- Capitalism and Alternatives -

... is that it is increasingly 'democratic' ...

Posted by: Dr. Cruel on October 15, 1999 at 13:23:52:

In Reply to: Gee's problem with authority posted by Stoller on October 14, 1999 at 18:47:18:

And that's too bad. Because the trend is definitely in favor of populism, regulated by a clique of academic mandarins and celebrities. To this low place have we sunk ... Sorry, Gee.

Simply put: Power nowadays is driven by technology, i.e. by knowledge, and the possession (and, increasingly the manipulation) of this controlled commodity. Those that control information, and the means of disseminating it, can exploit the dependancy of an increasingly confused populance, literally swamped in a sea of "messages" and especially crafted data ("spin"). Thus, the very process of democracy can be used to undermine freedom, by manipulating and controlling the material on which decisions are made by the majority.

You didn't think all this fancy "network" by McSpotlight is for show, did you? Not that McDonald's doesn't use vast amounts of revenue to accomplish similar objectives; but I understand the motives of the latter (selling hamburgers, and gaining substantial revenue from same), remaining far less clear on the intentions of the former (I deserve a break today? Please ...)

So then. Will I be given data, and allowed to make my own choice? Or ... will I be fed biased information, and tricked? Or ... will I be given a "spin", informed of the decision of my "betters", and be forced to accept the verdict? Is a philosophy based on arbitrarily victimizing people based on income and wealth superior to one that victimizes people based on race or sex? And so on.



(P.S. I still think that most people see through the "hype", and make the decisions that bring them the most advantage. Thus, the continuing success of market-based decision making. Confused yet?)

McSpotlight: You still don't understand the motivation behind McSpotlight?

Read the title page. It says;

"McDonald's spends over $2 billion a year broadcasting their glossy image to the world. This is a small space for alternatives to be heard."

We exist for two reasons. The first is that McDonald's continue to promote a diet they know to be unhealthy - as they admitted in court - and they continue to promote it is as healthy and "part of a balanced diet" (which term can be applied to anything you can fit in your mouth that doesn't actually kill you.) They do this because it is financially profitable to them.

The second is that they tried to silence dissenting opinions by using their vast reserves of capital to bully smaller groups and individuals in court.

Prior to 1994, whenever someone in the UK dared to criticize McD's on TV, or in print, or in a book, McDonald's threatened them with court, knowing that any group with capital to lose wouldn't risk it; they would apologise rather than risk ruin, regardless of personal feelings.

Then came the McLibel Two; who were advised by the judicial system that they had effectively got no chance of winning before they started; but who were prepared to stand up in court and defend what they thought was the truth, despite the stacked odds. Which led to the trial. What actually came out during the trial was so impressively messy that a group of people decided to set up several mirrored websites around the world under the umbrella name "McSpotlight"; to ensure that the evidence coming out in court could never be bottled up again; so that anyone who cared to and had Web access could access legal documents and statements from the trial.

McSpotlight was set up in several countries as a defence against McDonald's: to shut down McSpotlight completely would require a co-ordinated legal attack on 5 or 6 different internet service providers in 5 or 6 different countries with 5 or 6 different legal systems; and even then, we would have backups and could set up in another friendly country like NZ or Finland within hours; like the hydra; cut off a head and it grows two more. The aim was that the McLibel court documents would enter the public domain and would never be bottled up or silenced again. In 1998, we also made some McSpotlight CD-ROMs; the public can also get a copy of the site to browse through locally (we just ask a small donation to cover costs of production).

As a site, we've never hidden our opposition to McDonald's; we state quite clearly that we are a place for the alternatives to be heard; but we also believe that the public has the right to judge for themselves, which is why we provide the witness statements and court transcripts for people to look at; you can see everything that happened in the trial. We also run a Debating Room for people to debate the issues related to the case; and try to keep it as unbiased and free and fair as possible; because we do not expect anyone to make a balanced decision with only half the story.

If you read the evidence and decide that it's untrue, fair enough. Your decision might be inconceivable to us, but it's not for us to make the decision. The key phrase is "Judge for yourself"; you need to be allowed access to everything; regardless of what McDonald's want you to see - because you can't make an informed judgement any other way. That is McSpotlight's reason for existence; we make no financial profit (quite the reverse!); we exist to stop McDonald's ever trying to sue anyone again wrongly for "libel" - when they were perfectly aware of their practices beforehand. The genie is out of the bottle; judge for yourself...

Rex, McSpotlight.

The day of the verdict.

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