Author and journalist Naomi Klein reveals Monsanto as the winner of the 2009 Angry Mermaid Award for the worst corporate lobbying group. She, along with Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth International and Dorothy Guerrero from Focus on the Global South, discuss the affect of corporate lobbying on the global climate debate.
Paul de Clerck
Paul de Clerck is a corporate campaigner for Friends of the Earth International, a grassroots environmental network that campaigns on today's most urgent environmental and social issues.
Dorothy Guerrero is a senior research associate at Focus on the Global South, a non-governmental organization that works in Thailand, the Philippines and India to generate critical analysis and encourage debates on national and international policies related to corporate-led globalization, neo-liberalism and militarization.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, author, and filmmaker. Her first book, the international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, was translated into twenty-eight languages and called "a movement bible" by The New York Times.
She writes an internationally syndicated column for The Nation and The Guardian and reported from Iraq for Harper's Magazine. In 2004, she released The Take, a feature documentary about Argentina's occupied factories, co-produced with director Avi Lewis.
She is a former Miliband Fellow at the London School of Economics and holds an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree from the University of King's College, Nova Scotia.
Journalist Naomi Klein calls the COP15 talks "a very polite affair" for focusing on "false solutions" that fail to address the role corporate lobbyists play in influencing climate change policy.
"While there are endless sessions about how poor countries should adapt to climate change, there are very few sessions -- if any -- that are looking at the role corporations are playing in creating this crisis," says Klein.
Journalist Naomi Klein discusses her hopes for the ongoing COP15 protests in Copenhagen. She explains that the protests are expressly nonviolent, and says violence will only shift the focus away from the real issues and onto "a very boring discussion about cops versus protesters."
"We want to talk about the violence of climate change," says Klein.
Any attempt by a group or individual to influence the decisions of government. The term originated in 19th-century efforts to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside a legislative chamber. The effort may be a direct appeal to a decision maker in either the executive or legislative branches, or it may be indirect (e.g., through attempts to influence public opinion). It may include oral or written efforts of persuasion, campaign contributions, public-relations campaigns, research supplied to legislative committees, and formal testimony before such committees. A lobbyist may be a member of a special-interest group, a professional willing to represent any group, or a private individual. In the U.S., the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946) requires that lobbyists and the groups they represent register and report contributions and expenditures.
What else are corporations (the holy calf of the "free market" society) able to contribute than business ideas? If you only have a hammer, all problems are nails. The problem about corporations is that they consist of numbers (figures). Since clean air, clean water and a healthy environment has no price tag attached, this issues are not even existing for corporations.
Free speech is good, corporations controlling the government is not. If the corporations want to SAY something, that's fine by me, but the fact that they completely finance the political process is absurd. Democracy only works if everyone has an equal say, and right now corporations are by far the loudest voice in the room. Basically, money shouldn't equal speech.
"I can't stop you and unfortunately there are no laws to prevent it."
Now I think I understand clearly what your philosophy is.
Bravo to the United States Supreme Court for putting the nail in the coffin of the McCain/Feingold political speech laws. Only a totalitarian wishes to stifle the free speech of the people. I'll bet old Naomi and her neo-communist friends busted an artery when that decision came down!
Your opinion does not change the facts. You are entitled to think the world is flat or to make whatever claims you like even if you know them not to be true.
I can't stop you and unfortunately there are no laws to prevent it. Money can buy a great deal of lies and deceit and I have no doubt that that is often exactly what, in the hands of big corporations such as Monsanto, it does.
I guess I do not see lobbhysists as evil. I am a free speech absolutist. I too believe we should clean up after ourselves and conserve resources, but I do not annoint myself as an oracle, possessing the truth or justified in telling others how to live. It is not childish to expect her to live by her professed principles. A wise person once said, "It is easier to fight for your principles than it is to live by them." Would you listen to your doctor's orders to quit smoking if he was puffing on a Marlborough while he spoke? Should I listen to "environmentalist" tell me how to live from a podium he did not pay for and flew to in a private jet? If you think so, you have ceased standing up for your freedom.
Why do you assume that the people in the poorest undeveloped nations would not want the modern conveniences I listed? No one ever asks them. For once, I would like to see the do-gooders do more than learn to weave grass for photo ops and build a well, or hand out condoms. Why don't they build a power plant so the people can have air conditioning, or heating, or light or plumbing.
Capitalism has lifted the common man out of poverty in a way that no other system has ever come close to doing. What's interesting is that capitalism has no intent other than using resources efficiently and allowing people to persue excellence as they define it. The RESULT is that the middle class in capitalist nations lives in relative splendor compared to the rest of the world. Deliberately planned Socialist economies, which have the outright stated goal of lifting the common man out of poverty have never done so. You may view getting a welfare check or relying on the state to meet all of the needs you are capable of providing for yourself to be a good thing. I do not. I believe this debases humanity and makes man decadent and weak. By the way, I oppose unelected beurocracies like the IMF, World Bank and the UN. So you are singing to the choir. For every "rightist" policy "forced" on the rest of the world, their are two or three leftist groups out there telling people how to live.
How does the environmental movement plan to raise the quality of life of the poor souls in undeveloped countries? I contend that in the view of the environmental lobby, these people must stay exactly as they are now. They will not tolerate them having power plants and developing an industrialized, modern society. This is immoral and arrogant in my opinion. No one will invest in these countries because there is no framework of law, private property protections and or an educated work force. We need to move from the "give them a fish" mentality to a "teach them to fish" mentality so they can live a quality of life equal to their human dignity and pride. The decades of food shipments and wealthy Western kids soothing their consciences by joining the peace corps has done nothing in the final analysis. Elitist human rights organizations arrogantly act like parents to these societies. These people can care for themselves if expected to do so. To rise out of poverty, they need energy. Let's see the UN have a goal of building power generation infrastructure in the third world.
What specifically about how corporations are structured do you oppose? What business is it of yours how shareholders manage their companies? Why do you believe that they should not be able to speak freely and represent their interests to governments that regulate and tax them? Greenpeace is a corporation. Do you oppose them lobbying governments to advocate their positions? What about the SEIU? Solar and wind companies have been lobbying for government handouts for decades. Do you oppose this?
Military power certainly is NOT the only power. What power, aside from military, do Western European nations have? They are dying societies - literally - in demographic terms. No successful state has existed long with below replacement birth rates. Will France have the same character it has now when it is a majority Muslim state? How will they vote in the security council? Is it important to you that a unique, proud French culture exists?Greece, the beautiful, ancient birthplace of Western man will be among the first to go, as it has fallen well below replacement birth rates. Their ancient currency, among the world's first fiat currencies was abandoned for the Euro. Does it matter to you that Greek culture exists? Spain had the terrorist train attacks and basically threw in the towel and decided they would just keep their heads down and not fight. Is this a good thing? Will the world be diminished if a proud, unique Spanish culture dies? Muslim extremists filled the streets after the Danish cartoon incident and most European nations cowered, and the rest of the world's press did not stand up for freedom of the press either. Is this good? I guarantee you, Muslim immigrants in Europe will NEVER be post religious. They are the future of Europe. Is this a good thing? The most common male baby name in Brussels is Mohammed. Is this a good thing for the future of Belgium? For the future of Europe? For the IPCC? For the causes you care about? What evidence do you have that post religious societies might be a good thing? Name one successful one from history. Good for whom? It would certainly be good for Britain to stop having a state church and for other Eueropean nations to end taxing their citizens for the upkeep of churches as is done in Germany. Religion is a personal matter. It does, however have a huge impact on the character of a people and the direction it goes in the future.
>>May I assume she lives in a solar or wind powered home? Either rides a bicycle for transportation or walks? Swam to Copenhagen? Gives a large amount of her income to charity voluntarily?<<
Why would you assume such a thing? Naomi Klein, like millions of others (perhaps not you), want cleaner air and soil and other things to happen to make our planet more sustainable. In the meantime, of course we have to live, travel and eat, but that doesn't mean that we have to ABSOLUTELY wait until we personally live a completely green life to speak out on these issues. You're being childish and unncessarily cynical
>>Naomi Klein alluded to indigenous people and people in developing countries "living green." She admires them, but does anyone ask them if they would like safe running water, reliable electricity, air conditioning and heating, roads and automobiles? It sounds like yet another group of wealthy Western leftists expressing their trademark "let them eat cake" mentality toward the world's poorest, and darkest skinned people.<<
Why do you assume that smaller, developing nations want to all buy in to the Western-style, consumer-driven societies? Additionally, it was mostly neo-liberal economic policies that continue to destroy the global middle class. Policies that rightists have been forcing on the rest of the world since the creation of the IMF/World Bank. Also, please don't bring up China because its economic model is hardly neo-liberal, though it still isn't sustainable.
>>The left loves to anthropomorphize. "Corporations" are fictions. If you own a Mutual Fund, YOU are a "corporation." You own the company. I would love to ask Ms. Klein about her investment portfolio - or is she just going to demand welfare from her fellow Canadian citizens?<<
You're clearly showing a lack of understanding of the issue of corporate personhood. The use of the term "corporations" is not anthropomorphizing, per se. It is simply used for conversation's sake. It is the way corporations are structured that's the problem. Corporations, in historical terms, are quite recent phenomenon, and businesses were operated and managed quite differently and successfully before they were granted personhood.
Finally, your assessment of the so-called post-Christian Western Europe is interesting because you are, once again, assuming that military power is THE only power in the world. Clearly, even that is increasingly becoming untrue because as powerful as the American military is, it can't even get rid of a fledgling terrorist group. Also, it is not so much that Europe is post-Christian. It is becoming post-religion. THAT might actually be a good thing.
"She is giving her OPINION. I gave my OPINION."
Naomi Klein and other speakers present verifiably true facts, Mark Sullivan presents opinion and false 'facts'.
"Environmentalists have never met a totalitarian dictator they didn't love."
That's an utter fabrication.
The reverse is true: a close look at the history of US foreign policy mainly since WW2 shows that US capitalist interests caused the overthrow of many a democratically elected government, to be replaced by a US-friendly dictator, in the name of the war against communism. Most of that is far enough in the past that the "secret documents" about it have since been declassified. google: "friendly dictators"
She is giving her OPINION. I gave my OPINION. Surely you do not disagree that we should both be able to give our OPINIONS, do you? Is lobbying illegal? Should a group of people, whose business and livelihood are regulated and taxed heavily by government (a corporation) not have representation of their interests? Are there lobbyists on the "Global Warming, er. . I mean, uh "Climate Change" is here, we have caused it and we are all doomed if you do not do what we say," side of this issue? Are they all morally upright lobbyists with no business or monetary interests at stake, as Monsanto and the oil industry do? I just want to keep this debate on an intellectually honest plane. There is more than one side to this issue, with plenty of self interested parties on both sides. Let them all speak.
Thank god for people like Naomi Klein. She exposes the truth on a number of fronts.
It is very to abuse Naomi and others like her but it is far from easy to disprove the truth of what she says. That perhaps is why she gets the abuse.
Mark Sullivan you should ascertain the facts before you launch into your baseless generalized attacks on the left.