First, watch Annie Leonard’s Story of Citizens United vs FEC. It may look like an animated cartoon, but the 8 minute video is NO JOKE.
Here’s my reaction after viewing it last night:
In the beginning, man saw himself as a part of nature, bound within its limitations, potential victim to it’s forces and its more powerful creatures, but also beholding to its bounty for his survival. He held nature in awe and reverence.
Within that last twenty generations, all that has changed.
Man came to see his kind as above nature, able to circumvent the limits of nature by his tools and technology–to move mountains, divert rivers, to make his own light and temperature environment; and he saw the resources of nature as a source, not of succor and comfort, but of profit.
Enter, the corporation. The term literally means “the collective body” and it was an aggregate short-term effort by a group of men to do a large task–build a railroad, dredge a canal–under a charter that ended when the job was done.
Following the inevitable path of fallen men, the corporation evolved to become a self-perpetuating and persistent beast, its power over nature became its bragging rights. Through mining, logging, or other extractive activities whose costs never reflected human privation or suffering caused by that activity, the corporation thrived. And it’s sole reason to exist became profit. Profit, at any cost. Might not be visible, might not be immediate, and hardly ever in THEIR back yards, but the extraction-to-wastestream way of making money had enormous costs. Fiddle dee dee.
But wait: there must be checks and balances for this power just like there were in government. The corporation’s ability to despoil must be offset by countervailing forces to prevent the destruction of the finite basis from which those riches were extracted (soil, air, ocean fisheries and such.) Hence, the advent of public and governmental entities like the EPA and other financial watchdog groups to see that the right thing was done. Mostly.
Those limitations imposed by health-welfare-environment regulations became limiting to maximum profits. The shareholders were not happy. So in a masterful slight of hand, the corporation, presto-chango, became entitled to the political rights of individuals as Citizens United.
And the final blow, once the power was securely in the hands of those who are fed by the corporations gained a controlling majority: the whining sissies who worried about silly things like mountaintops, streams, ground water, biodiversity and such are finally being silenced. EPA be gone!
And the Lorax devours what remains of nature, the richest few moving higher and higher up the mountain as the waters of unrest grow among those they have trampled on, impoverished, made sick, angry and–until lately–without hope.
The hope lies in the fact that even the most seduced and enthralled with corpo-consumer society are seeing the evil, seeing the vast wasteland where education and the arts, just social services, non-profit and personal health used to be. They are realizing where it has gone. They have been willingly duped. They want back what they had–in living memory. They want their children to have what they had.
Annie Leonard’s 8 minute explanation is part of the recovery process. It’s not going to be pretty–any more than other rebellions we’re witnessing now, many for similar reasons of dictatorial or corporate hegemony. In a world in flames, we can hope the gold of human decency will not be among the things consumed in the conflagration.