On Saturday September 15, 2011, Greenpeace celebrated its 40th anniversary in Vancouver, Canada, the city of its birth. Sadly, Canada is now exploiting Alberta’s tar sands and actively working against other countries who are trying to develop meaningful climate targets.
Forty years ago, not only was Greenpeace formed, but a then-obscure corporate lawyer (later appointed by President Nixon to the Supreme Court) drafted a memorandum for the US Chamber of Commerce that forever changed the influence of big business on our political and cultural landscape.
We would do well to remember Lewis Powell’s Memorandum which spoke to the core issues that are just as relevant today as they were 40 years ago. This includes politics, the judicial and legal system, the judicial and legal system, mass media and communications as well as schools and education.
Politics – Lewis Powell advocated that corporations take a much more aggressive and direct role in politics.
Judicial and Legal System – Powell identified the judiciary as one of the most important arenas for business activism. His suggestions led to the swift formation of dozens of corporate-funded legal foundations, many of which succeeded in using strategic litigation and distorted constitutional doctrines to overturn regulations on public health and the environment.
Mass Media and Communications – Lewis Powell encouraged corporations to leverage their ownership and advertising power to influence mass media.
Schools and Education – One of the most important themes of the Powell Memo was for corporate America to invest in a long-term effort to influence educational curricula and reduce their most outspoken critics’ influence on campus. Corporations have since used a variety of means to influence university research and campus culture.
Greenpeace is now a global organization with a 2010 budget of more than $300 million and branches in dozens of countries around the world. The organization has been at the forefront of combating the climate science denial movement, and destructive corporate entities like Koch Industries. Greenpeace has also been active in holding accountable, companies involved with destructive fishing practices and deforestation.
Since its inception Greenpeace has enjoyed many victories all around the world including protecting wildlife and pressuring major changes in a number of major corporations.
Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson said, “Greenpeace has a storied history globally of making a huge difference on both peace and environmental issues,”
The world owes a debt of gratitude to Greenpeace for their non-violent direct action, which is protecting the earth and its inhabitants.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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