- 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
- 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%
- With animated polar bears and Kris Kringle giving them
the thumbs up while merrily downing their noxious concoction, how can Coke
- 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
- "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
- 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
- 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
- In 2002, Dr. Francine Ratner Kaufman wrote of a disturbing
trend involving our children, who happen to be frequent targets of Coke's
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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: