When Firms Become Persons and Persons Become Firms: outstanding lecture

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There does not appear to be a transcript yet, but if someone finds one, please post here.


I’ll believe corporations are people when one argues before the Supreme Court that it can use religious rationale to screw over other human beings… wait, crap.


The description of the talk uses an awful lot of jargon. ‘political imaginary’ and ‘object of struggle’. As a graduate student in the humanities, i am well versed in this kind of postmodern bloviating, but accessible it is not.


Also “and popular sovereignty grows incoherent.” What the heck does that even mean?

That’s a good question since it means that even the idea of people deciding together about what they want is hard to understand.


Maybe the answer is personal corporatehood. Paying taxes only on what I have as profit at the end of the year, after writing off all cost of living expenses, of course.

I would also not be personally liable for anything, either. If I cause a car accident, I couldn’t owe more than the value of the vehicle, etc.

Then if lobbyists and teams of lawyers finagle more corporate privilege( ‘rights’ ) the government would be treating us all equally.


If everyone was a corporation they would also need to track all of our profits to claim economic growth. The list could go on and on, this is half in jest but maybe it is really the only way forward.

@novium @stinkinbadgers

… uh… :confused:… LMGTFY

Also, you are taking issue with the concept of struggle? Or the object struggled for? What?

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I’ve never heard of “imaginary” used in that way, which was kind of his point- if you have to google it, then it’s not as non-jargony as claimed.

The concept of popular sovereignty isn’t what I had an issue with- I think its meaning is a little more self-evident- it’s what it means to say that it’s “incoherent”. I don’t see that as having a plain meaning that most people would be familiar with. I’m not a poli-sci expert, but I don’t think I’m particularly ignorant either.

Does it mean that the concept of popular sovereignty is mis-understood by the people? Or is rejected by the people? Or just not valued by the people? I’m open to better explanations because I just can’t get any meaning out of what was stated. Whatever its meaning, it could have been stated in plainer language, which is why I was agreeing with novium that the description of it being low on jargon and accessible was inaccurate.

If the author meant that the concept was being rejected or devalued by The People, then yeah, I agree it’s a Bad Thing. But it crossed my mind that maybe he intends coherence in that area to mean consensus or that everyone agrees on everything, which veers a little too close to a “dictatorship of the people” for me to completely get behind.


It’s fun to learn things!


I didn’t need you to google that for me. I’ve spent way too many years of my life in academia. I’ve read all the dead french philosophers and sociologists and cultural theorists mandated by my field of study. But you never addressed my point: those terms are anything but accessible. It’s a deplorable academic habit, one that seems to get worse every year, so that even within the humanities, the languages spoken from department to department are no longer mutually intelligible. But I’ll tell you what it is good for: it’s great at making sure the only people who can take part in the conversation are members of an elite and select group.


You seem to be taking issue with Cory’s representation of the talk as follows:

But the terms that you’ve selected to highlight your criticism are easy to find and the articles on wikipedia are basically summated within the first sentence or two.

If your experience of academia is so fraught with contact with obscure terminology, perhaps you could make a better criticism of the article (and how that supports your larger criticism of academia) than to point out two easily searchable and understandable terms?

With your avowed depth of familiarity, and the way in which your experience of listening to this talk has triggered your existing negative feelings on the matter, no doubt you can be more clear, something which you yourself are calling for.

I commented not on the talk but the summary, and the irony that something would be praised for its accessibility and in the next breath described in jargon and buzzwords.

Any academic term can be looked up. That does not make it accessible. If you struggle with empathy on this point, I can point you to several lectures and wikipedia articles meant to define points of critical theory to the layman that require such specialized knowledge of philosophy that the whole exercise becomes pointless.


You meant to criticise only the description by pointing out that it is representative of your bugbear, ‘post-modern bloviating’?

I do mention the article here so assumed that you were taking issue with the description of the talk and probably, given your comments about accessibility, also with the talk itself.

Have you listened to the talk? Is it the only towards the summation and toward post-modern bloviating that you are directing criticism?

Perhaps you are experiencing some chagrin at having a ‘lmgtfy’ directed at you? You chose two quite transparent terms as examples of obfuscation. My pointing out that the terms you had chosen were readily understandable was supposed to underline my confusion that you had chosen those terms to punctuate your criticism.

My point is that the layman would expect to have to look up some terms given the subject matter. Furthermore Cory quite clearly states that in a full hour there is ‘almost no poli-sci/econ jargon’. ‘Almost’.
It would seem your bugbear has been inflamed by some light internet snark meant only to point out the ease with which such terminology could be understood.

As I said earlier, it’s fun to learn things, your knee-jerk dismissal notwithstanding.

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Domain-specific jargons evolve naturally as there’s a need to refer to specific concepts that the hoi polloi have no idea about and the language understandable to them would be too wordy and impractical for a good enough description without impractical number of ambiguities and inaccuracies.

Hard to discuss electrical heating without Ohm’s law, for example.

It’s even worse when you wander into the wide and obscure land of Mathematics. Random example here.

I can see the objection for humanities, where the return on investment of the effort to understand the concepts and remember the associated words tends to be rather low. Because math, with all its obscurities and oddities, unlike philosophy, actually has useful applications. Physics double so and engineering, marrying both, even more.

If we are specifically talking about obscure, bloviating language used to describe something, then by definition, it is what it is. I just don’t think that the terms chosen for criticism were representative examples of such.

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Even philosophers have mortgages…

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Nietzsche really did himself out of some extra cash then.