By David Ray Cornberg, Ph.D. (Reprinted with permission of author)
Corporate fascism happens when corporations, domestic and foreign, buy governments and require them to do the bidding of the corporation regardless of the consequences for the government’s citizens and residents. Corporate fascism includes buying media to promote corporate interest and suppress opposition, and buying silence and indifference such as in tribes—Dot Lake is the only one of six affected tribes that has not taken a check from Kinross. Corporate fascists take control, in private, secret negotiations with both elected and appointed officials to allow the corporation to ignore rules, regulations, laws and common sense practices. Part of control is requiring bought governments to muzzle its employees, by threat of firing and/or lawsuit, from speaking publicly against corporate interests.
The government of the state of Alaska, usually considered a part of the United States of America, now appears to be a vassal state of the Kinross corporation global resource extraction empire. For example, the state is paying around a million dollars to Kinney Engineering of Anchorage for a Corridor Haul Study of the ore haul route from the Manh Choh mine in Tetlin to the Fort Knox Mine in Fairbanks. However, in the contract between the state and Kinney there is no language that legally requires state officials to use recommendations of the study to red light or green light the ore haul. Additionally, the final recommendations of the study are now projected by study committee members to be completed in February of this year. But, the ore haul already started at the end of last year. So, two questions remain unanswered: first, has anyone in the state government publicly and officially stated that the ore haul trucks already in use are safe in four season sub-arctic road conditions?; and, has anyone in the state government stated publicly and officially that the ore haul has the state’s permission to proceed regardless of what the Kinney recommendations might be? The fact that there have been no answers to either question so far is worth considering. It seems likely, through the lens of corporate fascism, that the state government is not going to answer either question because they have given control of our government processes and our infrastructure over to Kinross of Canada.
There are three things private citizens can do. They can join the corporation. They can withdraw from the situation or they can oppose it. Advocates for Safe Alaska Highways has taken an opposing step by gathering 3400+ anti-ore haul petition signatures from local residents. The Committee for Safe Communities has taken an opposing step by filing a lawsuit against AKDOT for failing to follow its own regulations. Individual vehicle drivers have taken an opposing step by slowing down in front of the ore haul trucks on the road to slow them down. One Interior legislator, Ashley Carrick, has sought information from AKDOT and has so far gotten none. Joiners sometimes state that this whole project, from the Manh Choh mine to processing at Fort Knox, is going to increase local hire. I wonder whether these joiners are aware of what happened to Jeremy Brans, who used to be the general manager of the Fort Knox Mine. About a year and a half ago, Jeremy Brans was reassigned by Kinross to a job in Canada. Was his replacement a local hire which Brans, a Canadian, was not?
The man who replaced Brans is Terence Watungwa. Who? Well, Kinross used to own a stake in a gold mine in Ghana, Africa. They used an international Spanish trucking company to move supplies to the mine. The haul road went through a small village. One of the haul trucks, loaded with explosives, caught fire and stopped in the middle of the village. Villagers ran to the truck to help the drivers, the truck exploded killing at least seventeen villagers, injuring many more and flattening all the village buildings. Kinross denied liability, sold its share of the mine and went back to Toronto with $200,000,000 in profit leaving dead bodies and a destroyed village behind. Terence Watungwa was the manager of the Kinross portion of the mine in Ghana to which the explosives were being trucked. Now, I invite you to ask yourself, why would Kinross replace Brans with a man with no personal connections whatsoever to our state, our land, our people, our lifestyle and with no possible stake in our safety, health, well-being and convenience?
Choices: join, withdraw, oppose.