Tuesday, August 19, 2008

AR2008: The Corporate Threat

Corporate executives are out to protect their companies' bottom lines. I still don't understand how someone could have no conscience and would rather get richer than protect our Earth and its inhabitants. Maybe it's good that I don't understand it.

Debra Erenberg from the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental organization, listed five tactics that corporations use to repress progressive movements:

1) Challenge Non-Profit Funding
2) Police Surveillance
3) Exploit 9/11 Culture of Fear
4) Aggressive-Model Legislation
5) Lawsuits Against Public Participation

Erenberg also cited a 2006 Satya story that outlined three tactics that a PR exec encouraged the Cattlemen's Association to use to diminish the effectiveness of the animal-rights movement.

1) Isolate the radicals
2) "Cultivate" the idealists and "educate" them into becoming "realists"
3) Co-opt the opportunists into agreeing with industry

What this means is that the animal-abuse industry must identify the radicals(1), those people or groups who won't back down from what they want. Then the industry must convert the idealists by "educating" them about "commonsense" expectations. In this way the idealists become "realists"(2), and the radicals look like extremists. Finally, the industry must target opportunists, people in the movement who are looking for publicity and power, and give them the "perception of a partial victory"(3).

Harold Brown was born on a family farm and spent three years in the dairy industry. He now helps farmers transition from animal agriculture to plant-based farming, and he seems very knowledgeable.

He calls "free markets" a colonization of the Western diet to other lands and says the U.S. government has turned a blind eye to agricultural monopolies.

He cautions us not to underestimate slick PR companies, the "right hand of corporations." They've given us a false vision of a typical farm -- red barn, silo, green grass and happy animals.

He says PR companies have taken down governments in South America, and they stop Americans from being cohesive.

Similarly to what Erenberg said, Brown said that realists push radicals to the sidelines.

The top two lobbyists in the United States are the pharmaceutical industry and agriculture.

In the 1800s the United States gave rights to corporations, which are non-breathing entities. So surely animals can obtain rights. Brown said the 14th Amendment was used twice to help blacks and was used at all other times to help corporations.

Part of the solution to overcoming animal agriculture is to tell everyone we know about the abuses and thereby reduce demand.

Camille Hankins of W.A.R. (Win Animal Rights) said that we cannot underestimate the threat and power of corporations. But she also said the animal-abuse industry won't win because they're in it for money, and we're not. She believes circuses are on their last leg because they're giving away tickets.

A vivesection foe, she says we should call pharmaceutical companies drug companies. She joked that the names of drugs have X and Z in them to make us think they have magical powers and said that the pharma industry wants Huntingdon Life Sciences to stay in business. (HLS is where many pharma companies get the animals they test on.) She also said the National Institutes of Health runs Webinars about the animal-rights movement.

She said that if we hadn't been relying on animal testing, we may have found cures for more diseases by now. Brown also said that instead of "Race for the Cure," it should be "Race for the Cause" -- something I believe. We need to focus on eliminating the cause of cancer and other diseases.

lauren ornelas (who prefers her name lowercase, I believe), in a different session, mentioned that Coca-Cola had killed union workers in Colombia, definitely something I need to research further.

(The "Challenge Corporate Power" photo courtesy of ran.org.)

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