2:19 PM EDT, March 14, 2011
I have long maintained that Cheerios are the world's most perfect food, having loved them since before I had teeth. So when Cheerios wanted to befriend me on Facebook, I didn't think — I just said Yes.
I was excited to meet Cheerios. I wrote of my love for them on their Facebook wall.
To my great surprise, Cheerios shot a note right back to me. “Wow, thanks!” said Cheerios. “What a compliment!”
I wrote back: “Holy S***. Cheerios have become SELF-AWARE. What does this mean?!”
Some poor goon working for General Foods was sitting there, answering Facebook messages as the earthly voice of Cheerios — much in the same way, I supposed, that the Pope is the infallible voice of God. It was not a man nor woman that had reached out to me in Internet friendship — but tiny rings of vulcanized oat powder, suddenly possessed of the power to reach out, communicate and love. I had so many questions. How do Cheerios pray? How do they grieve? Are they ever sick or lonely? Do they like R&B?
I saw anti-Starbucks crusader Reverend Billy perform recently in Manhattan, because he was officially canonizing writer/media critic Douglas Rushkoff, a friend and idol of mine. After a rousing set of anti-capitalist gospel music, he gave his sermon, and said something chillingly true: Corporations, since they have attained the legal status of human beings, are no longer content just to provide consumers with all the things they physically/psychologically need and crave. Now corporations literally want to be inside of us. “They want to be friends in the most intimate sense,” said Billy, pounding his heart with his fist. “They want to be inside our souls.”
A lawyer friend of mine shocked me a few nights ago. I mentioned that I admired the hacker group Anonymous, and that St. Douglas Rushkoff had convinced me that it was imperative to my self-defense to know some basic element of line code/computer programming. An ability to hack, I argued, is a right that should be protected under the second amendment: hacking is perhaps the only means of protecting yourself against a hostile government by the corporation for the corporation — as well as being the only effective form of social protest in a corporatocracy.
My friend made a terrible but interesting point: hacking is terrorism.
“That's absurd,” I spluttered. “Terrorism is violence. Annoying Bank of America for five hours is hardly an act of terrorism.”
“You're getting caught up in semantics,” he said. He was right. It doesn't matter whether computer hacking is actually the moral equivalent of walking into an embassy strapped with C4 and detonating yourself — the government has decided that it is.
Our government defines anti-corporate hacking as “cyber-terrorism.” It falls under the Patriot Act.
The legal fiction of corporate personhood actually extends to the point where it is now considered to be equal to an act of murderous political violence when a group like Anonymous interrupts business-as-usual at MasterCard. And these people are getting arrested, going to jail.
The absurdity of corporate personhood notwithstanding — we are now beginning to really feel the sting of that legal decision. We are living in a corporatocracy: a monarchic dictatorship, essentially, but with a better security firewall. We The People don't democratically elect CEOs; only shareholders get to do that. There is no clear route to accountability. There isn't even the possibility of an engaged argument — unless you're Michael Moore, possibly, and most of the time, not even then. If you call, you will talk to a machine.
Amusingly enough, however, sometimes the corporatocracy eats itself. According to Wikipedia, the FDA sent a notification to General Mills in 2009 denouncing Cheerios for being sold as an unapproved new drug. Statements made on the yellow box, said the FDA, claimed that the O's lowered cholesterol.
If the FDA only knew how kind and loving Cheerios are, surely their sins would be forgiven.