Newsletter: 2015, The Year We Build Power Together

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The Movement Can Begin the Year With a Major Victory Over Corporate Power

The major task for the social movement: 2015 the Year We Build Power Together.

In 2014 we saw tremendous growth of the movement across numerous fronts of struggle – worker rights and the wages, racism and policingclimate, the environment and extreme energy extraction, building a new economy and so much more.  We also saw how uniting and working in solidarity is essential for success.

Protest at Ferguson City Hall.

Protest at Ferguson City Hall.

“Building power together” means working together as a movement of movements to build on the progress of 2014 when people created a larger and bolder movement. We build together because our issues are all connected and unified power is when we are strongest.

We have an immediate challenge in 2015 that threatens our progress. Obama and Congress are pushing to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership. If we don’t stop it, our struggles will be set back and social, economic and environmental justice will be more difficult to achieve. But we can defeat the corporate powers that exploit our communities if we unite and work together and doing so will strengthen us greatly.

Our Struggles Are Connected

The #BlackLivesMatter movement, while focused on the urgent issues of police abuse and institutional racism, is also recognizing that economic injustice in black communities is pervasive. The wealth divide between the top .1% and the rest of us is stark enough; but the wealth divide between African Americans and Caucasian Americans is extreme and growing rather than shrinking.  Whites have much greater wealth, with white median wealth at $142,000 to blacks at $13,700. Black unemployment has been double white unemployment for 50 years, throughout that time black unemployment rates have averaged recession levels, 11.5%.  Also, during that time whites Americans have earned $20,000 per year more than blacks.  Poverty has been rising in the black community for 15 years. Police are needed to keep unfairly treated communities in check.

#BlackLivesMatter protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

#BlackLivesMatter protest on the Brooklyn Bridge.

When the bottom drops out of the economy or when wages are lowered, it is communities of color who feel the impact first and deepest. That is why issues like global trade rigged for big business interests will most adversely impact these poorer communities. Global trade seems distant but it has impacts at the local level.

Communities will experience lost jobs and lower income, an expanding wealth and income divide. They will find themselves competing with people in Vietnam where the average annual income is under $2,000 per year or Peru where it is $6,000. How can the campaign for a living wage succeed with this reality? How can already poor and impoverished communities lift themselves up when big business seeks cheap labor abroad?

In St. Louis some are recognizing the need for a new economy where focus is put on black-owned businesses, cooperative businesses owned by workers and putting in place a solidarity economy.  However, trade pacts will make it more difficult for local governments to put in place a new economy. Transnational corporations will be required to be given greater access to local markets. Practices like purchasing local or buying green will be seen as trade barriers and will be prevented.

The same is true for the climate justice movement. It will become impossible to ban extreme energy extraction in our communities because this will be a threat to corporate profits. The global corporate trade agreements are pushing for more fracked gas and off-shore oil. Europeans want the US to be exporting these climate-destroying fuels to lower their energy costs and diversify from their reliance on Russia to isolate it further.

We Can Win the First Big Challenge of 2015

Protest against Fast Track before the Senate Finance Committee.

Protest against Fast Track before the Senate Finance Committee.

President Obama and the Republican leadership in Congress have made it clear – their top priority is passing fast track trade promotion authority early this year. Fast track is essentially Congress giving up its constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” It gives almost all of their power to the president. Obama will be able to sign trade agreements without Congress ever seeing them, and then Congress has to quickly vote – up or down, with no amendments – on these agreements that contain thousands of pages of complex legal language. This is the only way that horrendous agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, known as TAFTA) can become law.

When you see the first sentence above – Obama and the Republican leadership making this a priority – do not assume we cannot stop them. We can. There is widespread opposition in both the Senate and House against fast track.  Democrats realize that these trade agreements will hurt their base.

And, Republicans, like Democrats, oppose fast track for several reasons. First, they know that it undermines their constitutional responsibility to regulate trade. Second, these agreements undermine the sovereignty of the US government as well as state and local governments by giving corporations veto power over laws they pass.  Third, they recognize that these trade agreements do not confront a critical issue – how countries manipulate the value of currency. Finally, Republicans do not trust President Obama with that much power, while they give up their power.  More Democrats are agreeing with Republicans even on this issue as he continues to sell-out to corporations on issues like banking regulation and student debt.

Climate change protest in Copenhagen.

Climate change protest in Copenhagen.

The Congress is right not to trust the President on corporate trade agreements. Leaks have shown that the Obama administration is extremely pro-corporate when it comes to their proposals.  Documents show the main reason why countries have been unable to reach agreement is because the administration’s positions are distant from those of every other country who do not support such broad corporate power. Further, the leaks also show that enforcement of environmental protections is even weaker in these agreements than they were in Bush-era trade agreements.

All of the big Washington business lobbies are ready to push corporate trade. They see billions in profits as well as a swelling of their power. They know they will become more powerful than governments if these trade agreements become law.

The fight over fast track is shaping up to be a fight between people power and transnational corporate power. This is going to be a huge battle. Opposition in Congress cracks open a door for the people, but if we do not force it open, corporate lobbyists will easily close it.

1stopfasttrackStopping fast track will require all of us. There is a path to victory but it will require the people – from all fronts of struggle – to mobilize, show our unity and stop the corporations. You can join that fight by taking the solidarity, action pledge and sharing it.

We should all engage in this fight because the stakes are high. Every issue people are working on will be hurt by these agreements. But, on the other side, if the people mobilize and stop fast track, corporate trade will be dead for the remainder of President Obama’s term in office.

If the people defeat transnational corporate power in the first big confrontation of 2015, we will be on our way to making 2015 the year we built our power together. We will be freed to create the world in which we want to live and one that increases the chances of a livable future.

The best way to predict your future is creates Scottish independence protest 9-14

 

  • kevinzeese

    You may want to visit World Beyond War, worldbeyondwar.org. They are working to create a global peace movement.

  • Al

    Are they? Or are they just going around raising money so they can attend their next “Peace” conference and make their next appearance on Democracy Now? At this point, with a nuclear WWIII a possibility, with a war already started against Russia, I don’t see why this site and others are working together to get an antiwar movement going right now. Or maybe there’s another mortgage to save. Why aren’t you guys organizing a boycott of the 2016 election between Bush and Clinton? We need bold actions, not more of the same old shit.

  • kevinzeese

    I see them as really working to build a peace movement. But, maybe you know better or maybe you are criticizing them without knowing. I’ve watched their development from the beginning. What do you know?

  • Al

    I get your newsletter which is why I came here to comment btw. At least I came here.

  • Al

    Appears my other comment got lost, or didn’t pass muster. I have a copy if it doesn’t show up.

  • Al

    Did my other comment get censored?

  • Margaret Flowers

    Didn’t get censored. Not sure why it didn’t show up.

  • kevinzeese

    The people involved are sincere and trying to create a global anti-war movement. It is, as I am sure you know, easy to come up with an idea but much harder to make it happen. You have an idea – how do you make it happen?

  • Bnerin

    What if people in the know like you Kevin drafted 5 or 6 core issues that we need to have as members of the 99% to be able to live a just and peaceful life. And then we went to our two Senators and one House member and asked them if they would vote for this law or amendment. If they said yes, then we tell them we will vote for you next time; and if not, then we say we must vote for one who will work for this law. And we added that e.g. “I have a hundred friends who feel the way I do and they will join me in this task.

    Kevin, imagine this happening in all 435 districts and 100 senate seats. What do you think?

  • Al

    I know they’re sincere, everybody’s sincere, at least in their own minds. I’ve come down to democracy as the issue, i.e., we don’t have it. Nothing else matters, we aren’t going to stop the wars and U.S. imperialism, abolish the Federal Reserve System and the Wall Street Banking Mafia, stop the TPP, and make the other changes needed for human society to move forward without taking the power away from the rich people that have it and have always had it. I think using democracy is the best approach now. They say we have it, we know we don’t, let’s make them put up or shut up. Last election only 36% voted so we already have a large segment to work with relative to a boycott of at least the next Presidential election if not both major political parties. Let’s force the issue. I’ll be working on it as will others. I have no choice because Clinton or Bush is not a choice. I guess the question for Progressive Resistance is, would you support an organized boycott of the 2016 election?

  • kevinzeese

    In order for a strategy like that to work — or any strategy, really — we need to build a mass movement that is uncompromising and independent of the two parties. The members of Congress have to fear the people in order for us to make those types of demands. So, the job is not coming up with a list of five things the job is building a mass movement that cannot be ignored.

    As to the five changes that would allow a just and peaceful life — there are some obvious basics that are needed, but there are some very big issues that also need to be faced: creating a representative democracy that represents the people not the monied interest, ending US empire and militarism that does so much damage around the world and depletes the US treasury, confronting climate change which will require changes in so many aspects of our lives, confronting systemic racism that is the cause of police abuse and creates an unfair economy. These are not small changes — they are transformative ones.

  • Margaret Flowers

    This idea has been discussed for years. Personally, I continue to vote but only vote for third party candidates and ballot measures that I support. That means I leave a lot of blanks on the ballot.

    For us to support an organized boycott, as with any campaign we support, we would need to understand the strategy behind it in greater depth and to know what the desired outcome would be.

    I would like to see a constructive component – people organizing local assemblies to review their problems and their resources to deal with them and then working together to solve problems. This creates a foundation for a more participatory and democratic system while starting to meet basic needs.

    We need to build an organized mass movement to bring about transformation. Voting or not voting at this point is not very relevant. Democracy and voting in a rigged system are not equivalent. Perhaps that’s your point.

    How would this tactic would serve the larger goal? Perhaps you see it as important for public education and movement building? What are the downsides of it?

  • Bnerin

    But if 5 or 6 basic laws were powerful in bringing about change, would this not activate the mass movement you want?

  • kevinzeese

    I’m not convinced the tactic would be effective but am open to being convinced.

    One problem is there is already very low participation in US elections, as you note re the last election. Beyond that only about half of Americans are registered to vote and just over half of registered voters vote in presidential elections. So, it is a very small percentage of potential voters who already vote.

    Could we organize a boycott bigger than the number already note voting? That is a serious question.

    At this point, I see voting as among the least effective civic responsibilities. I still vote but have not voted for either corporate party since the early 90s. I prefer to vote for what I want, and not what I fear. That means I usually vote Green since their values are the closest to mine.

    I’m open to another strategy, but need to be convinced it will be effective.

  • Al

    Thanks for the replies. I’ll do some more thinking on this and your questions and concerns. FWIW, I’m not convinced it will work either, I don’t think anyone has an answer for how to get out of the mess this planet is in now. I do think that we don’t have much time to try to find an answer before many millions get hurt and the ground up approach alone won’t cut it. And I know it’s been discussed forever, but with Clinton Bush I think the people have to say something and say it loud. Look at how the low turnout is being ignored. That shows the system is broken. I think the perception of democracy is a powerful thing to take down because it’s the primary tool the ruling elite uses to justify their propaganda. If they lose that they’re no better than North Korea and they know it.

  • Margaret Flowers

    We strongly support calling out the illegitimacy and corruption of the current government.

    See https://www.popularresistance.org/fighting-for-a-legitimate-democracy-by-and-for-the-people/

    We need to burst that illusion so we can create a legitimate system.

    We look forward to hearing your ideas.

  • Ghost

    If we’re going to build power together, why not build the revolutionary movement that’s needed?

    http://www.amendmentgazette.com/2015/01/01/sparking-third-american-revolution/

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  • Andre Sheldon

    Hello Kevin,

    Namaste. Thank you for your note.

    The people need your leadership now! You, Margaret, Jill Stein, David Swanson, David Hartsough, and all the other leaders from all the movements can unite to enlist Marianne Williamson. As my post described, she can set in motion a global peace movement. The plans are ready!

    You leaders hold the world in your hands. Don’t we have to try everything?

    There is no other plan that I know of that is ready now. If we don’t try, WE LOSE. We have to act now! Naomi Klein wrote,

    http://m.thenation.com/article/181621-climate-change-peoples-shock

    “So if there is any hope of reversing these trends, glimpses
    won’t cut it; we will need the climate revolution playing on repeat, all day
    every day, everywhere.”

    I humbly would like to present to you the specific plans that meet Naomi’s statement. Please call me so I can delineate the complete leadership strategy. My cell # is 617-413-9064.

    Peace and Love,
    Andre

    Andre Sheldon
    Director, Global Strategy of Nonviolence
    Facilitator, CALL to WOMEN, a World-Wide Unity Campaign
    Cell number: +1-617-413-9064, Home number: +1-617- 964-5267
    Email: Andre (at) GlobalStrategyofNonviolence.org
    Website: http://www.GlobalStrategyofNonviolence.org
    Facebook: Global Movement of Nonviolence

  • juda

    usa…Kevinzeese is correct. Laws are not changed by a few, but by many well organized citizens.

  • juda

    usa….We the People need OUR Leadership. We each and lead and follow as to our specific skills.

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