Even though many corporations have been getting increasingly outspoken about politics and culture wars, few go as hard as Ben and Jerry’s.
The Vermont-based ice cream company has been politically active long before it was in vogue, protesting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 2005 and collaborating with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick following his protest of the National Anthem.
So it rarely comes as a shock when one of Ben and Jerry’s founders takes a stand on an issue.
But cofounder Ben Cohen still managed to ruffle more than a few feathers in a recent interview with Politico, calling out everything from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the U.S. military industrial complex.
“I hadn’t understood that, you know, there were these masters of war — essentially I guess what we would now call the military-industrial-congressional complex — that profit from war,” Cohen said of his awakening to the U.S. war machine in the 1960s after seeing his peers get drafted for the Vietnam War.
Image source: Ben & Jerry’s
He said the effort “wasn’t justified,” connecting the issue to modern day geopolitical tensions.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed,” he said.
“That is a foundational thing for me, very inspiring for me, and captures the essence of what I believe,” he continued, adding, “If we weren’t wasting all of our money on preparing to kill people, we would actually be able to save and help a lot of people. That goes for how we approach the world internationally as well — including the war in Ukraine.”
Cohen touched on former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s powerful 1953 farewell address shortly before he left office to be succeeded by John F. Kennedy.
“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow,” Eisenhower said.
He warned, for the first time in recorded television, of the unchecked desire for power and influence following resounding American victory — and the drop of two nuclear bombs — on full display on the international stage.
“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
Receive full access to real-time market analysis along with stock, commodities, and options trading recommendations. Sign up for Real Money Pro now.