Corporation volunteer, D.B., from Civitavecchia, Italy, discusses how corporate hegemony could be affecting the democratic process. Should we be thinking about whether corporations are occupying too much political power? How can we occupy our citizenship?
Just as the church separated from the state centuries ago, we need to realize that the state needs to be accountable to its citizens – and not to corporations. We need to challenge our governments to make sure that those in power – including corporations – are accountable to the people!
One of the major corporations that has a large influence where I live and in the surrounding region is ENEL S.P.A. This is a multinational energy producing company that has branches all over the globe. Locally, they operate together as Tirreno Power S.P.A., where many people who live in Civitavecchia rely upon for work. ENEL has been important for a few generations because it has been an important provider of employment, however, their increasing influence in political power is something to be skeptical about.
Recently, Alessio De Sio, the former mayor of Forza Italia, was investigated for corruption for allegedly exchanging money for business decisions in favor of ENEL. The former mayor has also been advocating for “coal-coke” production in the area, “Coal Coke” is a manmade byproduct of coal that can be used for fuel – however, the process to make the “coke” is incredibly damaging to the environment. The excess fumes have also caused tumors and asthma, which I personally experience in my city.
De Sio is of course just one example of politicians who compromise democratic political processes for money and economic power. We can only assume that ENEL has had considerable amount of political pressure on the government as well. ENEL and its influences on the government are prime examples of why we need to keep the state and corporations separate. We cannot let corporations control the political process because it not only damages the environment, it compromises our citizenship by favoring corporations over people.
Edited by Jennifer Slattery
|David Ng is a Hello Cool World veteran with experience going back a decade. David first worked with us when he was just 14 years old as a participant in the youth advisory group for the sexual health education program Condomania. Now an accomplished videographer passionate about the issues of gender and power, he is currently on sabbatical in South Africa while he pursues a Masters in Gender Studies with a focus on international developme|
Sandy is part of The Corporation's grassroots team and has been working on the film's outreach efforts since 2003.|
We recently overhauled this website to incorporate a Twitterfeed and show off the tweets of our "on-the-ground" reporter at #OWS NYC. May Day saw lots of action and it was great to be kept in the loop and feel like we were part of it, even here in far away Vancouver, Canada.
We've also just released our latest News of the Cool e'Zine with a cover piece on Documentary Storytelling & Social Change. It discusses how docs like The Corporation and 65_RedRoses can be catalysts for change, but there need to be ways to feed the movement long after the film is released. We're trying to do this through sales of campaign materials and/or contributions, along with the help of volunteers and other supporters. Unfortunately, reining in the corporate psychopath is not going to happen overnight, and the film continues to be an amazing tool that awakens audiences to how much corporate power has grown over the last century.
On the good news front, we're seeing more and more pushback to the economic and political dogma that has enabled corporations to gain the rights of people, and allowed wealth to pool at the very top (Vermont recently called for an amendment to abolish "Corporate Personhood").
Not only are people now questioning the validity of "trickle-down" economic models, they are also wondering if getting a mere trickle was ever good enough in the first place.
Ethem Ozguven is one of our volunteers from Turkey. He has made a film about the dangers of sandblasting, which is a technique used to distress jeans. This technique causes long term damage to the body, and has also been proven to be lethal. Ethem and David discuss the issue and how it is connected to multinational corporations.
Denim – something that was developed for its durability, and longevity when used as clothing for hard labour has emerged as a hot fashion item in the past decade, with fashion designers implementing new innovative technologies to create new looks and to set trends. I’m sure most of us have at least three pairs in our wardrobe!
What is shocking is the technology that is still used in some parts of the world to create these distressed looks. One technology we want to look at particularly is sand blasting. This technique is basically sand that is blasted at a very high speed out of a hose (held and controlled by a human being), which causes the denim to distress. Most countries have laws banning this practice, as it has been linked to silicosis, which is a form of lung disease. However, countries who are seeking foreign investments may lower their labour regulations in order to make their communities more appealing. As in the film The Corporation, the classic example of this is sweatshops – where countries (usually developing countries) are pressured by multinational corporations to lower their labour standards in order to invite corporations to come in and set up factories to create jobs.
One of our volunteers, Jennifer Slattery, is heading back to the Occupy Wall Street site in New York and will be reporting live via twitter. Check back frequently to see what is going on at #OWS! There will be a LIVE "Occupy Your Future" twitter feed where you will be able to see what is happening on the ground at #OWS.
After a long winter, it's time to go back to Wall St. for this activist. And I am very excited about the first action I will be attending this Spring:
To commemorate its 25th anniversary, ACT UP (the activist group that took on AIDS issues in the 80's) will team up with Occupy Wall Street to hold a massive demonstration and march on Wall Street. Why Wall Street? Because the corruption of the corporate class has a ripple effect throughout our society that goes far beyond jobs, and debt. The crisis they cause leads to human suffering. On Wednesday, April 25 we will gather at City Hall and march on Wall Street. Act Up, in many ways, served as a model for the Occupy movement's leaderless, non-violent, and creative, direct action tactics. It is an honor to not only carry on their fight, but to have them stand beside us, and teach us from within our own ranks.
When I first arrived at Liberty Square six months ago, reporters asked me what real solutions I personally wanted to be achieved by protesting. My answer, repeatedly, was the need for a Financial Transaction Tax. None of the reporters ever printed my answer, instead running the same lie over and over for months: no one at Occupy has any ideas, no solutions. That was a lie, and I know because I heard many others talking about the same thing. We never stopped talking about it, and the media may choose to ignore us, but we will only get louder. A "Financial Speculation Tax" (Fi.S.T.) on Wall Street will be our rallying cry with Act Up on the 25th.
|Jennifer Slattery is a dedicated human rights activist, former private investigator, and a member of the Occupy Movement. She lives in NY, and would be happy to answer any and all questions you might have: firstname.lastname@example.org|