NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:
Dear readers, Did you know that we are actually ruled by corporations, and that our country is a corporation, and that its officers (police, army, courts, etc) are actually agents of a corporation that are there to serve you or me?
In this following article, written by Richard Heinberg, sometime ago, you will discover a piece of history that probably you have never been exposed to during your lifetime and education. Due to the length of this piece, El Reportero will publish it in several parts. THIS IS PART 4 AND LAST OF A SERIES.
CAUSE FOR HOPE?
por Richard Heinberg
These circumstances are, in their details, unprecedented; but in broad outline we are seeing the re-enactment of a story that goes back at least to the beginning of civilization. Those with power are always looking for ways to protect and extend it, and to make their power seem legitimate, necessary or invisible so that popular protest seems unnecessary or futile. If protest comes, the powerful always try to deflect anger away from themselves. The leaders of the new populist movement appear to have a good grasp of both the current circumstances and the historical ground from which these circumstances emerge. They seem to have realized that, in order to succeed, the new populism will have to:
• avoid being co-opted by existing political parties;
• heal race, class and gender divisions and actively resist any campaign to scapegoat disempowered social groups;
• avoid being identified with an ideological category–”communist”, “socialist” or “anarchist”–against which most of the public is already well inoculated by corporate propaganda;
• direct public discussion toward the most vulnerable link in the corporate chain of power: the legal basis of the corporation;
• internationalize the movement so that corporations cannot undermine it merely by shifting their base of operations from one country to another.
As Lawrence Goodwyn noted in his definitive work, The Populist Moment , the original Populists were “attempting to construct, within the framework of American capitalism, some variety of cooperative commonwealth”. This was “the last substantial effort at structural alteration of hierarchical economic forms in modern America.”
In announcing the formation of the Alliance for Democracy, in an article in the Aug. 14, 1996 issue of The Nation, activist Ronnie Dugger compiled a list of policy suggestions which comprise some of the core demands of the new populist movement. These include: a prohibition of contributions or any other political activity by corporations; single-payer national health insurance with automatic universal coverage; a doubling of the minimum wage, indexed to inflation; a generic low-interest-rate national policy, entailing the abolition of the Federal Reserve System; statutory reversal of the court-made law that corporations are “persons”; establishment of a national public oil company; limitations on ownership of newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations to one of any kind per person or owning entity; and the halving of military spending. The new populists are, in Ronnie Dugger’s words, “ready to resume the cool eyeing of the corporations with a collective will to take back the powers they have seized from us”.
The new populism draws some of its inspiration from the work of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), a populist “think-tank” that explores the legal basis of corporate power. POCLAD believes that it is possible to control–and, if necessary, dismantle–corporations by amending or revoking their charters.
Since the largest corporations are now transnational in scope, the new populism must confront their abuses globally. The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) was founded for this purpose in 1994, as an alliance of 60 activists, scholars, economists and writers (including Jerry Mander, Vandana Shiva, Richard Grossman, Ralph Nader, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Jeremy Rifkin and Kirkpatrick Sale), to stimulate new thinking and joint action along these lines.
In a position statement drafted in 1995, the International Forum on Globalization said that it: “views international trade and investment agreements, including the GATT, the WTO, Maastricht and NAFTA, combined with the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to be direct stimulants to the processes that weaken democracy, create a world order in the control of transnational corporations and devastate the natural world. The IFG will study, publish and actively advocate in opposition to the current rush toward economic globalization, and will seek to reverse its direction. Simultaneously, we will advocate on behalf of a far more diversified, locally controlled, community-based economics.
We believe that the creation of a more equitable economic order–based on principles of diversity, democracy, community and ecological sustainability–will require new international agreements that place the needs of people, local economies and the natural world ahead of the interests of corporations.”
Leaders of the new populism appear to realize that anti-corporatism is not a complete solution to the world’s problems; that the necessary initial focus on corporate power must eventually be supplemented by a more general critique of centralizing and unsustainable technologies, money-based economics and current nation-state governmental structures, by efforts to protect traditional cultures and ecosystems, and by a renewal of culture and spirituality.
It would be foolish to underestimate the immense challenges to the new populism from the current US administration and from the jingoistic, bellicose post-September 11 public sentiment fostered by the corporate media. Nevertheless, POCLAD, the Alliance for Democracy and the IFG (along with dozens of human rights, environmental and anti-war organizations around the world) provide important rallying points for citizens’ self-defense against tyranny in its most modern, invisible, effective and even seductive forms.