my 'we' post started me thinking about bodies, where we draw boundaries, and how collections of components can functionally be one actor. most importantly, how bodies can act intelligibly on scales that their individual components cannot.

also recently, ive been working through some legal and organizational stuff with Ice Water Games, which is technically a corporation.

in the US at least, even the most barebones legal entity for 'doing business' is a Limited Liability Corporation. often these are just one person, and the IRS treats them like that. IWG is a Nonprofit Corporation with 30+ members (aka shareholders or owners).

of course 'corporation' also means body, and implies 'group'. single-member LLCs arent really what people mean when they say corporation colloquially. IWG isnt what people generally mean either, but for maybe vaguer reasons.

there's a lot of fear on the left about corporations. i see criticism towards Steam and relative support of itch.io sometimes articulated in terms of Steam being a corporation. in an intuitive sense maybe that's valid. itch.io is legally a corporation, but functionally it seems to mostly be one guy. maybe there are a handful of long term contributors you could point to. Steam... well maybe Valve is in some ways functionally one guy, but Steam definitely is a body made up of many employees acting together.

'corporate capitalism' is a phrase liberals sometimes use to imply that some kind of fairer or nobler capitalism wouldn't have the failings of our current system. this is just another kind of 'small business' speech, i guess. corporations are big and have many co-owners. it's unfair that they win out over the 'little guy' sole proprietor. (unfair by whose rules?)

the real reason corporations win out over individuals may not be that our structures are pro-corporate (whatever that would mean), but that large groups of people acting in concert are able to make change exponentially more effectively than individuals.

i worry that the intuitive revulsion many of us on the left feel towards anything 'corporate' might set us back when it comes to organizing coherent groups with real power.

many of us also hate managers. manager is a complicated word. it often means boss, implies a power relationship. but sometimes it doesnt. in software there are often people managers, who might be feared like a boss, as well as product managers, who tend to be treated more like secretaries.

the reality is that at a certain scale, for a group to act coherently and to be good to the people who make it up, there need to be people whose job is about organizing things, taking care of peoples' needs internally, coordinating the timing of various tasks: 'manager' stuff (or in games, 'producer' stuff). if these people are acting as representatives of the collective, their ability to have power over an individual, to ask an individual to do one thing or another with the authority of the collective, is probably not a bad thing.

'corporation' or 'collective'? 'manager' or 'organizer'? words are tools usable by anyone. collective is already well-appropriated by capitalists to make regressive structures appear progressive. this used to bug the shit out of me, but i think im growing out of it. this is just how words work. you do not own them and you cant control their usage. but you can attempt to control their power over you.

rather than letting words and their usage manipulate you, focus on what's underneath those words. a communally owned and democratically operated 'Corporation' is worth building and protecting. a 'Collective' of investors is not.

June 13, 2021