These days when multi-national corporations have revenues larger than the GDP of some countries, are fully plugged in to the governments that supposedly regulate them, and are taking an ever larger slice of authority unto themselves, it gives one to think. In some ways nation-states based on geography and history look anachronistic by comparison. What happens when corporations start to exercise that power they've been amassing?
There's been some serious scholarly work done exploring that question - but there's also been some science fiction as well. The Space Merchants from 1952 looked at an America totally given over to consumerism - and Congressional seats were held by corporations. The Cold Cash War from 1977 looks at a world where corporations have gone to extra-hostile takeovers, where mercenaries bring armed force to corporate raiding. Jerry Pournelle has written a number of stories where government has collapsed into corruption and incompetence; only corporations (and not all of them) have the resources and the vision to pursue a vision for a better future. (And we really can't leave Atlas Shrugged out of this, no matter how much we'd like to...)
For that matter, corporate villainy, conflict, etc. is a staple of factual as well as fictional story telling.
Over at Slate (hat tip to Kevin Drum for pointing to it), Farhad Manjoo and Matthew Yglesias have come up with a scenario: WarGames: Google vs. Apple. As the intro to the 10 episode engagement puts it:
They’re the two titans of the tech industry, and they command attention throughout the digital realm the way the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. once drove the geopolitical agendas of the entire world. They’ve sparred before, especially on the issue of Android vs. the iPhone. But what if the cold war between these two behemoths got hot? If Google and Apple went to actual war, who would win?It's somewhat tongue in cheek - but also a little too true to be funny in some spots. Food for thought...