Welcome to Issue 49.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
Today’s news, fermented:
That phrase—first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win—popped into my head this morning. (Not a Gandhi quote, apparently!)
I spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘corporate playbook,’ which is essentially the set of strategies corporations and industries use to continue manipulating governments and the public, profit at the expense of people and the planet, and evade liability for harm caused.
Most well-known is Big Tobacco’s playbook, in part because of the massive release of documents in the landmark Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of the late nineties. More recently, there’s a lot of discussion about Big Oil’s playbook, and how Big Oil, in the face of many liability lawsuits, is going to have a Big Tobacco moment, a la the MSA.
The corporate playbook maps on pretty easily to the above phrase. Part one of the playbook is often ignoring and denial—see Big Tobacco’s claims that smoking isn’t harmful to health, or ExxonMobil’s secret research about the real impacts of oil extraction.
Part two: then they laugh (or worse, sow doubt). I’m picturing Rex Tillerson sitting in a fancy boardroom snickering as he holds the first climate science in one hand and the climate denial-causing op-ads Exxon published in the other.
Part three: then they fight you. The fossil fuel industry has disbarred a lawyer prosecuting a liability lawsuit against it, not to mention all the other horrors; Big Tobacco has largely exported its ‘expansion markets’ to the Global South, out of the public eye in the Global North (where many of those corporations are based), and fought legislation to regulate the industry.
Both the Big Oil and Big Tobacco have used the latest tactic in the corporate playbook to muddy the waters between the fighting and winning stages. See the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, a nice-sounding entity that’s solely funded by a tobacco giant, currently under fire for furthering the industry’s goals (of addicting and killing people).
And see, even more in the public eye, the net-zero claims put out by fossil fuel corporations and governments. Is this winning? Net zero isn’t actually zero emissions, and often means that, like Big Tobacco, Global North-based corporations are actually just exporting emissions to the Global South.
An op-ed out today further debunks the sham that is net-zero, and explains how polluting industries have leveraged this tactic to make us, those fighting for a livable future, think we’re winning.
It couldn’t come at a better time—also out today is the news that ExxonMobil, the worst of the worst, is ‘supportive’ of net-zero targets.
In both the case of ‘smoke-free’ messaging and net zero claims (not to mention the substitution of Jim Crow for mass incarceration, which deserves much more space than it is given here), corporations are using the assimilation of a loss into the rhetoric of winning to distract the people who bear the brunt of their abuses.
So how do we distinguish between the ‘fighting’ and the ‘winning’? Those out of the path of climate disaster and at low risk for targeting by the carceral state probably won’t see the discrepancy between the messaging of winning and the reality of losing. As always, we have to look to those who have the most to lose if we lose, and the most to gain if we win, to know the true state of our struggle.
Who doesn’t need a cuttle after this disheartening stuff.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
Well folks, I haven't felt this sorely disappointed in a television series since the finale of Dexter aired nearly eight years ago. After what seemed like a promising start, the 25th season of The Bachelor will conclude -- but not before last Monday's juicy "Women Tell All" episode with all the contestants from this season. And boy, do I have thoughts.
From Anna spreading baseless rumors about another contestant, to MJ and Jessenia's heated fight, to all things Queen Victoria, this year's The Bachelor has been exhaustingly packed to the brim with drama. So I truly did not know what to expect going into this hour-long reunion but I guess I didn't expect to sit through yet another 60 minutes of the season's mean girls completely dissociating from reality as they had been these last several weeks, and doubling down on it. Instead, they zeroed in on Katie and accused her of being the source of all things toxic in the house, because she decided to bring up the out-of-control bullying and slanderous accusations that were happening to Matt James, which led to him stepping in to settle some of the drama himself. What I don't understand is why Mari and Chelsea somehow also became so defensive by Katie's actions that they decided to jump in on the Katie pile-on. No one even remembers the two of you!
The only person who showed even an ounce of genuine remorse for her actions was Anna. But I'm gonna be honest with you, had it been my name slandered and my reputation sullied, I would not have entertained Anna nor accept her apology. But I guess that's why I'm sitting on a couch drinking root beer and watching this show instead of competing -- because I lack the grace.
I realized I did not have the energy to sit through the full 60 minutes of this awful tell all about 20 minutes in so reader, I did in fact turn off the television right then and there. And I think it was just as well that I did so because here I am, combing through news articles of the episode, only to read about the fact that Matt had actually APOLOGIZED to the mean girls, and specifically Victoria, for how he treated them. Can someone more educated than I explain this to me, please?!
Anyway, this all just made it clear for me that these women are fighting over a man who is duller than a soggy saltine in a cup of day-old tea. I mean sure, Matt's body was carved from the Cliffs of Moher by God probably but like, just make a plaster cast of his abs and hang it in the Louvre for us to see so we don't have to listen to him say "Thanks for sharing that with me tonight" to literally anything these ladies share with him at all ever, including but not limited to whenever they literally tell him that they're in love with him. Oh, also, he kisses with his eyes open. Which he only recently acknowledged was a weird thing to do. Sir, I've only ever kissed my cat with these lips and even I know not to do that.