Home > I Pledge Allegiance to the Corporations... Fascism the American Way
I Pledge Allegiance to the Corporations... Fascism the American Wayby Open-Publishing - Tuesday 17 October 2006
By Jason Miller
Relentless indoctrination by a vast corporate media complex has convinced many that the United States of America is an exceptional nation. Charged with the sacred duty of preserving Pax Americana, the United States is purported to be the embodiment of the ideals of truth, justice and liberty for all.
Before making firm intellectual commitment to such pleasant fictions, consider these questions:
Why is it that virtually every liberal or progressive proposal for socioeconomic or political change in the United States is still-born, or on the rare occasions it survives the birthing process, it is beaten into submission by a domineering patriarch?
And why have virtually all crusaders for progressive causes in the “land of the free” wound up imprisoned (i.e. Eugene Debs), deported (Emma Goldman), or assassinated (MLK)?
For a nation that Thomas Paine, the intellectual catalyst of the American Revolution, envisioned as “an asylum for mankind”, the United States has not been very hospitable to dissent or dissidents. How can this be?
A simple summation of a highly complex answer is that powerful reactionary forces are consistently poised to suppress those who dare to challenge the tyranny of the de facto aristocracy and corporatocracy. And they have an extraordinary propaganda machine known as the mainstream media to sustain the myth that the United States is a nation governed by and for “We the People”.
One can readily find multiple examples of other governments and nations guilty of heinous crimes against humanity, but with a foreign policy that has resulted in the annihilation of millions of civilians, the United States is as malevolent as some of history’s most despicable empires. And the “bastion of human rights” has a highly questionable track record domestically too. Ask Native Americans and Blacks how their ancestors fared in a nation populated largely by self-professed Christians and ostensibly governed as a constitutional republic.
It HAS happened here
Tragically, the forces of avarice, militarism, nationalism, and lust for power have all but extinguished the bright illumination cast by those amongst the Founding Fathers who were deeply influenced by the Age of Enlightenment. Despite its military and technological prowess, the United States is awash in ignorance, superstition, repression, and fear reminiscent of the Dark Ages.
Holding the reins guiding the world’s sole remaining super-power, the United States’ ruling elite have seized (or perhaps created) a ripe opportunity. Preying on ignorance and fear, they have convinced many amongst the masses to sell their souls for the “security” of fascist and corporate rule.
Fascism is multi-faceted and has been defined in a multitude of ways. However, Wikipedia provides a simple and succinct summary of fascism’s widely accepted defining characteristics:
Fascism is associated by many scholars with one or more of the following characteristics: a very high degree of nationalism, economic corporatism, a powerful, dictatorial leader who portrays the nation, state or collective as superior to the individuals or groups composing it.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sinclair Lewis’ prediction has come true. And despite desperate propagandistic attempts to preserve the false cloak of humanitarianism, the Bush Regime is overtly displaying the innate savagery and predatory nature of the American Empire, Inc.
In the United States’ version of a fascist state, the flag and those who mindlessly Pledge Allegiance have become nearly ubiquitous. The so-called “Patriot Act” has severely diminished civil liberties yet is widely accepted as necessary to preserve the security of “our nation”. Two consecutive elections (each of which denied US citizens the opportunity to truly influence the outcome) “catapulted” a morally and intellectually bankrupt man into the role of “leader of the free world”. Natural disasters occur and thousands of human beings are left to suffer and die. Imperial wars cost hundreds of thousands of lives, plunge the nation further into fiscal and moral bankruptcy, and strain military personnel beyond their limits. The Decider and company continue greedily consolidating power to elevate Bush to the position of a unitary executive. And thanks to the zealous efforts of the Bush Regime, the widening wealth gap and deep cuts to federal social programs are enabling some Developing Nations to surpass the United States in areas such as education and health care.
Corporatism and its evil ways...
With the rise of economic corporatism, the line between corporations and the federal government has blurred significantly. Dick Cheney is one of many key government officials who seamlessly slide between the private and public sector, closing the door on neither. In a blatantly criminal example, this “revolving door” has enabled Halliburton to win no-bid contracts and defraud tax-payers of billions of dollars. Intense lobbying efforts, large campaign donations, and the manipulation of Congresspeople with promises to create (or threats to eliminate) jobs ensure that corporate interests prevail in the public arena. And with $600 billion of public money going toward military spending each year, corporate defense contractors have become the pushers for a nation addicted to war.
How did corporations become so powerful?
Germinating in the 19th Century, the legal concept of corporate personhood sank deep roots into the rich soil of predacious capitalism in the United States. Sheltered by the validation of the Supreme Court and the fierce protection of the ruling elite, corporate personhood has grown to Sequoia-like proportions. Bestowed with many of the legal rights of a human being yet lacking human encumbrances or limitations such as conscience, fear, and mortality, corporations are bastions from which acquisitive and malevolent individuals can commit egregious crimes with virtual impunity.
There are many examples of corporations that often abuse their power, put profits ahead of human welfare and the environment, and wield undue influence over public policy.
Shall we consider one such corporation?
“Have a Coke and a Smile and Shut the Fuck Up”
Coca Cola is as much a part of the American Way as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. What could be more wonderful than an American icon producing a refreshing soft drink recognized by 94% of the world’s population?
Remember some of Coke’s advertising slogans?
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
Coke adds life.
Coke is it.
(Yes, those are but a few of the taglines that Madison Avenue has seared into your cerebrum).
Despite some recent “hiccups”, the soft drink leviathan cruised across the 2005 finish line with annual revenues of $23.1 billion and a net income of nearly $5 billion. So major investors, corporate executives, supporters, and Coca Cola addicts can truly “Have a Coke and a smile.”
It’s not a party for everyone...
Unfortunately, there are many people around the world who are not smiling with them. A campaign to Stop Killer Coke has gathered so much momentum that Coke spent $2.4 billion in advertising last year. To counter the exposure of the hideous truths behind the hallowed “Coke lore”, Coca Cola has increased its advertising expenditures by 30% since 2004.
With animated polar bears and Kris Kringle giving them the thumbs up while merrily downing their noxious concoction, how can Coke lose?
Hopefully enough people will awaken to reality and stop drinking Coca Cola beverages until it begins producing and marketing healthier products in an ethical way.
And what are some of these ugly truths veiled by the powerful illusions that $2.4 billion per year can create?
Ray Rogers, head of Corporate Campaign, Inc. offered this analysis:
“They are right at the top of the worst companies in the world, and yet they’ve created an image like they are American pie. When people think of Coca-Cola, they should think about great hardship and despair for people and communities around the world."
What are some of the hardships and despairs associated with Coca Cola?
India is the scene of some of Coke’s most serious crimes.
In the remote village of Plachimada, Coke’s $25 million bottling plant depleted the water wells of locals. Adding insult to injury, Coca Cola also distributed “free fertilizer” to indigenous farmers. The “fertilizer” was a by-product of its production process and was loaded with cadmium, a carcinogenic toxin. Locals staged an ongoing demonstration at the plant starting in 2002. In 2005 the Kerala State Pollution Control Board shut down the Coke facility.
A Coke plant in Mehdiganj has caused Indian citizens in twenty towns to face significant water scarcity with water tables dropping by 18 feet.
Pesticide levels in Coke produced in India average 25 times the maximum levels established by the Bureau of Indian Standards. As a result, the Indian state of Kerala has banned the sale of Coke.
It is instructive to note that the Bush administration, ever the corporate champion, dispatched U.S. Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin to issue this thinly veiled threat to India:
"In a time when India is working hard to attract and retain foreign investment, it would be unfortunate if the discussion were dominated by those who did not want to treat foreign companies fairly."
Yes, Franklin. It is indeed unfair that people in India don’t want to drink pesticide to enhance Coke’s profits. And Coca Cola thanks you for providing a return on its investment of $380,000.00 to the Bush presidential campaign in 2004.
In his April 2006 ZNet article, Sucking Communities Dry , Joe Zacune of War on Want wrote:
The company admits that without water it would have no business at all. Coca-Cola’s operations rely on access to vast supplies of water, as it takes almost three litres of water to make one litre of Coca-Cola. In order to satisfy this need, Coca-Cola is increasingly taking over control of aquifers in communities around the world. These vast subterranean chambers hold water resources collected over many hundreds of years. As such they the represent the heritage of entire communities.
It is indeed ironic that the company that once used the tagline “Delicious, wholesome, thirst quenching” is depriving significant numbers of people around the globe of ready access to potable water.
And do the ends justify the means? To offset its theft and poisoning of water supplies, does Coca Cola create an elixir that benefits humanity in a substantial way? Hardly....
Here’s to your (deteriorating) health...
Coca Cola easily dissolves tooth enamel. Its high phosphorus contact causes the depletion of calcium in the body. Calcium depletion increases the risk of osteoporosis in adults and of bone fractures in adolescents. As calcium leaves the body, it is often collected in the kidneys to form kidney stones. Coke can also impede proper digestion and exacerbate acid reflux.
And let’s not forget the additional “health benefits” to Coke drinkers. The extremely high sugar content increases the chance of obesity 1.6 times each time a person downs a soda. And to complement the lovely prospect of becoming obese, the over-consumption of sugar associated with drinking Coke on a regular basis puts one at risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.
In 2002, Dr. Francine Ratner Kaufman wrote of a disturbing trend involving our children, who happen to be frequent targets of Coke’s advertising:
As the new president of the American Diabetes Association and as a pediatric endocrinologist, I have had the opportunity to appreciate the recent change in the face of type 2 diabetes in the United States. Type 2 diabetes has changed from a disease of our grandparents and parents to a disease of our children....In 1992, it was rare for most pediatric centers to have patients with type 2 diabetes. By 1994, type 2 diabetes accounted for up to 16% of new cases of pediatric diabetes in urban areas, and by 1999, it accounted for 8-45% of new cases depending on geographic location.
“Relax with Coke”...But don’t try to work for them
Coke has been particularly hard on the health of union activists and members. In Colombia, nine Coca Cola-employed union leaders have been killed and hundreds of union workers tortured, kidnapped, or attacked by right-wing paramilitaries. Ironically, the timing of the violence of the paramilitaries has coincided with union agitation and contract negotiations.
The New York City Council sent a group to Colombia to investigate Coca Cola’s potential responsibility for the murders and assaults. Documenting 179 human rights abuses and determining that Coke’s bottlers were closely aligned with the paramilitaries who committed the crimes, the investigators issued this statement:
“The company denies any involvement in the threats, assassinations, kidnappings and other terror tactics, but its failure to protect its workers even on company property, its refusal to investigate persistent allegations of payoffs to paramilitary leaders by plant managers, and its unwillingness to share documentation that might demonstrate otherwise leads the delegation to the conclusion that Coca-Cola is complicit in the human rights abuses of its workers in Colombia.”
In May of 2005, a Coca Cola facility in Turkey fired five union organizers. A day later, Coke fired 50 union employees. When the fired employees refused to leave immediately, Coke had Turkish riot police known as Cevik Kuvvet drive them off by beating them.
Coke was not finished. They waited five days and then fired 50 more union members.
In July, the fired union members and their families gathered at the Coca Cola facility to peacefully protest their termination. 1,000 Cevik Kuvvet sprayed them with tear gas and beat them with batons. Coca Cola’s violent suppression of union activity sent 90 people to the hospital that day
According to a detailed report by Human Rights Watch, child labor is rampant in El Salvador. Children as young as eight are subjected to back-breaking and dangerous labor harvesting sugar-cane for subsistence wages. Companies purchasing and using the sugar enable and perpetuate this morally reprehensible practice.
Human Rights Watch asserted:
One such business is The Coca-Cola Company, which uses sugar from El Salvador’s largest mill, Central Izalco, located in the Department of Sonsonate. Coca-Cola uses Salvadoran sugar in its bottled beverages for domestic consumption in El Salvador and in its canned beverages sold throughout Central America. At least four of the plantations that supply sugarcane to Central Izalco regularly use child labor, Human Rights Watch found after interviewing children and adults who work on those plantations. When Human Rights Watch brought this information to Coca-Cola’s attention, Coca-Cola asked its supplier mill to conduct its own investigation into the use of child labor on plantations that supply the mill. Coca-Cola’s extensive response to the information provided by Human Rights Watch did not contradict our findings.
In 1946, one of Coke’s advertising slogans was:
Whenever you hear "Have a Coke," you hear the voice of America
I wonder how often eight year old El Salvadoran children hear the voice of America and think that “Coke adds life”....
They’re counting on YOUR support!
After weighing the evidence, I have decided to excise soft drinks from my life. And that is no easy task for a "four can a day" addict. So the next time you are downing a refreshing can of soda, I urge you to resist Coke’s $2.4 billion mind fuck and think about thirsty human beings drinking cadmium-contaminated water, pesticide cocktails, “fertilizer” derived from toxic sludge, decaying teeth, corpulence, child diabetics, murder for hire, police batons cracking skulls, children suffering the horrors of child labor, and the growing trend toward global fascism.
And remember to“Enjoy that refreshing new feeling.” Fascist elements are counting on your blind loyalty in their bid to subjugate the world’s masses to corporate domination.
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. He writes prolifically and his essays have appeared widely on the Internet. He welcomes constructive correspondence at email@example.com or via his blog, Thomas Paine’s Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
Sources and Suggested Reading: