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(DV) Goldsmith: Don't Be Evil







Don’t Be Evil
by Patricia Goldsmith
February 6, 2006

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Don’t be evil is Google’s corporate motto, and a very good one. Google aspires to be a different kind of corporation, and it’s taking the heat for it. The Bush Reich wants Google’s “honey pot” of high-quality, comprehensive information, and Wall Street wants to knock it down to size for thinking it can be different. It stumbled on predicted earnings this quarter and got a little taste. We’ll see how long they hold out on keeping their materials private. Sasa Zorovic, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. confidently predicts, “At some point Google will be humbled.” 


And that’s what happens when you go public. Every time. Cause and effect. The market system is designed to produce a reliable result -- profitability -- every time, regardless of the human or environmental cost. There is no way to be a publicly traded corporation and remain free to be moral. Evil isn’t optional. (On the other hand, the truly evil, real black holes, are also privately held; I’m thinking Carlyle Group.) 


The Democratic Party has undergone the same process. As Jeff Faux points out in his wonderfully lucid article in The Nation, “The Party of Davos,” under Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party slipped its New Deal moorings and became “the party of Davos,” -- i.e., globalization. It explains so much that it’s worth quoting Faux at some length:  


That the global economy is developing a global ruling class should come as no shock. All markets generate economic class differences. In stable, self-contained national economies, where capital and labor need each other, political bargaining produces a social contract that allows enough wealth to trickle down from the top to keep the majority loyal. . . . 


But as domestic markets become global, investors increasingly find workers, customers and business partners almost anywhere. Not surprisingly, they have come to share more economic interests with their peers in other countries than with people who simply have the same nationality. They also share a common interest in escaping the restrictions of their domestic social contracts. . . .  


[A]s Renato Ruggiero, the first director-general of the World Trade Organization, noted in a rare moment of candor, “We are no longer writing the rules of interaction among separate national economies. We are writing the constitution of a single global economy.” (Emphasis added.) . . . 


It is therefore no surprise that the constitution of the world economy protects just one class of citizen—the corporate investor. . . . 


[T]he model for this constitution is the North American Free Trade Agreement, conceived under Ronald Reagan, nurtured by George H. W. Bush and delivered by Bill Clinton. Among other things, NAFTA’s 1,000-plus pages give international investors extraordinary rights to override government protections of workers and the environment. It sets up secret panels, rife with conflicts of interest, to judge disputes from which there is no appeal. It makes virtually all nonmilitary government services subject to privatization and systematically undercuts the public sector’s ability to regulate business. . . . It’s impossible to understand why Democratic Party leaders collaborated with Republicans to establish NAFTA unless reference is made to cross-border class interests. . . . Clinton was more Davos than Democrat. Tutored by financier Robert Rubin . . . Clinton embraced a reactionary, pre-New Deal vision of a global future in which corporate investors were unregulated and the social contract was history. . . . “NAFTA happened,” said the then-chairman of American Express, “because of the drive Bill Clinton gave it. He stood up against his two prime constituencies, labor and environment, to drive it home over their dead bodies.”


We sold our soul to the devil. I say “we” because I was an enthusiastic Democrat then, and I went along with it. I believed in “winning in inches.” I have come to realize, after years of falling for Clinton the way some people fell for Reagan, that the Dems are there to manage the left, not represent it.  


The DLC is also carefully managing the new left on campus. The result, according to one student activist: “The right actually ends up looking cooler than the left. I don’t know how this is possible, but it’s true!” I don’t know, could it possibly be because, “Some worry that the [student] organization, run in part by former Clinton administration officials, is more interested in promoting a centrist agenda than a strong, progressive alternative to the campus right.”


To those who argue that we have to concentrate on the elections in 2006, I would point out that Democrats won the last two presidential elections, and quite possibly the 2002 midterms as well—and they still lost! John Kerry capitulated quickly and graciously, following Gore’s example, not because he wanted to be thought of as a nice guy, but because it wouldn’t be good for business. Not allowed.  


In a recent article, Bernard Weiner addressed the issue squarely: do we continue to pressure the Dems and work within, or start a new party? For my own part, I can no longer support the Democratic Party. I have no interest in a Vichy government. I don’t want to collaborate, but they obviously do, jumping up and applauding a dictator as he tells the nation during his State of the Union exactly why he’s had to set aside our laws and constitution.  


We need a total change of paradigm. Nothing else will do. It seems to me the one platform that unites most Americans, and most citizens of the world, is a Green platform. While we are being manipulated by images and bloodlust illusions from the past, the future is evaporating. 2005 was the warmest year since records started being kept about a hundred years ago. Five of the warmest years on record occurred in the past decade.  


Recently, scientists reported that warm ocean temperatures are killing the nutrients that feed plankton. The entire ocean food chain begins with plankton. Highly respected British climate scientist James Lovelock believes that we are already past the point of no return. He may be correct, but we have to do what we can, while we can. That’s why I’m going Green. 


I’ve thought about this for a long time, but I’ve been held back, in part, by my lingering hatred of Nader from 2000 through 2004. But I can admit now what I couldn’t admit even a year ago: there is no difference between the two parties. The true test of that proposition is not whether the world would have been a different place had Al Gore taken his rightful office -- and here I still vehemently disagree with Mr. Nader -- but whether Gore had the power to take office after winning. He didn’t. Even with Bill Clinton the sitting president, all the institutions of government closed ranks against Gore, including the Democratic leadership. 


It’s time we stop pouring all our organizing resources and energy into a rigged electoral game. We certainly have to stop believing that a party that won’t make fair elections its number one priority is the hope of the future. It’s insane! 


We are going to have to find a different way to send a message. We need to target Republicans and corporations directly. They still need to manufacture some level of public acceptance and consent, and we have to disrupt that. You don’t do that by writing a letter begging Hillary Clinton to filibuster. 


God knows the Greens have their problems. They are divided, too, because the Dems, via Progressive Democrats of America, are looking to acquire the Green Party as a far-left (in their terms) political boutique. If people want to get involved in reforming a party from within, I suggest they put their efforts where they might actually make a difference, within the Green Party, where the burning question is at least being addressed, namely, do we try to partner with corporations, through the corporate parties, or do we stay clear of them entirely? 


The Greens are small, but that gives us the opportunity to make a strong impact. The media hates the Greens with a passion, but the media does everything it can to stifle all authentic opposition. Comes with the territory.  


Here are some other very good reasons to organize around the Greens. 


First, environmental activists are being openly targeted. It began with a ridiculous lawsuit John Ashcroft brought against Greenpeace. Ashcroft attempted to charge Greenpeace under an archaic maritime statute, claiming that, “The heart of Greenpeace’s mission is the violation of the law.” The FBI subsequently declared animal and environmental extremists the number one domestic terror threat -- in spite of the fact that rightwing militias were responsible for the sole major act of domestic U.S. terrorism, the Oklahoma City bombings.  

We need to stand between environmentalists and the Bush regime. Now. Safety in numbers.  

Second, the Green philosophy represents the political opinions of the vast majority of people in the United States, and in the world. It’s a place where people can agree, a way of framing the debate that brings us together instead of driving us apart. 


Third, it’s international. Faux points out that even as the global ruling class is becoming transnational, poverty is “framed as an issue of the distribution of wealth between rich and poor countries, ignoring the existence of rich people in poor countries and poor people in rich countries.” They want to buddy up with those rich people everywhere, from Bandhar Bush in Saudi Arabia to the Venezuelans disgusted with Hugo Chavez’ socialism -- but they don’t want us to do the same.  


Fourth, a change of voter registration is in itself a message, a version of burning a draft card, a concrete step demonstrating a refusal to buy into assumptions that not only enslave us but make us complicit in crimes against humanity. My friends Daryl and Rob at MandateTHIS.org came up with the idea of mass changes of registration, a Greenwave. We could go in groups to our local boards of election to change our registration. Alert the media. I like it.  


The next few years are going to require an all-out struggle. We should take it for granted that things are going to get much worse before they get better and resolve to keep going no matter what. To do that, we have to have an authentic message, based on gut principle and proper priorities. The Dems’ lame new slogan -- We Can Do Better -- is hardly inspiring. 

The Green philosophy’s time has come. If we don’t put the environment first now, we are not going to survive. It’s time to organize around our real problems and seek real solutions. And here’s a motto: Don’t Be Evil. 

Patricia Goldsmith is a member of Long Island Media Watch, a grassroots free media and democracy watchdog group. She can be reached at: plgoldsmith@optonline.net.