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Edward Goldsmith - Corporations As Organized Crime (1992)

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The content is a bit "heavy", but worth thinking about. Please have patience for it...

Transcript [With Extra Resource Links Added Throughout]

Nobody can deny that. Whether these corporations are "independent corporations" belonging to shareholders, or whether they are huge corporations belonging to the state, like say, in England we have British Nuclear Fuels, which has got the most polluting nuclear installation in the world. It has completely contaminated the Irish Sea, which is now one of the most radioactive stretches of water in the world. Here is a corporation that belongs to the state, but it's as difficult to deal with as any corporation that belongs to shareholders, as unaccountable and as corrupt as it is possible to imagine. You're dealing there with a criminal enterprise that is totally unconcerned with the consequences of its activities on people and on the environment as a whole. They just do not give a damn. They just...Everything they do is secret. They lie about absolutely everything. And all they are interested in is their own short-term economic interest.

Now, you could say the same for most of the major corporations, I'm afraid to say, that we have to deal with. And we know this. You know, people like to think that we are "radicals" when we say this sort of thing, but I've never seen myself as a "radical". I see myself as a "conservative". I believe in the family, in the community. I believe in traditional values. I believe in religion. I see myself as a "conservative". For me, the "radicals" are the people who are bulldozing this planet, who are destroying all of these traditional cultures that have existed for thousands of years, who are wiping out forests that have been around for a hundred million years, who are actually transforming this planet, the creation of three thousand million years of evolution, to replace it with a shoddy and totally unsustainable world of cement and metals, etc. These are the "radicals" to me.

So in fact, back again to these corporations, you can see what is the role of the corporations if you consider why we are not solving the major problems that confront us today. We know what these problems are. I've tried to list them. Why are we not solving them? Well, the answer is quite clearly, that the big corporations that gain by the activities that are leading to these problems will not let us. They are too powerful. If we cannot stop global warming, it's because the oil industry won't let us do so. And as we know, in this country here, Mr. Bush represented the oil industry before he represented the American people. I don't think anybody would deny that. That's why we were not allowed to deal satisfactorily with global warming at Rio de Janerio. America refused to take this issue seriously.

Well, it's true of ozone layer depletion. Why can we not deal with this? This is a very simple thing to deal with. We've just got to stop producing CFCs and few other chemicals, halons and other things. Why can't we do that? Because the corporations producing these things won't let us. DuPont is a very powerful corporation, and they now have permission to go on producing the substitutes they've developed for CFCs, the HCFCs, which are also ozone depletors. They've been given permission to do that at both recent meetings, the one in London and the one in Denmark which occurred a month or two ago.

And now this is absolutely unacceptable, but they are powerful enough to insist on this. We could easily make refrigerators which use ammonia or propane. Or we can make refrigerators that don't use chemicals at all; we could use Stirling Engines. But this is not in the interest of DuPont, that has patented these HCFCs and wants to make money producing them. If everybody catches cancer, so what?

The consequences of ozone layer depletion are terrifying. I don't know if you've seen the reports on it. They talk about tremendous ecological damage. For instance, phytoplankton are very, very vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, and there's already a 10% reduction in phytoplankton populations in the Antarctic. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, in particular cyanobacteria that fix nitrogen in paddy fields in the tropics, are very vulnerable. All sorts of crops that we grow are very vulnerable. So the consequences of continuing to deplete the ozone layer could be absolutely apocalyptic, but here we are. This company, DuPont, simply doesn't give a damn so long as it can go on making money selling HCFCs, which they've patented. I mean, this is something which is totally and completely unacceptable. You are dealing here with what in effect is a criminal organization. If the term "criminal" can be used in a sensible way, then quite clearly you can't escape the fact that this organization is criminal.

Personal Comments

While these issues may seem complex, there are many things that we can do no matter where we find ourselves in relation to them. While there are certain people who should probably hold a higher degree of accountability for their part in these situations due to the amount of knowledge and influence they have, I want to strongly emphasize how important the dynamics of the system itself are in shaping the behavior of the people within it.

I do not want to blame anyone specifically, as this is not just a problem with only 3M and DuPont, but much of the chemical industry in general (e.g.: Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and on and on). There is a strange convergence of business, politics, and military at play here. And as Edward points out, it is one that gives an aura of legitimacy to what is essentially a cover for an endless number of destructive behaviors of all kinds. We have attempted to describe a little bit about how this power structure has come about and how it functions to some extent before, but there are many authors that have homed in on the topic of how chemical companies handle waste disposal specifically:

Laying Waste: The Poisoning of America by Toxic Chemicals by Michael Harold Brown (1981)
Poisoning for Profit: The Mafia and Toxic Waste in America by Alan A. Block and Frank R. Scarpitti (1985)
Killing Me Softly: Toxic Waste, Corporate Profit, and the Struggle for Environmental Justice by Eddie J. Girdner and Jack Smith (2002)

One might be inclined to ask, "If this is really so prevalent, how do the people who are responsible for it keep getting away with it?" At its core, it is a problem of how "corporations" and other large organizations operate. The lack of real transparency makes it easy to hijack their activity and redirect it towards selfish ends. For example, here are a few of the tactics used...

• Some people within companies use "corporate capture" to keep further investigations at bay and hire a strong legal team to help avoid actual criminal prosecution (e.g.: jail time beyond "white-collar prisons" or being put under "house arrest").

• Fines are only a miniscule fraction of total business profits at this level, so they can be accounted for without putting the business as a whole in jeopardy, and those affected negatively are offered "settlements" or harassed/intimidated until they give up on seeking justice.

Biased studies are funded to influence public perception or give some level of "plausible deniability". Masses of paid for blogs, reviews, comments, and other types of "astroturfing" are produced to make it seem as if public sentiments are different from what they actually are.

• A simple renaming of part of the company can be used to salvage a damaged reputation, and slightly altering the offending products allows the people within the company to claim that they are sufficiently different from the version that is in the process of being "phased out", thus starting the cycle all over again.

It is all "business as usual". The systems that should check these abuses do not actually exist. In many ways, the ideas of "representative democracy" and of the "free market" are completely illusory.

All of this might be dismissed as a "conspiracy theory", but there is overwhelming evidence that many of our social systems the world over are incredibly broken, whether or not it is intentional on part of the people who operate them. Ignoring this fact by treating it as only a "conspiracy theory" keeps the real issues from being addressed openly. Let's look at another example...

To quote Wikipedia:
The chemtrail conspiracy theory posits the erroneous belief that long-lasting condensation trails are "chemtrails" consisting of chemical or biological agents left in the sky by high-flying aircraft, sprayed for nefarious purposes undisclosed to the general public.
One might scoff at the general idea of "chemtrails", but "crop duster" planes often spray hazardous chemicals. Likewise, while it is less well-known, the science of "cloud seeding" (i.e.: spraying chemicals into the air to try to generate or dissipate clouds) has existed for a long time. There have been military experiments that have attempted to use this type of weather modification to both prevent natural disasters (e.g.: "Project Stormfury") and as a kind of weapon (e.g.: "Operation Popeye"). The question is, have these types of projects continued? And if so, towards what aim?

More recently, some scientists have suggested that similar things be done to slow global warming. This is called "Geoengineering", or more specifically, "stratospheric aerosol injection". This is the spraying of sulfate particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight away from the Earth as a type of "Solar Radiation Management". While these things might also have a negative effect on our health, this is quite different from intentionally putting them into the air for the purpose of doing so. Can we find anything like that?

If we get deeper into the subject, we learn of things like "Project 112" where a variety of different "stimulants" (i.e.: microorganisms intended to act as a marker for detecting the presence of bioweapons in the atmosphere and which might sometimes cause illness themselves) were sprayed into several public spaces around the world in order to test their effects on unsuspecting people without their consent. There has actually been quite a few programs like this throughout world history, and many people are not aware of just how prevalent biological and chemical weapons laboratories are or the careless ways in which incredibly deadly material is handled there.

Again, some within the United States Air Force (USAF) claim that "chemtrails" don't exist, yet some of the above mentioned programs were carried out by people within the USAF. Has compartmentalization hidden the activities of one part of the organization from the other, or is someone lying outright? Whatever the circumstances, it is plain that the operation of many organizations (from some of the smallest and relatively unknown to some of the largest and most powerful ones in the world) is putting everyone in danger or causing real harm. Not even the people who make up those systems can escape it.

Notice that, the more that we learn about what has happened before and what is going on now, the less "strange" or "impossible" some of the "conspiracies" out there seem to be. To continue our example, there is already a precedence for the existence of "chemtrails". However, there is also a point that must be emphasized here: It does NOT necessarily mean that they are prevalent, or occuring right now in some specific location, only that there is a general possibility that they exist in some form. Because so many factors are unknown, we often need a little bit of flexiblity within our views. Being reasonably cautious is different from giving into paranoia, and expressing one's genuine concerns is different from making accusations against the innocent.

We can easily test the soil and water around buildings whose output seems suspicious. But how do we uncover corruption? In other words, how do we more carefully pinpoint who is putting microorganisms or chemicals into the environment that either A. they don't know the full effects of, or B. they are well aware have harmful effects and would rather hide it or lie about it in order to avoid personal accountability? Neither situation is desirable, but it may be hard to verify what exactly is going on. Some of these are indeed "conspiracies" in the sense that they are secretive plans made mostly by a small group (e.g.: the board of directors of various chemical companies, military laboratories, etc.). You might have also noticed that I made reference to secret government programs by their project/operation names. By definition, all of these are "conspiracies"! The general public only knows about them because of what has been declassified or leaked about them.

Keep in mind that this is occurring within groups that are supposed to have the public trust (i.e.: government institutions, businesses, etc.), not seemingly random terrorist attacks by people who are scientifically intelligent but completely misguided by fanaticism. Differentiating between legitimate and criminal enterprises can be exceedingly difficult when each pretends to be the other. We have not even addressed the problems that arise from negligence or poor design of everyday systems yet...

The above evidence is quite alarming and squarely facing the circumstances that we find ourselves in (both individually and collectively) can be overwhelming. The fact of the matter is, an organization cannot function without the people who make it up. So, what is one to do if they find their livelihood attached to an organization whose very operation is undermining life? Do not follow commands or trends blindly. Try to transform it in a constructive manner from within, and if you can't, separate yourself from it completely and attempt to create a better way. Destructive systems that do not adapt to the constructive will naturally fall apart. You do not need to sabotage them or fight against them. Be as self-responsible as you can, and demand transparency from the system as a whole. Do not compromise your integrity in exchange for wealth or power, and if you already have, then what you have gained by it is a worthy sacrifice for making amends. Become sensitive to your conscience, rather than searing it with bodily appetites.

Ultimately, "the truth will out."