Always Coca Cola?

I’m watching a documentary by Mark Thomas about Coca Cola, detailing the many human rights abuses committed both by it and in its name. None of this is news to me – it’s something I’ve known for about three years now. To a very large extent the documentary’s covering old ground which ‘The Corporation’ investigated so well in 2003, about the ways in which giant corporations frequently abuse the poor and environment around the world. But for me it’s opened a larger question: why? Why do we fuel this?

Killer Coke

I mean I know the way in which right wing guerilla groups target union members at Coke bottling plants in Colombia for assassination. I know the ways in which, because it takes 2 litres of water to make one litre of Coke, water tables get pilfered and run dry in rural India. Yet as I write I’m drinking 2 of those litres, directly contributing to at least one of those abuses. It’s without question an illness of our times, something growing into an outright disorder – we are so detached from the consequences of our behaviour as consumers, that abuses at the edges of our world are growing. We’re outraged by them, but we find it next to impossible to alter our behaviour to change them. What then of global warming? What of people trafficking? What of the ever decreasing age of pornography?

I’m not trying to sound like an outraged blogger, more pondering what clearly is the biggest issue of our time, which our politicians fundamentally ignore. A new politics is needed to cope with it, bizarrely without doubt a politics of the individual. Yet with the forms with which we become aware of and interact with the objects of our consumption ever more distancing us from the realities of their creation, how on earth can we get there? Coke may be a bad thing, but my senses say it isn’t. Am I being fooled by a cynical attempt to fool my senses by marketing and ingredients (cf. McDonalds), or am I the fool?

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6 responses to “Always Coca Cola?

  1. While I didn’t see the documentary in question, and am only dimly aware of the actual issues, and not that I condone bad practice as long as it happens far away or anything, but am I wrong in saying that Coca-cola consumed in the UK is by and large produced in the UK? And therefore not responsible for the abuse of water tables in India?

    Do I have to go without a nice cold glass of coke as well as Nestle stuff? (Actually, I only managed about a week without Nestle. Bad, I know).

    All tongue in cheek, of course.

    But still, I really like Coca-cola!

  2. One of the important issues raised here is why do we actually fuel this giant corporation even though we know about the exploitation it puts upon others?

    I myself have seen this documentary and yet, after knowing about these revelations, I still bought a bottle of Coca-Cola. As I was drinking this, I was supporting the deprivation of Indians, I was supporting water pollution, I was supporting the suppression of Indian unionists. Still after knowing about all of this, I, admittidly enjoyed that bottle of Coca-Cola. Although these issues are exposed, do any of us really want to or are we all going to be outraged pacifists?

    When I buy Coca-Cola, I do this for the ‘ra ra’ of it. Make sense? Well, I would much rather be seen drinking a bottle of ‘branded’ Coca-Cola than some no name brand of Cola.Technically, in my opinion, we are paying for the marketing behind the product which in turn, pays for even more expenditure by the consumer.

    Just a few thoughts. =)

  3. Coca Cola has used billions of dollars on advertising a year; They do this not only to sell their product, but they also do this so that people become unaware or just ignore the continuous human rights abuse caused by their company.
    Their advertising play on our emotions, offering to us the image they want us to see, that is a happy, sporty image. Many of us allow these advertisments to blind us to the companies actions in the poorer nations, letting ourselves not only drink these products, but drink them on a regular basis.
    I am one of these people; Although aware of the effects these companies have i still go out and buy their products.
    We the consumers are adding to the effects of these companies, yet we sit here and complain that more is to be done to help the countries at the recieving end of all the abuse.
    I believe that the only way for any real change to be achieved is for all people to stop consuming their products. However, we all know that will never happen; Aslong as there is the company Coca Cola there will be people who are consuming their products.
    So until the day when we all decide to stop consuming Coca Cola products i will still continue to drink Coke.

  4. When I read this blog I agree with what is said.
    I can admit that even knowing what the Coco-Cola Company is doing to the people of India, I still have no hesitation in drinking their product.
    To me this is scary, the fact that we know about these injustices and yet we do nothing about it.
    We are just as involved in the problem as the Coco-cola Company it’s self. By purchasing Coke related products we are supporting the company to deprive these people of their water. Their lives are being threatened in the thousands and no one is doing anything to stop it, only to urge its continuation. The people of India have no need for coke. They cannot even afford it. All they want is their water and soon they won’t even be able to get that.
    As much as we love the taste of coke, we are not just buying the product its self; we are also buying into the suffering of the Indian people. We are supporting this cause without even knowing.
    What we really must do is stop purchasing the products in question and prove the point that the company does not need to deprive innocent people, just for a profit. Because at the end of the day, we will survive longer on water then we ever will on Coke.

  5. Cody, Jessica – you say we must ‘boycott’ Coke, you say we must stop supporting this global corporation and yet, you are not prepared to set the example?

    Does that not make you a tad bit of hypocrites?

    This may come out a bit insensitive but I merely stated that I was aware of the problems caused by Coca-cola and was ‘okay’ with supporting their product. You two on the other hand are against the exploitation of Coca-Cola at the expense of human rights and the environment but you are not primed to start the ‘strike’ against coke.

    It’s one thing to talk the talk but can you really walk the walk? – cliche I know but you get my point.

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