- Hiace campervan. Hero image by Matt Parsons. All pictures below taken from the open access internet.

Toyota gives you everything. On request.

Can corporations beat governments in making our lives better?

2y ago

What if I told you that the states would disappear in future?

What if I told you that you would hide the coat of arms somewhere deep in the shelf, forget the anthem and stop hanging national flags here and there on the eve of elections. There will be no elections, actually. The White House, the Bundestag, the House of Parliament – continue the list – will become museums of the “long time ago”. Presidents will join Unicorns and Tooth Fairies in the pantheon of magic and somehow “powerful” creatures. States will become obsolete.

These will be private corporations who “cancel” states. Because more efficient and better governed.

Hope you remember the “Resident Evil” thriller series. With Milla Jovovich starring and killing zombies. The series plot puts the all-mighty Umbrella corporation in the centre. The corporation has accumulated enough resources to conduct some highly advanced genetic experiments. It invented the T-virus to cure people and prolong their life. It also managed to construct the underground cities (like Raccoon city) and build up private armies. The Umbrella became so powerful that the US government lost to it, eventually.

The “Resident Evil” is scary and does not inspire optimism into what I am to say. So, let me not speak about thrillers. Let me speak about the reality. Which seems to be no less “powerful”, but far more humane.

You all will probably agree that the Toyota Motor Corporation is a successful public business with a global reach. The sixth largest business in the world by revenue as of September 2018. It does not only assemble reliable and affordable cars, but runs hundreds of other activities and employs thousands of people worldwide to remain profitable, operational and innovative (364,445 workers in 2017). The Toyota management seems to have a clear understanding of their tasks and magnitude. For instance, in the Labor and Management Resolutions for the 21st Century signed on January 27, 1996, by Hiroshi Okuda, President of the Corporation, and Susumu Jinno, President of the Toyota Motor Workers’ Union, you may find the following statements:

“(1) As a global company, we will endeavour for the progress of the world economy, and at the same time contribute to international society; (2) The relationship between labour and management shall be based upon mutual trust and respect; (3) In order to create a company environment in which workers can fully utilize their potential and additional value can be obtained, we, labour and management will endeavour to faithfully perform the roles entrusted to us, while standing on common ground; (4) We will contribute to the realization of a truly affluent society and life for working people, taking into consideration the future of Japan as a whole.”

Toyota Texas headquarters. Image taken from dallasnews.com

Toyota Texas headquarters. Image taken from dallasnews.com

What you can immediately see from these statements is that the Toyota willingly takes a super-heavy burden to care of its employees, world economy and international society. With huge powers come huge responsibility, right? The Toyota promises individual support to its workers and help in making their lives more comfortable. This is a part of the functions state governments should perform! In this light, the Toyota managers become non-elected global decision-makers whose ambition is to remain professional, respectable and trustworthy (in other words, better than politicians). I want to stress once again: the document is twenty years old!

And it does work!

If you are employed at the Toyota, first thing you are obliged to do is to undergo regular health checks. You will have them more than required by the national legislation. The results of all measurements will arrive on the same day. If any worrying symptoms are found, the Toyota will “engage” and provide you with either clinical treatment, or person-targeted information on how to improve the lifestyle or dietary habits. There also exist a hotline for the mental-health concerns offering you the immediate support. An interesting point is that the Toyota emphasizes self-management: if you want to get more from the company (higher wages, faster promotion, etc.), you should make your best to meet its recommendations. Seems to work better than the state’s pro-health propaganda, don’t you think?

The Toyota has also a bunch of “social” programmes, for instance for young parents, or disabled people. These include the corporation-wide educational campaigns on numerous issues, introduction of the flexible working arrangements, construction of child-care facilities at business sites, creation of workspace conditions for employees with special needs, perfection of a return-to-work – or “welcomeback” – system (which allows an employee to “take a break” and re-enroll). The list may be continued.

As for the 2017, the ratio of Toyota employees with disabilities on a non-consolidated basis was 2.27%. This exceeds the legal employment quota in Japan (2.0% as for 2017).

Image taken from the Toyota Annual Report 2018

Image taken from the Toyota Annual Report 2018

It happened in the 2001 that the Toyota acquired its “constitution”. The one which outlines values and practices compulsory for every employee around the world. The “constitution” is called the “Toyota Way” and stands on two pillars: continuous improvement and respect for people. These two pillars divide onto the five practices, which is trust between all co-workers (co-citizens?), teamwork, readiness to overcome any challenges, unceasing evolution in every business activity (Keizen), and reference to basics / sources for answers on complex questions (Genchi Genbutsu). Once again, mates, the “Toyota Way” is an identity-building set of guidelines compulsory for 364,445 workers (or even more today) regardless of what state they live in!

Now, let me shed some light onto how the Toyota acts on the international level. And it acts powerfully! For instance, it self-aligned with the 2016 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Toyota promised to use its potential to reduce traffic casualties, build sustainable cities and communities, improve mobility, and take action to address climate change. Speaking of the latter, the Toyota volunteered to help meeting the Paris Agreement goal, which is about keeping the global temperature within the 2°C range from the pre-industrial era. For your information, the Paris Agreement was drawn for the nation-states above all, not for public companies!

Should I continue stating that the Toyota supports “its” Olympic and Paralympic teams of more than 50 athletes from about twenty countries? Or that, according to the World Bank, its 2015 yearly revenues ($237 billion) were higher than the revenues of the Russian Federation with all its gas- and oil-exports ($216 billion)?

Now, you may reasonably ask: “Why have you written that ode to Toyota, Ost?” Because I’m a political scientist! And the Toyota’s example is a good one to illustrate the theory of anarcho-capitalism! The theory, developed by David D. Friedman, which may have a great impact on our future.

You haven’t heard of the anarcho-capitalism, have you?

Decoding the term, its first “anarcho” part stands for “without Archont” and means a non-recognition of the power of kings, rulers, or governments (but recognition of the “common sense” laws and regulations). The theory claims that the governments are oppressive by default. The governments are led by “selected” individuals who have monopoly over violence and law, what is wrong, abusive, and inefficient. The second “capitalism” part of the term means the supremacy of the free market forces and the “laissez-faire” economics. In other words, every individual has a right to pursue his or her happiness without being told by anyone what to do. Because every individual is rational and will try accumulating property and wealth, usually through cooperation with other individuals.

Anarcho-capitalism argues that a society with the “cancelled” state should be more peaceful and prosperous than societies we have now. The state triggers chaos as a few “selected” rulers often take arbitrary decisions which harm us and prevent us from being even more successful. For instance, we pay taxes which we can use otherwise. Friedman’s cost-benefit analysis revealed that the “in-state” environment has more flaws than the “no-state”.

Anarcho-capitalism is also a pragmatic theory: no matter how good or bad individuals are, they will always find themselves better in liberty. If individuals are good, then they will need no government. If individuals are bad, then the governments composed of other individuals, will make things worse. Most anarcho-capitalists claim that the majority of individuals is “great chaps” and the minority is not. Thus, there will always be crime.

Prof Friendman considers that the Icelandic Commonwealth (930-1262) carried some features of anarcho-capitalist society. Image taken from legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com

Prof Friendman considers that the Icelandic Commonwealth (930-1262) carried some features of anarcho-capitalist society. Image taken from legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com

And you may cry out here: “Hey Ost, you’re bluffing! How will you deal with the crime if there exists no police?”

But there will actually be police. Do not forget that we are speaking of society of rational individuals who pursue their happiness. Some of them would see the security as a part of their happiness. Some of them will be willing to provide this security on request. This will end up in the first hiring the company of the second to serve as the private police. The first will also hire private doctors, teachers, drivers, judges, nannies. The companies of the second will likely merge into bigger corporations providing a wide range of services to individuals as single-package deals. These corporations will strive to outperform competitors on the market and attract new individuals. To do so, these corporations will develop efficient management and professional staff, as well as expand their offer and geographical scope. Signing a deal with the corporation or becoming its employee will equal to acquiring citizenship.

Do you feel the spirit of Toyota already?

Now, you may claim that the anarcho-capitalism is only a nice theory. Because states are the irreplaceable building blocks of the contemporary order. And you may have a point, but…

… but you are speaking of the planet Earth now, right?

Picture taken from imgur.com

Picture taken from imgur.com

The process of “cancelling” the state will likely be accelerated by the space exploration. The space is infinite, it does not have sovereignty, it never experienced clashes between nations for resources and territories. The space will belong to motivated, decisive, and professional people. To those, who will join efforts and find happiness in exploring the unknown. Today’s SpaceX with its much more modest than that NASA’s budget does things which NASA might have not seriously thought of doing yet. Then we have the hyper-optimistic Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Deep Space Industries, Planetary Resources, Gateway Foundation, Orbital Assembly. Then we have the Google with its Moon exploration ambitions (Google Lunar XPRIZE)!

Not to boast too much, but I also launched a little “space programme” on the Drivetribe:

Space era will be the era of professionals. And these professionals – alongside the state agencies – are also being trained and educated by the corporations today. Usually with a much higher efficiency. Because the survival of corporations on the market requires fast decisions and qualified staff. Survival of the humanity in space will require the same features.

By the way, the Toyota has started building up human-controlled robots! And they are really functional and impressive!

And yes, consider joining the Academic Driving tribe for more such articles!

VERY IMPORTANT!!! This publication does not represent my personal view on the future of states and world order. Please, treat it as an intellectual provocation.

P.S. Matt Parsons can be reached here: www.behance.net/Matthew_Parsons_SA

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Comments (20)

  • Fascinating theory. I know I disagree with it, but I need to sit down with a mocha and find out why.

      2 years ago
    • Thanks for the read. There are a lot of fascinating theories around. Gonna present them to readers from time to time. As for the weakness of this theory, it has "troubles" with social issues: support of people with special needs, support of...

      Read more
        2 years ago
    • Presumably charities would still exist to finance support for these people?

        2 years ago
  • What i remember the most from the 2008 crisis is that governments gave billions of dollars to "save" some big compagnies.

    If the government need compagnies, it means that the compagnies have some power on the government.

    Today's states are already just a "façade"

      2 years ago
    • Thank you for the comment. From my perspective, today's states are not "façades". Because they have the army / police to provide security to the people (big companies don't). They also can invest billions of dollars into companies in...

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        2 years ago
    • I said façades because i'm not sure about who drives the army/police or who writes the laws.

        2 years ago
  • That’s an impressive theory. At the moment it is still difficult to believe in, but I guess in this Universe everything is possible. Looking forward to your book!

      2 years ago
    • This is my theoretical speculation, rather than the theory. But it indeed explains some things. As for the Universe, agree, everything's possible. Even things we can't imagine today :)

      So, my book has a fair chance!

        2 years ago
  • Somehow I missed this text earlier. It's too philosophic. States will survive anyway.

      2 years ago
  • So many dreams are seen in your article! The only bad thing is that we won't see those changes/

    Life is short, Toyota is immortal)))

      2 years ago