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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What The Monsanto Protest Meant To Me

On Saturday, May 24, there was a worldwide protest against Monsanto and its products including agent orange, their pesticides, and their GMOs. The protest I attended was in New York City at Union Square.





Regardless of how you feel about GMOs and Monsanto's other products, the above sign says it all. And lest we just zero in on Monsanto, the conflict is really between the heavy hitters of Capitalism vs the democratic aspirations of each country's people. The picture below gives evidence to part of the conflict between the two in our country. Many of our corporation that provide our food want us to be in the dark regarding what we eat. Add to that the Monsanto Protection Bill that provides biotech corporations like Monsanto protection from both litigation and some oversight (click here). We should note the bipartisan effort expended to pass this bill with Republican Roy Blount working with Monsanto to write the provision and President Obama signing the Bill into law. 



Finally, we should note the number of Monsanto employees who have found important positions in the government especially with the FDA (click here). But Monsanto is not alone here. We find the a similar relationship between our financial institutions and government appointed positions as the movie Inside Job documented (click here for information about the movie). 

It isn't that I agreed with everything said at the protest. What many at the protest wanted to do was to paint Monsanto as an enemy to be destroyed. I feel this kind of approach is wrong. It was Martin Luther King's philosophy that we try to win opponents over. And while we were waiting to convert them, he appealed democratic processes to control the behavior of those who needed to be controlled.

Now some people reduce democratic processes to just voting every x number of years or relying on elected officials to do their job. Such  people want a laissez-faire relationship with their government in that they want to elect a government they can ignore until it is time to vote again. Such people are delusional if they believe that such an arrangement constitutes a democracy. 

Democratic processes include voting and elected officials making decisions that represent the will of the people. But democratic processes also include boycotts, protests, and civil disobedience to get the attention of those with power. That is because democracy cannot be reduced to the mere act of voting, it is far more abstract. Rather, democracy is when the people of a country have control over what the government decides and what the country does. And a western democracy is also where the country belongs equally to all of its citizens rather than having a privileged group in control of the government regardless of whether those citizens gain control using democratic processes.

And that is where there is a problem with corporations like Monsanto. They have a substantial control over our government because they are wealthy enough to buy influence in our government. In other words, because of the corrupting influence of money, our country does not equally belong to all of its citizens. That is why the first sign shown above said it all on the Monsanto protest last Saturday. Corporations such as Monsanto and others are using wealth to hijack our government. And unless we get involved and resist this financial-based coup, we will become simple pawns who will eventually be viewed as being disposable. Others have already been classified and treated that way. And unless we join with them in solidarity and persistently use the democratic processes that are accessible to us, we will join them as society's discarded objects.


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