by Gerard Donnelly Smith
"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness -- and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling -- their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability."
—Arundhati Roy, January 28, 2003, Porto Alegre, Brazil
(Swans - January 3, 2005) After reading Arundhati Roy's lecture on confronting empire -- thanks to our kind editor -- I thought, indeed, don't feed the capitalist beast. If we are truly to deprive the global hegemony of its power, then we must also starve it: its sustenance is currency. We must refuse to buy, not only its ideas, history, wars and weapons, but also its products.
Where to start? First we must pledge never to buy another product made by a war-profiteer, to boycott all Halliburton products, then all GE and Bechtel products. Yet, that won't be enough; everyone we know must boycott them too. Alone, my consumer choice not to buy any Halliburton products won't make any difference. Even if everyone I know boycotts those who profit from death, the impact will be as if we were flies on an elephant's ass -- a nuisance, but nothing to bother about. So you, dear reader, must join with us or else this essay isn't worth shit. Make this boycott your New Year's pledge. Get a shot of good whiskey first; you're going to need it. Now: I pledge never to buy another product made by a war-profiteer. Don't drink the whiskey yet.
First let's explore Halliburton so you know what you're in for. Hundreds of companies incorporated under one umbrella with a nifty tax shelter in the Cayman Islands as well: geological services to search for the oil, extraction technologies to drill for the oil, delivery systems to pipe the oil from the field directly into your car, and a handy way for you to pay without your ever getting out of the car. How convenient and profitable. Very. If you're a monopoly with unprecedented access to the White House...wait...did I say access? Sorry, I meant unprecedented control.
To fight this unprecedented control, we'll have to stop driving, stop using fossil fuels, probably stop flying, use public transportation, but even then some money may still make it into Halliburton's ledger.
So, it's likely that if you fill up your car, you've filled up, paid for, and received change via machines produced by a Halliburton subsidiary. The other major oil companies that profit from the current war, well they all have subsidiaries just like Halliburton. So buy a bicycle? Because you can't buy gas from Amoco or Exxon/Mobil, because Halliburton owns them. Those other gas stations are owned by war-profiteers as well.
But asking Americans to stop driving would be like asking the French to stop being French. How can we ask Americans who identify themselves with their cars, who love convenience, speed, and mobility, to give it all up? How can we hope to create both a strategic and tactical response to the war-profiteers without major sacrifice? Their agenda appears to be nothing less than fascist, economic globalization. What did our fathers' or grandfathers' generation sacrifice in the fight against Hitler? Surely moving closer to work and walking isn't that difficult. Wait, don't drink the whiskey yet. It gets worse.
Halliburton owns Weyerhaeuser* and Georgia Pacific. Thanks to these fine folks, not only will our soldiers -- you probably also use their products -- be well feed by Halliburton's food service, they can thank Dick Cheney for wiping their asses as well. Both Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Pacific make paper products. A Halliburton subsidiary, Brown & Root Forest Products, helped build Barito Pacific's Enim Lestari pulp mill in south Sumatra near the Musi River, with access to 200,000 hectares of forest (PPI: Pulp & Paper International, July 1992, p.19). So that roll of toilet paper in your hand represents global deforestation. From the Pacific NW to the Jungles of Asia, Halliburton owns subsidiaries that harvest the timber, process it into pulp, make the pulp into toilet paper, distribute that paper, and dispense the fibrous miracle -- those soft napkins on a spool -- with which you wipe your ass.
So grab a corncob to fight globalization, please. You're thinking that shot would be good right now...no, wait a little longer. You'll thank me.
Now that you're sitting down with your corncob in hand, look around your bathroom. On the counter, there may be several products that a Halliburton subsidiary produces. According to a recent press release, "DuPont Cosmetic Solutions: Helping the World Look Good!", the company "set new standards in luxury packaging at Luxe Pack, a major event for the cosmetics industry held recently in Monaco." On November 5th, 2004, Dupont sales representatives pitched their products to "companies such as Estee Lauder, Kanebo Cosmetic, Payot, and Natura, which shared their perspectives on four themes: connecting functionality and aesthetics; thick wall bottle technology; over molding technology; and brand protection."
Perhaps Iraqi women will soon be wearing Dupont's "high gloss with improved thermal properties" in their favorite brand's product? In other words, Dupont Plastics makes the ingredients for most major cosmetic companies. Dupont owns the company that makes the chemicals that go into the cosmetics and perfume, and the company that makes the bottles and the bottle caps for the perfume. If you want to boycott the war profiteers, then sweat and stink. Don't use deodorant!
In the fight against fascist globalization, they will know us by our smell. Save money and save face! No cosmetics: go natural! DuPont tests chemicals on rabbits, too!
I see your hand shaking. Wait, don't drink that shot yet.
In your bathroom cabinet you may have a razor. Perhaps a Braun product: makers of electric razors, and mail aftershave lotion. That's right -- Halliburton. So grow facial hair in the name of freedom. That's not so bad. Everybody, leave your armpits alone. That's just what humans smell like, get used to the smell. If you must shave, use a straight razor. Be brave. No one said this was going to be easy. Worse is yet to come.
DuPont Pharma are the good folks who produced the "AIDS: There's no Cure" advertisement for their line of prophylactics. So be careful, if you're not sure which brands use DuPont chemicals in their manufacturing process, then keep it in your pants. Practice abstinence in the fight against corporate global takeover. Now, here's the really hard part. After sex, when you're used to lighting up that cigarette -- forget it. Halliburton owns Phillip Morris which manufactures 25 different brands including Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Chesterfield and Lark. Grow your own or go cold-turkey.
I told you, it wasn't going to be easy.
Now, go ahead. Drink, you deserve it. Keeping this pledge isn't going to be easy.
DuPont is also a major producer of hybrid crops, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. So if you've eaten any food from your local WinCo, IGA, Safeway, or Kroger's, you've probably sent a least of portion of that money to a Halliburton subsidiary. So grow your own or go on a diet. Hell, 60 percent of us are obese anyway, so this is a good thing, right? You'll be healthier if you grow your own: no chemicals, no genetic manipulation. Well, as long as your seeds aren't hybrid strains from Monsanto. I hear there are still some untainted corn species in higher elevations in Mexico.
Halliburton, Bechtel, GE, and other major corporations listed on warprofiteers.com are making billions off the War on Terror. War seems to be good for stock prices and dividend revenues. Profit is sufficient reason for the War on Terror to become the perpetual war of 1984: Orwell's prediction missed the mark by twenty years, but still his concept of perpetual war fueled by the ideology of fear and pre-emption defines the beginning of the 21st century.
So practice abstinence, give up smoking, grow your own food, and buy a horse. Get off the grid, move back to the country, start a commune or a co-opt. If you haven't been convinced, then logon to Swans in two weeks, for Part Two. Bring a fifth, you're going to need it.