In the four decades since the mainstreaming of environmental awareness was promulgated by the hippies and the American Indian Movement and communities of color who’d always lived with the toxic residue of industrial recklessness and rapacious consumption, the psychological warfare deployed by Wall Street to undermine environmentalism has changed a lot in style, but little in substance. While public relations firms are now more careful to conceal their client’s contempt for democracy and callous disregard for public health and safety, they continue to dodge discussing real consequences and costs, preferring to deride the values of their opponents and play on the economic insecurity of our privatized society.
As long as the contaminated air and water and lethal diseases were happening to someone else, this distortion of reality by Wall Street was eagerly embraced by privileged consumers and people who feared change that wasn’t approved by the financial elite. But now that their compliance has been betrayed by those who held their rights as citizens and human beings hostage for the hope of false promises, the public relations firms have returned to the tried and true practice of cultural attacks on environmentalists, hippies and indigenous peoples, while Wall Street foundations corrupt and co-opt brand name environmental organizations.
Even as fossil fuel depletion moves into dangerous forms of extraction, and export of North American energy reserves goes into overdrive, a fearful public remains vulnerable to economic extortion, despite the fact this provides them little benefit and no hope. With Wall Street press releases now substituting for journalism in mainstream media, the relentless theme now pushed in all corporate news is that if we don’t give Wall Street everything it wants we will suffer miserably. Coming from the people who put millions of us out of homes and work and health care, that may be the height of hubris, but then again, economic terrorism is used because it works. As long as Americans remain politically infantile, Wall Street will continue to rob them blind.