A modest argument.

Corporations are indeed people. 

I mean this on an emotional level, not a legal one, and I hope you will soon agree.

Have you ever talked to a corporation? Of course you have. As you’ll remember: they are coy. Like a sequestered fairy-tale princess, they do not permit to be spoken to directly. You must approach from a distance. You must find the allowable envoy, the maidservant at the castle gate who can take a message.

Or, rather, you must call the 800 number and navigate the inside of a computer using your phone’s keypad (a knightly quest!) before you can reach the inner keep.

Then the dance begins. They allow you in, but you must select the right door using their riddles. They watch you to gauge your reaction, all the while refusing to be watched, deploying a hall of maddening mirrors. 

You choose the wrong door. It spits you back outside the castle walls. Again you breach the keep, remembering your folly. (Push 2 this time, not 5. You have learned through heartbreak that 5 is just recorded information and then it hangs up on you).

After you learn this dance, eventually, you may find yourself entering a chamber where a person (a true human person!) sits, eyeing you carefully. Now you may speak. Choose your words carefully: if you err now, you may be launched out the window and end up back where you started. 

Speak to the maidservant in plain language, but show your plight enough that her heart may be moved to pity for you.

And keep in mind, although you may become vexed and want to scream at the maidservant: she is not the princess. That is, the person on the phone is not the corporation. This is merely the human mouth that has been hired to test you on their behalf. 

Indeed, the corporation has a life of its own, far separate from the human mouthpieces who do its bidding. It has its own personality. It makes dastardly choices. It promises to slay a dragon, only to unleash more dragons on the public and then provide a one-time offer, at the reasonable add-on subscription price of $9.99 per month, cancelable at any time, to reduce this plague of new dragons.

You may protest: that is not the corporation’s dastardliness. That is not the corporation’s own personality. That is the dastardliness of a group of individual humans who gather around a shiny table in a high-rise somewhere. 

But I remind you: those humans go home and play with their children, shake their heads at the bad news on television, kiss their spouses good night. They may feel a twinge of regret about the strange things that came to pass around that table today, “but it was not I who did it,” they think as they roll over to go to sleep. “I wouldn’t have decided on the anti-dragon subscription. It was what the group consensus was, and I wasn’t going to die on that hill.”

Because it is not that person’s personality that won the day. It was the corporation’s. Separate and distinct. 

The corporation, after all, has its own unknowable dreams and objectives and methods and madness, entirely unmoored from those of the people who serve it. Of course it’s a person.

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