Home again home again. It was hard to leave Marseille because after the conference ended, or rather after my patience ended and I did a runner, I fell deeply in love with the city.
I've never been so relieved in my life to do a runner, I think. You have to understand, and I consider it a problem beyond the credit crises and political brouhahas (but I'm being paid in euros and most of my savings aren't on the stock market), that our Kings of Industry are damnable cunts. They know some things are right and some things are wrong in moral terms, but they choose to do the wrong things. That can't be pointed out often enough. I think they're often presented as being the agents of the invisible hand of the market that really wants to help us all out . . . but the way the international financial system runs in terms of companies with publicly traded stocks is a deeply flawed one - very deeply, very fundamentally flawed.
In terms of my industry, that means a complete disregard for sustainability as anything but a half-hearted marketing tool, and even that wouldn't play any sort of part in their thoughts unless consumers weren't getting more clever about entire life-cycle, chain-of-custody issues (so you are making some sort of difference, angry people, just get angrier, and keep being angry). . . but of course the most illustrative example was the Yes Men prank re Dow Chemical and Bhopal. The text in the link is interesting for the omissions Routledge lawyers demanded, but for me the whole key to the story, the whole interest is here:
"We expect the story to be retracted immediately, but Dow takes two hours to notice that alas and alack, it's done the right thing. The full interview therefore runs twice, and for two hours the story is the top item on news.google.com. CNN reports a Dow stock loss of $2 billion on the Frankfurt exchange. After Dow notes emphatically that it is not in fact going to do right by those non-shareholders in Bhopal, the retraction remains the top Google story for the rest of the day. Back at Andy's apartment, we help Dow make its share price rebound by mailing out a more formal retraction on its behalf . . ."
I love the Yes Men. They do brilliant things. Seriously, Morgan Fucking Spurlock, you may be more famous but eat your heart out in terms of quality. That is, if your kitchen slavey vegan girlfriend will bend her principles enough to cook it for you they way you reckon women should.
Anyways. I did a runner from the conference and fell in love with Marseille because the final speech on Friday started sounding like a Yes Man prank, but I knew it wasn't as I'd heard the guy before at conferences. The level of contempt for consumers, for the people these companies rely on to keep the profitable, is just staggering, just repellent - I don't know if that's because the link is indirect or not but I'll tell you it even makes me miss the moral bankruptcy of television - at least television execs care what you think over time, even if they are willing to exploit the very worst parts of you.
Maybe tomorrow I'll write about how lovely Marseille was, and how lovely the sea kayaking was, and about how I reckon I'll have to sea kayak even in Australia despite the sharks because it's just so fucking awesome. But now I have to go to the office and do a monumental amount of work. Let's just say that part of Marseille faces west over the sea and the sunsets are tear-jerkingly magnificent from the promenade; when I arrived back in Brussels, happy to be heading home to the F-word but inestimably sulky to be away from the raawk that is Marseille and saw the sun setting over the repellent Gare de Midi, it was like some sort of covenant between me and the world that I would keep being able to see beautiful things.