Not about democracy (1)

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By Mohammed Adamu

In 2000 Naomi Klein, an award-winning American journalist published a 490-page ‘anti-corporate branding’ book titled ‘No Logo’ in which she exposed a global underworld of a new crop of corporate predators who owned top quality products (like Nikes, Starbucks, Tommy Hilfiger), run multi-million dollar advertizing and marketing outlets, and had, even in the remotest parts of the world, mega size billboards bearing catchy, ephemeral Ad-language intended to move hedonistic man to vain purchase.

These corporate profiteers had stealthily fought and successfully taken over market shares from unsuspecting traditional manufacturers. In fact many factory owners had suddenly found themselves clutching the worthless ends of a broken tether -no thanks to global capitalisms’ new approach to trade liberalization and labor reforms which had now made it possible for corporate predators to own and market brands without the burden of maintaining factories with all the attendant distractions of labor/union nuisance value.

Many factory owners sold their lines for peanuts to invest heavily in the ‘brand’; with mere ‘brand’ names soon becoming such larger than life metaphors of the soul of the corporate world that they became more expensive than the manufacturing industries which produced them. It was called ‘the rise of the supper brand’. The famous late graphic designer Tibor Kalman, said “The original notion of the brand was quality, but now brand is a stylistic badge of courage”.

In fact most brands-owners like Versace, Nike and others soon became less in the business of manufacturing clothes than in signing their names. Their ‘companies’ were now run entirely on licensing agreements mostly with brand-less, survival-seeking production companies in Brazil, Indonesia etc where so called ‘designers’ are produced at near drudgery price by slavish labor and which are sold in our vain, mundane and hedonistic world at cut-throat on-line, duty-free or billboard prices. And you now see why David Ogilvy, in his book ‘Confessions of an Advertizing Man’ said “man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard”

Madeleine Bunting of ‘Guardian’ described Naomi Klein’s ‘expose’ as a ‘brilliant chart’ of the “protean nature of consumer capitalism”; a rapacious strain of the lethal virus of global capitalism that has continued to ravage especially third world nations. Other commentators said it was a comprehensive account of ‘the potential monster that the global economy has created’;

The author herself, Klein, in summing up what she attempts to talk about in ‘No Logo’ refers to the “high gloss façade” of a heralded ‘global village’ that is nothing but a promise for further widening of the economic divide between exploiter and the exploited; predator and prey; multi-national corporations and what she described as “the planet’s poorest back countries”.

‘No Logo’ is the corporate world’s version of George Orwell’s allegorical book ‘1984’ except that where ‘1984’ is strictly an imaginative prescience of a jackbooted future world policed, imprisoned and Rader-watched by Big Brother, ‘No Logo’ is practically an existentialist ‘global village’ of the phantom ‘super brand’ where soulless corporate swindlers ensconced in posh marketing and advertizing offices, skim the reward off the drudgery of the world’s wretched of the earth.

It is also the ‘silicon village’ in which, in the words of the author “Bill Gates lives, amassing a fortune of 55 billion US dollars while a third of his workforce is classified as temporary workers, or where competitors are either incorporated into the Microsoft monolith or made obsolete by the latest feat in software bundling”

Klein agonizes about several exploited spots especially in third world Africa and Latin America where multinational corporations have grown bigger than their host governments; and are accountable only to their shareholders; and their super power capitalist home governments! She speaks of pliant and benignly cooperative nations with lame, corrupt governments only too happy to turn their cash-cow’s other nipple – ranging from the ‘sun scorched coffee fields of Guatemala’, the ‘abusive sweatshops of Vietnam’, the ‘child laborers of Sumatra’ to –hold your breath- ‘Shell Oil’s polluted and impoverished villages of the Niger Delta’.

And you bet pliant and docile ‘back countries’ of the world like these already locked in by the blood sucking proboscis of multinational corporations and conglomerates will always have America’s clean democratic bill of health. No matter how undemocratic they may get.

They will not be your candidate ‘axis of evil’ or ‘rogue states’ requiring of ‘regime change’ in the sense Chavez’s Venezuela or Ahmedinijad’s Iran are; -or in the sense the late Gaddafi’s Libya was recently!

The truth is that ‘regime change’ especially by American governments is not about democracy. It has never been! It was and it still is about cooperation or non cooperation with the western capitalist dogs of hunt, multinational corporations.

Philip Agee, a CIA Agent between 1957-1968 in a recent documentary ‘The War on Democracy’ by John Pilger admitted this much: “in the CIA we didn’t give a hoot about democracy. I mean it was fine if a government was elected and would cooperate with us.

But if it didn’t then democracy didn’t mean anything to us. And I don’t think it means anything today”. He added “the true goal of the US government is control. And the principle of ‘government of the people for the people and by the people’ that is just silly”

It is not about democracy!

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