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.
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.
Spring is here and in its spirit of ‘new,’ we are going to try a different format for our weekly newsletters. We’ve been covering each week of activism in some depth and as the resistance grows, so is the length of our newsletters! We are returning to a briefer recap of the week for the newsletters and we will continue to publish the in-depth reviews each week in Alternet with reposts on PopularResistance.org. We hope you like the change. Spring is a time of life and renewal. It is a time to make the big dreams hatched in the darkness of winter into a reality.
Beginning with the iconic image of the ballerina on top of the Wall Street Bull, art has been central to occupy and was an important reason for its powerful impact. Art adds vitality and energy to advocacy; and it reaches people at deeper emotional levels and in their hearts conveying what cannot be said with mere facts. We had been covering art as part of our reporting on the movement at Popular Resistance, but it wasn’t enough. There has been so much artistic activism that we decided it needed to be highlighted with its own website, Creative Resistance.org. It is a place where community members, activists and activist artists can connect and inspire each other. We encourage everyone to find ways that art can be incorporated into your actions and into the work in your community.
There is something for everyone to do in this movement for social, economic and environmental justice. Here are three opportunities. We hope that if you are not already plugged in, that you may find ideas here. This movement needs everyone and that includes you! We’re very excited to announce our latest project, CreativeResistance.org, a showcase for activist art. It is designed to spur your creativity and encourage you to incorporate art into your work in educating and organizing people. We’ve covered activist arts on Popular Resistance, but with CreativeResistance.org the many artists involved in the movement have a place to share work, find each other and inspire everyone.
What is amazing is that around the world, the same ideas and values are being put forward. People are joining together to create societies that respect life and the planet and that are more horizontal and just. We are truly in a time of transformation which is made more urgent by the many crises we face. There has been talk of global revolution, and in some areas, revolution – the changing of governments – is occurring. But we are not yet in a global revolution. In his article, “Revolution, or Digital-Age Renaissance,” Bernardo Gutierrez writes, “Ruskoff argues that the revolution has not arrived and what we are experiencing is a new renaissance. ‘Renaissances are historical instances of widespread recontextualisation. It is the rebirth of old ideas in a new context. Renaissance is a dimensional leap, when our perspective shifts so dramatically that our understanding of the oldest, most fundamental elements of existence changes.
As the problems grow in size, the response also needs to grow to confront them. One of the most urgent situations we face is the climate crisis. Recently at an organizing meeting in Chicago, Tim DeChristopher, a climate justice activist, said that one of the reasons progress has not been made in solving the climate crisis is that it was relegated to the realm of being an environmental issue. In reality, the climate crisis affects every area of our lives from food and water security to health to jobs and housing. In fact, it threatens our very survival. At the meeting, activists from around the country who work on a broad range of issues joined together to start organizing a Global Climate Convergence.
We are in the midst of an era of media transition. The corporate media is facing tremendous financial, employee and audience challenges. At the root of their problem is credibility. A 2013 Gallup poll found only 1 in 4 Americans trust television or newspaper news. At the same time technology has given rise to a new people-powered media. People can now turn their telephones into a video outlet and their social networks into a newspaper. Cities have groups like the DC Media group, citizen activists from the occupy movement, or like the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia building media teams. And, through activist organizations, news that is not covered in the media is shared widely.
Chris Hedges makes the point that we are like the crew of the Pequod in Moby Dick. They are stuck in a suicidal chase for the great white whale, Moby Dick, led by an insane Captain Ahab: “Yet we, like Ahab and his crew, rationalize our collective madness. All calls for prudence, for halting the march toward economic, political and environmental catastrophe, for sane limits on carbon emissions, are ignored or ridiculed. Even with the flashing red lights before us, the increased droughts, rapid melting of glaciers and Arctic ice, monster tornadoes, vast hurricanes, crop failures, floods, raging wildfires and soaring temperatures, we bow slavishly before hedonism and greed and the enticing illusion of limitless power, intelligence and prowess.” Can we mutiny as Ahab’s crew should have done before they came to their destruction?
A task of the day is solidarity. And the new economy that is emerging to replace predatory capitalism is a solidarity economy, which we call economic democracy. In a democratized economy, people have more input into decisions about the economy and more benefit from it as well. This is an economic model that will solve the crises of our era and prevent them from returning. The new economy is taking shape on a number of different levels from communities that are putting democratic economic institutions in place to students who are recreating their economic curriculum to economists who are working together to define the new economy more concretely.
The White House is calling Janaury “TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) Month” and has made it their task to pass Fast Track. President Obama needs Fast Track to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). When Congress returned this month, a bill was quickly introduced after delays of more than a year. The lies begin with title of the bill: “The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014.” Bi-partisan? In the House there was only one sponsor, Republican David Camp (MI). The Republicans demanded the Democrats add a sponsor before it was introduced, but due to public pressure, they could not find one. The only Democrat on the bill in the Senate is Max Baucus — the senator who gave us the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and who is leaving the senate to become Ambassador to China. So, the bill is only bi-partisan until he heads off to his new job.
Last week, we defined where today’s social-political movement is within the eight stages of successful movements. This week, we delve deeper into the tasks of the movement in this stage and apply those tasks to current issues faced today. Our goal is to build a mass movement, which has the support of super-majorities of Americans and has mobilized up to 3.5% of the population. Therefore, the target of our protests is not the government or a corporation, the target is the people, to educate and mobilize them. We protest the power holders to expose their actions but do not expect them to be capable of addressing our concerns adequately in this stage.
In recent years there has been a global awakening of people understanding that big finance capitalism’s neo-liberal model of privatization and corporatization while defunding public programs and cutting necessary services to people is the cause of economic inequality and the failed economy. At the same time, the collapsing ecology of the planet with mass extinctions, destruction of the oceans and environment as well as the impacts of climate change have become evident to super majorities. The inability of governments to respond appropriately to these crises because they are corrupted by mega-banks and transnational corporate interests has led to mass protests.
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