I was going to let go of the whole paradigm shift theme, but tonight on TV I saw an ad for a certain well-known beer company that kind of threw me for a loop. In the interest of not promoting class war incited by the presumable targets of such class war (or promoting corporate beer, for that matter) I’m not going to name the company. Even so, I have to describe their ads to show more evidence that something very strange is going on. With tongue firmly in cheek, I’ll refer to the product as the People’s Beer.
Try to picture this scene: A couple of beer delivery guys are at the horse races and see that the rich folks down in some fancy picnic pavillion are having a nice fancy party and drinking the People’s Beer with their nice fancy snacks (presumably caviar is involved). The lead delivery guy gets offended and barges right in to un-deliver the People’s Beer, much to the horrified and snobby expressions of the blue-blood horse racing enthusiasts, and at great personal risk to himself (as he almost gets poked in the face with someone’s fancy hat). Having liberated the People’s Beer, our hero proceeds to the grandstands where people are actually watching the race, and hands it out free to the deserving commoners.
I’m not making this up.
I was initially hoping to find a link to the offending ad, so I started poking around at the People’s Beer Corporation web site; sure enough they have a whole series of ads featuring our hero the beer liberator. He engages in such heroic behavior as 1) demanding that people in a stretch limo hand over their People’s Beer. 2) Intentionally directing his sidekick and driver (heroes of the class war have drivers?!?) to park the Peoples’s Beer delivery truck across several reserved executive parking spaces. 3) Taunting a wealthy chap in a Rolls Royce, “Pardon me, but would you have any People’s Beer?…I didn’t think so!” 4) Launching a “common sense” political party and 5) designing one second ads because who has $3 million dollars for a 30 second ad? (well, the People’s Beer Corporation does, but that’s another story).
I have to point out that it is pretty rich for an international company (originally from South Africa and now headquartered in London, with $21.4 billion in revenues last year) to be trying to stir up class war, even in a sort of humorous way. They may fancy themselves as the good ol’ boys of the global capitalist class, but that’s not saying very much. It’s the same sort of false populism mastered by George W. Bush. It’s the same sort of baseless nonsense that leads a company to move the production of Olympia Beer to Texas and then chisel the old slogan (“It’s the water!”) out of a historic fountain at the old plant, before finally shutting the plant down entirely and eliminating the largest manufacturing employer in that county. And they still say “It’s the water.” Give me a break.
So what does it mean if these elitist transnational robber barons are trying to stir up people’s sentiments against the wealthy and using that populist rage to somehow convince people that they are sticking it to the Man by buying the Man’s beer? It means that things are getting really really strange.
Unlike my previous three posts on this theme, there isn’t really a positive direction to this story. If our hero realizes that it is in his interest to work for an employee-owned company (rather than shilling for the very people who would have been at that trackside soiree) and decides to turn the People’s Beer Corporation into a cooperative, I’ll be sure to let you know. But I’m not holding my breath for him to realize that he is what one might call a stooge.
Meanwhile, we can at least take some comfort in the fact that there are folks in Texas (not the ones who stole Oly) who are working on a cooperatively-owned, worker managed brewery called Black Star Co-op. That’s a way better way to take your beer back from the rich.