The Very IdeaJuly 7, 2020 9:17 pm Leave your thoughts
Article by Beth Porter
Even we sport-ignorant have spotted various sponsorship declarations on the playing jerseys of our football teams.
It is not mere advertising to use a shirt as an action-packed billboard. The practice also marks out those sporting heroes as commodities, implying their monetary value by their prowess on the pitch.
In that sense fans are presented with a confusing ambiguity: the logos of casinos, airlines, insurance companies, alcoholic drinks, et al, muddy the loyalty to individual players, as well as entire teams. Sadly, considering such capitalist calculations, careers can be assured or destroyed.
But, hold on to your hat! It’s time to time-travel! You don’t have to play for Team GB to leap into a moot future.
Imagine the scene… The House of Commons. Back to so-called normal. MPs await the Prime Minister. The Speaker bangs his gavel. Something’s written across his chest. The PM enters and we can read his own message: it’s the logo of an online gambling company. Everyone likes a flutter, innit?!
In fact, private companies sponsor all the MPs, both domestic and global. A hand-in-glove teaming of the pretence of accountability with a corporate presence so elusive it cannot be traced beyond our national borders.
That’s the flexibility of the future. No one knows, despite planning and forecasting, despite algorithms and policy leaks, no one knows what will actually happen.
Will a war steal the headlines, or a royal ceremony, or a particularly infectious virus? Who knows whether the vested interests of the sponsored government might even make covert cause, engineering such an event to counteract falling poll numbers, or to cover up bad news?
If you or I can imagine a government which shouts its alliances with the private sector, well, that might open the door to debating exactly how to change the very system that controls us. Some say such teamings have been in place for decades, if not centuries – whether or not the corporate logos are displayed alongside those of the political parties.
Hello Mr or Ms Candidate. I’m the CEO of The Daily Blab. We like you. Here’s some dosh.
Gosh, Mr CEO, that’s a big wad. When I win, how’s about I save you a seat in Another Place.
Cool! Just call me Your Lordship and invite me to lobby you off the record.
But this isn’t about them, it’s about you. Well, all of us; about the commonality of our species. Yes, it’s a theme I’ve discussed before, but this time it’s more relevant than ever.
A Tiny Virus, A World of Possibilities
<p>Here in the UK the mainstream media has been trying to ride two horses with one backside. Namely, how to silence grass-roots criticism that future political policy needs to involve the population in a more democratic debate… while at the same time assure the status remains quo.
This is essentially a dilemma of the wealthiest, who’ve taken a birth-right entitlement as privileged decision-makers. It’s only thanks to modern advances in global communication that we’re able to verify the contempt they have for us ‘lesser mortals.’
Yep! They’ve even got a drone for that.
Rallies and hard-hat-Hi-Viz-jacket visits to industrial sites notwithstanding – as politicians parrot carefully constructed and ultimately meaningless pronouncements, we’re meant to feel included and even powerful.
But even a cursory analysis shows up the shouted slogans for their inherent crap content. Build, build, build. Jobs, jobs, jobs! Pathetic.
We’re playing catch-up even as the pandemic rages. Especially here in the UK, as the companies most affected by their bottom line try to suggest that we do our bit to help them out.
The mainstream media [sadly unchallenged by the opposition and the unions], conflate announcements about the importance of re-instating the economy with the best plan to control a pandemic that experts all agree will affect us for some decades.
Instead of robust solutions, they make it all our problem. We must be good consumers. We must spend, spend, spend. It doesn’t pay to save with non-existent interest rates. The Bank of England ain’t the government, but they’re paving the way to prime investments and borrowing. Whatever the cost to law-abiding people and the sacrifice of a green-first economy.
Capitalism at its most devious. And, it’s all our fault! BigBiz and Gov are far too busy pre-signing trade deals. If you want something, better ring the bell of charity, church, or crowd-funding.
In the past, including within living memory, they can only push such drivel with the complicity of successive governments. And governments-in-waiting. What has been less apparent are the hidden messages behind the headlines.
Go fetch a shovel. We’re gonna do some digging.
One of the most striking things about a perusal of individuals and corporations among billionaires and trillionaires, is the ambiguity of their enterprises.
First allow me to shock you with a couple of examples; at least I hope they’ll shock you.
For the first, please answer this: picture a farm owner, especially in the US; is your image of a black man or woman? Now consider that by 1920, a seventh of all farm owners were black, working and maintaining over 41 million acres of arable. That’s about a million black farmers. Yet today just under 50,000 remain – a loss of some 90%.
The dedication of Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York is testament to an activist, outreach agenda to acknowledge the theft of land from indigenous and slave communities. Their programs pledge to respect the land and those who work it.
For a second shocker, think back a bit to a public announcement which vanished after a day or so. Forgotten. Swept aside by more pressing political decisions, party evasions, and other diversions about the UK’s financial crisis of 2008/9. The fact was that the constituents of a government advisory panel to over-see whether banks might be bailed, or might go under… those people were the same, the very same bankers themselves.
And, that’s not all, they were contracted not out of some loyalty to the population facing hardship, disaster, eviction, mental health issues, suicide… those bankers were paid millions of pounds for their services. Money allocated by the Treasury. Money which is essentially our money, taxpayers’ money.
So, let’s get that straight: bankers fuck up bigtime, but claim they’re too big to fail, and can HMRC please bail them out, and they’re so willing to help with the investigation, they’ll happily hire themselves out for just a small kickback percentage of the total loss.
That happened just a few years ago, but I wonder how many of you remember. And how many were never made aware at the time. So, shovels at the ready, what equally dubious alliances can we uncover today?
What They Do In The Shadows
If that sub-heading evokes film and television comedy vampires, here are some not-so-funny BigBiz/BigGov parallels.
For me, one of the most striking features of the parasitic pact between business and government, is how many of the Boards, executive directors, non-executive directors, and publicly acknowledged staff of multi-nationals can be traced back to other companies, less well known and with titles not destined to become household names.
They hide in plain sight behind ambiguous mission statements, that belie their rhetoric. Oozing from brochures and websites, are their pristine corporate commitments to democracy, raising children out of poverty, animal welfare, free education, and, the biggie, protecting the environment.
A common example involves raising capital to fund huge dams across rivers to control the irrigation of hundreds of hectares of uncleared jungle. Financial approval is sought from allegedly democratic global institutions such as The World Bank, or The International Monetary Fund. The assumption being that the private sector must supplement the public.
What’s not so apparent are covert plans to use the dam project to flood out the indigenous tribes in the region, either wiping them out entirely or offering them unsuitable alternate lifestyles.
And, by the way, preparing land formerly protected from monoculture and industrial development, destroying biodiversity, and wiping out some of the most iconic animal species on the planet.
The invisible icing on that cake is smoothed by affiliated insurance companies. These insanely well-funded companies control much of the world’s disposable capital.
Did you know that one of the first reactions by those insurance giants to the early rumours of a potential pandemic in late 2019, was to rewrite their standard liability clauses? Henceforth there would not be any compensation for conditions related to covid-19 and its wider effect on people or property.
But, oh yes, let’s have a celebration and pay tribute to such a complicated engineering feat bringing water into the heart of the jungle.
Along with award-winning writer/performer Nana Richard Abiona I’m angry about the constant portrayal of black Africans as inferior, just waiting to be converted or civilised.
Abiona’s recording name is Fuse ODG; he champions his British-African heritage from his home in Ghana. Coming from the overtly racist neighbourhoods of Tooting in south London, he’s using his wealth in Africa to address education, healthcare, and social welfare and instil a sense of pride in being black.
I must confess, I’m not his target audience, being more Mozart and Miles than NaijaPop. But the message hiding in plain sight is This is the New Africa. And for the support Abiona affords to his communities, I celebrate and respect him.
So long as we money-rich, moral poor dither and deceive, it’s the re-immergence of the southern continents which are changing the agenda. Politically. Economically. And eager to protect the planet.
Both China, Russia, and their trading practices of the past, may be able to divert the New Africa for a time. As will some corrupt and ignorant heads of state who forge alliances with them. But as the vast southern continents continue to thrive and re-write their own rules, I’m hopeful the dignity of the people will triumph.
A Sad Post Script
As the planet uses its chaos to manipulate the covid-19 pandemic, there is new evidence of another one waiting to pounce. It’s another highly infectious virus and may have already mutated into a strain that can be transmitted from animals to humans. It’s been traced to pigs kept in overcrowded conditions.
This information is from the BBC online Science page:
The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.
They found evidence of recent infection in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China when they looked at data from 2011 to 2018.
Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.
Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, told the BBC: “Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses.”
The very idea of it!
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