What do you think of when you hear the word “psychopath?” Is it Norman Bates dressed in his darling mother’s clothes? Perhaps it’s Christian Bale’s handsome face spattered with blood in American Psycho. I’m sure the logo of a large corporation like Nike or Apple wasn’t the first image to pop into your head.

Joel Bakan, the world-famous filmmaker, lawyer, author and esteemed jazz guitarist, has made it his mission to reveal the true psychopathy and dangers of large corporations fed by capitalist pursuits in his latest film The New Corporation.

“We were learning about corporations and we were learning that they were persons, that the law sort of created them, constituted them, recognized them as these artificial beings,” says Bakan in a recent Zoom interview with Skaana podcast host Mark Leiren-Young. “We create this person. And then we imbue it with a personality that says it can only act in its own self-interest. It can’t act in ways that care for others, or for the environment, or for nature, or nonhuman animals, or any of that. It always has to act in its own self-interest. And what is that self-interest, basically? The collective financial interests of the shareholders that constitute the corporation.”

Joel Bakan, co-director of The New Corporation, on his Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, why corporations aren’t our friends and the reason corporations are considered persons, but orcas aren’t.

Skaana connects you to stories about oceans, eco-ethics and the environment.


Support Joel Bakan

Books on Amazon

**Amazon links are affiliate links and support our podcast, thanks for clicking!

Song Information


  • 0:00– Intro
  • 5:54– Where the original idea for The Corporation came from.
  • 9:15– Why The Corporation unfortunately required a sequel 10 years later.
  • 12:41– “This new movement on the part of corporations to be good, in the new film and in the book, we basically say that it’s very similar to the charm of the psychopath. You know, the first film we show that the corporation is a psychopath. One of the points in the second film is it’s found its charm.”
  • 20:57– “We can’t ignore COVID, and not only can we not ignore COVID because it is a major event. But we can’t ignore COVID because it’s a major event that ties into every single theme that we look at in this film, both in terms of the difficulties and challenges of corporate power, and the way it corrodes society and democracy.”
  • 25:35– How come corporations receive personhood and animals don’t?
  • 38:15– “What the orcas don’t have is power and dominion over the human societies that do have power and dominion. In a way they’re victims of colonialism, an imposition of a legal system.”
  • 41:09– Discussing the anthropocentric qualities of the legal system and laws.
  • 45:17– The self-governance of corporations and what that means for the environment.
  • 50:10– “Just speaking from a personal perspective, there’s really no point, in my view, in doing this kind of work if I don’t have hope. I mean, what’s the point in criticizing the world if you don’t believe that it can be changed?”
  • 1:00:42– “This Note’s for You” by Neil Young