Every time I pick up No Logo I decide I want to write my thesis on something related to corporate greed. The thing is, we as consumers and human/environmental rights advocates can’t be mad at corporations the way we can be mad at individuals. Behemoth corporations have no soul and no conscience, whereas people do. The bottom line is the only motivating factor for large corporations so it brings to mind the saying ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’. If it’s going to increase profits, it will probably happen. If choosing a not-so-ethical labor practice will reduce expenses, that option will definitely be on the table. The key to stopping human injustice and environmental damage is in regulation, and not just enacting a few laws and going to play golf. These regulations need to be strictly enforced with people on the ground/in the trenches that have actual power. Need I say that the disaster in the Gulf could have been prevented if stricter regulations were enforced upon the oil giants.
I learned a lot about the organizations Reclaim the Streets, which began in London, Critical Mass, a global bike movement with monthly events (that got some press from the cop who pushed the biker down in 2008 and didn’t get any punishment whatsoever), and also the New York City group Time’s Up! while researching into the topic of the loss of public spaces to branded environments. Reclaim the Streets is like the contemporary Situationist movement, fighting for public spaces like community gardens and against car congestion. Similar to a flash mob, they fill the streets with thousands of people blocking traffic, dancing, biking and playing music. It’s a huge unannounced street party, and cops sometimes just stand by and watch, unless they are forcibly breaking up the throngs of people. Some of these events have gotten ugly with rioting and injuries, but many of them have been successful and massively fun.
I paused for a while to admire the Time’s Up! posters from the 80’s.
What I am truly concerned about is our lack of independent media sources. Without sources such as PBS, Grist, Indymedia, and CIR all of our news sources come from a total of three corporations. These conglomerations like to keep Americans happy and obsessing over celebrities and reality TV (I can’t deny I’m guilty, no so much about celebrities but definitely reality TV). If no one reports on the atrocities happening around the world and in our backyards, no one will care and try to change anything, because no. one. will. know. The problem is exactly what Guy Debord predicted four decades ago: we are completely controlled by ‘the spectacle’, the one-way communication of mass media.
1960’s communes were since stigmatized, but there’s a new communal movement afoot that’s a lot more than nostalgic navel-gazing. The DIY and community living movement represents an active, passionate community that believes in progress and preserving the Earth and human culture. In this article, New York Magazine culls together many of the great sharing systems in our city. Simplification of our lives is a radical act. Human culture as we know it is at the risk of extinction under the weight of branded life and globalization, let’s not stand by and let it happen. The new collectivism is a great way to start reducing consumption, giving less power to the corporation and protecting the environment.
One cannot blame the corporation for their policies, but must work with them on a level of understanding to reach agreements on environmental and social issues. In business, you don’t just take something from someone – you need to reach a mutually beneficial agreement to maintain the relationship, which requires understanding the others needs. My undergraduate thesis was on the campaign contributions of corporations, and their effect on environmental policy decisions. Campaign contributions are a true tit-for-tat situation, which is now exposed in a comprehensive format on the website MAPLight.org (wish I had this resource for my undergrad thesis!). I am even more concerned now than I was then, about the corporate control of politics and it’s effect on our lives.