Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Real War We Are In: Life v. Profits

Looking at the world situation from a wide perspective, some patterns become visible. The biggest pattern is that there is a struggle between the haves and the have nots for use of the world's resources.

The "haves" are the very powerful 10% who control 90% of the world's wealth. Their belief is that everything is up for grabs to make more money and to solidify their power.

The "have nots" are the rest of us, 90% of the people, who get 10% of the wealth. Our belief is that the first priority is that resources should be used for the survivability of life and profit making is fine once the social contract is met.

The corporate powerhouse rejects a social contract and they destroy people, environments and nations in their operations. Around the world people have risen up to resist this consuming beast and have been beaten into submission by covert and military forces, first by the colonial countries then by the American government.

As citizens we have been told that those rising up are "Anarchists," "Communists," "socialists" and "terrorists" and that they "threatened our democracy" and so must be "defeated." The truth is that they were seeking to throw off the yoke of control imposed by corporate interests that were stealing their wealth and resources. They fought in the hope of using those resources for the people of their nation and the improvement of their society. Our "democracy" is not under threat by those people, it is corporate control which is threatened. Chavez of Venezula is a current example of this. He has regasined control of the nation's oil from corporations to fund "milk and bricks" for his society. He has sent educators and medical teams out over the country to teach and heal the people and for this sin is called a "Communist." He is not a communist, he is a leader who is putting the needs of his society first.

Here in our country we have been indoctrinated with the belief that "capitalism" and a "free market" are good for us but the fact is they are not. "Deregulation" and "privatization were sold to us as beneficial to us and we offered no resistance to the corporate takeover of some of our basic social systems such as electricity, telephones and health as well as massive amounts of publicly owned resources such as land, minerals, timber, water and our airwaves. The corporations make billions of dollars from our legacies while we struggle to keep our heads above the water.

Because of the enormous wealth needed to run a political campaign, corporations have used their wealth to corrupt most of our legislators to pass and repeal laws that favor them and disenfranchise us. Most of the environmental laws, we fought for so hard, have been repealed to allow businesses to pollute without worry and the taxpayers are left to clean up the mess and suffer the illnesses caused by toxins in our environment. Our nation thrived not because of capitalism but because those suffering under it went on strike, held rallies and fought for labor laws, workers rights, enviornmental protections. They even faced the police and military forces, paid for with our taxes, that the government sent to beat them into submission to protect the corporate control.

Big business agriculture is not only poisoning our land with chemicals to grow crops, the crops they are growing contain contaminants as well as providing fewer nutrients than those organically grown. Big Business agriculture has also driven our small farmers out of business. Their genetically modified plants produce sterile seeds forcing growers to come to them each year for the new seed crop. In addition to that, GM plants can contaminate healthy plants and render them sterile. This puts our food sources at risk and make us dependent on them for the food that gives us life.

Various laws, world wide in scope, have given the corporations the right to claim patents and property rights on plants and food around the world. An example of this is the neem tree that grows in India which has insect repelling properties and has been considered sacred by the people for the many gifts it has given to them. The people have, for thousands of years used the leaves from this tree to line their seed containers with the leaves to keep them insect free. Now WR Grace corporation claims the rights to the trees and seeks to prevent the use of the tree by anyone else.
Plants used for centuries in the Amazon are being "patented" by corporations who claim all rights to them and denies their use to others. This may sound crazy but it is happening. Corporate control of water around the world is another offence to life. Before the Bolivian people kicked Bechtel out of their country, the corporation was claiming the right to charge them for rain!

This is a conflict which is reaching life threatening proportions. Our very survival on earth is threatened by those who seek to make a profit from any and all resources. Their heedless exploitation of the earth, this biosphere, has caused global warming, increased the pollution of our water, air and earth and diminished the survivability of life around the planet.

They assert that the bottom line is profit while we assert the bottom line is life.

Where will they go, I wonder, when this garden of Eden has deteriorated into a planet of poisoned air, water and earth? Even a rich person needs the basics of life our environment grants to us.

They must imagine themselves to be immune from the destruction they are creating with their clever money making schemes.

Their tools of power are:

  1. the "free trade agreements" which open countries up for "investment" (exploitation).

  2. The military systems which further their control through aggression and consolidate their control through protection and suppression on both foreign and domestic fronts.

  3. The governments which provide the above military protection and remove laws protecting citizens from abuses by profit seeking entities {environmental laws, legal protections that allow users of products/services to hold companies accountable for inferior products and services and fair labor laws}

  4. The ability of businesses to become massively large and eliminate competition.

  5. A "cover" operation which allows their further control while fooling the people into believing something else is going on. War fills this niche nicely.

The result has been a catastrophe for the planet and the life on it.

What to do? Business is the economic machine of our society. The aim here is not to destroy business but to reign them in. I must point out at this juncture that I am referring to multi-national and national corporations who have a track record of exploitation of people and environments.

The first step must be to change the profile of acceptable profit making from "anything goes to make profits" to one that demands a social contract from business that puts the sustainability of life first. As the workers, consumers and investors in business, we can demand that. Laws must be passed to limit their sphere of business and exclude areas that a society depends on to survive and thrive.

We must break their power over our political system by making campaigns publicly funded and design a campaign system that is under control. Public officials found receiving benefits from corporations should be criminally prosecuted and fined.

We must claim a spectrum of the publicly owned air waves for public media to be funded by fees charged to broadcasters who currently pay nothing! Information is the currency of a democracy and we have the means to bring it back into circulation.

To a large extent, they are only able to continue their exploitation with our co-operation.

If we remain silent, if we continue to fund their agendas through taxes, if we buy stock in their companies, work in their companies and provide soldiers to create their armies, we are contributing to their power and losing our own.

To bring down their "towers of power" we must be willing to resist by refusing to buy products and services they make and buy from companies who meet a social contract. Can you resist buying a gas guzzling inefficient vehicle if driving one that gets better mileage, reduces emissions, and is better built helps save our environment?

Boycotts, strikes and public pressure will send a message that we are on the move as well as denying them our money.

We need to ask our warriors, those we pay to defend us, our police and military, not to use force against their own people in defense of corporate interests.

This issue supersedes all others and requires that we form a united group. Join public action groups, check out watchdog groups, and let's pool our ideas and strength to reclaim control over our government, resources and living systems. Our lives depend on it.

Sue Dyer

Guest Essayist