Popular Resistance Newsletter – Raising Our Voices With Confidence
Last week was the one year anniversary of Popular Resistance. In the last year there have been some significant victories. Thousands of people are working on multiple issues, often joining together across issues as a movement of movements.
The #WorldwideWaveOfAction issued its first progress report this week. They highlighted “An extensive report by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue [which] revealed that we are currently seeing the largest protests in world history, with a steady increase in the overall number of protests every year and a growing number of internationally coordinated actions. They also concluded that a ‘demand for real democracy’ was the primary driver of actions, with people from all age groups and walks of life participating.”
Despite the lack of media coverage of this reality, people are noticing. For example, last month Citi Group published a report “Vox Populi: Taking It To The Streets.” Citi was not advocating in favor of people power. They describe the classic battle of who should rule, the people or the elites, and how.
Citi describes the “Vox Populi risk” as “a structural change that will be a risk factor affecting both the investment and business environment for the foreseeable future.” In fact, according to the eight stages of successful social movements, we are at the beginning of a broadening mass movement. It will grow because government corrupted by the rule of money is unable to work on behalf of the interests of the people or to protect the planet.
The People Are Beginning To Show Their Power
There have been some important, if unheralded, victories in the last year for the movement for social, economic and environmental justice that should give all of us confidence to increase our involvement and persuade others to join the movement. Here’s a recent one:
Saving The Internet. Within weeks after the leak of FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s plan to create a tiered Internet based on fees, people were able to build enough pressure to get the real solution on the FCC’s agenda. Wheeler wants to avoid reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier which would prevent Internet discrimination. However, after two weeks of online and in-person protests, he included that option as one alternative to be discussed in the rulemaking process currently taking place. This is a major initial victory. Now people are submitting public comments in support of reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier. Already 50,000 comments have been received, dwarfing any other issue the FCC is considering; and more protests are planned. Coming up is a street theater performance outside the FCC on July 1 at noon called “Which side are you on, Tom?” You can find out how to participate in the “show” as well as submit comments to the FCC here.
Last week we wrote about successful environmental battles and pointed to research that showed blockades and other aggressive protest actions work – they can stall or stop extreme energy extraction. There have also been victories in stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership, raising the minimum wage (though inadequate) and stopping cuts to Social Security.
Stalling or stopping bad policies is necessary, but working for positive transformative change is also important. This Roadmap created by the Metta Center provides a tool for change that can be used by individuals or communities.
Democratic economic institutions are beginning to take root across the country with an increase in worker-owned cooperatives, land trusts to control housing costs and increased use of wind and solar energy. There is an expansion of organic gardening, including in urban areas. And, people are also developing new currencies that are complementary to the dominant currency while others are creating their own credit unions so they can have greater control over community wealth. Rethinking money and remaking the finance system are two parts of an overall movement toward economic democracy.
This weekend there is a conference in Boston, Commonbound, where hundreds will gather to examine how to build a new economy based on democracy, sustainability and community. We recently held a similar conference in Baltimore, Building our New Economy Together, which continued efforts to create new economic institutions locally. In Jackson, MS the Jackson Rising Conference brought together hundreds of people from across the nation to make Jackson a center of cooperative businesses. These events build on a long history of cooperatives and worker ownership.
This is the one year anniversary of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks that exposed dragnet surveillance by the NSA. In response, people are trying to make legislative change but that is showing itself to be challenging with members of Congress working more to protect the NSA then to protect the people’s privacy. People are also working outside of legislation to put in place privacy protections as part of the Reset The Net campaign. And, ExposeFacts.org is seeking to expand whistleblowing by putting in place new versions of Wikileaks-type software, SecureDrop, that will allow safe government and corporate whistleblowing.
This week a new campaign is being announced “The Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy.” The first phase of the campaign will go from July 5 to 12. People are encouraged to plan events in their communities that will focus on the threats to our democracy posed by money being treated as speech, corporations being treated as humans and recent court decisions that have opened the floodgates of money into elections. Ending the “rule of money” has always been a key part of the vision of Popular Resistance and we are participating in this campaign. We urge you to plan an event in your community and put it on this map of actions as part of the Rolling Rebellion.
After three decades of corporate trade agreements (falsely called “free trade”) failing, people working to stop the TPP and TAFTA see an opportunity to move the debate on trade in a positive direction. This would build on work done in the 1990s around the Seattle WTO protests where people began to develop fair trade practices that put people and the planet before profits. At the local level people are working on TPP Free Zones with help from the Alliance for Democracy. These efforts not only oppose the TPP and other corporate trade agreements, but also define what type of trade would be good for local economies.
While the crisis situations we face are immediate with millions in poverty, climate change bearing down on the planet, destructive war and militarism taking place – the reality is change is slow.
People need time for political education so that when a wave of propaganda comes they question, consider and look for alternative information. This week that election-year wave was President Obama’s new rules for power plants. Cited as the greatest environmental steps in history by some, in reality they are inadequate, slow and rely on approaches like cap and trade that have not worked. On top of that, the Friday before the announcement, Obama approved off-shore oil and gas leases for Exxon-Mobil.
We need time to build alternative systems, test them, improve them and show that they can work. This is more of an evolutionary process than a revolutionary one, but it can result in a solid transformation to a new system that reflects shared values.
And, we need to build relationships as we educate, organize and mobilize to achieve deep national consensus that all of our movements are connected and that we are seeking holistic change because the corruption is systemic. This “intersectionality” is what Brooke Anderson of the Oakland-based Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project describes as facing up to the challenge:
“We can either keep fighting for the five cents here and the ten cents there … or we can view this as an opportunity to pick our heads up from those very small contract fights that we’re struggling so hard on and look around and say: What’s the broader system, the reason why our … wages are going down?”
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.
Challenge the Corporate Media Character Assassination of Sgt. Bergdahl: Make this image go viral, share it widely
Let’s show that not all of us are fooled by the corporate mass media‘s pro-war propaganda and let others who may not realize it yet know that the media is manipulating them. Make this image viral in social media. Spread the world.