The River

Monday, February 02, 2004

Another fine article

on the destructive power of corporations, media or otherwise.

Do you also get the feeling that we are getting down to cases? That global consciousness must -- and someday will -- come crashing in on America? That the "war," to put it bluntly, is the people vs. the corporations?

Read one of Atlanta's best, John Sugg of the free weekly Creative Loafing, on U.S. corporate economic imperalism vs. fed up people who are saying, ""

Sugg asks, "Did you know there's a worldwide call for a Coca-Cola boycott? Or that there's a mass movement in the subcontinent to make India a "Coke-free zone"? Or have you read about the interesting twists in a federal lawsuit against Coke brought by Colombia unionists who are tired of seeing their leaders butchered by paramilitaries allegedly doing the bidding of Coca-Cola bottlers?"

These, to put it mildly, are interesting questions.

Here's the beginning:

Death, drought and decay
For Coca-Cola's world empire, these are the "real things'


Porque amo la vida ... No consume Coca-Cola
Porque financia la guerra ... No consume Coca-Cola
No consume Coca-Cola ... No financio la muerte.

No, that little doggerel isn't the Spanish version of Coke's "It's the real thing." Nor is this line -- "Coca-Cola bhagao, gaon bachao" -- the ad jingle for the soft drink in India.

The slogans do bring to mind some of the lyrics from Coca-Cola's 1971 hallmark commercial: "I'd like to teach the world to sing/in perfect harmony ... ." But the message people around the world are humming, orchestrating and hip-hopping to is far different from what Coke's Madison Avenue hucksters intended.

The tune that many in the world are belting out is: "Go home, Coke!"

The Spanish verse -- from Colombia, where Coca-Cola is accused of being complicit in the murders of union leaders -- means, "For the love of life, I don't drink Coca-Cola/Because they finance war, I don't drink Coca-Cola/I don't drink Coca-Cola, I don't finance death."

The Hindi line translates as, "Save the village, chase away Coca-Cola."

Coke is, indeed, the fizzing personification of the Ugly American. It's the rich, white guys' burden made even heavier by George Bush's bellicose unilateralism.

Among the examples of blowback from the Bushies' foreign/economic/environmental policies, activists have declared war on two prongs of globalization:

-Shoving often harmful products -- McDonald's fatburgers and Coke's teeth-eating acid, for example -- down the world's throat.

-Obliterating millions of American jobs as corporations shut down factories here, moving operations to sweat shops in the Third World.

The very underpinning of the Republican/corporate financial agenda is to shift wealth to the elite and to "equalize" the world's work forces. That doesn't mean bringing other nations' up to our level, but depressing the American standard of living to the status of Wal-Mart greeters.

Naturally, not everyone agrees with that agenda. A poll released last week, funded by Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ford Foundation, showed that 53 percent of Americans are "not satisfied with the way the U.S. government is dealing with the effects of trade on American jobs, the poor in other countries and the environment."

This month, in Mumbai (Bombay), there was a less abstract expression of that sentiment. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the World Social Forum, a counterpoint to Big Money's festivities at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


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