the devil made me do it

Over the years there have been many examples of corporations acting irresponsibly, unethically, illegally in  pursuit of profit.
About 100 years ago, United Fruit turned most of Central America into their own private banana plantation.  They did it through suborning corrupt local government and if that didn't work well enough they called for the US  Marines.

The tobacco industry's efforts to increase the nicotine addictiveness levels of their product to ensure customers remained faithful consumers,  buying research to discredit studies that proved smoking was hazardous and  advertising strategies to recruit kid smokers are familiar to everyone.  

Another splendid example is DeBeers and diamonds.  Mountains full of diamonds were discovered in the Transvaal Republic.   The resulting diamond rush led to a predictable influx of immigrants, black, white and asian into the Transvaal, including a Brit named Cecil Rhodes who managed through various means to buy up most of the diamond mines and with some equally acquisitive partners, formed the the DeBeers corporation.  Rhodes as head of DeBeers was instrumental in getting the British Government to annex (steal through law) the Transvaal Republic and make it part of the British Commonwealth.  When the locals objected the result was the Boer War, a few hundred thousand casualties,  the invention of the concentration camp,  and  exploitation of indigenous labor and human rights that continues to this day.

What these three examples of corporations willfully embracing the dark side have in common is that they could not have done it without you and me.  Nobody needs to own gem diamonds, eat bananas or smoke tobacco.    Why do we buy bananas, cigarettes and diamonds?  Largely because United Fruit worked very hard to make it so through decades of the Chiquita Banana advertising campaign.   Ditto for smoking.  DeBeers is responsible for making the diamond engagement ring a tradition that few self respecting brides would live without.   Evil? Absolutely, but they could not have done it without us.


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