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Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Douglas Rushkoff
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2. Juni 2009
This didn’t just happen.

In Life Inc., award-winning writer, documentary filmmaker, and scholar Douglas Rushkoff traces how corporations went from being convenient legal fictions to being the dominant fact of contemporary life. Indeed, as Rushkoff shows, most Americans have so willingly adopted the values of corporations that they’re no longer even aware of it.

This fascinating journey, from the late Middle Ages to today, reveals the roots of our debacle. From the founding of the first chartered monopoly to the branding of the self; from the invention of central currency to the privatization of banking; from the birth of the modern, self-interested individual to his exploitation through the false ideal of the single-family home; from the Victorian Great Exhibition to the solipsism of MySpace–the corporation has infiltrated all aspects of our daily lives. Life Inc. exposes why we see our homes as investments rather than places to live, our 401(k) plans as the ultimate measure of success, and the Internet as just another place to do business.

Most of all, Life Inc. shows how the current financial crisis is actually an opportunity to reverse this six-hundred-year-old trend and to begin to create, invest, and transact directly rather than outsource all this activity to institutions that exist solely for their own sakes.

Corporatism didn’t evolve naturally. The landscape on which we are living–the operating system on which we are now running our social software–was invented by people, sold to us as a better way of life, supported by myths, and ultimately allowed to develop into a self-sustaining reality. It is a map that has replaced the territory.

Rushkoff illuminates both how we’ve become disconnected from our world and how we can reconnect to our towns, to the value we can create, and, mostly, to one another. As the speculative economy collapses under its own weight, Life Inc. shows us how to build a real and human-scaled society to take its place.

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 304 Seiten
  • Verlag: Random House (2. Juni 2009)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 1400066891
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066896
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 24,6 x 16,5 x 2,5 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 457.365 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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"Read this book if you want to understand how the current economic meltdown started 400 years ago, how so much of what you consider to be a natural evolution of daily life was carefully designed to profit a few, and how corporatism has so colonized every part of life that most of us don't even recognize how our lives and fortunes are channeled and manipulated by it. I love that Rushkoff isn't afraid to think big—very big."—Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs

“Ever get the feeling that you're trapped on a hamster wheel of predatory "Corporatism"? An unwitting participant in a system that you didn't sign up for in the first place? What happens when the operating system of this corporate Moloch runs amok? Life Inc is a hopeful, timely call to arms to wrest control of our lives, our sanity and our children's futures back from the corporate agenda. Douglas Rushkoff's best book yet.”—Richard Metzger, author and TV host

“Hand wringing over the state of the global economy? Think again. Douglas Rushkoff explains why this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remember what matters, and to rethink our economic system so it reinforces our human values. A profound and important call to action.”— Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO of O'Reilly Media

"This is a provocative and controversial look at the dark side of corporatist effects on our economy. Douglas Rushkoff explores the various ways, some you may never have considered, that innovation and commerce can be stunted by corporations. Whether or not you agree, you will find this book challenges some of our basic assumptions about how our economy works."—Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

“There are few more important subjects in the West today than the corporatization of public and personal space and few writers as well-suited to the subject as the always insightful and provocative Doug Rushkoff.  A terrific contribution to an urgent debate.”—Naomi Wolf, author of Give Me Liberty


A timely, provocative and urgent look at how our world has become slowly but surely corporatised. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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4.0 von 5 Sternen What can we possibly share with our peers in Life Inc.? 15. Juni 2009
Von Marylene Delbourg-Delphis - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
The book starts with a telling anecdote: the author, Douglas Rushkoff got mugged on Christmas Eve in from of his Brooklyn apartment, and instead of getting sympathy, he was basically urged to shut up by local residents, afraid as they were that the incident would damage the reputation of their neighborhood, i.e. reduce the value of their home. "When faced with a local mugging, the community of Park Slope first thought to protect its brand instead of its people," Rushkoff writes. The anecdote is Rushkoff's starting point to analyze how, since the Renaissance, "the market and its logic have insinuated themselves into every area of our lives." He argues that they mediate every single aspect of our existence, disconnecting us from everything that surrounds us. The book is quite expectedly somewhat controversial -- yet may also be one of the most inspiring recent books for entrepreneurs and innovative marketers.

Chapter after chapter, the author recounts how charters disconnected us from commerce, how by mistaking the map for the territory, we got disconnected from place, how the real estate business disconnected us from home, public relations from one another, consumer empowerment from choice, a unified financial architecture from the meaning of currency, big business from the creation of value - and how many of our attempts to combat corporate power are likely to disconnect us even more. "Brands were invented to substitute for the real connections we had to people, places and values."

The system that we have created for ourselves through a "six-hundred-year-old-business-deal" is a "progress" that translates into a loss. The book reads like an inexorable dispossession of connectedness to people and our environment, and like a sobering appendix to the five ages of man that Hesiod outlined in Works and Days in 700 BC. From one tectonic shift to the other, we have landed ourselves in the Age of Simulacra: "Step by step, place became property, property became a mortgage, and mortgages became derivative instruments;" we depend on brands and ad-agencies for our self-presentation and identity; our "positive thinking" and self-confidence result from intense packaging efforts and "corporate-enabled self-improvement." We can buy Disneyland souvenirs in any shopping mall without ever having been to LA. Spiritual centers, from Esalen to the Omega Institute, are well-oiled businesses, and our speculative economy has deprived us from the ability to perceive the value we create or to even create value. Even the buzz and word-of-mouth is now mediated: "In Apple's earlier days, Macintosh enthusiasts could be counted on to go into CompUSA stores when new products were released and demonstrate their benefits to consumers. But today's brand enthusiasts are paid spokespeople, faking their loyalty for money. It's big economy. New firms such as Buzz Marketing and industry groups like WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association now conduct word-of-mouth campaigns on a scale unimaginable before." So much for our friendly social sites!

The book is phenomenally well documented and provides fantastic insights into some of the roots of the current financial debacle. The way the story is recounted is fascinating -- even if you may have questions about the angle taken by Rushkoff. One can argue that while it may be true that local trade using local currencies did foster more interactions between people and a thriving economy between the eleventh and thirteenth century, and that "real people did the best when prosperity was a bottom-up approach," the idea that the corporatist economy initiated by the Renaissance also initiated a downward spiral that all subsequent innovations only enhanced feels somewhat simplistic at times -- along with the assumption that mankind has somehow strayed from a better stage to a worse one. In the end, the evaluation of what connected/disconnectedness may depend on the frame of reference. Plato/Socrates fought the Sophists's ability to brand anything as a result of their disconnectedness from the essential, the realm of Forms and Ideas.

The book is also an insightful approach to the history of the United States, full of interesting reminders. Mirroring the techniques of the railroad barons of the century before, GM crafted the legislation that made highways federally funded and controlled - and idealized suburbs. Yes, Teddy Roosevelt, fighting corporations, may have been more progressive than FDR when the latter endorsed the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) that changed the perception of mortgages (from a stigma to a plus), but ended up empowering appraisers as they assessed the quality of neighborhoods (and this to the detriment of Jews and blacks). The magic of PRs in the country has a unique ability to reframe or gloss over history. PR artists such as George Creel and Edward Bernays enabled Woodrow Wilson, who had run for reelection in 1916 on the platform that "he kept us out of the war," to persuade everybody "to make the world safe for democracy" a year later. In the same fashion, it's stunning how fast we forgot that IBM sold punch-card tabulators to the Nazis, that GE partnered with Krupp (a German munition firm) and that GM and Ford, which already controlled 70 percent of the German automobile market, retooled their factories to supply Nazis with war vehicles. As I say that, I can only suggest that you read a few foundational books in the history of marketing persuasion (of which many currently successful marketing books are spin derivatives), mentioned by Rushkoff, especially Edward Bernays's Crystallizing Public Opinion, Public Relations or Propaganda. While at it, also read Larry Tye's book, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations. Also consider another classic: Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders or The Status Seekers. Also, Douglas Rushkoff has written several other interesting books. One of them,MEDIA VIRUS - Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture, is the origin of the expression "viral marketing."

The last chapter of the book, "Here and Now," subtitled "The Opportunity to Reconnect," is in fact better than any marketing book, and may give you great ideas of companies that can make a difference. As the author reminds us in the previous chapter, PayPal's original plan was to offer an alternative payment service. True, the business model changed as Paypal activity was perceived as a violation of the banking laws. But you may have other ideas... and it's when they read scouring, abrasive books that entrepreneurs invent new rules -- and eventually might pave the way towards a new economy, or creatively revisit Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. "Like the founders of America, who may have differed on almost everything else but this," notes Rushkoff, "Smith saw economics as characterized by small, scaled, local economies working in interaction with one another."
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Take the red pill... 22. Juli 2009
Von E$ - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
PROS: -Very fast and engaging read. Entertaining and provocative.
-Personally - hit very close to home on many points regarding how we are suckered in to so many corporate schemes on both large and small levels. Especially impactful when discussing how little value we create and how little value we give our own lives, working every day just to survive long enough to work another day.
-Fascinating take on the Dark Ages, Renaissance, and rise of corporatism that came of these periods, and how it relates to our lives now.
-Easy to follow explanations of the cause and effect relationships between corporatism and our lives unraveling.
-On-point analysis of the current state of American society and, most importantly, WHY it is the way it is. Personally I felt like he was expounding upon the exact complaints I've been voicing gradually over the past 10 years, such as: Why don't I know/see/interact with my neighbors? Why can't I walk/bike to all the stores I need to get to? Why don't I know who made my food, or even what state it's from? Are there ANY small businesses left? Why do all the radio stations suck? Do I actually own my home when I own a home? Why does buying a car feel scarier than getting married? Why don't my kids play outside? Why can't I sell my house? Why don't I watch the news anymore? Who has my name and contact information and purchasing history? Why am I so fat? Why do I own so much crap? Why are we always at war? Will I ever be out of debt? If the apocalypse came tomorrow, and I survived, would I be able to support myself for more than a few days? And so forth.

CONS: -At times I worry about the generalized and simplified chains of cause/effect that are spelled out when summarizing the past 600 years or so, especially in areas that run counter to traditional history education. My hope is that the explanations are not always weighed down in excessive detailed analysis due to the relative shortness of the book and the bigger point that is being made. I would trust that his numerous sources cited would back of many of the bolder claims he makes. As a teacher I have no problem doubting that the textbooks have taught us anything close to the truth anyway.
-Solutions? While I felt appropriately cynical, angry, and disgusted by our current state of the world, as well as relieved that I'm not alone in feeling disconnected from reality and other people, I also am eager to know how to change things. After all, the subtitle does include "and How to Take It Back." After 200+ pages of hearing how this Matrix was created, I was a little disappointed to read only a very small handful of concrete ways to unplug ourselves. Even the traditional ideas about how to contribute (corporate & private donations, environmental awareness, etc) were pretty much torn apart as either having minimal net impact OR as only feeding into the same broken system in the long run. I feel compelled to action but with no real direction on what to do, I'm still plugged in...

Overall, a very fresh and eye-opening perspective on how we've come to depend on corporations for everything, and how this has resulted in a complete meltdown of our human essence. If you are feeling disconnected from the real world and disconcerted by the commercialism engulfing everything, read this book to understand why things are the way they are and who is responsible. If you want to know what to do about it... hopefully he'll come out with a sequel!
70 von 83 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Best of Rushkoff 2. Juni 2009
Von S. Kittelsen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Full disclosure: I performed research for Rushkoff on this book.

And I'm proud to have done so.

LIFE INC. isn't another Shock Doctrine or some Millenial Marxist Manifesto. It's a history of how we came to mistake human-implemented value systems as natural laws, how these value systems have disconnected us from each other and from our work, and how we might reprogram this systems and reconnect with each other.

It was a tough book for Rushkoff to write, incorporating myriad disciplines and historic perspectives into a narrative of our corporate lives.

Whether you think you agree with him or not, Rushkoff will certainly get you thinking about how we got where we are and where we can go next.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Mixed Emotions 2. August 2009
Von Chuck Dickens - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Under 250 pages, it's a light read. The book doesn't dive into technicals and I found it a decent airplane read.

The chapters on pre-Renaissance commerce are thought provoking. The idea of local versus centralized currencies is also interesting. But midway through, the book starts to wallow in your typical left-wing hodgepodge of history lessons that are loosely tied back into the main thesis of the book. The middle section of the book jumps around from Joe Millionaire to Walmart to GM writing road legislation. It's the system, man, the system.

And I feel a little conned when the subtitle includes, "and how to take it back" which only accounts for the last 15 pages of the book. Rushkoff tells a few stories about some people in the Bronx starting a garden and a restaurant that makes a different kind of coupon. My guess is the publishing house tacked on that subtitle.

Overall, I learned something about pre-Renaissance Europe, a different way to think of commerce and currency, and it opened my mind to new possibilities. The institutions in our world have been around before we were here, and I had been ingrained to think of them as a given, and not a choice. This book is thought provoking in that sense, and this book opened my eyes to think of commerce in a different way. Should have waited for the paperback though. Or maybe created my own currency and paid for the book that way (sorry cheap shot I know).
12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fix this Amazon! 11. Februar 2011
Von Overseas Shopper - Veröffentlicht auf
I haven't read this yet, but I want to buy the Kindle version. The only problem is, the book was updated in January 2011, with 70+ pages added. The only Kindle version for sale is from the 2009 edition. Many people who buy this will not realize that they are not getting the updated version.

Amazon, fix this now! Either get the updated Kindle version or split the editions into separate entries.
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