- McLibel -

The cost may be inhuman, but what is the alternative? *long*

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( n/a, UK ) on May 11, 1998 at 11:35:02:

In Reply to: the cost, the cost..... posted by Stuart Horsburgh on May 11, 1998 at 09:27:19:

: Please don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I don't care. Helen and Dave are, I believe, pretty much on the ball in their criticisms of the golden arches. They are justified in what they are doing, and as I said I admire them. But the cost, the cost.....

(Sorry to butt in here, but here's my hot air on the subject)

It is a high cost, but I feel it's justified. I'm going to make a few generalizations here, but I hope the point I'm trying to convey comes across O.K.

In the last half century, an ever-growing number of people have come to the conclusion that our present way of life just isn't sustainable - the "environmental movement". It is becoming clearer than ever (in my view) that this planet is currently on course for an ecological disaster of Biblical proportions (sorry, Ghostbusters...). Various precious resources (like fresh water) are getting wasted and unfairly distributed, causing suffering around the world; a suffering that can only get worse under the present conditions.

You can debate about the causes and solutions until you're blue in the face, but as is, large parts of the planet are becoming uninhabitable and desert, a significant proportion of the world is starving, and nations and corporates around the world are ready to fight over what's remaining.

OK. So far, no surprises. All pretty standard Green thinking.

If we look at the current state of "usage of resources", we can see that the highly-civilized First World is literally making a killing from the Third World. Yet this hogging of resources isn't producing great and lasting achievements for humanity. It generally goes to producing luxury goods that have no beneficial effect (and frequently have a harmful effect).

To foist these luxury products on an initially reluctant public, vast amounts of money have to be spent on advertising - to create an artificial demand where there was none previously. A frequently-used tactic is to try to persuade Joe Public that he or she is an incomplete person without Brand X - feeding a latent paranoia in our society that everyone else is secretly laughing at us...

We Are Not Cool. Cool People Use Brand X. If I Use Brand X, I May Become Cool Also.

It's the subtext behind a lot of the advertising in our mass media. Yet 90% of everything really is crap. The truth is, we just don't need it and it is using precious planetary resources.

The powerhouse behind this is global free-market capitalism. With the growth of the multinationals, sums of money equivalent to Third World GNPs can be spent on advertising. To boost their profits, the megacorps can afford to buy airspace everywhere. They see themselves as the scriptwriters of the New Globalism; writing the constitution for the next millenium of capitalist endeavour.

At times, it verges on a jihad - the OECD displays a near-messianic faith in their own rectitude and the rightness of capitalism. As such, any criticism of their methods or ideas is anathema to the business world.

Corporates have been buffing the chrome on their image with every spare dollar they have - yet the chassis is still riddled with rust and the engine is belching out fumes.

As such, corps like McDonald's find green anarchist groups who criticize them repugnant - who are they, a small group of free-thinking tree-huggers, to criticize the Holy Golden Arches? If they opened their eyes to the Glorious Neo-Liberal Capitalist New Dawn, they would realise that corps like McDonald's are a vital and necessary part of tomorrow's World Economy. Which is why they tried to silence Helen and Dave with such zeal.

They have become religious bigots.

Peter Preston (the McD's chief in the UK during the trial) said that "if you cut a McDonald's employee, they would bleed ketchup". If that isn't verging on religious indoctrination, it's pretty close.

That spiel is also (I feel) obvious, but it would class as "radical Green"

My belief in this is that the New Dawn is a false one; the last throes of a clapped-out system, forever trying to find that last little niche of unexploited country; the last frontier to conquer; the last market sector to develop.

My fear is that the human race will be left with an uninhabitable planet; when the dust has died down and the "one world" has fragmented, our descendants will look on us as supermen living in a Godly age - and do their best to re-create Babylon.

If we are to avoid this, we need to resist the corporates now. We are still not officially governed by businesses. Yet it's probably going to happen (in all but name) during our lifetimes. Yet corporates are unable to take voluntary measures to reduce their profits. It's alien to the beast.

Whenever environmental or safety standards are introduced, corporates send their lawyers to search these documents for any legal loopholes. Take the Kyoto accord. Carbon taxes didn't create a climate of cleaning up; that would reduce profits, making the corps uncompetitive. They instead created a market in carbon taxes; so the Third World will hamper its own industrial development in exchange for ready cash up front. Meanwhile, the "brown" industries can use their increased CO2 limits as a mandate to carry on with business as usual. No matter how well-intended the Kyoto summit was, the meaning (if not the letter) of the accord has been sabotaged by the globalists.

Similarly, experts funded by the corporates have their funding cut if they say things that the corp doesn't like, so ensuring that research into the topics concerned are biased. Despite the overwhelming evidence that CO2 is a major component in the Greenhouse effect, the oil companies have put out ads in climate research circles that say "If you're a Greenhouse sceptic and want to make lots of money and a name for yourself, we'll fund you". Scientific impartiality is under serious threat when the deck is stacked by the polluters.

As such, there is a vast need for independent whistleblowers; people who are not for sale.

People who do this because they feel it is right, people who do this because they feel it is necessary for our common future. People who aren't afraid to go and lie down in front of bulldozers if the need be.

Of course they come under fire; whether in the courts or in the oil fields of Nigeria, the megacorps will fight to the death, and people do die and more will die. It's never easy to go up against groups who came fund their own private armies. Yet it's not a fight that can be abandoned because we all live on the battleground.

While we are not free to dissent, free to move and free to speak, we are not truly free.

Of course, let us never forget that we're up against humans here. While the corporates may be faceless, the people who work for them are human and this should never be forgotten, lest we become religious bigots ourselves. Many of them believe as sincerely in their systems as we do in ours; it is up to us to persuade them that they are wrong, but to do so by example, not by force or terror.

So, if you are to save the world, do so by making yourself seen and heard. If they try and silence you; speak louder and dress more brightly. If they try and use force against you; conduct yourself in a peaceful fashion, and two people will pick up where you left off.

After all, we're not just fighting for our children here; it's entirely likely that we will become virtual slaves within the next 50 years.

As such, what Helen and Dave did was partially their own choice - they could have apologised, but not with a clean conscience. So they decided to fight it, and look at the result...

(Sorry about the vast length of this. I started thinking about it and got carried away. I hope it wasn't too dull.)

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