“We recognize that we must confront the plundering by transnational companies and the harassment of bad governments through their political parties that offer programs and money that corrupt many leaders and divide our communities,” states the declaration of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) of the Isthmus region, which took place in March 2014. While a furious battle has been unleashed for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture in other communities in Mexico and Latin America, in Oaxaca, new legislation is being debated on this very theme while large-scale projects continue to advance.
This is not the time for expedience or for working within the confines of what is perceived as politically possible. This rulemaking is about the future of the most important communication tool in history. The Internet already has tremendous economic, social, cultural and political impact and will have an even greater impact in all of those areas in the future. Popular Resistance urges the FCC to reclassify the Internet Under Title II as a Common Carrier so real net neutrality rules can be put in place and we can be assured that the Internet will remain an Open Internet with equal access for all and no discrimination. Only in this way can the full potential of the Internet be realized.
Because economic power translates into political power, the extreme concentration of wealth in the top 1% undermines democracy. Both main parties have colluded over the last four decades to transfer wealth to their super-rich donors, while ensuring that no meaningful reforms take place to our electoral system. The U.S. leads the industrial nations in income inequality because our electoral system is the least democratic. The sacred texts of Jews, Christians, and Muslims all call for a Jubilee every 50 years to redistribute wealth and forgive debts, not just for moral reasons, but to make the economy function again. America needs a Jubilee. The US electoral system of winner-takes-all leads to the domination by two parties, one center-right and the other far-right. The Democrats want to repeal the New Deal and the Republicans want to repeal the Enlightenment.
Tonight is the first night of the Building Our New Economy Together, Economic Democracy Conference in Baltimore. If you are unable to make it to the conference tonight, keep it tuned to this page for a live stream of our town hall at The Real News Network! You will also be able to catch the opening and closing plenary sessions on Saturday right here. For more on the event’s schedule, visit here. The evening will bring together top national experts on reframing our political situation with the folks in Baltimore who are already working on these issues. This session will be held from 7 to 9 PM, with doors opening at 6:30 PM and a reception following. Speakers will include (order TBD): Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance and Its Our Economy Diane Bell McKoy, Associated Black Charities Gar Alperovitz, University of Maryland, College Park Jacqui Dunne, Author, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity Michael Coleman, United Workers
Nearly 500 people turned out over the May 2-4, 2014 weekend for the ‘Jackson Rising’ conference in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a highly successful and intensive exploration of Black power, the solidarity economy and the possibilities unleashed for democratic change when radicals win urban elections. The gathering drew urban workers and rural farmers, youth and the elderly, students and teachers, men and women. At least half were people of color. About 50 were from the city of Jackson itself, and most were from other Southern states. But a good deal came from across the country, from New York to the Bay area, and a few from other countries—Quebec, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. . . “Freeing the land has given our people a new sense of belonging,” said Omar Sierra, of Venezuela. “Chokwe Lumumba extended his solidarity to us in a time of need. Our people are saddened by his passing, and will not forget him.” William Copeland, a cultural organizer from Detroit. Summed up the spirit of the crowd: “These presentations demonstrate the international significance of the Black Liberation Movement and Southern movement building.”
We still have a great deal of momentum, we still have a great deal of strength, and I think we learned some hard lessons around–collectively that we have to speak more to our base and to their needs upfront and immediately and let there be known even if you’re not necessarily able to implement it off the top, it needs to be more clearly enforced and forcefully stated I think is one of the great lessons we can take away from this election. . . In terms of policy, we know that’s an uphill climb here in Mississippi. The Republican, basically, Tea Party government that we have is on a state level not that in favor of what we’re trying to push through cooperative development at all. There was a bill that was up supporting cooperatives that they killed earlier this year. We’re going to keep fighting for that, but we know it’s going to be an uphill battle as long as the Tea Party and as long as the Republicans are in office. On a local level, however, on a municipal level, we are looking to transform all of the procurement policies of the city, all of the environmental regulations and standard policies within the city, and particularly all of the land-use policies in the city, and have those articulated in such a way that they support and foster various means of kind of collectively engaging those different areas for productive activity that will support cooperatives. So that’s on the policy side.
The names of the big health insurance companies are familiar – Blue Cross, Aetna, United Healthcare. But what about CoOportunity Health, or Health Republic Insurance of New York? These are among 23 new health insurance companies that started under the Affordable Care Act. They’re all nonprofit, member-owned cooperatives, and the aim is to create more competition and drive prices down. Karl Sutton is part of a food cooperative in Montana where he grows spinach. He understands the co-op model and thinks it can work for his health insurance company. Funded almost entirely by federal government loans this year, initial enrollment numbers look pretty good for a lot of co-ops, but that’s not necessarily enough to make them successful.
One place to start (with my own work) is that – given the specific historical conditions we face in the United States – I’m primarily interested in the question of how we begin to move in the direction of a model that realizes the kinds of values that Michael just laid out, though is different in structure. I am interested in the political economy of institutional power relationships in transition. The question is one of “reconstructive” communities as a cultural, as well as a political, fact: how geographic communities are structured to move in the direction of the next vision, along with the question of how a larger system – given the power and cultural relationships – can move toward managing the connections between the developing communities. There are many, many hard questions here – including, obviously, ones related to ecological sustainability and climate change.
It’s often said by those on the left, somewhat glibly, that capitalism is a cancer on the earth, or that capitalism follows the mindset of the cancer cell– infinite growth. But is that really the case? Perhaps it’s that cancer is a form of capitalism instead? From an article in Harper’s Magazine about facial tumors in Tasmanian Devils: “…uncontrolled reproduction begins when a single cell accumulates enough mutations to activate certain growth-promoting genes (scientists call them oncogenes) and to inactivate certain protections (tumor suppressor genes) that are built into the genetic program of every animal and plant. The cell ignores instructions to limit its self-replication, and soon it becomes many cells, all of them similarly demented, all bent on self-replication, all heedless of duty and proportion and the larger weal of the organism. That first cell is (almost always) a cell of the victim’s own body.”
“There are lots of ultra-wealthy conservatives and libertarians around and maybe I can get one of them to fund the campaign,” he said. “Late last week, when I was getting desperate, I pointed out to the union leaders how bad it would look if some right-winger raised the wages of California workers by $15 billion while the unions were just too cheap and selfish and sat on their hands….I was trying to really light a fire under those union leaders last week, but I never heard anything back from them.” The silence from unions and liberals has been truly mystifying, Unz said. “I’d very much hoped to be able to raise the money from wealthy liberals and have been surprised it’s been so extremely difficult,” he said. “I can’t figure out why someone wouldn’t want to take national credit for such an important project. Even if they tell me the unions will surely pay for it, why wouldn’t they want the credit for themselves? But I just haven’t had any luck and I’m really getting desperate, which is why I’ll be running that public newspaper ad starting tomorrow, which is pretty much a last resort.”
The Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, and the Grassroots Economic Series leading up to the conference, aim to educate and mobilize the people of Jackson to build cooperatives and worker owned enterprises that can meet the economic and sustainability needs of the community. In the process, we aim to expand the discussion about alternative economic models and systems and to confront the harsh economic realities faced by low-income and impoverished communities. As an initiative of the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Community Aid and Development, Inc., the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, and the Fund for Democratic Communities, the Jackson Rising Conference promises to be a major advance in the struggle for working class organization, wealth equity, economic democracy and self-determination in Jackson, Mississippi.