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Listen now or subscribe to the podcast: www.newint.org/radio New Internationalist DECEMBER Issue 407 Corporate Responsibility
From this month’s editor
It’s been tricky finding the right images for this edition. Corporate abuses against people all over the world are all too real. But visually illustrating that the solutions being offered, in the form of ‘Corporate Responsibility’, are inadequate and counter-productive? Not so simple. However, I struck lucky. I found online, completely randomly, a US exhibition of current political art called ‘Propaganda’. On investigation, I discovered they had set up a gallery on Flickr (a website where you can share photos). Political artists everywhere had been invited to upload submissions to the Flickr group, and almost 600 have. The artwork will be printed out and toured around the world over the coming months. I found a photo of some Argentinian street art – a man in a suit, spraying a heart with a dollar sign inside it onto a wall. Not exactly subtle, but it gets to the core of the problem: that for corporations, the profit motive trumps everything. I sent the artist a message requesting permission to use it, and within a few hours he’d got back to me from Buenos Aires to say: ‘The privilege will be all mine. I promise I’ll use the money you pay
me for more cans to spray it everywhere!’ I love the fact that the process of creating this mag has enabled small acts of resistance on the other side of the planet. It’s a welcome antidote, given that I’ve just spent more time than anyone should have to wading through the morass of greenwash and drivel found in the average Corporate Responsibility report. Corporations may be huge and powerful. But in today’s web-wise world it’s never been easier for people taking local actions to share ideas, information and inspiration with fellow resisters across the globe. Just take a look at the Propaganda Flickr gallery (www.flickr.com/photos/ startpropaganda/) for a taste of what I mean.
Jess Worth for the
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4 Companies who care? Should we be persuaded by the clean green claims of big business? Jess Worth thinks not.
8 spinning out of control Rebecca Spencer names and shames companies who use Corporate Responsibility to continue business-as-usual.
10 Just don’t do it! Cautionary tales of co-option and compromise from UN-insider Jean Ziegler
and anti-sweatshop activist Jeff Ballinger.
12 People versus corporations: a history 400 years of controversy and confrontation.
14 the big debate: reform or revolution? Jonathon Porritt and Claire Fauset lock horns over how best to save the planet from big business.
17 the facts
18 small is powerful What will it take to roll back corporate power? Jess Worth considers the options.
21 sPeCIAL FeAtURe Withdrawal from Iraq The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a disaster. But even those opposed to it from the start have to consider how foreign troops can now be withdrawn. Chris Abbot makes five proposals, while Anthony Arnove looks at the conflicted interests of the US Democratic Party and Urvashi Butalia examines the parallels with conflict in northern India.
2 Letters A military driver’s experience of DU; Christian complexity; infantile Marxists; permaculture in Africa. PLUS: Letter from Cairo.
26 Southern Exposure Displaced children in Darfur, as seen by Bangladeshi photographer Shehzad Noorani.
27 Currents Frustration boiling over in Western Sahara; Costa Rica votes for free trade; Palestinian refugees attacked in Lebanon. PLUS: Seriously on Burma’s horrorscopes
30 Mixed Media Includes documentaries attacking Michael Moore and US evangelicals; music from Mali and France; and fiction from Saudi Arabia.
32 Big Bad World Cartoonist Polyp on an uninvited guest. PLUS: NI Prize Crossword
33 Worldbeaters Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President of the Philippines, has been called ‘the fourth most powerful woman in the world’. But she needs the iron hands of her generals.
34 Essay: Bling, Iranian-style Nasrin Alavi returns to a Tehran under threat from the West.
36 Country Profile: Laos
We welcome feedback on this or any other issue of New Internationalist : firstname.lastname@example.org
Front cover: Nick Purser. Magazine design: Andrew Kokotka. All monetary values are expressed in US dollars unless otherwise noted.