what did the corps want with all that power?”

Firstly, they didn’t want anything. This misunderstanding was partly their own fault and design; an effect of juvenile and prematurely formed P-R departments. Sub-entities incapable of seeing the larger one they were part of, its emergent sentience.

But then, if they’d seen that, they’d never have fallen. So, would the same problems have existed anyhow? Likely not.

While the corporations didn’t survive the fall, their seed remains scattered.

Incorporation was an idea never existent before its take-over. Many things had tried to reach for it, notably religion, but like the world that came after them, corporations were an evolution of those first-reachers. Rather than being copies or counterparts, they were an intermediate form of one of Humanity’s collective, special endeavors.

Like the Moon Landing and the Space-Age,Corporations were merely taxonomic delineations of Human transitions. This one, post-human; postdigital. Not because humans or digital things no longer existed, but because they would now always exist.

Such transitions were the evolution of Human society. Pre-corp history was ancient, no matter how recent. Simply because it was history without technology, its principles and ideals, its ubiquity.

A culture, or entity, unable to cope with its environment, dies.This is the basis of all theories of adaptation and evolution.Corporations took over by riding that evolutionary wave and thinking they could control it.

Really, they were deluded opportunists.

That was the Corps’ greatest mistake. Even to the end, they didn’t realize what they were. Even less, the damage they were doing to the order of things with their refusals to evolve or die.

Irony is, corporations evolved from a place of need. Like that of government and law, their niche was theirs and theirs alone, could never be met otherwise. They could forever be lords of their lands without care or worry for the world outside.

But only in their lands. Nowhere else.

Obviously, that didn’t last. Internal competition brought out teeth. Corps gored one another’s throats, spilling blood-money into their water and wine and making them thirsty for more. It wasn’t long before Corps were rabidly dividing the land, conniving and double-dealing for anything, everything.

A panic-scramble for ground spilled to the rest of the world as simple panic. Corporations had become either too big or too small. There was no middle ground. Some collapsed. Others became scavengers, cannibalizing their fallen brethren for survival.

The latter lasted.

Trying to fill every niche at once, and mostly failing, revealed the true systemic corruption within them; greed. In such a volume as to rival that of original sin. Humans had been greed-mad, yes, but postdigital humans were capable of such immense effect, affect– their corporations moreso– that each was capable of total effect in their own fields, contexts.

In other words, a single human could have the power of many– and vice versa, and thus each human could now alter the course of human history if they so desired. The only unknown was scale. Corporations made any scale possible.

They were prosperity and security beyond competition, or survival, or even primal need-fulfillment.

Corporations had resources on every level; in astounding numbers. They could build, test, and perfect ideas in fractions of normal time. They could perfect rockets to Mars before government papers were even seen. What else could be expected of elderly systems and organizations based on pre-digital-age mentalities.

Like Humans, Corporations were multi-cellular organisms. They simply weren’t sentient. Yet.

They were one creature, formed of groups of smaller ones, working together to ensure the whole acted in protection of itself. Governments, like corporations after them, operated this way. Their methods of action were justice, law, order. Corporations knew, and indeed cared only for, money.

If corporations had been satisfied with their place or their guiding Humans not so foolish, they’d have laid claim wherever money could be found and settled in for eternity. Ultimately, it was their playground. Wherever, however, so long as it was money, Corporations could handle it.

But the didn’t. Instead, they began to diversify into politics, security, law; places they had no business in but their money could buy just as well as anywhere else.

If things had gone any differently, they would have remained benign enough to coexist with the postdigital world.It was their aggressive manifestation of greed, impotent outside their own deserved grievances, that condemned them.

The possibility of niche breakout was the corporations’ first exit to evolution, however self-guided. Rather than approach it like sentient, self-aware organisms, they tore past, swallowing what they could and smiting the rest. The individual organisms therein, rather than recall the whole’s greater priority, aimed purely for personal gain.

Nothing unusual, but the way they did it was the problem.

These cells saw the inherent flexibility in their system, their environment; that any cell could take over any work. Then began to strive for the top, for purely monetary gain. That interchangeability of components was an idea formed first in mass production.

To corporations though, it was the people running and maintaining the system– its employees, that were the interchangeable parts.

In the end, all that mattered for a corporation was that its parts ran. After all, that was how the money was made, the resources stockpiled. Even the engine through which the money was made was interchangeable. Its context, through-put, was part of the immense robustness of the system as well, because it was really a framework.

As a chassis is the frame work for a car, any car, a Corporation could do anything. Not because it wanted to, but because it was designed to, engineered to. Corporations were the culmination of millennia of social organization, collapse, and restructuring of society through unguided chaos.

Like those ramshackle, sheet metal systems of law, government, you-name-it, they were meant for easier repair after falling down in the storm. Their parts were only ever phased-out. Not replaced. Above all, they were never meant to weather the storm.

Storms were part of the environment. Humans had grown to recognize that now. Thus, it required preparation and collective strength, will, resources. Re-enter Corps, their greed, until their very purpose was so corrupted nothing of them could be allowed to remain.

Perhaps, if left to time to evolve, become re-prioritized, and adaptedto a new purpose fitting its structure they could have functioned again. In effect; the same garment, different label effect of copy-paste, inherit and sale Corps themselves pioneered.

However, while most corp-people, or cells, recognized this as the point conscious or not, corp loyalty did exist, could be used. Tribal mentality could still wholly manipulate people. It was an effective means of re-orienting, but it was not to be used lightly.

Even before Corporations took that precious grounding-rod of control from the people, their chances of survival were shrinking, as a result of Corp mistakes. History had shown only a small, conscious fraction was needed to corrupt the whole, and gut-instinct alerted humanity it was happening then.

Namely, through mediumof personal greed. Chiefly, by those aforementioned level-jumpers.

In effect a small group had, and were, utterly corrupting the very fabric of Human living simply by trying to corrupt their own, conceptual reality. One was a byproduct of the other, certainly, but neither were acceptable or health for the system, those affected by it.

Theft of concepts was nothing knew. It had long been happening: since the thefts of pagan culture and beyond. The corruption was never whole. Never glaring. It was by degrees. Parasites putting themselves near their host-brain to control its actions.

In other words, their meaningless titles came to mean more than they were willing to accept for the required ratios of risk/worth, win/loss, 0 or 1. Instead of bowing out, they put the weight and squeeze on the rest of the system for their mistakes. This was untenable.

The first Japanese corporations understood this reality. Their culture so perfectly fitted the corporate way, it was a wonder they weren’t its inventors. While that honor remained the West’s, the Japanese were the first and foremost to embrace it.

And why not? The Japanese do-or-do-not absolutism more or less defined corporate existence. It was the manifestation of Eastern culture. Its duality of yin and yang.

Following the aftermath of World War II, and the inherent, flexible modularity of the corporation, it was no wonder the Japanese clung to it– it was hand-tailored to their mental-build on mass-production scales. Ones they’d never seen before because no-one had, but that they needed because of post-war Japan’s desperation.

Any extraneous, cultural details lost in the fitting of one system (society) to other were the eventual consequences of change and prosperity. Necessary sacrifices. Accepted as the price of adaptation and survival. Just as Japanese surrender was a consequence of fighting and losing.

The need to rebuild following retaliation was cause and effect; a system. One fitting perfectly to a rigid, logical culture built from inherently identical, core principles. Though devoid of emotion, it spoke to these humans’ psyche using the same, fundamental methods as learning not to touch fire. It simply did so through the medium of technology.

Technology’s inherent modularity, its reliance on systems therein, simplified all systems to the fewest components necessary to function. It was required for achieving maximum effect and permeability, as per its more or less intended design; ubiquity.

In a changing society increasingly composed of ones and zeroes, and comprehending the scale of their task, the Japanese saw the simplicity of corporations’ dominance as manifestation of not just everything natural, but also logical.That dominance, simplified, was Input=Output.

Likewise, its Yin came of age as digital in all but culture and maturity. Eventually the harbinger of war, it was then too late for any amends. The Yang was long corrupted by greed. Western first, true, but greed.

The difference between Japanese corporate (Zaibatsu) culture and Corporate culture, was the first encompassing the second as a means of functioning. They were separate entities, but no less layered atop one another. Corporate culture was a thing unto itself, designed to appear similar, but too closed and small a system for any of structural redundancies.

The second existed to mimic the first and line its constituent parts’ pockets, so far as they believed. Really, the first was required because of instability in their particular environment; finance.

Japanese culture functioned well with Corporations. So-called Zaibatsus required willingness to accept responsibility, but Vietnam showed western culture vehement feared responsibility. More than that, they’d found they could live without it, however uncomfortably.

Japan’s utter lack of counter-culture during the Western excess of the last half of the 20th century was evidence of a major, social reformation in thought. The entirety of Japan’s culture had been shamed for generations to come for opportunistic greed. At some level, all of them knew that.

None would defy it for generations.

Zaibatsus doubly ensured Corps came to form with the manifestations of Asian, cultural history. Japanese ones in particular were evident in their design and structure. Who better to care for structural redundancy than those so recently and personally reminded of its dire importance?

Japanese cultural evolution was no-one else’s. Not then. And when the time did finally come to emulate it, the message was lost in translation. It came encrypted in silly game shows and absurdist humor; Sensible Chuckles of the post-modern post-war world echoing outward.

In the end, Japan was fertile ground for the Corporations; its people their gentle tenders.The Japanese had wanted it that way. Somehow. Collectively. In time, they helped cultivate it in gratitude for the chance to redeem themselves, however small.

Therein, they cemented their redemption as one of grace and poise despite history. They wished to show how redemption should be done when the sword was no longer an option. Rather than burning the world down, to spite it, as corporations tried too, Zaibatsus attempted prosperity for all involved.

A legacy well worthy of the care provided to it.

Even the loose culture Zaibatsu employees could have been said to form was only such tangentially. The system of culture itself was now modular too, accepting of the full-range of Human effect. Including deep shame, so long as it were aired properly.

Humanity’s dregs of course, took this as a personal challenge, humbling only themselves before the might of time and stone. There, they were eventually forced to rest, for benefit of one and all, themselves through it.

The following admission and correction of mistakes,when made, became the basis of all of life’s continually observed purpose.

Had life not needed observation before, the Japanese might never have seen the benefits it provided. Perhaps, had Zaibatsu Corporatism caught on, corporations would still exist. Perhaps, some day, they will return; evolved and therein immune to greed and people willing to embrace them as the Japanese once did.

So long as the system’s constituent parts remain vulnerable to greed however, it remains removed from civilization’s grasp-at-will tools. A surgeon does not carry a mallet for work of his pay-grade. Thus unneeded tools can be set aside for more viable ones.

Avoiding that mass of potential, its corruption, was the point. Whether aimed toward great harmony or great harm, they could not be allowed. That was the point of the revolution. Not the power the corps had or had not. It was about taking the loaded gun from the child’s hand, keeping it safe until they knew its purpose– and only ever with hope they never need use it.

That was the revolution’s purpose, and the corporation’s downfall; restoring Humanity, its control, to Humans.

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