Paula Gunn Allen, Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepeneur, Diplomat:
John Smith developed into a writer of some skill. It is from his True Relations, accounts of his voyages and adventures, along with a few other contemporary accounts, including records of the Virgina Company business affairs, that the bare skeleton of the story of Pocahontas is known. It is an English story. It is a story kept by businessmen and adventurers. It becomes an American story, base narrative of a nation where "the state of the nation is business," as President Coolidge so aptly informed us. Despite its origins, it becomes a romance, lending a mystique to those original corporate executives and their struggle for power within the company that would otherwise be lacking.
It's funny how one can be very aware, how one can strip away layer after layer of the fundamental, unspoken assumptions that make up our societal psyche, and always have more work to do. Until I read these words, Allen's point here had never occurred to me, at least not directly. I knew that the American founding myths were about a bunch of assholes, but it had honestly never occurred to me that they were about a bunch of corporate assholes. The stories of "those original corporate executives and their struggle for power" having been imbued with the romantic qualities Allen discusses is a central sickness in American society.
We idealize and idolize these early CEOs and middle managers. They romanticized their own narratives and we bought it, repeated it, exaggerated it. We learn about these supermen incessantly from early childhood, starting long before we're capable of understanding what these stories mean, so by the time we might be able to question them, we don't think to because they've become so ingrained. And while we rarely discuss their nature as company men explicitly, the message comes across and we transfer this idealization, even if only subconsciously, to contemporary company men. We learn to overlook the plain fact that these men's greed led to mass death, so we are able to overlook it when it happens now. And we need to knock it off.