Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spanner: Corporations On Strike!

In a later scene in Spanner, Major Lt. Commander William Jay Becket, war-hero youngest son of United Corporations chairman Dr. Henry Becket, says, "I'm no economist, but looking at the [unemployment] numbers here, I see no reason why the Cartel wants to undermine its own survival by impoverishing its customer base." Immediately he's mobbed by enraged Corporate leaders screaming that he's a "class traitor" who wants to "sacrifice the best to the worst". Poor Will! He just committed the unforgivable sin of being rational! He won't realize till later that Corporatism is nothing like capitalism, that it's not about profit at all. It's about privilege, and the extremes to which the Corporate aristocracy will go to prevent capitalism, even if it cuts into their profits. The Corporates want power, even at the expense of profit. They're willing to go to extremes, even terrorism (see: Dictel Corporation's invasion of America in Bad Company), to get their way. Their entire ideology is about supremacy, not profit. To bully their way to supremacy and keep themselves in supreme power, the Corporates have gone on permanent strike — against the rest of humanity, the Cartel's intended victims. Every utterance coming out of the Cartel board of directors is an ultimatum. Will should know better; after all, his own father is the chairman!

In the Corporate ideology, which I'm laying out in my "Cyberpunk Gothic" series (so far: here, here, and here), money is not defined in terms of profit and loss or other such economic things, but as "lifeblood". Money is not a medium of exchange which humans use to trade for commercial goods and services. Oh no. Rather, it's the blood of corporations. And since the ideology defines corporations as "living gods", beings superior by nature to humans, money is really the material form of ichor, the blood of gods and other supernatural creatures. And money, also called wealth, is assumed to be in fixed and limited supply, just like those other material forms of corporate ichor, gold and oil. Thus, Corporates can only gain wealth at the expense of the rest of humanity, who are assumed to not only be keeping it away from the ones who really deserve it (the Corporates, of course; just ask them), but also hellbent on stealing it away from them. If money is ichor, ergo, the working class is a vampire sucking the blood of gods. This is exactly how the Corporates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rising working class, and why their panic put Hitler in power. You can just feel the hysteria ooze from the racist, anti-Semitic, and anticommunist publications that came out during this period.

What Will actually did was speak against the tenets of a religion, one he will soon know is called Corporatism. He convicted himself of "materialism", the ultimate sin to a fanatical spiritualist like his father the Egregious Doctor. He thought corporations were supposed to be cooperative organizations dedicated to mutual profit; he even "erred" in thinking that profit is their purpose in the first place. He doesn't yet know that corporations are actually supposed to be superior lifeforms destined to replace humanity and conquer the universe, the true summit and master of evolution. He forgot the all-important "Law of Social Darwinism" of which his father is the high priest. When he realizes what this "Law of Social Darwinism" really stands for — an eternal war of all against all leading only to total extinction and the destruction of the planet — he won't be very pleased at all. This may be the turning point in his character arc: his realization that the Corporate caste is not rational at all, and that there is really little difference between Corporatism and, say, the Islamism of the Cartel's symbiotic enemy, the Caliphate ruled by "Mahdi" Osama bin Laden. In that scene, the United Corporations earn themselves an implacable enemy, who will soon join forces with his former enemy Spanner and become one of the deadliest of the corporate assassins.

As for the strike: The Corporates are on permanent strike against humanity. They believe that their social inferiors in the Corporate Empire are eternally mooching off them, that they are parasites living off the "lifeblood" of the masters of the race (both corporate and Corporate). This is how they see wages: as parasitic "bloodsucking" of the deserving by the undeserving. Their belief in their entitlement is absolute, to the point where they believe in their divine right to rule the world. The "God" whose divine right they claim is the "Law of Social Darwinism", a synarchist counterpart to Marxism's supposedly all-powerful and implacably deterministic "History" (in Stalin's quasi-Calvinist version of "dialectical materialism"). Since the rest of humanity has what the Corporates believe belong by right to them, the Corporates go permanently on strike and blackmail their "inferiors" to give up what they've got no matter how little they have. For example, they demand the replacement of minimum wages by sub-subsistence maximum wages, followed by no wages at all, i.e. a slave-based economy. They demand the repeal of all legislation intended to keep corporations from destroying the planet, up to and including laws against rape and murder. And so on. They overthrow governments and massacre civilians in order to get their way. Ultimately, they scheme, through the "Moravec Plan" which would replace carbon-based lifeforms with robots controlled by a single megacomputer, to do away with perfidious humanity altogether.

But Will is in fact right. And he knows it. Unlike most Corporates, including his mercenary brothers, he has the realism of the field commander and knows a losing strategy as soon as he sees it. What's more, he sees that he's been fighting for a cause that is not only lost, but completely insane. He turns out to be much more of an economist than any banker in the Cartel. He may get the ship command he wants; he doesn't get thrown out, but promoted because they need him in their fight against the Caliphate's massive pirate fleet. But one day the Corporates will regret they ever turned on him, when he turns strike-breaker. At that meeting, he will fully understand exactly why the workers are so desperately determined to strike against the corporations, and why the Corporates want them all dead...

Character note on Will Becket: When I created Will in the late '90s, as Spanner's archnemesis Diana Shockley's pretty but scary younger brother, I originally intended him to be an Army Ranger or Green Beret. But then I remembered: Isn't Bremerton (where Spanner begins) supposed to be a Navy town? So I made him a Navy SEAL, though at 30 (as of September 2014) he's getting a bit old for special operations and likely got himself transferred out. (Why is he in Bremerton? I haven't figured this out yet; but I suspect he may be on an errand for Naval Intelligence when he first appears, something to do with NCIS, of which his sister Diana is a civilian special agent, and the murder that puts their brother-in-law Adm. Alan Fleer in command of Naval Base Kitsap...) In the Navy, the rank of "major" is called "lieutenant commander". For the first time, I make the correction starting in this post. He may already have been promoted to Commander by the time of this scene, and will soon rise to Captain. Meanwhile, an even prettier gang lord named Arvid Shield has designs on him — but that's the subject of a future entry...

Back to Spanner’s World...

No comments:

Post a Comment