– by Fiske Sterling, CEO, Thanatocorp
When The Shitty Activist contacted me about writing a guest post for his blog, I wasn’t sure what to think. I must admit, one of the first things that went through my head was that this was a trap, some sort of “Yes Men” activist prank being played on me to make some sort of activist point.
But when he explained how he wanted his readers to see the viewpoint of someone they typically considered an enemy, I figured I’d try to convince some of you that corporations aren’t as evil as you make them out to be (even if you use this information to try to dismantle capitalism, haha).
Once I decided I would contribute something, I struggled over what to write. After all, what could a CEO of a Fortune 500 company have to say to the 99%?
So I went out on my yacht, and then, twenty nautical miles into the Gulf of Mexico, it came to me: My job wasn’t to try to convince activists to give up their protests, rallies, and marches. It was to educate them how corporations aren’t the enemy, but allies in the fight for a better world. In other words: corporations are activists!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. But, I ask you to take a moment to reconsider. Because isn’t the job of an activist to take a system of values and manifest them in the world? To come up with a new way of doing things that doesn’t quite exist yet, and make it so?
For instance, two decades ago, I turned a sun-poisoned, lizard-infested blank space on the map in the Utah desert into one of the nation’s most productive uranium mines, to fuel our many nuclear reactors. How is that any different from, say, a group of gay rights activists looking across a bleak political landscape where gay marriage is illegal, and then tearing up the rocky ground of intolerance, ultimately transforming it into the bright lights of equality?
Not convinced yet? Okay, let’s use another example, a subsidiary of my company Thanatocorp that manufactures a chlorine-based solvent used to clean industrial machinery. Is this really any different than the #BlackLivesMatter movement clearing away the residue of racism in this country with their own version of a chemical solvent, marching in the streets and airing their views on social media?
Still not there? How about this, then: Another of my subsidiaries manufactures cell phone components in China. Just like your local soup kitchen, or Food Not Bombs (see, I’m hipper than you think), I’m giving poor, struggling people a meal on their table. And, not to toot my own horn, but I actually go a step further than offering handouts, which ultimately just makes people doubt their own self-worth. By giving these people meaningful work, they feel like winners who have earned their keep.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to flip over camera lenses with a tweezer and shave the aluminum from the edge of a logo, and he’ll eat for a lifetime (about 55 years).
At the end of the day, whether you’re an activist like yourself or the owner of a multi-million dollar international conglomerate like me, we’re all motivated by the same things. Both corporations and activists want to shape society in our own image to make a better world. We both want to harness the energy of others, bringing people together to move mountains (or in my case, remove them).
The only real difference is that I get financially compensated for my efforts. Which is immaterial anyway because activists aren’t in it for the money, right? Raising awareness is your paycheck, holding signs on a street corner is your country club membership, and “sticking it to the man” is your private jet.
I was a little nervous when I first started writing this, but now I’m glad we had this little talk. Even if I haven’t changed your mind, I hope you can see the many things activists and corporations have in common. Hopefully, this piece will get enough of a positive response that The Shitty Activist will invite me back, so we can chat again, so please be sure to leave a comment below.
Before I go, I wanted to share with you a new campaign I’ve been working on, in the tradition of #OccupyWallStreet, #IdleNoMore, and #BlackLivesMatter. I call it: #NoProfitNoPeace. It’s about the struggle of multinational conglomerates to make enough of a profit margin to hire on new workers, thanks to high corporate taxes. What do you think?
Yours in Solidarity,
Fiske Sterling, CEO, Thanatocorp