It’s an undeniable fact that some industries thrive on fear (plus of course conflict, anxiety, addiction, and misfortune).
Sometimes I imagine it like the scene from Thank you for Smoking in which the lobbyists from alcohol, guns and tobacco sit down for their weekly catch-up (they call themselves the Merchants of Death in the film). Perhaps really there’s more than a touch of Dr. Strangelove to it all.
However necessary you might deem it, we spend around $1.5 trillion worldwide on defense each year, whether that’s on battered AK47s in the weapons markets in the back streets of Sadr City, Baghdad; shopping for his n hers assault rifles at a Texas gun show; or picking up a few drones and a shiny new missile platform at the DSEI Exhibition at London’s Excel Centre.
What’s more, the US Department of Defense is the worlds largest employer, with 3.2 million people on its books. That’s one in every hundred Americans. A force to be reckoned with in more ways than one.
Now, I’m not a complete greenhorn. I know that it’s a big bad world out there, and I know also that these businesses follow demand. But I’ve got to say and I’d be surprised if I’m alone in this it does trouble my soul when certain corporations seem to actively foment the conditions in which they do business.
That’s as true for companies that willfully denude the planet of its forests and charge into fragile eco-systems as it is for those which deal in subprime mortgages and merrily pumped-up debt.
Reactions to recent mass shootings in the US have shown Obama completely powerless against the corporate culture of the country he runs, and its horrible to watch. However many eloquent, impassioned speeches, statements and pleas he makes, however simply you break it down, there’s one fact that trumps all. The gun lobby is just too strong. The power here isn’t with democracy, it’s with commerce; commerce that uses fear to gets what it wants.
I’m a corporate citizen, but this is a real point, and it’s about change rather than spin. As the modern consumer evolves, commerce itself becomes increasingly engaged.
The question, though, is what we can do about it. If voting isn’t 100 percent reliable, then we have to play a more active role in creating a future we want to see; to call out fear-mongering for what it is when we see it; and to change things from within, one step at a time.