Thursday, February 22, 2007


"Megacorp is a term popularized by William Gibson derived from the combination of the prefix mega- with an abbreviation of the word corporation. It has become a term popularly used in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus, it exhibits both horizontal and vertical monopoly). Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily-armed (often military-sized) security forces, hold 'sovereign' territory, and possibly even act as an outright government. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, with the idea of 'corporate culture' taken to the extreme."

It may be no surprise that the guy who coined that term came to the land where I live now and wrote this . Crackling , Laugh out loud article .

That was way back in 1993 and surprisingly even after billions have been spent to get rid of that sheen , the article is still 90% true.

Now, there sure is something to be said about pragmatism , and thats where the place seems to excel . It has produced some of the best geo-political commentators . If thats all you've got to live by , you get good at it .... and it helps if you have an interest in the philosophy of sun-tzu and others who gave rise to the empire which lead Napolean to remark :

"Let China sleep for when she awakes, she will shake the world"

Good read this one by one of the sharpest observers of international affairs who retired as the Chief of the UN Security Council . Offers an anti-dote to the kind of analysis we receive from the anglo-saxon world.

From the Asian Financial Crisis to the 'westernisation' of China in the 80s through television and the wisdom of Deng Xiao Ping , Mahbubani handles these topics with ease and passion. He exhorts American policy makers to re-evaluate their foreign policy approach to include the 'law of unintended consequences' .

Occasionally though , the language lacks authority and his admiration for 'American univeristy education' can seem to verge on the servile (its after all a pragmatists book) . His constant reference to 'educated elite' and 'sophisticated classes' led me to reinforce my views on the hierarchical system here until I was realized that the ruling class in every country - whether it had Laloo at the helm or a Cambridge educated Nehru , each country has its educated elite who largely determine the course of the nation. It may have been the same knee jerk anti-elitism that led Mao to persecute any 'intellectual' during China's cultural revolution.

I still recall the day four years ago when I half-sneeringly asked one of my Chinese colleagues , "Do you like Hu Jintao " , his plain reply was "Do you like Vajpayee?" . Nominal democracy does have its advantages , but one can take a moral argument too far.

After reading the book , one realizes what a failure Channel NewsAsia has been . It was launched to serve a similar purpose but has since descended into being nothing more than a place where reporters practice gesticulating wildly to seem informed...and now and then vaguely alluding to some ethereal 'asian perspective' with background shots of bamboo/pagodas.

Hope the new Al-Jazeera english channel based in Kuala-Lumpur will do better .


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