May 22nd, 2009
Our newsletter is a weekly review of popular resistance taking place across the U.S. It is important to know we are not alone so we can inspire each other, learn from each other and spread the courage to resist across the country. The newsletter covers people working on a wide range of issues including peace and justice, environmental protection, workers’ and students’ rights, and much more. We see all of these issues connected by our common goal of ending the rule of money, transforming the country and putting people and the planet before profits.
We also need to come together to create a people-powered movement of movements to act with intention to end extreme energy extraction and create a carbon-free, nuclear-free future. One opportunity to further build such a movement will be in New York City this September. Many groups are organizing a Peoples Climate March on September 21 just before the United Nations meets on climate. We are working with a number of groups to create a Climate Convergence on the 19 and 20. There will be space to talk about the obstacles we all face in our sub-movements for health, worker rights, racial justice and more and solutions to these crises. And there will be space to network and plan steps to build stronger movements.
We are sad that the US media are complicit in the lies. The New York Times changed its unusually honest headline about the 4 boys who were killed on the beach to one that is misleading. ABC news showed photos of destruction in Gaza and said that it was Israel. And we are sad that the Boston “T” took down the ad campaign that educated about the abusive treatment of Palestinians. At the same time we are cheered that the truth about Israeli apartheid and violence is being told despite the lies and manipulation. We know it is a difficult truth to face, especially for Jews who have grown up in falsehoods, as Ellen Davidson describes. Social media is playing a big role in making the world aware of the atrocities inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza.
We are in the midst of a week of wonderfully creative actions to raise awareness of the need for real democracy. For information, visit RollingRebellion.org. In Venice Beach, CA, activists dressed as characters from the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars and marched in the Fourth of July parade taking on democracy-killing entities such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and money in politics. Activists in Seattle, WA also marched with giant puppets and talking TV heads. Hundreds marched in the New Hampshire Rebellion organized by Lawrence Lessig. His approach to getting money out of politics is to raise millions of dollars to elect candidates that will work to get money out of politics. He met the first hurdle this week. A march to stop construction of a high-pressure fracked gas pipeline is underway across the state of Massachusetts.
As we celebrate the nostalgia of Independence Day, let’s resolve to actually become independent from our Empire economy that never fails to fund wars while our domestic infrastructure and economy falter. Let’s resolve to become independent of oligarchic rule that puts the rights and interests of large corporations before the needs of the public, and that finds it acceptable to pollute or to cut off water to hundreds of thousands while corporations escape accountability. When the Occupy Movement joined the global uprising, the encampments gave us a taste of what caring communities looked like, of what participatory democracy felt like and how to create new sustainable systems. Since then, as occupy chronicler Nathan Schneider writes, activists are engaged in all sorts of efforts to protest injustice and build alternatives.
It is time to tap into the United States’ revolutionary roots and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence instigate a second American Revolution against oligarchic rule.” The Rolling Rebellion actions are the beginning of an ongoing multi-year campaign to create real democracy in the United States. A dozen actions are currently listed we urge you to create your own if one does not exist in your community. Join the Rolling Rebellion. This is an opportunity to start building a core group of democracy activists in your community so you have a foundation on which to build this movement locally. Rolling Rebellion provides ideas for actions and tools to carry them out.
In a recent interview, Gerardo Cerdas of “City of the Excluded,” a Latin American and Caribbean-wide social movement, stated that activists need to expand their vision to a global perspective because around the world, we all face common problems and the solutions cannot be restricted to one or a few countries. We see evidence that global collaboration is growing and that people are taking bolder steps to stop abuses and create new systems. The basis for the new systems is real democracy – meaning a participatory democracy in which people make decisions about all facets of society in a collective and egalitarian process. As Jerome Roos writes in his review of the new book by Marina Sitrin and Dario Azzelini They Can’t Represent Us: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy, today “hundreds of ‘laboratories for democracy’ are emerging around the world, creating space for ordinary citizens to experiment with alternative forms of social organization, democratic decision-making processes and non-hierarchical ways of relating.”
Nafeez Ahmed writes that the Department of Defense is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to study social movements in order to develop ‘operational tools.’ In Canada, this week there was a discussion in the House of Commons of surveillance of peaceful protesters where PM Harper’s spokesperson revealed a rationale that makes all people suspect, saying “Peaceful protests can suddenly turn violent, just as law-abiding citizens can suddenly create a crime.” Of course, such sentiments are ridiculous and are used to justify further clamp downs on our civil liberties. And that is why the people need tools to know what is going on and to resist injustice.
Past movements have been divided over the two tracks we recommend in our strategy for change: Stop the Machine and Create a New World because some get so focused on creating their new world that that they look inward and do not connect with those working for societal change with protest, sit-ins and other tactics. But, as Mark and Paul Engler conclude in their discussion of this divide, we can balance these approaches and “experience the power of a community that is committed to living in radical solidarity, as well as the joy of transforming the world around us.” In the last year we have seen various sub-movements come together over issues like stopping the TPP and keeping the Internet free of discrimination because these are issues that affect us in obvious and direct ways. These are first steps in developing the kind of movement of movements that can be a building block to the mass movement we need to succeed.
Tomorrow, June 1st, is the 1st anniversary of Popular Resistance. The goal of Popular Resistance is to help grow a mass movement for social, economic and environmental justice. We do this by covering the wide range of both protest movements and those working to create alternative systems in the US and around the world; connecting issues (or sub-movements) so we become a ‘movement of movements’; and providing tools and information for everyone who seeks to participate in this movement. We are all in this together. We want to thank you for your participation in Popular Resistance. Please help us celebrate by growing the movement – share Popular Resistance with your friends and family. Consider using the articles for discussion groups. Use the tools and information on the “Organize” “Strategize” “Resist” and “Create” pages. And use Popular Resistance to share your work, tools and events by emailing [email protected]
Driven by greater awareness of the urgency needed to mitigate climate change, the pressure is growing to stop extreme energy extraction and it’s having an effect. In particular, pipelines are being slowed and popular action is causing a big economic hit to extractors. In Canada, a new group “Coule Pas Chez Nous!” is taking on the Eastern pipeline that plans to carry tar sands bitumen. Protests are also bringing out the truth. It was revealed this week in California that the amount of gas available through fracking is only 5% of what the industry was reporting. And an energy corporation executive admitted that fracking increases the risk of climate change. We also learned that the recent report by UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was watered down by countries that produce fossil fuels. The pushback against climate change is coming from new directions.
utocrats act to protect their own interests which includes taking away tools that the non-wealthy might use to change the current situation. We saw that in McCutcheon which further opened the floodgates for the wealthy to fund political campaigns. And now it is happening in the FCC where Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing to end net neutrality. Before coming to the FCC, Wheeler was a major lobbyist for the Internet and telecom industries. How would the proposed rules affect us? For starters, Internet in the US is inferior to that in other countries. Under the proposed rules, those with money could upgrade to better services while the rest of us would be left behind. The Internet would become dominated by those with wealth which would make it harder for independent websites to be heard. This would effectively restrict our access to information.
It’s official. The first ever scientific study of democracy in the US finds that we are an oligarchy (ruled by the few). We think it’s more accurate to say plutocracy (ruled by the wealthy). Some correctly say that the US is a representative democracy, but this study shows that the ones being represented are not the people (demos). Jerome Roos writes that we must go deeper than recognizing that the US is an oligarchy and discuss whether this is the natural result of a capitalist system. It can certainly be argued that neoliberal economics, the mature form of capitalism, lead to oligarchy as public goods are concentrated in the hands of a few. But “oli” means “few” and we are many and that is why people power (democracy) can prevail.
This week the Social Progress Index was released and it reveals a consistent pattern that we see – the US is in rapid decline and heading for long term stagnation and decay. While the overall wealth of our nation is growing, enough so that every family of four would have close to $200,000 per year if the wealth were equal, it is all going to the top. Nomi Prins, author of All The Presidents’ Bankers, tells the hundred year history of the collusion between the Big 6 Banks and presidents and shows that the results are more destructive now than ever before. If we ever needed a Popular Resistance, the time is now. And that means you! There is a lot going on, so find a place to plug in and do what you can.
Looking back over this week, we see more signs of an awakening to the harsh realities of our history and the current crises. We are hopeful that truth and public debate are laying a path towards the just transformation that we seek. We entered the public debate on the relationship of progressive activists to political parties this week with our article, “Independence or Partisanship.” In the 1850’s, many people who recognized the corruption and immorality of the major parties left them to form a new party, the Republican Party, that called itself “The Wide Awake Club.” The issue then was slavery. Today the issue is the rule of money and we again face two major parties that are corrupt and immoral. It’s not easy to wake up. It means facing some hard truths. But awareness is a first step towards change.
This week we are inspired by activists of all ages who are taking bold action and by the upcoming waves of resistance! Stopping Torture and Injustice towards Prisoners Seventy-nine year old Margaretta D’Arcy of Ireland is absolutely steadfast in her refusal to be complicit with allowing US planes to use Ireland’s airport for extraordinary rendition. In this moving TV interview after her release from prison, she wore an orange jumpsuit in solidarity with the prisoners in Guantanamo. You can still join the Friday Fast for Justice to increase awareness of the injustice there. The Friday Fast also remembers prisoners in the US who are tortured with solitary confinement. You can stop further abuse by letting the California prison system know that long term solitary confinement should be stopped. The deadline for comment is April 3.
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