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(en) Ireland, Workers Solidarity issue #93 is - Spinning Democracy - PR and our Political Leaders

Date Wed, 04 Oct 2006 10:25:06 +0200


The Irish government’s explicit support for Shell’s
proposed development in Rossport, against the demands and wishes
of a large proportion of the locally affected community, exemplifies
not only the highly organised and funded public relation strategy that
Shell and its partners have used. It also highlights the massive
democratic deficit in this country. In a broader sense corporate
Public Relations, and it’s close links to government, is perhaps
one of the most potent factors in curtailing meaningful democracy.
PR companies hired to ‘troubleshoot’ pesky communities
with bribe and slur tactics that Cromwell would be proud of. They
also use their closely forged links with privately owned mass media
and political ‘leaders’ to mount strategic campaigns to
influence the direction of policies which affect us all, for the benefit
of their clients. By their very nature the practices of PR companies,
in eroding what little democracy we have, is one of the least
examined and understood issues today.

The only time we get to have any input into the structures of
‘democracy’ in this country, is a five minute spell in the
voting booth once every few of years. However, the captains of
industry (the folks who make their money from our work) have
unparallel access to our elected representatives. Across all sectors,
corporate PR, working for big business, lobby governments for their
gain, and our collective detriment.

Whether it’s pushing for public/private partnerships, introducing
competition into our health system (read profiting from the sick) or
putting the spin on laying off workers, corporate PR will do the
(shite)talking for you. This isn’t about conspiracy though.
It’s just the way things our done in today’s democracy. PR
consultants offer businesses access to Ministers in return for cash. It
might be couched in more subtle terms on their websites but
that’s what it amounts to.

One of the largest Irish PR consultancies is MRPA Kinman. They
offer unrivalled “communications with the political and
regulatory system”, as well as crisis management for
“industrial accidents, closures / redundancies and community
relations issues”. In reality they will make sure your business
proposals get to the top of the pile, and discussed over dinner, and if
some of your pesky workers have fallen, been crushed, or simply just
cost too much MRPA Kinman will make sure that the smell of roses
doesn’t fade at all. They will also file stories to the media
spinning against local communities should the need arise.

It’s pretty interesting to look at who the head honchos are. The
Managing Director is Ray Gordon, who for five years was a
spokesperson for the Progressive Democrat’s. Another director,
Stephen O’Byrnes, was policy director of the PD’s. This
company works for many large pharma-chemical giants and as such
tries to influence public health policy.

One wonders what influence the company’s director Brian
Geoghegan brings to bear considering he is married PD leader and
Tanaiste Mary Harney, our dearly loved minister for health.
Formerly head of the employers’ outfit, IBEC, Brian, like the
other folks mentioned, use their close ‘connections’ with
current Ministers to skew government policies in favour of their
clients.

This is but one example of how PR companies have more input into
policy development that most of us put together. They are also
complicit in attempting to stamp out the legitimate and much
needed public resistance to the commodification of democracy. It is
vital for activists, concerned communities, and all those that value
the idea and realisation in practice, of real democracy, to understand
the role that corporate PR plays in misrepresenting truths to the
public at large, whilst simultaneously distorting decision making
processes by having unparalleled access to our ‘elected
representatives’.

Check out http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51961
for more reading on corporate PR strategies against communities in
struggle.

Since 1993 the Adivasi and also Dalit communities in the Kashipur
region are fighting against the mega industrial venture of UAIL for
Bauxite mining , Alumina Refinery and connected to it a power
generating factory. The whole
bureaucracy-administration-government-police-judiciary-media are
for the corporations and against the adivasi people. For twelve long
years the adivasi communities blocked this mega industrialising
venture; the corporations couldnt get control even over a piece of
land. Since 2004 December the state stepped up the process of mass
repression and terror through more than 800 paramilitary forces. It
is
in this period in 2005 that the corporations were for the first able to
take control of more than 300 hectares of land which they have
fenced off and levelled as a preparation for the construction of the
Alumina refinery. It is at this time that some of us started a
solidarity
campaign in Germany. There are more than thirty places in
Germany where Alcan has factories, offices and service centres.
The
small protest actions we made on July 14(global action day) this
year
helped motivate the people in kashipur to make a direct action two
weeks back . This is just to say that even if we dont really hurt
Alcan
here in Europe atleast it gives heart to the resisting adivasi
communities in Kashipur to continue their powerful sustained
resistance in the face of almost impossible odds. In France there are
Alcan factories, offices and service centre at 64 places and also in
many places in Britain and rest of Europe. A european wide
campaign would make much more sense and impact. This would be
a concrete way of solidarity against the global industrial State of
Capital which at the same time concretely also confronts the way
life
is organised here and now and as a way to solidarising in preventing
genocide, destruction of nature and other(adivasi) ways of life who
have more connection to values of egalitarianism , freedom and
living in nature and in peace whether in india, brazil, chile ,
botswana or wherever else.

*

www.kashipur.info kuchaipadar@yahoo.de

Talk and discussion on this solidarity campaign here in the PGA
conference on 31st August between 15-18hrs at h17
===============================================================
From the anarchist journal Workers Solidarity 93, Sept/Oct 2006
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