The River

Friday, July 30, 2004

ABB -- Anything But Bullshit, please

Am I too cynical for my own good?

Everyone wants to believe that John Kerry and John Edwards can make things better. The Democrats have spent four days trying to convince us of this. Send us in; help is on the way. Or is it hope? I guess there’s hope because they will help.

That pretty much sums it up. Anybody But Bush (ABB) will help. Once you get Bush out, you won’t have to abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.

Yet how are the Dems going to effect progressive social change while coming to power as the better war party? Like their adversaries, the Dems serve their corporate masters, masters who, were their practices exposed by a legitimately free media, would be popularly reviled as rulers of a totalitarian nature.

What is more cynical than attempting the highest office in the land without standing for anything? War is failure, the ultimate abrogation of human rights. But human rights and corporate rule are mutually exclusive, because in this type of system, human rights are calculated on a punch card. At least they were when IBM was helping Hitler manage the holocaust, as has been reported. Surely, it’s much more sophisticated now.

But war, corporate war for resources, is what we’ll get with Kerry. More of the same. Business as usual. Because beyond the nauseating platitudes, ABB translates to the continuation of wars of choice, imperialism with a “kind” face, the race to secure the planet’s dwindling industrial resources for the small percentage of “haves.”

Says Bob Dylan on the Masked and Anonymous soundtrack: “See it [the world] from a fair garden everything is cheerful. Climb to a higher plateau and you’ll see plunder and murder.”

And plunder is what the world’s largest and most powerful corporations do best. It’s pretty much their sole reason for being. That’s a huge story. The story of our times, because the corporation stands at the apex of world power, succeeding the monarchy and the church of earlier eras.

Propaganda keeps the masses from seeing it; in fact engenders their love and devotion for it. But the new documentary The Corporation provides a wide-angle view of the propaganda we’re fed from birth to reveal the dirty secret behind the happy talk: corporate practices of plunder and murder. The brutality and disregard for humanity on display in this film are stunning.


-- John Kerry reporting for duty --

Many of the people running these companies aren’t necessarily evil, of course. It’s just that corporations are created to produce only one thing without consideration for the harmful effects of the process. That one thing is profits.

In Our Pure War with Islam, Curtis White pointed out how CEOs are virtually helpless before this machine-like system. Because should a CEO object, they will soon be replaced, just as a faulty part of a machine would.

White writes:

Randy Hayes of the Rainforest Action Network once told me of a talk he had with the uber-CEO of the Mitsubishi Company. Hayes said he was able to convince this CEO that Mitsubishi's program of global devastation for short-term profit was not in the long-term interest of either the planet or the company. Hayes achieved this moment of clarity only to have it followed by a far larger and more monstrous clarity for both himself and the Mitsubishi head: Mr. Mitsubishi had no idea how to change the practices of the company because the logic that drove the company was both systemic and autonomous. This system at which even CEOs must look with apocalyptic horror is part of the ecology of Pure War and is not available for political discussion, let alone democratic debate. In short, it is not responsive to the will or the interests of the human beings living within it. Virilio calls this situation the "State as Destiny."


In seeing The Corporation, in watching the Democratic National Convention, I’m tempted to curl up in a ball – overdosed on reality and unreality.

But then I remember the heroes that the filmmakers thankfully included in their film. Because there IS a corporate CEO who is bucking the system, one who sees the wall we’re heading toward, and is determined to try to find solutions. That CEO is Ray Anderson of Interface, a global industrial carpet manufacturer. He relates in the film that he had an epiphany upon reading Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce. He says the phrase “the death of birth” pierced him to the heart, “like an arrow.” He came to see industrialization as stealing from future generations. It seemed to me a religious conversion, for he spoke with true and humble authority, unlike, say, John Kerry.

I think of the Dr. Vandana Shiva, who led a revolt in India against Monsanto’s terminator seeds, which are engineered so that their plants cannot produce viable seeds, thereby forcing farmers into dependency on corporations for crop seeds. Think of the mind, she says, that would develop a means of control by perverting nature’s basic drive toward regeneration.

And I think hopefully of Bolivia’s victory against the Bechtel corporation, which sought private control of the country’s water, including, according to the film, an attempt to stop people from collecting rain water. Who led the people? A politician? No, a 45-year-old machinist named Oscar Olivera. Their slogan? The people united will never be defeated.

There is indeed a war underway in various quarters of this green and blue ball, one that I think will come home to the cocooned citizens of wealth and privilege in the not-too-distant future. And John Kerry is on the wrong side of it.

--

We are daily reminded that the process of globalization is now in full swing. National economic functions are being absorbed into global economic institutions, public and private. These are controlled more and more by industrial oligopolies in the developed world and by their increasingly junior political partners. Some transnational corporations have assets and revenues that rival and even exceed those of many countries in the South. They can reach into the very heart and mind of nations, shaping decisions traditionally within the sovereign jurisdiction of states and their public or private institutions and organs. If economic pressures fail, powerful diplomatic and military options are at hand.

-- Mary Carras (from “World Affairs”, Oct-Dec 1999)


--

In 1998, the World Bank's structural adjustment policies forced India to open up its seed sector to global corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The global corporations changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved.

As seed saving is prevented by patents as well as by the engineering of seeds with non-renewable traits, seed has to be bought for every planting season by poor peasants. A free resource available on farms became a commodity which farmers were forced to buy every year.

-- The Suicide Economy Of Corporate Globalisation, By Vandana Shiva

--


Everyday millions of people head of to factory plants, assembly lines and other institutions of production.

We proudly make cell phones, cars, calculators, television sets and many more technologically wondrous goods that after a few years of service land up in landfills polluting our air and water supplies. The facts are clear, we are proudly working and sacrificing endless hours of our own personal well being to make things that are having a detrimental impact on the planet.

According the the United Nations close to a million species of plants and animals could disappear from the face of the earth in the next 50 years.

There is only one solution to this disaster.
"Workers of the world - RELAX !!!!".

Its time for a change.
Its time to reduce the work week to 32 hours.
Its time for music, family, art, education, community, friends, adventure, sharing and sanity.

"Workers of the world - RELAX !!!!".
It is our only chance.

-- Work Less Party

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