If you believe that individuals can do nothing against the corporate and governmental juggernaut the MacLibel case is a prime example of how this doesn’t have to be the case. 2 people who felt they had nothing to lose because they didn’t have any money anyway, decide not to cow-tow to the Giant of the Golden Arches but to stand up to it. It is made all the more remarkable when one looks at the context of all the newpapers and television channels toadying to MacDonalds in the light of the libel proceedings and offering unreserved apologies from left, right and centre. I can understand for example why the Morning Star might have baulked at the prospect of any legal action as they do not earn advertising revenue and therefore would struggle to even come up with the money for any defence, but in the case of the larger newspapers and Channel 4 etc. it really does go to show that “the media are only as liberal as the conservative businessmen that own them.”

For many years justice has been something that you are more likely to get if you can pay for it. There are many examples: OJ Simpson’s situation turned into a media circus, I would not like to state whether or not I felt he was guilty because the verdict became practically irrelevant. Tell me in all seriousness if OJ Simpson was a black man on trial for murder in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Utah, Mississippi, Virginia, etc. etc. would he have been found not guilty? As it was it became politically expedient that he be found not guilty and lo the necessary verdict was delivered. Again were he to have been just another disenfranchised black youth would the state have cared at all about the outcome of the case. Then of course there is Jackson, a man who has long exhibited signs of being somewhat unstable. I wonder if parents would have been quite so keen to leave their children in the care of a hispanic Miguel Jackson living in a small appartment in a less salubrious part of town? If such allegations had been fired at any other person, especially a black man, I don’t think there would be scores of people at the courthouse protesting his innocence, he would be vilified as a monster and no-one would let their children near him whether or not he was acquited.

For many years companies and individuals have sought to perpetuate a form of bully-boy justice, basically like busting someone in a hand of poker without ever revealing the cards. MacDonalds were relying on the fact that no-one actually calls their bluff. Interestingly their grip on power appears to be waning as people start to feel now that the invincibility surrounding the comapny is now shaky, it is like a huge punch-drunk boxer stumbling around whilst a smaller person nimbly dances round jabbing him. Morgan Spurlock may well have dealt a serious blow which coupled with the MacLibel trial may yet have dynamic repercussions. Already as a result of the taking of the case to the European Court of Human Rights British law has been judged to be in convention of supra-national law by its denying of legal aid in the case of libel trials.

So what does this all have to do with Live8. Well, the Make Poverty History campaign is one that seems to have gathered immense weight with its celebrity endorsements and I support wholeheartedly the dropping of debts and the restriction of punitive trade barriers and anti-competitive internal state subsidies. It is nice to have the publicity from celebrities to enhance the profile of good causes but it is not the be all and end all, when media interest wanes there are people without recognisable faces who continue to work tirelessly.

But in the midst of this I can’t help but think that so many people seem to be missing the bigger picture. The situation as it stands is inevitable and will continue to happen. The reason countries can afford to drop debts etc. is because they can easily lend more money or use a resurgent economy in that country to invest or build industry etc. There is a vicious circle element and the reason for this is that this is the way capitalism works. The most effective way for companies is by exploiting the resources at their disposal for maximum output from minimum input. This is indisputable surely? look at Iraq. it has proved a huge money spinner for the US. It has propped up the defence industry at a time when post cold war one might have been forgiven for thinking that things might be looking bleak for the armaments sector. Furthermore the US people have paid for this, and they have paid for private companies like Haliburton to go in on lucrative contracts to “rebuild” the damges that their sister and subsidiary companies made in the first place.

No private sector company can survive by not making a profit, therefore one cannot be suprised that there is debris strewn by the wayside in the relentless pursuit of profit. It is not in a companies interests to be environmentally-friendly or charitable unless they are able to offset these costs by some other means, such as by marketing the fact that they are ‘different’, and even then this is likely to be a short term measure whilst they figure out how to be different but not have to pay any money for doing so.

An interesting example of this marketing ploy is in the case of the airline companies who have banned smoking on flights. Now they would have you believe that they have done this because of the dangers of passive smoking and the effects on air quality. There is however a very important fact to consider at this point though. Up until the ban on smoking devices known as “packs” were used to filter the air in the passenger cabins. Typically on a normal flight, the airlines used up to six packs to filter the air in first class; a fewer number in economy class. Packs, however, cost the airlines money, because they decrease fuel economy. The smoking ban enabled the airlines to reduce the number of packs they used, and they did so, enthusiastically, since, without the odour of cigarette smoke, passengers could not tell whether the air was being efficiently filtered, or not. As a result, the air in commercial airliners is likely to be far less clean than before as it is now recirculated and often passes through areas of the aeroplane that one could hardly consider sterile. Consequently there is talk of air laden with viruses, bacteria, and other unpleasant things. It’s no coincidence, that there have been stories in the newspapers about airline staff transmitting tuberculosis to passengers and other crew members. Unsurprisingly this information is reported far less than the lauding of the smoke-less cabin environment by the airlines themselves.

In conclusion my point is that we live in a world where money is power, and whilst that continues we can fight all we like to clean up some of the consequences but if we fail to tackle the cause at source it is going to be a long and ultimately fruitless struggle.

Song Of The Day ~ James Brown – The Big Payback