Transcript: Wade Rowland on Greed Inc. | May 28, 2005

Wade Rowland stands behind a lectern on a dark stage and addresses an unseen audience. A small table next to him exhibits the book "Greed, Inc."
Then, a picture of the book appears on screen on top of a logo of the U of T Bookstore.

Wade is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with wavy gray hair. He's wearing a black suit, white shirt, and striped gray tie.

He says "GREED, INC."
IS THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF
BOOKS THAT, IN RETROSPECT, I
CAN SEE HAVE HAD A COMMON THEME
ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
THEY'RE ALL EXPLORATIONS OF THE
NATURE AND ORIGIN OF VALUES.
WHERE DOES MORALITY COME FROM,
WHAT IS IT?
DO MORAL VALUES HAVE REAL
EXISTENCE, OR ARE THEY CULTURAL
ARTEFACTS RELEVANT ONLY TO THE
CULTURES IN WHICH THEY ARE
ADHERED TO?
IN OTHER WORDS, ARE VALUES
REAL, OR ARE THEY RELATIVE TO
CULTURE?
IT'S A SUBJECT THAT'S ALWAYS
BEEN OF INTEREST TO ME.
JOURNALISTS GENERALLY WANT TO
SAVE THE WORLD, AND THEY THINK
ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT, BELIEVE
IT OR NOT.
AND I THINK IT'S PROBABLY JUST
AN EXPRESSION OF A NATURAL
MORAL INSTINCT, AND I'LL TALK
ABOUT THAT A LITTLE LATER ON.
IT'S SOMETHING THAT COMES FROM
HAVING A CONSCIENCE.
BUT WHAT REALLY GOT ME GOING ON
THIS PARTICULAR BOOK, WELL
ACTUALLY ON THE WHOLE SERIES OF
BOOKS, WAS A BRIEF STINT THAT I
HAD -- RELATIVELY BRIEF STINT I
HAD AS THE SENIOR MANAGER IN A
LARGE MEDIA CORPORATION THAT I
WON'T NAME, NOT BECAUSE I'M
AFRAID OF BEING BLACKLISTED OR
ANYTHING, I PROBABLY AM ANYWAY,
BUT BECAUSE -- THE ONLY REASON
I USE MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN
THE BOOK IS TO DRAW A BROADER
PICTURE OF WHAT IT'S LIKE TO
WORK IN CORPORATIONS, AND TO
TRY AND DRAW SOME CONCLUSIONS
ABOUT CORPORATIONS IN GENERAL.
SO I DON'T WANT TO MUDDY THE
WATERS BY BEING TOO SPECIFIC.
I FOUND MY CORPORATE MANAGING
EXPERIENCE TO BE DEEPLY
DISTURBING, AT THE TIME WHEN I
WAS DOING IT, AND EVEN MORE SO
WHEN I GOT OUT OF IT ALL AND
WENT BACK TO WRITING.
SO BEGINNING IN 1997, I WROTE A
BOOK CALLED, "SPIRIT OF THE
WEB," WHICH IS AN EXPLORATION
OF COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES
GOING BACK TO THE PHONETIC
ALPHABET, RIGHT UP TO THE
INTERNET, AND WHAT I WAS TRYING
TO GET AT IN THAT BOOK WAS, HOW
DO VALUES INHERE IN THE
TECHNOLOGIES THAT WE HAVE.
TECHNOLOGIES ARE HUMAN
CONSTRUCTS, SO HUMAN VALUES GET
BUILT RIGHT INTO THEM ONE WAY
OR ANOTHER.
THE SATURDAY NIGHT SPECIAL, YOU
KNOW, IS MADE FOR NOTHING BUT
KILLING PEOPLE CHEAPLY, FOR
INSTANCE.
AUTOMOBILES HAVE ALL KINDS OF
CULTURAL VALUES BUILT INTO THEM.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Wade Rowland. Author. Greed Inc.: How corporations rule our world and how we let it happen. U of T bookstore reading series. April 15, 2005."

Wade continues WELL I WANTED
TO KNOW, HOW DO OUR
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES
HAVE VALUES BUILT INTO THEM,
AND IN WHAT WAYS DO THOSE
VALUES AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE
TECHNOLOGIES LIMIT OR GIVE US
OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPRESS OURSELVES?
AFTER THAT, I WROTE A BOOK CALLED "OCKHAM'S
RAZOR," WHICH GOES WAY BACK IN
HISTORY TO THE 13th CENTURY TO
DISCOVER A LITTLE BIT OF THE
MORALITY, THE MORAL SYSTEM THAT
PRECEDED OUR OWN, THE MORAL
SYSTEM OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
SO I LOOKED AT THE CATHAR
HERESY AND THE BEGINNINGS OF
THE INQUISITION, AND EARLY
CHRISTIAN MORAL THOUGHT BUILT
AROUND A TRAVELOGUE.
WHILE I WAS WRITING THAT BOOK,
I BECAME INTERESTED IN GALILEO,
AND THE WHOLE NOTION THAT
THERE'S A WATERSHED, A VERY
DRAMATIC WATERSHED IN HISTORY
AROUND THE 17th CENTURY, THE
MIDDLE OF THE 17th CENTURY.
WE CALL THE SCIENTIFIC
REVOLUTION.
AND IT SEEMED TO ME TO BE THE
TURNING POINT, THE HINGE OF
THAT PARTICULAR CHANGE WAS THE
TRIAL OF GALILEO AND HIS
DISPUTE WITH THE CHURCH.
BECAUSE ALL OF THE ISSUES THAT
SEEM IMPORTANT TO ME, HAVING TO
DO WITH MORALITY AND THE NATURE
OF HOW WE KNOW THINGS,
EPISTEMOLOGY, HOW WE KNOW
THINGS HOW WE VERIFY KNOWLEDGE,
HOW WE BECAME HOOKED, IN A
SENSE ON SCIENCE, HOW WE
MARGINALISE METAPHYSICS, MORAL
PHILOSOPHY AND SO ON.
ALL THAT HAPPENED, ALL OF THAT
WAS DISCUSSED BY GALILEO AND
THE PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE IN
THE CHURCH, VERY EXPLICITLY,
VERY, VERY ELOQUENTLY.
SO AT THAT TIME, WHAT'S CRUCIAL
ABOUT THE GALILEAN ERA AND THE
SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION, WAS THAT
PHILOSOPHY, WHICH HAD ONCE BEEN
A SORT OF HIERARCHICAL
STRUCTURE OF DISCIPLINES, BUT
REALLY A WHOLE, WAS SPLIT IN
HALF, SO THAT ON THE ONE HAND,
YOU HAVE MORAL PHILOSOPHY, AND
ON THE OTHER HAND YOU HAVE
NATURAL PHILOSOPHY WHICH IS
WHAT WE NOW CALL SCIENCE.
AND THERE'S A GAP BETWEEN THEM,
THAT PEOPLE MORE AND MORE
NOWADAYS, ARE TRYING TO FIGURE
OUT A WAY TO BRIDGE, BUT FOR
300 YEARS, THE GAP JUST SEEMED
TO GET WIDER AND WIDER.
AND WE HAVE NOW THIS WHOLE
ETHOS OF...
NOT VALUE EMPTINESS, BUT VALUE
NEUTRALITY IN THE SCIENCES, AND
ETHICS IS SUPPOSED TO BE
HANDLED BY MORAL PHILOSOPHY,
AND THERE'S NO ORGANIC CONNECT
THERE THE WAY THERE USED TO BE
WITH ARISTOTELIAN SCIENCE.
SO ALL OF THIS I SEE IN
RETROSPECT ONLY.
YOU DON'T NOTICE THESE THINGS
WHEN YOU'RE WRITING BOOKS, YOU
JUST SORT OF PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN
AND PLOUGH ON.
THAT BRINGS ME TO "GREED,
INC.," THE PRESENT BOOK, AND
THIS BOOK LOOKS DIRECTLY AT THE
EXPERIENCE THAT GOT ME ONTO
THIS WHOLE PATH IN THE FIRST
PLACE, A PHENOMENON THAT IS
UNIQUE IN HISTORY, THE MODERN
BUSINESS CORPORATION.
AND BEFORE I GO ANY FURTHER,
AND FOR ANYBODY WHO COMES IN
LATE, YOU HAVE TO TELL THEM,
BRING THEM UP TO DATE ON THIS.

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues I WANT TO MAKE SOMETHING CLEAR.
WHEN I USE THE WORD CORPORATION
HERE, I'M JUST USING A
SHORTHAND.
AND IN THE BOOK, I HAVE A VERY
SPECIFIC DEFINITION FOR THE
KIND OF CORPORATION I'M TALKING
ABOUT.
I DON'T MEAN THE VAST MAJORITY
OF CORPORATIONS THAT WE USUALLY
REFER TO AS COMPANIES, THAT ARE
RUN BY THEIR FOUNDERS, PEOPLE
WHO SET THEM UP FOR A PURPOSE,
AND ENTHUSIASM, WHO CARE ABOUT
THE PRODUCTS THAT THEY PRODUCE
AND SO ON.
THESE ARE, AS I SAY, THE VAST
MAJORITY OF CORPORATIONS IN THE
WORLD.
THEY'RE WHOLLY OR MAJORITY
OWNED BY FAMILIES, OR
INDIVIDUALS.
MOST OF THEM ARE SMALL TO
MEDIUM SIZE, MOST OF THEM ARE
ENGAGED IN THE COMPETITIVE
MARKETPLACE IN THE WAY THE
MARKET WAS INTENDED TO RUN BY
THE PEOPLE WHO DESIGNED IT.
THEY ARE ON A MORE OR LESS
EQUAL FOOTING WITH THEIR
RIVALS.
SO I DON'T MEAN ENTREPRENEURIAL
ENTERPRISING START-UPS AND MOM
AND POP OPERATIONS AND THAT
SORT OF THING.
I WOULD EXCLUDE ALSO, AND JUST
FOR EXAMPLE, SOME OF THE VERY
LARGE CORPORATIONS THAT REMAIN
IN THE HANDS OF THEIR FOUNDERS
OR THE FOUNDERS' FAMILIES, AND
THESE ARE COMPANIES LIKE
ROGERS, FOR INSTANCE, AND
ROOTS, TO NAME ANOTHER ONE, AND
THE DISTINCTION IS IMPORTANT,
BECAUSE THESE CORPORATIONS ARE
UNDER THE CONTROL OF HUMANS.
I'M GOING TO ARGUE A LITTLE
LATER ON THAT THE OTHER
CORPORATIONS, THE ONES THAT I'M
TALKING ABOUT, ARE NOT.
SO WHAT I'M-- WHAT I DO MEAN
WHEN I'M SAYING CORPORATION, IS
LARGE PUBLICLY TRADED
PROFESSIONALLY MANAGED
CORPORATIONS THAT, WHILE
THEY'RE A MINORITY IN NUMBER,
DOMINATE THE ECONOMY WORLDWIDE,
AND DOMINATE THE STOCK MARKET.
SO I MEAN SHELL, DISNEY, AT and T,
ALCAN, FORD, WESTINGHOUSE, BCE,
TIME-WARNER-AOL, THAT THAT KIND
OF COMPANY.
THESE COMPANIES ARE A RECENT
OCCURRENCE IN HUMAN HISTORY.
THEY OPERATE ACCORDING TO THE RULES OF PURE
MARKET THEORY, AND THEY HAVE
ONE SINGLE, EXCLUSIVE GOAL, AND
THAT IS TO MAXIMISE PROFIT.
THEIR ONLY INTEREST IN THE PRODUCT OR
SERVICE THEY PRODUCE, IS THAT
IT'S A MEANS TO GAIN PROFIT, TO
MAXIMISE THE VALUE OF THE
ASSETS THAT THEY CONTROL.
SO THAT'S THE KIND OF
CORPORATION I'M TALKING ABOUT,
AND YOU MAY BE THINKING, WELL
THEY'RE RUN BY PEOPLE, BUT I'LL
GET TO THAT A LITTLE LATER ON.
WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK A LITTLE
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BOOKS ON
CORPORATIONS THAT I'VE SEEN IS
THAT I APPROACH THE WHOLE
SUBJECT FROM THE POINT OF VIEW
OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY.
THE STORY OF HOW THE MODERN
BUSINESS CORPORATION EVOLVED TO
ITS PRESENT STATE OF POWER AND
INFLUENCE IS A FASCINATING
STORY IN ITS OWN RIGHT, AND I
TELL IT IN THE BOOK, BUT I
CAN'T DO EVERYTHING HERE THIS
EVENING, SO I'M GOING TO ASSUME
THAT YOU HAVE A LITTLE MORE
KNOWLEDGE OF THAT THAN THE
ASPECT I'M GOING TO TALK ABOUT
TONIGHT.
I'LL TOUCH ON THAT, BUT ONLY
BRIEFLY.
I THINK THAT IT'S NECESSARY,
IT'S ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO
UNDERSTAND A LITTLE ABOUT THE
MORAL LIFE OF THE CORPORATION
IN ORDER TO BEGIN TO COME TO
GRIPS WITH THE PROBLEM, BECAUSE
I THINK WE MISUNDERSTAND WHAT
THESE MODERN CORPORATIONS ARE,
AND FOR ANOTHER REASON-- I TALK
ABOUT IT IN TERMS OF MORAL
PHILOSOPHY FOR A VERY SIMPLE
REASON, AS PLATO SAID, WE'RE
ALL EXPERTS IN MORALITY.
WE ALL HAVE AN INBUILT SENSE
THAT ALLOWS US TO AT LEAST KNOW
THAT THERE'S SUCH A THING AS
GOOD, SO WE CAN AT LEAST BEGIN
A DISCUSSION ON THAT SUBJECT.
SO THE BOOK DOES NOT EXPECT YOU
TO BE AN EXPERT ON ECONOMICS OR
ECONOMETRICS, OR ANTHROPOLOGY
OR SOCIOLOGY OR ANY OF THOSE
HIGHLY COMPLEX SUBJECTS THAT
YOU NEED TO SPEND TWO YEARS
LEARNING THE LANGUAGE BEFORE
YOU CAN EVEN BEGIN TO STUDY
THEM.
BUT I'VE ALWAYS FELT STRONGLY
THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE A MORAL
THREAD IN ANY OF THE SOCIAL
SCIENCES, AND THAT IT'S MORALLY
VALID, AND IN FACT IT WORKS A
LOT BETTER IN SOME WAYS AS AN
ANALYTICAL TOOL.
SO THE COMMA IN THE TITLE IS
IMPORTANT HERE.
I'M TALKING ABOUT GREED AS IT
HAS BEEN INSTITUTIONALISED IN
MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY
SOCIETY, INCORPORATED, AS IT
WERE, INTO SOCIETY.
AND STILL, ON THE MORAL THEME,
LET ME POINT OUT THAT GREED IS
A VICE.
THOSE WHO WOULD AGREE WITH
GORDON GEKKO IN THE MOVIE,
"WALL STREET," PLAYED BY THE
HUNKY MICHAEL DOUGLAS, MY
WIFE'S HEART THROB, MAY WISH TO
DISAGREE WITH ME ON THIS, BUT
I'M GOING TO READ YOU A LITTLE
BIT FROM THE-- THAT FAMOUS
SPEECH, JUST TO GET YOU IN THE
MOOD HERE.
HERE IT IS, "THE POINT IS,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THAT
GREED, FOR A LACK OF A BETTER
WORD, IS GOOD.
GREED IS RIGHT, GREED WORKS,
GREED CLARIFIES, CUTS THROUGH,
AND CAPTURES THE ESSENCE OF THE
EVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT.
GREED, IN ALL OF ITS FORMS,
GREED FOR LIFE, FOR MONEY, FOR
LOVE, KNOWLEDGE, HAS MARKED THE
UPWARD SURGE OF MANKIND.
AND GREED, YOU MARK MY WORDS,
WILL NOT ONLY SAVE THIS
COMPANY, BUT THAT OTHER
MALFUNCTIONING CORPORATION
CALLED THE USA."
AND I REMEMBER MY SKIN KIND OF
CREEPING WHEN I WATCHED THE
MOVIE THERE, BECAUSE IT WAS SO
COMPELLING, AND SOMETHING WAS
TELLING ME, THIS IS WRONG.
[Laughing]
THE GEKKO SPEECH IS A SHOCKER
IN ITS CONTEXT, AND IS OFTEN
CITED AS SUMMING UP THE ETHICS
OF THE ME-FIRST 1980s, BUT IT
MIGHT ALSO BE A CREED FOR THE
MODERN CORPORATE CAPITALISM IN
GENERAL, SUPPOSEDLY AN ACCURATE
STATEMENT OF THE WAY THE WORLD
WORKS, AND OUGHT TO WORK.
FOR EXAMPLE, AND THIS IS WHY I
CARRIED ON READING.
FOR EXAMPLE, I NOTE THAT THE
WHITMORE COLLEGE, WASHINGTON
STATE REPUBLICANS, DISPLAY THE
SPEECH ON THEIR WEBSITE, ADDING
THE COMMENT, "HIS CHARACTER MAY
HAVE BEEN A CREEP, BUT THE
SPEECH WAS 100 percent CORRECT.

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues SO PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO BELIEVE
THIS.
AND HERE'S WHY THEY BELIEVE IT.
I THINK THAT THE GEKKO SPEECH
IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY GOOD
CAPSULE DESCRIPTION OF MARKET
CAPITALISM, WHICH IS WHY THIS
SPEECH AND THE CHARACTER MAKE
US SO UNCOMFORTABLE.
I DON'T THINK THAT GEKKO AND
OTHER PEOPLE OF HIS KIND WOULD
DENY THAT GREED IS A VICE, BUT
THEY WOULD ARGUE, I THINK, THAT
IT'S A KIND OF A BENIGN VICE, A
NICE VICE, BECAUSE IT KEEPS THE
ECONOMY RUNNING, AND THAT
BENEFITS US ALL.
WITHOUT GREED AS FUEL, THE
ENGINE OF THE ECONOMY COULDN'T
FUNCTION.
THIS IS AN OLD IDEA AND
INTERESTINGLY ITS RISE TO
POPULARITY COINCIDES WITH THE
SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND THE
DIVORCE OF MORAL AND NATURAL
PHILOSOPHY.
THE IDEA WAS FIRST ELABORATED
IN THE FORM WE'RE FAMILIAR WITH
IN ABOUT 1705, BY A DUTCHMAN
NAMED BERNARD DeMANVILLE.
HE WROTE A LONG, LONG POEM
CALLED THE FABLE OF THE BEES,
WHICH I QUOTE A LITTLE BIT OF
IN THE BOOK.
BUT THE NOTION
OF SELFISHNESS, OF HUMAN VICE
HAVING VIRTUOUS OUTCOMES GOES
BACK EVEN FURTHER TO TOMAS
HOBBES, WHO WAS BORN IN 1588.
AS HE SAYS, WHEN HIS MOTHER--
HE WAS BORN PREMATURELY WHEN HIS MOTHER
HEARD OF THE ARRIVAL OF THE
SPANISH ARMADA OFF THE COAST OF ENGLAND.
I DON'T KNOW WHY, BUT I'VE
ALWAYS FOUND THAT KIND OF AN
AMUSING IMAGE.

He chuckles and continues
SO...
FOR HOBBES, IT WAS INDIVIDUAL
SELF INTEREST THAT LED US TO
CREATE SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS THAT
MAKE LIFE LIVEABLE.
LIFE IN PRIMITIVE TIMES WAS, AS
WE'VE ALL HEARD, NASTY,
BRUTISH, AND SHORT.
EVERYBODY WAS AT WAR WITH
EVERYBODY ELSE, AND HOWEVER
IMPROBABLE THIS MIGHT SEEM, IT
WAS OUR SELFISHNESS THAT LED US
TO RELUCTANTLY AGREE TO GIVE UP
SOME OF OUR FREEDOM, AND TO
PASS IT OVER TO A DICTATORIAL
RULER SO WE COULD HAVE SOME
SAFETY AND SECURITY IN OUR
LIVES IN RETURN.
AND FOR HOBBES, THIS IS HOW
CIVILISATION BEGINS.
AND NOTE, NONE OF THIS IS BASED
ON OBSERVATION OR ANY KIND OF
SCIENCE, WHICH DIDN'T REALLY
EXIST THEN.
I MEAN, HE JUST THOUGHT IT UP,
IT'S AN INVENTION.
IN ANY CASE, FOR HOBBES, MORAL
BEHAVIOUR COMES OUT OF OUR
INSTITUTIONS, AND THIS IS THE
CRUCIAL POINT, BECAUSE THIS
HOBBESIAN IDEA IS BUILT INTO
THE INSTITUTIONS WE STILL LIVE
WITH TODAY.
MOST ESPECIALLY THE MARKET
ECONOMY.
SO MOVE AHEAD TO ADAM SMITH AND
THE ECONOMISTS AND SOCIAL
THINKERS WHO CONSTRUCTED THE
MARKET ECONOMY, AND I USE THE
WORD CONSTRUCTED ADVISEDLY.
WE TEND TO THINK THAT IT'S A
LAW OF NATURE.
WE DIDN'T FIND IT UNDER A
STONE, OR ENGRAVED ON STONE
TABLETS, IT WAS BUILT BRICK BY
BRICK, AND OFTEN AGAINST
VIOLENT RESISTANCE OF PEOPLE
WHO DIDN'T AGREE WITH THE ETHIC
OF IT.
IN ANY CASE, ADAM SMITH AND THE
ECONOMISTS WHO FOLLOWED HIM,
ACCEPTED HOBBES, AND THEY
ACCEPTED MANDEVILLE, AND
EXPANDED THEIR IDEAS, AND HERE
WE GET BACK TO GEKKO AND THE
IDEA THAT INDIVIDUAL VICE OR
GREED CAN LEAD TO COMMUNAL
WELFARE.
HERE'S HOW THAT WORKS.
ADAM SMITH'S IDEA, AND THIS IS
STILL TAUGHT IN EVERYDAY
TEXTBOOKS, IN ECONOMICS
TEXTBOOKS, IS THAT INDIVIDUAL
VICE IS DUMPED INTO THE HOPPER
AT ONE END OF THIS VAST
MACHINE, AND IT HAS ALL KINDS
OF FEEDBACK RELATIONSHIPS AND
EQUILIBRIA AND SO ON.
AN INVISIBLE HAND TURNS A BIG
CRANK, AND OUT THE OTHER END
POPS SOCIAL WELFARE, READY
MADE, SO THAT YOU--
THE MARKET IS ACTUALLY A
MACHINE FOR SYNTHESISING MORAL
BEHAVIOUR.
IT TAKES ALL OF OUR INDIVIDUAL
VICE IN THE SENSE OF
ACQUISITIVENESS AND GREED, AND
TURNS IT INTO SOMETHING GOOD AT
THE OTHER END, IN THE FORM OF,
IN ADAM SMITH'S WORDS, THE
WEALTH OF NATIONS.
IN OTHER WORDS MATERIAL
WELLBEING.
SO FOR SMITH AND FOR SUCCEEDING
GENERATIONS OF ECONOMISTS, THE
MARKET IS A MACHINE THAT IS
SELF REGULATING, RUNS ACCORDING
TO THE LAWS OF NATURE, ONE OF
THOSE LAWS BEING THE INNATE AND
INCORRIGIBLE SELF INTEREST OF
HUMAN BEINGS, AND IT'S
THEREFORE BEST LEFT ALONE.
WE THINK OF IT KIND OF AS AN
ECOSYSTEM -- DON'T MESS WITH
MOTHER NATURE.
IF YOU START TAMPERING WITH
THIS SYSTEM THAT RUNS ACCORDING
TO NATURAL LAW, YOU'RE GOING TO
SCREW IT UP, AND IT WILL BREAK
DOWN.
THIS IS LAISSEZ FAIR ECONOMIC
THEORY, ONLY SPOKEN IN ENGLISH.
SO IT'S REALLY A CYBERNETIC
MACHINE.
AND THEN PEOPLE STARTED OUT
THINKING THAT WAY, AND DARWIN
AND THE IDEA SURVIVAL OF THE
FITTEST, AND THE LAW OF THE
JUNGLE AND ALL THAT SORT OF
THING, IT TOOK ON A MORE
ORGANIC MEANING, BUT IT WAS
ALWAYS AND REMAINS A HIGHLY
DETERMINISTIC SYSTEM IN THE
SENSE THAT IF YOU KNOW THE
INITIAL SETUP OF THE MACHINE
AND THE STARTING POINT, AND IF
YOU KNOW THE RULES OF ITS
OPERATION, YOU CAN PREDICT THE
FUTURE, BECAUSE IT'S ALL
DETERMINED THERE WITHIN THIS
MECHANICAL CONSTRUCT.
PEOPLE TENDED TO FORGET THAT
THEY HAD ACTUALLY BUILT IT, AND
IN FACT THEY BUILT IT TO FIT
WHAT WAS ALREADY HAPPENING, BUT
THAT'S A STORY THAT'S A LITTLE
TOO COMPLICATED TO GET INTO,
AND IT'S IN THE BOOK.
SO JUST TO REINFORCE THIS
POINT, THE MARKET ECONOMY WAS,
IN EFFECT, A MACHINE FOR
TURNING INDIVIDUAL VICE INTO
PUBLIC WELFARE, A MACHINE FOR
SYNTHESISING MORAL BEHAVIOUR
WHERE IT WOULD NOT OTHERWISE
EXIST.
BECAUSE IN OUR PRIMITIVE STATE,
WE WERE MORALLY VACANT.
AND THAT WAS QUITE AN
ENGINEERING CHALLENGE, I THINK,
TO UNDERTAKE, AND ONLY THE
RATIONALISTS, WITH THEIR ALMOST
INSANE CONFIDENCE IN THE
ABILITY OF HUMANS TO UNDERSTAND
EVERYTHING, AND TO DO ANYTHING,
AND REMEMBER, PEOPLE WERE
EXPLORING ALL OVER, AND
DISCOVERING NEW CONTINENTS, AND
INVENTING...
IMPORTANT NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND
SO ON, SO THEY HAD SOME REASON
TO FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT
THEMSELVES.
BUT IN RETROSPECT, IT'S CLEAR
THEY WERE A LITTLE
OVERCONFIDENT.
THE CORPORATION WAS PART OF
THIS MACHINE, AND AN IMPORTANT
PART, AND I'M GOING TO GET TO
THAT PART IN A MINUTE.
BUT IT'S CRUCIAL TO UNDERSTAND FOR THE
MOMENT THAT OUR CURRENT
INSTITUTIONS, BUILT IN THE 18th
AND 19th CENTURIES, BY
RATIONALIST THINKERS, SMITH AND
THEN THE UTILITARIANS, STANLEY
JEVONS, ALFRED MARSHALL, YOU
KNOW, I COULD LIST ABOUT 20
NAMES, THOMAS MALFOUS.
THESE INSTITUTIONS PRESUME THAT
SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS PRECEDE
MORALITY.
THIS WHOLE IDEOLOGY THAT WAS
DEVELOPED BY THE RATIONALISTS,
IS BUILT ON THE IDEA THAT
WITHOUT SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS,
THERE IS NO MORALITY.
AND THE REASON IT'S IMPORTANT
TO UNDERSTAND THIS, IS THAT
PRIOR TO THE SCIENTIFIC
REVOLUTION AND THE RISE OF
RATIONALIST THOUGHT AND SO ON,
FOR ALL OF THE HISTORY OF
PHILOSOPHY, GOING RIGHT BACK TO
SOCRATES, WHO IS THE FIRST
MORAL PHILOSOPHY, PEOPLE
THOUGHT THAT EXACTLY THE
OPPOSITE WAS THE CASE, AND WITH
SOME REASON, I THINK YOU'LL
AGREE.
IT WAS BELIEVED THAT IT'S OUR
INNATE MORAL SENSE, OUR MORAL
INSTINCT, OUR MORAL IMPULSE
THAT ALLOWS US TO BUILD THOSE
INSTITUTIONS.
IT'S NOT THE INSTITUTIONS THAT
GIVE US THE MORAL SENSE, IT'S
THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
IF WE DIDN'T HAVE THE MORAL
SENSE, HOW WOULD IT EVEN OCCUR
TO US TO BUILD AN INSTITUTION,
BECAUSE WE WOULDN'T HAVE ANY
IDEA WHAT GOOD IS, OR GOOD
COULD BE.
WE WOULD JUST REMAIN FOREVER IN
THAT STATE OF NATURE WHERE
EVERYBODY IS SUPPOSED TO BE
VICIOUS.
I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE MORAL
SENSE COMES FROM-- WELL I DO
HAVE SOME IDEA, BUT I MEAN, YOU
DON'T NEED TO HAVE A CLEAR IDEA
WHERE MORAL SENSE COMES FROM IN
ORDER TO ACCEPT THAT IT EXISTS.
I MEAN IT'S JUST AN EVERYDAY
FACT OF LIFE.
AND IT SEEMS COMPLETELY BIZARRE
THAT PEOPLE LOST TRACK OF THE
FACT THAT IT DOES EXIST.
SO SOCIETY, IN OTHER WORDS,
WASN'T CONSTRUCTED ON A
FOUNDATION OF GREED AND SELF-
INTEREST, AS WE'VE BEEN TAUGHT
TO BELIEVE AND AS GORDON GEKKO
CLEARLY BELIEVES, IT'S THE
OTHER WAY AROUND.
AND I'M REALLY DELIGHTED TO SAY
THAT ACADEMIC THOUGHT IS COMING
AROUND TO THAT POSITION ONCE
AGAIN, IN SOCIOLOGY, HISTORY
AND PHILOSOPHY, IF NOT IN
ECONOMICS, WHICH REMAINS LOCKED
IN A BAD CASE OF PHYSICS ENVY.

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues YOU MIGHT CALL ALL OF THIS
HOBBES' MISTAKE, IF I HADN'T
ALREADY USED THAT IN A BOOK
TITLE.
THE IMPORTANT POINT IS THAT
SOCIETY DOES NOT PRECEDE
MORALITY, IT'S THE OTHER WAY
AROUND, AND THE REASON WHY THIS
IS SO IMPORTANT, IS THAT IF WE
GET MORALITY FROM SOCIAL
INSTITUTIONS, THEN MORALITY IS
RELATIVE TO THOSE INSTITUTIONS.
IT'S CONTINGENT ON THEM.
IN OTHER WORDS, IF WE GET
MORALITY FROM INSTITUTIONS, YOU
CAN'T AVOID MORAL RELATIVISM.
THAT'S WHAT MORALITY IS, IT'S
ALL RELATIVE.
WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO CRITICISE
THE STANDARDS OF SOME OTHER
CULTURE, ALL WE CAN SAY IS THAT
THEY'RE DIFFERENT FROM OURS, OR
MAYBE THEY'RE INCONSISTENT
INTERNALLY IN SOME WAY, BUT WE
CAN'T SAY THAT WHAT'S DONE IN
SOME OTHER CULTURE IS WRONG,
BECAUSE IT'S A PRODUCT OF THAT
CULTURE, AND HAS SUBSTANTIVE
MEANING IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT
CULTURE.
SO WHO ARE WE TO SAY IT'S
WRONG.
WE CAN SAY, WE WON'T DO THAT
HERE, BUT WE CAN'T SAY IT'S
WRONG TO DO IT THERE.
AND IMPLICIT IN THIS IDEA IS
THE IDEA THAT THE END JUSTIFIES
THE MEANS.
THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S
IMPLICIT IN MORAL RELATIVISM,
AND I'LL EXPAND ON THAT A
LITTLE BIT LATER.
BUT-- THE WAY IT COMES OUT OF
THIS ERA IS THAT THE END, BEING
MORAL BEHAVIOUR, JUSTIFIES THE
MEANS, THAT THE SOCIAL
STRUCTURES USE TO CAUSE THAT
KIND OF BEHAVIOUR.
IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, WE ARE
MORAL REALISTS, AND BY THAT I
MEAN WE BELIEVE OR UNDERSTAND
THAT MORALITY IS REAL, THAT
THERE IS SUCH A THING AS GOOD,
THAT IT'S NOT AN ABSTRACT,
EPHEMERAL CONCEPT OF SOME SORT,
IT'S AN ACTIVE...
IT'S SOMETHING ON OUR LIVES,
IT'S CONCRETE, IT CAN CAUSE
THINGS TO HAPPEN IN THE OUTSIDE
WORLD.
IF WE TAKE THAT POSITION, WHICH
IS CALLED MORAL REALISM...
IT IMPLIES AS WELL, THAT WE'RE ALL BORN WITH
A MORAL INSTINCT, AS I WAS
TALKING ABOUT A LITTLE EARLIER,
AND THAT THERE'S SUCH A THING
AS GOOD, AND OUR MORAL SENSE,
WHAT WE'RE BORN WITH -- THE
MORAL SENSE WE'RE BORN WITH
ALLOWS US TO IDENTIFY THE GOOD.
THAT'S HOW WE KNOW GOOD WHEN WE SEE IT.
THEN WE CAN SAY OF SOME
CULTURAL PRACTICE ON THE OTHER
SIDE OF THE WORLD, LET'S SAY
SLAVERY, OR FEMALE GENITAL
MUTILATION, OR THE EXPOSING OF
UNWANTED INFANTS SO THEY DIE --
WE CAN SAY THAT THAT'S JUST
PLAIN WRONG.
IT'S WRONG TRANS-CULTURALLY,
TRANS-TEMPORALLY, WHENEVER IT
HAPPENS, WHEREVER IT HAPPENS,
TRANS-TEMPORALLY, WHENEVER IT
HAPPENS, WHEREVER IT HAPPENS,
TO WHOMEVER IT HAPPENS, IT'S
JUST PLAIN WRONG.
AND IT MAY HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED
AT ONE TIME, WE RECOGNISE NOW
THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ACCEPTED IT
WERE WRONG.
NOW SOME PEOPLE, WHEN YOU MAKE
THIS ARGUMENT, WILL SAY THAT
THERE'S A KIND OF A TYRANNY OF
THE MORALIST HERE, AND WE'RE
AFRAID OF DICTATORSHIP BY THE
CHURCH LADY, IF YOU REMEMBER
HER FROM "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE."
MORAL REALISM OR MORAL
ABSOLUTISM, THE IDEA THAT THERE
ARE SOME TRANS-CULTURAL, TRANS-
TEMPORAL MORAL IDEAS THAT WE
CAN ALL AGREE ON, DOES NOT MEAN
THIS AT ALL.
IT CAN, BUT IT NEED NOT.
TO BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE SUCH
THINGS AS MORAL ABSOLUTES THAT
APPLY EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME,
DOES NOT IMPLY A BELIEF THAT
ANYONE KNOWS, CERTAINLY NOT
THAT I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE IN
ANY DETAIL OR DEFINITIVENESS.
IN FACT, WHAT SUCH A BELIEF
DOES IMPLY IS A RESPONSIBILITY
TO TRY AND DISCOVER WHAT THOSE
ABSOLUTES ARE.
IF YOU DON'T THINK THERE ARE
ABSOLUTES, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO
TRY AND FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY
ARE, RIGHT?
SO THERE'S A RESPONSIBILITY
THERE, TO TRY AND FIND OUT WHAT
THEY ARE, TO LEARN ABOUT THEM,
AND THIS IMPLIES IN TURN, AN
OBLIGATION TO LISTEN TO ALL
POINTS OF VIEW, THAT PEOPLE
WILL OFFER YOU.
HOW ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO FIND
OUT?
I MEAN, IT'S REALLY JUST LIKE
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.
YOU HAVE A HYPOTHESIS, YOU
LISTEN TO AN ARGUMENT THAT'S A
HYPOTHESIS, YOU TEST IT AGAINST
YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, AND YOU
SEE WHETHER IT RINGS TRUE OR
NOT.
AND IF IT DOES SEEM TO RING
TRUE, YOU HANG ON TO THAT IDEA
UNTIL IT'S DISPROVED IN SOME
WAY.
THAT'S THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD.
SO IF YOU'RE A MORAL REALIST,
AS OPPOSED TO A RELATIVIST,
YOU'RE A MORAL ENQUIRER, A
MORAL EXPLORER, A MORAL
PHILOSOPHER.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT?
WE'RE ALL GOOD AT IT, AND AS
PLATO SAID, AND I SAID EARLIER,
WE'RE ALL EXPERTS IN MORAL
PHILOSOPHY, BECAUSE OF THIS
INBUILT MORAL SENSIBILITY THAT
WE ALL HAVE.
THE RELATIVIST, ON THE OTHER
HAND, HAS NO SUCH OBLIGATION TO
EXPLORE AND QUESTION, AND HE'LL
BE TAUGHT THE RULES AND
REGULATIONS OF HIS OWN SOCIETY,
HE'LL BE TOLD TO ACCEPT THEM,
BECAUSE THEY WERE, IN SOME
SENSE, DEMOCRATICALLY ARRIVED AT.
REMEMBER HOBBES SAID BACK IN
THE OLD VICIOUS DAYS, WE ALL
GOT TOGETHER AND AGREED TO HIRE
A DICTATOR, AND THAT'S WHEN WE
DECIDED WHAT ARE THE RULES AND
REGULATIONS WE'RE GOING TO
OPERATE BY.
SO IN SOME HISTORICAL SENSE,
THEY WERE ARRIVED AT BY A KIND
OF A CONSENSUS.
THE RULES ARRIVE OUT OF THE
INSTITUTIONS THAT WE ALL AGREED
TO PUT TOGETHER BACK IN THIS
PRIMORDIAL ERA.
SO HERE, IT SEEMS TO ME, IS THE
ROOT OF OUR CURRENT CONFUSION
OVER MORALITY AND ETHICS.
AND I'M ASSUMING OTHER PEOPLE
HERE SEE THE CONFUSION ALMOST
DAILY AS MUCH AS I DO.
ETHICS IS NOT A SET OF RULES.
IT'S AN APPROACH TO LIVING THAT
SEEKS THE GOOD.
IT'S BASED ON THE UNCONDITIONAL
IMPULSE THAT I BELIEVE IS BUILT
IN, TO BE FOR THE OTHER, TO
WANT TO ASSIST THOSE IN NEED.
AND I THINK IT'S JUST HARDWIRED
INTO US, AND I DO AS MUCH
EVIDENCE OF THAT AS I CAN,
INCLUDING NOAM CHOMSKY WHO SAYS
THAT IF WE ARE HARD WIRED WITH
AN INNATE GRAMMATICAL ABILITY
THAT ALLOWS US TO SPEAK, AND
THAT'S IS ACCEPTED IN THE
SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY AS THE
CASE, WE ALL ARE BORN WITH THIS
INNATE GRAMMAR, AND WHETHER
WE'RE BORN IN JAPAN OR--
OR CHINA, CHILDREN LEARN HOW TO
SPEAK, BECAUSE THEIR BRAINS ARE
WIRED IN A CERTAIN WAY.
CHOMSKY SAYS, IF THAT'S THE
CASE, THEN IT SEEMS AT LEAST
REASONABLE TO THINK THAT MAYBE
WE'RE HARDWIRED WITH OTHER
ABILITIES AND MAYBE ONE OF
THOSE ABILITIES, AND IN FACT
THE FIRST AND MOST OBVIOUS ONE,
IS A MORAL GRAMMAR, THE ABILITY
TO KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG AND TO
IDENTIFY GOOD WHEN WE SEE IT.
SO AS I USED
TO SAY TO MY RYERSON ETHICS
STUDENTS, IF YOU FIND YOURSELF,
AND HERE AGAIN, WE'RE GETTING
BACK TO MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF LIVING
ACCORDING TO ONE SET OF ETHICAL
STANDARDS AT WORK, AND ANOTHER
IN YOUR PRIVATE LIFE, ONE OF
THEM AIN'T ETHICS.
BECAUSE THERE'S ONLY -- ETHICS IS
ETHICS, YOU KNOW?
ETHICS AND MORALITY IS NOT A
SET OF RULES BUT A PERSPECTIVE
WE BRING TO BEAR TO EXAMINE
THOSE RULES TO DECIDE WHETHER
OR NOT THEY HAVE ANY MORAL
VALIDITY OR NOT.
IF YOU'RE SIMPLY FOLLOWING
ORDERS, YOU'RE NOT BEHAVING
ETHICALLY, ALTHOUGH IT MAY LOOK
LIKE IT FROM THE OUTSIDE.
AND JUST AS AN ASIDE HERE, I
ARGUE IN THE BOOK THAT MOST
PROFESSIONAL CODES OF ETHICS,
INCLUDING JOURNALISTIC ETHICS,
HAVE LITTLE OR NOTHING TO DO
WITH ETHICS IN FACT.
THEY'RE ACTUALLY CODES OF
COMPLIANCE, AND USUALLY IT'S
CORPORATE COMPLIANCE.
AND THEY'RE DESIGNED TO AVOID
PROBLEMS THAT HAVE AN IMPACT ON
THE BOTTOM LINE.
SO JUST TO GIVE YOU AN
INDICATION OF THE KIND OF
CONFUSION THAT COMES OUT OF
RELATIVIST THINKING, WHICH IS
THE STANDARD ISSUE FOR THE
SOCIAL SCIENCES, I WANT TO READ
YOU A LITTLE BIT HERE FORM THE
BOOK.
THIS IS ABOUT A POOR BENIGHTED
BIOLOGIST'S ATTEMPT TO FIGURE
OUT THE MORAL STATUS OF
LABORATORY MICE.
THIS ACTUALLY BEGINS, "THE
WALTERS LIFE SCIENCE BUILDING
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
IS TYPICAL OF UP TO DATE
RESEARCH FACILITIES THAT HOUSE
LABORATORIES OF THE WORLD WIDE
COMMUNITY OF RESEARCH
BIOLOGISTS.
IT WAS BUILT MORE THAN TWO
DECADES AGO, AT A TIME OF
RISING PUBLIC INDIGNATION OVER
ISSUES OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
USED IN MEDICAL AND INDUSTRIAL
RESEARCH.
ANIMAL RIGHTS ORGANISERS WERE
ON THE WARPATH, LIBERATING LAB
RATS DOGS, MONKEYS AND OTHER
DOOMED CREATURES AND
VANDALISING RESEARCH
FACILITIES.
AND PHILOSOPHER PETER SINGER'S,
"ANIMAL LIBERATION," A
GROUND-BREAKING PLEA FOR THE
RIGHTS OF ANIMALS WAS BEING
WIDELY DISCUSSED.
THE BUILDING'S FACILITY FOR
HOUSING RESEARCH ANIMALS, WAS
THEREFORE DESIGNED TO BE A
MODEL OF ETHICAL
RESPONSIBILITY, CLEAN,
COMPASSIONATE AND WELL MANAGED.
THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR
THE ACCREDITATION OF LABORATORY
ANIMAL CARE GRANTED ITS SEAL OF
APPROVAL AND A VET WAS ALWAYS
ON CALL.
THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE INSPECTORS PAID
REGULAR VISITS.
BEFORE A SCIENTIST OR GRADUATE
STUDENT WAS PERMITTED TO
UNDERTAKE RESEARCH INVOLVING
ANIMAL SUBJECTS, THE PROJECT
HAD TO MEET THE UNIVERSITY'S
ETHICAL RESEARCH STANDARDS AND
BE APPROVED BY AN ANIMAL CARE
COMMITTEE.
THE UNIVERSITY, IN SHORT, MADE,
AND PRESUMABLY CONTINUES TO
MAKE A SERIOUS EFFORT TO
ADDRESS THE MORAL STATUS OF ITS
RESEARCH ANIMALS WHICH ARE
MAINLY MICE.
THE MORAL STATUS OF MICE IN THE
WALTERS LIFE SCIENCES BUILDING
WAS THE SUBJECT OF AN ARTICLE
IN AN ACADEMIC JOURNAL,
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST, THAT WAS
INTENDED TO MAKE THE POINT THAT
WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE ETHICAL
BEHAVIOUR DEPENDS ON
CIRCUMSTANCE, IT'S RELATIVE.
IN THIS CASE, IT WAS DEPENDENT
ON THE ROLES PLAYED BY THE LAB
ANIMALS UNDER CONSIDERATION.
AS THE STORY UNFOLDS, HOWEVER,
IT ALSO SERVES ADMIRABLY TO
ILLUSTRATE THE KINDS OF
DILEMMAS THAT CAN ARISE WHEN A
PURELY RATIONALIST APPROACH IS
TAKEN TO SETTING ETHICAL
STANDARDS.
AS THE AUTHOR, PSYCHOLOGIST
ARNOLD HERZOG SAYS, ALTHOUGH
THE UNIVERSITY HAS DEMONSTRATED
A SERIOUS CONCERN FOR ANIMAL--
I'M SORRY, FOR THE WELFARE OF
ITS ANIMAL SUBJECTS, IT HAS NOT
ESCAPED THE PARADOXES THAT
EMERGE IN THE ATTEMPT TO
LEGISLATE ETHICS AND THESE ARE
THE PARADOXES OF RELATIVISM.
THE LIFE SCIENCES BUILDING
HOUSED ABOUT 15,000 MICE IN A
GIVEN YEAR, THE VAST MAJORITY
OF THEM BEING "GOOD MICE."
THE KIND USED IN LABORATORY
EXPERIMENTS.
THESE ARE ANIMALS THAT ARE
CALLED UPON TO SACRIFICE THEIR
LIVES FOR WHAT RESEARCHERS HOPE
WILL BE THE BETTERMENT OF THE
HUMAN CONDITION.
THEIR VERY EXISTENCE DEPENDS ON
THEIR UTILITY.
THEY WOULD NOT EXIST IF THEY
WERE NOT LAB ANIMALS," AND
THAT'S A QUOTE FROM THE
ARTICLE.
"IN THIS RESPECT, HERZOG POINTS
OUT, THE GOOD MICE ARE NO
DIFFERENT FROM THE LIVESTOCK OR
DOMESTIC ANIMALS THAT WE RAISE.
THEIR MORAL STATUS ENTITLES
THEM TO THE PROTECTION OF USDA
INSPECTORS AND THE ANIMAL
EXPERIMENT COMMITTEE AND TO
CLEAN AND COMFORTABLE QUARTERS.
ALSO MAKING
THEIR HOME IN THE BUILDING,
WERE A SMALL BUT UNKNOWN NUMBER
OF PEST MICE.
THESE WERE BAD MICE.

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues AS THE AUTHOR
DESCRIBES THEM, FREE RANGING
ANIMALS THAT COULD BE GLIMPSED
OCCASIONALLY SCURRYING ALONG
THE CORRIDORS.
THEY POSED A RISK TO THE
INTEGRITY OF LAB ANIMALS, BY
THREATENING ROOM TO ROOM
CONTAMINATION, AND THEREFORE
HAD TO BE ELIMINATED.
ANIMAL CARETAKERS WERE
RELUCTANT TO SET POISONED BAITS
FEARING THAT GOOD MICE MIGHT
SOMEHOW COME INTO CONTACT WITH
THE POISON, AND ORDINARY
HOUSEHOLD SNAP TRAPS PROVED
INEFFECTIVE.
STICKY TRAPS BECAME THE
PREFERRED METHOD OF CAPTURE,
SET OUT EACH NIGHT AND CHECKED
IN THE MORNING.
THESE ARE PIECES OF CARDBOARD
ABOUT 30 CENTIMETRES SQUARE,
THAT HAVE BEEN IMPREGNATED WITH
A MOUSE ATTRACTANT AND COATED
WITH A VERY STICKY ADHESIVE.
WHEN A MOUSE SETS ONE FOOT ON
THEM, IT BECOMES STUCK, AND THE
MORE IT TRIES TO ESCAPE, THE
MORE OF ITS BODY TOUCHES THE
TRAP, AND THE MORE INEXTRICABLY
IT'S TRAPPED.
THOUGH THE TRAPS CONTAIN NO
POISON, HERZOG REPORTS THAT
ABOUT HALF THE ANIMALS WERE
DEAD BEFORE THEY WERE FOUND IN
THE MORNING, AND HE SAYS THAT
MICE THAT ARE STILL ALIVE WHEN
DISCOVERED, ARE IMMEDIATELY
GASSED.
AND HE ADDS PARENTHETICALLY,
EACH TRAP IS USED ONLY ONCE.
MICE ARE NOT PEELED FROM THE
TRAPS.
CLEARLY, THE MICE SUFFERED
EXCRUCIATING DEATHS AT THE
HANDS OF THE WALTERS LIFE
SCIENCES STAFF, AND THE AUTHOR
MAKES THE OBSERVATION THAT,
"MOST ANIMAL CARE COMMITTEES
WOULD HAVE RESERVATIONS ABOUT
APPROVING AN EXPERIMENT IN
WHICH MICE WERE GLUED TO PIECES
OF CARDBOARD."
THUS WE HAVE MORAL PARADOX
NUMBER 1.
WHAT IS DEEMED ETHICALLY
UNACCEPTABLE FOR GOOD MICE IS
PERMITTED IN THE CASE OF OTHER
ANIMALS OF THE SAME SPECIES.
THE PARADOX DEEPENS, WHEN IT IS
NOTED THAT, AS A RELATIVELY NEW
BUILDING, THE LIFE SCIENCES
BUILDING IS NOT NORMALLY
INFESTED WITH WILD RODENTS.
THE BAD MICE ARE ALMOST
INVARIABLY GOOD MICE WHO HAVE
ESCAPED FROM THEIR CAGES.
A SO-CALLED LEAKAGE THAT IS
INEVITABLE WHEN DEALING WITH
SUCH LARGE NUMBERS OF ANIMALS,
AND AS SOON AS THEY HIT THE
FLOOR RUNNING, RESEARCH MICE
CHANGE THEIR MORAL STATUS FROM
GOOD TO BAD.

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues BUT THERE'S MORE TO THIS STORY.
THERE'S A THIRD CATEGORY OF
MICE IN THE BUILDING.
THESE ARE ANIMALS THAT ARE KEPT
FOR FOOD FOR OTHER ANIMALS, FOR
CARNIVORES THAT ARE USED IN
RESEARCH.
I'M QUOTING AGAIN FROM THE
ARTICLE.
"EACH WEEK A NUMBER OF THESE
ANIMALS ARE OFFERED TO SNAKES,
LIZARDS AND EVEN LARGE TOADS.
FEEDERS MAY BE ADULT MICE,
JUVENILES OR PINKIES, WHICH ARE
THE HAIRLESS NEWBORN MICE.
SO THE MORAL STATUS OF THESE
FEEDER MICE IS AMBIGUOUS," SAYS
THE AUTHOR, "SOMEWHERE BETWEEN
GOOD AND BAD MICE."
WHILE A RESEARCHER DID NOT NEED
PERMISSION OF THE ANIMAL CARE
COMMITTEE TO ROUTINELY FEED
MICE TO CARNIVORES THAT
REQUIRED THEM FOR FOOD, HE OR
SHE HAD TO SEEK PERMISSION, IF
THE FEEDING PROCESS WAS TO BE
RECORDED OR OTHERWISE OBSERVED
FOR RESEARCH ON ANIMAL
ETHOLOGY.
PERMISSION WAS NEEDED, THAT IS,
TO RELEASE A LIVE MOUSE INTO
THE CAGE OF A CARNIVORE AND
VIDEOTAPE THE RESULTS FOR
RESEARCH.
AS HERZOG OBSERVES, "SUCH AN
EXPERIMENT -- IN SUCH AN
EXPERIMENT, THE MOUSE IS THE
SUBJECT OF RESEARCH AND THUS
WORTHY OF PROTECTION.
THE MORAL AND LEGAL STANDING OF
THE MOUSE DEPENDS ON WHETHER IT
IS LABELLED SUBJECT OR FOOD."
SO WHAT ARE WE TO CONCLUDE FROM
THIS TOUCHING AND INEVITABLY
COMIC TALE?
SIMPLY THAT MOST ATTEMPTS TO
CODIFY ETHICAL BEHAVIOUR
HOWEVER WELL INTENTIONED, ARE
DOOMED TO FAILURE BECAUSE LAWS
AND REGULATION ARE SOCIAL
CONSTRUCTS WHEREAS AUTHENTIC
MORALITY TRANSCENDS SOCIETY AND
ITS CONSTRUCTS.
NO SANE NON-PSYCHOLOGIST
READING THE REPORT FROM THE
PAGES OF THE SCHOLARLY JOURNAL
WOULD SERIOUSLY ACCEPT THAT THE
MICE DIFFER IN THEIR INTRINSIC
MORAL STATUS.
THEY ALL HAVE THE SAME MORAL
STATUS, EVEN THOUGH THEY MAY
WELL BEAR VARYING LEGAL
STANDING.
SURELY MORALITY DICTATES THAT
ALL SENTIENT CREATURES DESERVE
OUR RESPECT AND OUGHT TO BE
TREATED AS HUMANELY AS
POSSIBLE.
THE MORAL STATUS OF MICE WAS
NEVER AT ISSUE.
WHAT PROVED BAFFLINGLY COMPLEX
WAS THEIR LEGAL AND REGULATORY
STATUS.
SO IT'S NOT MORALITY AGAIN
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, IT'S
COMPLIANCE.
FOR THE RATIONALIST, THE TWO
CATEGORIES ARE IDENTICAL,
HOWEVER, LAW AND REGULATION
BEING THAT WHICH PRODUCES MORAL
BEHAVIOUR THROUGH PRESCRIPTIONS
FOR ACTION.
BUT FOR THE MORAL REALIST, THE
ONE WHO BELIEVES THAT OBJECTIVE
UNIVERSAL MORAL VALUES HAVE
EXISTENCE, LAW AND MORALITY ARE
SEPARATE AND FREQUENTLY QUITE
DISTINCT CATEGORIES.
IN FACT ONE OF THE PURPOSES OF
MORAL ENQUIRY IS TO EXAMINE LAW
AND REGULATION TO SEE WHETHER
IT'S JUST AND CAN BE MORALLY
JUSTIFIED.
I WAS JUST KIDDING ABOUT BEING
QUIET, EARLIER ON.
YOU DON'T NEED TO BE THIS
QUIET.
[Murmuring]
SO HERE'S THE LINK BETWEEN
MORALITY, AND I'M GETTING NOW
TO PROBABLY WHAT YOU CAME TO
HEAR, THE PROBLEM OF THE
CORPORATION.
AND THE LINK IS SOMETHING
CALLED THE RATIONAL ECONOMIC
AGENT IN ECONOMIC THEORY.
I'VE SPENT A LONG TIME TALKING ABOUT
MORALITY BECAUSE IT'S CRUCIAL
TO UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE
ABSOLUTES IF WE'RE TO BE
EFFECTIVE IN ANY CRITIQUE OF
THE MODERN BUSINESS CORPORATION.
AND THAT'S BECAUSE CORPORATIONS ARE
CREATURES OF MORAL THINKING,
THEY'RE ARTEFACTS THAT WE HAVE
BUILT OUT OF A WHOLE BUNCH OF
ASSUMPTIONS.
AS I SAID EARLIER, THEY WERE
INVENTED ALONG WITH THE MARKET
ECONOMY AS TOOLS FOR CREATING
MORAL BEHAVIOUR IN A WORLD THAT
WOULD OTHERWISE BE HOBBESIAN.
AND THIS IS WHAT I MEANT BY
THAT.
THE RATIONALIST THINKERS WHO
CONSTRUCTED OUR CURRENT
ECONOMIC SYSTEM WERE WRONG IN
THE FUNDAMENTAL ASSUMPTION THAT
PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS SELF-
INTERESTED -- ARE ALWAYS
EGOISTIC, TO USE THE SLIGHTLY
TECHNICAL TERM FOR IT.
SO, TO THE EXTENT THAT THAT ERA
MANIFESTS ITSELF IN PEOPLE'S
PERFORMANCE, IN PEOPLE'S
ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE, THE
ECONOMY DOES NOT OPERATE
OPTIMALLY.
IN OTHER WORDS, IF WE GIVE
STUFF AWAY AND DON'T MAX OUT
OUR CREDIT CARDS AND SO ON,
WE'RE HURTING THE ECONOMY.
SO JUST TO MAKE THIS CLEAR.
IT'S ASSUMED IN THE VERY
CONSTRUCTION OF THE MARKET
ECONOMY THAT WE'RE ALL GOING TO
BEHAVE IN OUR OWN SELF INTEREST
ALL THE TIME.
THAT'S THE WAY ALL THE FORMULAS
ARE WRITTEN, THAT'S HOW ALL THE
EQUILIBRIA ARE SUPPOSED TO
OPERATE AND SO ON.
UNFORTUNATELY, WE'RE NOT LIKE
THAT -- UNFORTUNATELY FOR THE
ECONOMISTS, WE'RE NOT LIKE
THAT.
PEOPLE ARE NOT INNATELY AND
INCORRIGIBLY SELFISH.
WE ARE SOMETIMES, BUT NOW
ALWAYS.
AND I WOULD ARGUE NOT EVEN A
MAJORITY OF THE TIME.
AND THAT'S DESPITE HOBBES,
DESPITE THE UTILITARIANS,
DESPITE DARWIN, PEOPLE OFTEN
BEHAVE ALTRUISTICALLY.
THEY GIVE THINGS AWAY, OR THEY
BEHAVE STOICALLY.
THEY'LL DELAY A PURCHASE OR PUT
IT OFF INDEFINITELY, OR FORGET
ABOUT IT OR NOT EVEN CONSIDER
IT, BECAUSE THEY'RE OPERATING
ACCORDING TO SOME HIGHER SET OF
VALUES.
IN SHORT, PEOPLE ARE NOT
RATIONAL ECONOMIC AGENTS, AND
THAT'S A BIG PROBLEM FOR
ECONOMIC THEORISTS.
SO WHEN ALL OF THIS WAS BEING
DEVELOPED AND EVOLVED, BACK IN
THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF THE 18th
CENTURY, TO COMPENSATE FOR THIS
IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOUR, THE
CORPORATION WAS BROUGHT INTO
SERVICE.
IT'S A VERY OLD INSTITUTION,
BUT THE MODERN BUSINESS
CORPORATION WAS BORN THEN AS A
WAY TO COMPENSATE FOR THIS
IRRATIONAL BEHAVIOUR OF HUMAN
BEINGS OPERATING IN THE
ECONOMY.
THE CORPORATION IS A DEVICE, A
KIND OF SERVO-MECHANISM TO THE
MARKET, FOR REPRESENTING IN THE
MARKET THE INTERESTS OF
THOUSANDS OF INDIVIDUAL
SHAREHOLDERS.
NOW REMEMBER I'M TALKING ABOUT
THIS SPECIFIC KIND OF
CORPORATION, LARGE, WIDELY
HELD, ETC.
ONCE THE CORPORATION HAS
CONTROL OVER YOUR MONEY, THE
MONEY YOU'VE INVESTED IN IT,
THOSE RESOURCES ARE REPRESENTED
IN THE MARKET IN A PERFECTLY
AND CONSISTENTLY RATIONAL WAY.
THE CORPORATION IS THE PERFECT
RATIONAL ECONOMIC AGENT.
IT'S ALWAYS, EXCLUSIVELY SELF-
INTERESTED, IT'S INFINITELY
GREEDY.
IT DOESN'T KNOW THE CONCEPT OF
ENOUGH OR SUFFICIENT, WHICH
HUMAN BEINGS, MOST OF US DO.
IT ALWAYS WANTS MORE.
IT'S THE PERFECT INSTRUMENT FOR
THE MARKET ECONOMY.
SO A CORPORATION IS -- YOU
COULD THINK OF IT AS A SORT OF
PROSTHESIS, A WOODEN LEG, SORT
OF, TO HELP THE MARKET FUNCTION
AS IT SHOULD.
I THINK OF THEM AS MACHINES FOR
MAKING MONEY.
HOWEVER YOU DESCRIBE THEM, IT'S
CLEARLY AN AMORAL ENTITY.
IT IS THOROUGHLY AND
INCORRIGIBLY GREEDY AND SELF-
INTERESTED.
IN FACT, WE CAN ACCEPT IT AMONG
OURSELVES ONLY IF WE BELIEVE
THAT SOMEHOW IT'S AMORAL OR
IMMORAL BEHAVIOUR OR EXISTENCE
SOMEHOW RESULT IN A GREATER
GOOD, AND THAT, OF COURSE, IS
THE WHOLE IDEA BEHIND
RATIONALIST LIBERAL ECONOMIC
THEORY.
ADAM SMITH AND THE INVISIBLE
HAND.
SO THE CORPORATION IS JUST
MAKING THE WHOLE PROCESS OF
PUTTING VICE IN ONE END,
TURNING THE CRANK AND HAVING
VIRTUE COME OUT THE OTHER END
MORE EFFICIENT.
IF YOU'RE A MORAL RELATIVIST,
YOU CAN OVERLOOK THE
FUNDAMENTALLY AMORAL NATURE OF
THE CORPORATION AND ITS
OPERATIONS, BECAUSE THAT'S ALL
RELATIVE TO THE ENVIRONMENT IN
WHICH IT OPERATES, IT WAS BUILT
THAT WAY.
IT IS THE OUTCOMES THAT WILL
INTEREST YOU, BECAUSE YOU
BELIEVE THAT THE END CAN
JUSTIFY THE MEANS.
AND IF THE OUTCOME IS A MORE
PLEASURABLE LIFE FOR A MAJORITY
OF PEOPLE, UTILITARIAN THEORY,
THEN NO PROBLEM, THE END
JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.
IT ALL WORKS.
IF YOU'RE A MORAL REALIST,
HOWEVER, YOU'RE GOING TO BE
SOMEWHAT LESS SANGUINE ABOUT IT
ALL.
YOU WILL DOUBT WHETHER GOOD
OUTCOMES CAN EVER RESULT FROM
IMMORAL MEANS, FOR ONE THING.
YOU ARE NOT SO FOCUSSED ON
OUTCOMES.
YOU WILL WORRY ABOUT
MOTIVATION, FOR EXAMPLE.
LIKE EMANUEL KANT, YOU MAY
BELIEVE THAT IT IS ALWAYS
IMMORAL TO USE PEOPLE AS MEANS
TO AN END, THAT WE MUST ALWAYS
THINK OF PEOPLE AS ENDS IN
THEMSELVES.
YOU MAY THINK, AS I DO, THAT
HUMAN RESOURCES IS A FASCIST
TERM, AND THAT HUMAN CAPITAL IS
EVEN WORSE.
THESE TERMS DEFINE PEOPLE AS
MEANS TO AN ECONOMIC END, BY
DEFINITION, ACCORDING TO KANT.
THEY'RE IMMORAL CONCEPTS.
YOU MAY NOT WANT TO GO BACK TO
THE MIDDLE AGES, AND THE IDEA
OF A JUST PRICE, AND
PROHIBITIONS ON CHARGING
INTEREST AND SO ON.
BUT YOU WILL WANT TO ENSURE THAT THESE
FUNDAMENTALLY AMORAL ENTITIES,
CORPORATIONS, ARE UNDER TIGHT
CONTROL.
IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU MIGHT
REALISE ARMIES ARE ESSENTIALLY
IMMORAL, BUT NECESSARY, AND
NEED TO BE KEPT ON A SHORT LEASH.
SO MY POINT IN
THE BOOK IS NOT THAT MARKET
CAPITALISM IS WRONG, OR EVEN
THAT CORPORATIONS ARE A
MISTAKE, BUT THAT CORPORATIONS
HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL AND
ARE WARPING WHAT IS PROBABLY
THE BEST ECONOMIC SYSTEM WE'RE
LIKELY TO COME UP WITH --
WARPING IT OUT OF SHAPE.
I THINK OF THE MARKET ECONOMY
IN THE SAME WAY THAT CHURCHILL
THOUGHT OF DEMOCRACY, YOU KNOW,
IT'S THE WORST POSSIBLE SYSTEM
EXCEPT FOR ALL THE OTHERS,
WHICH ARE EVEN WORSE.
THE MARKET, BECAUSE OF THE
DOMINANCE OF THE MODERN
BUSINESS CORPORATION, IS NO
LONGER DOING WHAT IT WAS
DESIGNED TO DO.
AND REMEMBER, IT WAS AN ETHICAL
IMPULSE THAT LED TO THE
CREATION OF THE MARKET, AND
ADAM SMITH WAS PRIMARILY A
MORAL PHILOSOPHER.
THE PURPOSE WAS TO SERVE THE
HUMAN INTEREST.
AND IT'S NOT DOING THAT NEARLY
AS WELL AS IT OUGHT TO, BECAUSE
IT'S FALLEN UNDER THE CONTROL
OF CORPORATIONS WHICH, BY
DESIGN AND BY DEFINITION, HAVE
NO INTEREST IN THE HUMAN
INTEREST.
CORPORATIONS ARE MACHINES, THEY
ARE DESIGNED TO DO A SPECIFIC
THING.
THEY DO IT EXTREMELY WELL.
IN FACT THE PROBLEM IS, THEY'RE
DOING IT FAR TOO WELL.
AND I'LL TRY AND EXPLAIN, IN
THE TIME I HAVE HERE, HOW THEY
GOT TO BE SO GOOD AT WHAT
THEY'RE DOING, AND WHY WE'RE
SURPRISED ABOUT IT IF WE THINK
ABOUT IT AT ALL.
A MAJORITY OF THE BOOK IS TAKEN
UP WITH THE ARGUMENT THAT
CORPORATIONS ARE NOT WHAT THEY
USED TO BE, EVEN 30 YEARS AGO.
THEY HAVE UNDERGONE A
METAMORPHOSES.
THEY HAVE EVOLVED WITHIN THE
DESIGN PARAMETERS OF THEIR
CONSTRUCTION INTO AUTONOMOUS,
SELF-DIRECTED, SELF-REGULATING
ENTITIES OF ENORMOUS SIZE,
POWER AND INFLUENCE.
SO MUCH SO THAT IT IS NO LONGER
REASONABLE TO SAY, IN MY
OPINION, THAT THEY ARE MANAGED
BY PEOPLE.
CORPORATIONS MANAGE THEIR
MANAGERS RATHER THAN VICE
VERSA.
I POINT OUT IN THE BOOK THAT
CORPORATIONS, AS THEY HAVE
EVOLVED, IN FACT MATCH ALL OF
THE CRITERIA FOR AN ARTIFICIAL
LIFE FORM, AS DEVELOPED BY
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND
ARTIFICIAL LIFE RESEARCHERS.
I TEACH A COURSE AT TRENT
OCCASIONALLY ON ARTIFICIAL LIFE
AND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
THEY HAVE BECOME WHAT THEY ARE,
CYBORG CREATURES, PRIMARILY BY
LEVERAGING THEIR STATUS AS
LEGAL PERSONS, WHICH THEY
GAINED IN THE LATE 19th
CENTURY.
THEY HAVE LEVERAGED THAT LEGAL
PERSONHOOD INTO GAINING ACCESS,
BEGINNING IN THE LATE 1970s, AS
RECENTLY AS THAT, TO THE FULL
RANGE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
PROTECTIONS OFFERED BY THE U.S.
BILL OF RIGHTS, THE CANADIAN
CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS,
AND EQUIVALENT STATUTES ALL
OVER THE WORLD.
AND WHEN THE INTERNATIONAL
TRADE NEGOTIATORS TALK ABOUT
LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD,
THIS IS ONE IMPORTANT AREA IN
WHICH THE PLAYING FIELD IS
LEVELLED, THAT CORPORATIONS
EVERYWHERE GET ACCESS TO HUMAN
RIGHTS PROTECTIONS -- HUMAN
RIGHTS PROTECTIONS.
SO I MEAN THE RESULT OF THAT IS
THAT CORPORATIONS ARE VIRTUALLY
INVINCIBLE IN COURT NOWADAYS.
VERY DIFFICULT TO BRING A
SUCCESSFUL CASE AGAINST A
CORPORATION, AND I TALK ABOUT
THAT IN SOME DETAIL IN THE
BOOK.
SO FOR AN EXAMPLE...
WELL LET ME JUST BEFORE I GET
INTO EXAMPLES, TALK A LITTLE
BIT ABOUT THE KIND OF CULTURE
THAT'S BEING CREATED BY
CORPORATIONS.
WHERE THEY DON'T EXERCISE THEIR
DOMINANCE DIRECTLY, THEY DO IT
INDIRECTLY THROUGH MARKETING
AND OTHER FORMS OF PROPAGANDA,
AND WE'RE AWASH IN THE
CORPORATE ETHOS.
YOU CAN'T TURN ON A RADIO, YOU
CAN'T EVEN WALK DOWN A STREET
ANYMORE WITHOUT BEING BOMBARDED
WITH WHAT AMOUNTS TO THE
PROPAGANDA FOR CONSUMERISM AND
IF NOT THAT, FOR THE WORK
ETHIC, AND FOR THE VARIOUS
ETHICS THAT COME WITH THE
CORPORATE ETHOS.
WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY, AS A
RESULT, WHERE, IF YOU CANNOT
CONSUME OR WORK, YOU HAVE NO
MORAL STATUS, YOU'RE INVISIBLE.
BECAUSE MORAL VALUE IS RELATIVE
TO THE INSTITUTIONS AROUND US.
FOR EXAMPLE, THERE HAVE BEEN A
LOT OF STORIES LATELY IN THE
PAPER ABOUT FOOD BANKS.
WE'RE NOT PUTTING ENOUGH INTO
FOOD BANKS TO FEED THE NUMBER
OF CLIENTS.
THEY HAVE A BURGEONING NUMBER
OF CLIENTS.
T ONE THING I'VE NOTICED,
PERHAPS BECAUSE OF MY
BACKGROUND, IS THAT THE
PHOTOGRAPHS ARE ALL OF A
SPECIFIC KIND.
THEY ALWAYS SHOW THE PEOPLE
HANDING OUT THE FOOD, AND YOU
NEVER SEE THE PEOPLE GETTING
THE FOOD.
AND WHY IS THAT?
IT'S BE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE
GETTING THE FOOD DON'T WANT TO
BE PHOTOGRAPHED, AND WHY IS
THAT?
BECAUSE THEY'RE ASHAMED TO BE
TAKING FOOD AT A FOOD BANK.
BUT SHAME IS A MORAL CONCEPT.
WE FEEL SHAME, NORMALLY, IF
WE'VE COMMITTED AN IMMORAL ACT.
WHAT IS IMMORAL ABOUT GOING TO
A FOOD BANK TO GET FOOD TO FEED
YOUR FAMILY?
IT'S "IMMORAL," AND I'M PUTTING
THAT IN QUOTATIONS MARKS, IN
THIS RELATIVISTIC SENSE, IT'S
IMMORAL BECAUSE IN CONSUMER
CORPORATE CULTURE, YOUR MORAL
STATUS, YOUR WORTH, DEPENDS ON
YOUR ABILITY TO BE A CONSUMER
AND-OR A HUMAN RESOURCE IN THE
WORKPLACE.
I WOULD SAY THAT'S JUST PLAIN
WRONG.
I SAID EARLIER THAT
CORPORATIONS MANAGE THEIR HUMAN
MANAGERS AND THAT'S WHY THEY
CAN PURSUE GOALS THAT ARE
ESSENTIALLY INHUMAN.
I CAME TO THAT CONCLUSION
SIMPLY BY ASKING THE QUESTION
HOW DOES ONE ACCOUNT FOR THE
MONSTROUS BEHAVIOUR OF SO MANY
CURRENT CORPORATE MANAGERS?
AND I SAW THIS IN MY OWN
CORPORATE LIFE ON A MUCH
SMALLER SCALE THAN I'M
TOURNAMENT TALK ABOUT HERE.
I DON'T MEAN -- I DO NOT MEAN
THE THEFT AND FRAUD THAT YOU
SEE EVERY DAY IN THE BUSINESS
SECTION OF THE NEWSPAPER.
THESE ARE CRIMES AGAINST
CORPORATIONS.
I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT.
I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT ENRON,
I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT MARTHA
STEWART AND THAT SORT OF STUFF.
I'M TALKING ABOUT THE MORE
SERIOUS PROBLEM OF THE CRIMES
OF CORPORATIONS.
I HAVE A LOT OF EXAMPLES IN THE BOOK, BUT
ONE I LIKE TO USE, BECAUSE IT'S
SO WELL DOCUMENTED, SO NON-
CONTROVERSIAL ANY MORE, IS LEE
IACOCCA AND THE FORD PINTO.
THIS IS NOT A UNIQUE CASE BY ANY MEANS, IN
FACT IT'S ALMOST BUSINESS AS
USUAL, AND THERE HAVE BEEN A
NUMBER OF CASES THAT WE KNOW
ABOUT PUBLICLY, OF EXACTLY THE
SAME THING HAPPENING, SINCE
THERE AS RECENTLY -- THE MOST
RECENT ONE I KNOW ABOUT IS
2000, AND THE CHEVY MALIBU AND
THE FORD SUVs.
SO HERE'S, JUST FOR THOSE OF
YOU WHO DON'T RECALL, A
THUMBNAIL SKETCH OF THAT
EPISODE.
FACED WITH PROBLEMS OF A
COMPACT CAR CALLED THE PINTO
EXPLODING IN LOW END REAR
COLLISIONS, FORD DID A COST
BENEFIT ANALYSIS.
THEY CALCULATED THAT SOMETHING
LIKE 180 PEOPLE WERE GOING TO
BE BURNED TO DEATH, AND ANOTHER
180 OR SO BADLY BURNED OVER THE
NORMAL PRODUCTION LIFE OF THE
CAR, AND THAT BASED ON A VALUE
OF A HUMAN LIFE, THAT THEY SET
AT ABOUT 200,000 dollars, AND A COST
OF 11 dollars PER VEHICLE TO RECALL
THE CARS AND FIX THE PROBLEM,
MORE PROFIT COULD BE MADE BY
LEAVING THE CARS ON THE ROAD
AND PAYING THE EXPECTED LEGAL
BILLS, AND SO THAT'S WHAT THEY
DID.
THIS IS NOT A UNIQUE OR EVEN
UNREPRESENTATIVE CASE, AS I
SAID.
THE QUESTION IS, IS LEE IACOCCA
A MONSTER?
IT'S A MONSTROUS THING TO DO.
ARE THE SENIOR EXECUTIVES OF
OTHER CORPORATIONS WHO DO
SIMILAR THINGS, MONSTERS?
DO WE HAVE THE VERY WORST
ELEMENTS OF SOCIETY IN CHARGE
OF OUR CORPORATIONS?
AND BY EXTENSION, IN CHARGE OF
OUR ECONOMY?
WELL THE ANSWER HAS TO BE NO.
I MEAN THERE'S JUST NO EVIDENCE
THAT THESE PEOPLE ARE
PSYCHOPATHS.
AND AS SHERLOCK HOLMES SAID,
ONCE YOU HAVE ELIMINATED THE
IMPOSSIBLE, WHAT REMAINS,
HOWEVER IMPROBABLE, MUST BE THE
TRUTH.
AND THE TRUTH, I BELIEVE, AS I
TRY TO DEMONSTRATE IN THE BOOK
IN CONSIDERABLE DETAIL, IS THAT
CORPORATIONS HAVE EVOLVED TO
THE POINT WHERE, AS AUTONOMOUS
ENTITIES, THEY RUN THEIR OWN
SHOW.
CORPORATE SO-CALLED MANAGERS
WHO DO NOT CONFORM STRICTLY TO
THE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE
CORPORATION, HOWEVER INHUMAN
THESE GOALS AND DIRECTIVES MAY
BE, WILL BE EJECTED AS
MALIGNANCY AND REPLACED.
IF YOU'RE IN A SENIOR
MANAGEMENT POSITION IN A
CORPORATION AND YOU WASTE
CORPORATE MONEY ON AN
ALTRUISTIC PROJECT, YOU MAY GET
AWAY WITH IT ONCE, BUT YOU WILL
NOT GET AWAY WITH IT TWICE.
AND THIS BECOMES MORE AND MORE
TRUE AS CORPORATIONS CONTINUE
TO EVOLVE THE WAY THEY HAVE
OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS.
THERE ARE MANY EXCEPTIONS AT
THE MOMENT, BUT THERE ARE FEWER
EXCEPTIONS THAN EVEN IN MY
CAREER EXPERIENCE, THINGS ARE
TIGHTENING DOWN, TIGHTENING
DOWN, TIGHTENING DOWN, IN THE
SAME WAY AS YOU FIND YOURSELF
WORKING MORE AND MORE AND MORE
HOURS AND, IN A SENSE, BEING
EXPLOITED MORE AND MORE FOR
CORPORATE PROFIT.
YOUR PRIVATE LIFE IS
EVAPORATING, THAT'S THE
DIRECTION WE'RE MOVING IN.
I CAN SEE NO OTHER EXPLANATION
FOR THE EGREGIOUS BEHAVIOUR OF
MAJOR CORPORATIONS WORLDWIDE
THAN THE ONE I'VE JUST GIVEN
YOU.
THINK OF BIG TOBACCO, THINK OF
THE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FAST
FOOD INDUSTRY THAT'S BEEN
POISONING US WITH TRANSFATTY
ACIDS AND SO ON.
THINK OF THE PHARMACEUTICAL
INDUSTRY CONCEALING NEGATIVE
TEST RESULTS AND MANY OTHER
THINGS.
THINK OF THE ARMS INDUSTRY,
JUST FOR WHAT IT IS.
THINK OF THE CORPORATE LOBBY TO
KILL KYOTO, WHICH IS SPENDING
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
THINK OF THE CORPORATE LOBBY TO
REDUCE HEALTH AND SAFETY
STANDARDS IN THE WORKPLACE, AND
SO ON.
ALL OF THESE ARE ANTI-HUMAN
INITIATIVES, BUT THEY MAKE
CORPORATE SENSE.
THEY MAKE SENSE TO THIS MACHINE
FOR MAKING MONEY THAT WE
INVENTED, THAT WE CALL THE
CORPORATION.
I TALKED ABOUT FOOD BANKS
EARLIER.
I HEARD LOUISE ARBOUR, THE
CANADIAN JURIST WHO NOW HEADS
UP THE U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS
COMMISSION, TALKING ABOUT HOW
LONG IT'S TAKING THIS COUNTRY
TO MOVE FROM THE IDEA OF
CHARITY TO THE IDEA OF
ENTITLEMENT IN DEALING WITH THE
POOR AND THE DISADVANTAGED.
WE HAVE A VERY BAD
INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION IN
THAT REGARD, ALMOST AS BAD AS
THE UNITED STATES, AND SHE
WONDERS WHY THAT IS.
AGAIN, I THINK, AND I HOPE I'VE
DEMONSTRATED IN THE BOOK AT
CONSIDERABLE LENGTH, THAT THE
IDEA LIES WITH THE MODERN
BUSINESS CORPORATION.
THIS IS NOT A HUMAN INSTINCT TO
BEHAVE THIS WAY.
IT IS, HOWEVER A CORPORATE
IMPERATIVE TO DO WHAT IS MOST
PROFITABLE.
WE DO BEHAVE GREEDILY, YOU
CAN'T DENY THAT.
OBVIOUSLY, OBVIOUSLY WE DO.
BUT A LARGE PART OF THAT IS NOT
BECAUSE IT'S IN OUR NATURE,
IT'S BECAUSE WE HAVE TO BEHAVE
THAT WAY IN ORDER TO SURVIVE IN
THE MARKET ECONOMY, IT'S BUILT
THAT WAY.
IT'S-- IT WAS CONSTRUCTED FROM
THE GROUND UP AS A SYSTEM THAT
REWARDS GREED, REWARDS
AGGRESSION, REWARDS
ACQUISITIVENESS.
AND IF YOU WANT TO DO WELL IN A
MARKET ECONOMY, THAT'S HOW YOU
HAVE TO BE.
AND IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE
THAT WAY, WELL YOU BETTER GET
READY TO TAKE SOME LUMPS,
BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO SUFFER
MATERIALLY.
AND JUST TO ANTICIPATE THE
QUESTION I'M SURE WILL COME UP,
YES, OF COURSE CORPORATIONS DO
ALL SORTS OF GOOD THINGS, THEY
SUPPLY US WITH ALL THE GOODS
AND SERVICES THAT WE WANT AND
NEED, AND I'M NOT ARGUING
AGAINST THAT VERY OBVIOUS
POINT.
I'M SAYING THAT ONCE THEY GET
TO A CERTAIN SIZE, THEY NEED TO
BE KEPT UNDER STRICT
DEMOCRATIC, REGULATORY CONTROL.
CORPORATIONS ARE MACHINES,
THEY'RE SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES,
THEY HAVE NO MORE RIGHT OR
ABILITY TO GOVERN HUMAN SOCIETY
THAN DOES ANY OTHER MACHINE,
THAN DOES THE AUTOMOBILE OR THE
LAWNMOWER.
YOU KNOW, I SAID IN AN
INTERVIEW EARLIER ON TODAY, I
WOULDN'T LET MY LAWNMOWER RUN
MY HOUSEHOLD, WHY WOULD I LET
SOME OTHER MACHINE RUN MY
NATION, AND FOR THAT MATTER,
THE WORLD.
THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING, WE'RE
TURNING OVER EFFECTIVE
GOVERNANCE OF MOST IMPORTANT
ASPECTS OF OUR LIVES, TO
MACHINES THAT I WOULD ARGUE ARE
OUT OF CONTROL.
I HEARD DAVID SUZUKI GIVE A
SPEECH IN PORT HOPE WHERE I
LIFE, OH, ABOUT A WEEK AGO, AND
HE WAS TALKING ABOUT GMOs,
GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS,
ESPECIALLY.
AND HE DREW THE ANALOGY WITH DDT AND CFCs,
AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, BACK IN
THE 40s, ALL OF THE EXPERTS
TOLD US WITH ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE
THAT THESE WERE COMPLETELY
BENIGN CHEMICALS THAT THEY
WOULD NOT HARM US AT ALL, AND
THEY WERE CATASTROPHICALLY WRONG.
SUZUKI SAYS WE'RE AT THE SAME STAGE RIGHT
NOW WITH GMOs.
WE KNOW VIRTUALLY NOTHING ABOUT
WHAT THEIR IMPACT IS GOING TO
BE ON THE ENVIRONMENT.
AND HE, YOU KNOW, WITH THE
TYPICAL SUZUKIAN FLOURISH, HE
SAYS, "WHAT THE HELL'S THE RUSH?"

[Audience Laughter]

Wade continues WELL, WHAT IS THE RUSH?
I MEAN THERE IS NO HUMAN
PURPOSE BEING SERVED RIGHT NOW
BY SPREADING GMOs AROUND THE
WORLD.
WHO BENEFITS HERE?
WELL THE CORPORATION BENEFITS,
AND THAT TO ME IS THE
EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE RUSH IS.
SO I THINK WITH THAT I WILL
CONCLUDE, AND THANK YOU ALL.

[Applause]

Watch: Wade Rowland on Greed Inc.