Power, Politics, & Social Change

Flickr/ Feral78

By G. William Domhoff for UCSC – Welcome to WhoRulesAmerica.net, a site about how power is distributed and wielded in the United States. It both builds upon and greatly supplements the book Who Rules America?, now in its 7th edition. The book’s new subtitle, “The Triumph of the Corporate Rich,” reflects the success of the wealthy few in defeating all of their rivals (e.g., organized labor, liberals, environmentalists) over the course of the past 35 years. The story of how the corporate rich won all the big battles is complicated, but most of the answers are in the new Who Rules America?and/or this Web site; there’s also a YouTube video of Bill giving an invited lecture on the topic.

10 New Ways Other Countries Are Actually Solving Problems

Photo Credit: via YouTube

By Larry Schwartz for AlterNet – The Presidential candidates have been sounding off for almost two years now, pointing out (or in many cases manufacturing) all of America’s problems, and offering solutions they believe will make them the next President. The candidates, especially to the right of the political spectrum, extoll America as being exceptional, and they score empty points with voters by talking about how the rest of the planet looks to the United States to solve the world’s woes. It is surprising, then, to see how many of these seemingly intractable problems are being far more effectively tackled by the countries we are supposed to be “leading”.

What Role Were You Born To Play In Social Change?

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By George Lakey for Waging Nonviolence – Bill Moyer was a street-wise, working class white boy from rowhouse Philadelphia, who — in the turbulence of the 1960s — went to Chicago to work for an anti-racist housing campaign. He wound up joining Martin Luther King Jr.’s national staff as an organizer. I played tag football more than once with Moyer, catching his grin as he mercilessly overwhelmed his opponents through daring and smarts. He might have been the most joyfully aggressive Quaker I’ve known. By the time he died in 2002, Moyer had given significant leadership on multiple political issues, including the national anti-nuclear movement.

The Rumble From The People Can Work

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By Staff of The Nader Page – If only the people who engage in “road rage” would engage in “corporate rage” when they are harmed by cover-ups or hazardous products and gouging services, aloof CEOs would start getting serious about safety and fair play. With press report after press report documenting how big business stiffs millions of its consumers and workers, why is it that more of these victims do not externalize some of their inner agonies by channeling them into civic outrage? It has happened on occasion and with good results. After Candy Lightner lost her daughter to a drunk driver, she founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980 as the only way she could deal with her intense grief.

6 Powerful Music Videos That Tackled Pressing Social Issues In 2015

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By Samantha Cowan for Take Part – From Bob Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind” to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” musicians have a long history of incorporating protest and social issues into their songs. And just like in 1963 and 1989, 2015 was no different. Hip-hop artists rapped about ending police brutality and advocated for better treatment for refugees. Singers lent their voices to victims of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Other musicians contemplated free health care and marriage equality. As seen in the music videos below, the artists used different visual tactics—stark black-and-white, cheery animation, and even an epic dance party—but each encouraged fans to challenge the status quo.

11 Ways The World Got Better In 2015

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By Angus Hervey for The Independent – As 2015 draws to a close, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d claim that it’s been a good year for the human race. The bad news has been relentless: war in Syria, a refugee crisis in Turkey and Europe, earthquakes in Nepal, terrorist attacks in Paris, mass shootings in the US, floods in India.With the media screaming blue murder and social media feeds filled with complaints about how selfish/materialistic/short-sighted our fellow human beings are, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world is going to hell in a handcart.

History Doesn’t Go In A Straight Line

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By Noam Chomsky in Jacobin Magazine – Throughout his illustrious career, one of Noam Chomsky’s chief preoccupations has been questioning — and urging us to question — the assumptions and norms that govern our society. Following a talk on power, ideology, and US foreign policy last weekend at the New School in New York City, freelance Italian journalist Tommaso Segantini sat down with the eighty-six-year-old to discuss some of the same themes, including how they relate to processes of social change. For radicals, progress requires puncturing the bubble of inevitability: austerity, for instance, “is a policy decision undertaken by the designers for their own purposes.”

Promises Made In Lead Up To Paris Would Slow Climate Pollution

Climate change activists’ graffiti on a billboard near the Didcot coal-fired power station in Oxfordshire, UK. Photograph: Tim Myers

By Climate Interactive – The current national offers of climate action submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would reduce projected warming by approximately 1°C, according to a new analysisreleased today from Climate Interactive and MIT Sloan. A Paris agreement based on these offers would put the world on track for a global temperature increase of 3.5°C (6.3°F), with a range of uncertainty from 2.1 to 4.6°C (3.7 to 8.4°F), down from the 4.5°C (8.1°F) of warming above pre-industrial levels if nations continue on the business-as-usual track. Climate Interactive’s Climate Scoreboard analysis, produced in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan), shows that the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) put forward in advance of the UN climate talks this December make a sizeable contribution towards curbing global emissions and limiting warming.

Critique Of Alinsky Organizing Methods

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By Staughton Lynd in Counter Punch – It was an evening late in August 1968. I was in the bathtub. Believing that the critical issue at the national Democratic Party convention would be whether First Amendment activity could be carried on outside the building where the delegates were meeting, I had organized a march from the lakefront to the convention site in southwest Chicago. Several of the demonstrators, including myself, had been arrested. All tension past, I was luxuriating in the hot water of the bath. The phone rang. It was Saul Alinsky. He wanted to talk with me about becoming a member of the faculty, along with Ed Chambers and Dick Harmon, at the new Industrial Areas Foundation Training Institute. Two things made me want to accept. First, I needed a job. . .

“Occupy” Spanish-Style… Big Lessons For Us?

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By Francis Moore Lappe in Huffington Post. Back from the first global conference on money in politics in Mexico City, I’m bursting with stories that might carry messages of possibility that Americans need right now. Sure worked for me. In Spain, with one-fifth of its population jobless, the Indignados movement–that paralleled our Occupy– erupted with protests in 2011. But instead of fading from sight, by early 2014 the Indignados had set the stage for the birth of a new political party: Podemos, “We Can.” In only a few months, Podemos surprised everyone by winning 8 percent of the Spanish vote for the European Parliament, giving it five of 54 Spanish seats. One year later, in coalition with other grassroots movements, Podemos won mayor’s races in Barcelona, Madrid and other cities. Today it is Spain’s third largest political party. “Unprecedented” declared the pundits.

Your Economic Guide To A Revolution Against Capitalism

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By Aaron Leonard in Rabble – The possibility of revolution is becoming more widely discussed, and even embraced, as capitalism’s crisis deepens. When I started drawing these comics, it was difficult to persuade most people to even entertain the idea or give it a hearing. I decided that if a cute bunny and guinea pig talked about challenging topics like the problems with capitalism and the need for revolution, it might feel less threatening and off-putting to potential readers. Also, colourful graphics help draw readers in to give longer texts a chance, which they otherwise might avoid as potentially boring. Plus, why should capitalist propaganda get all the attractive imagery? As for the bunny’s eye, during the narrative comic strip phase, Bunnista lost it to shampoo testing in a lab. He later escaped and returned to free his fellow bunnies and all the other lab animals.

Lakeland Students: “Won’t Let This Happen In Publix’s Hometown!”

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By Coalition of Immokalee Workers – This past Thursday, in a classroom just miles from Fair Food holdout Publix’s corporate headquarters in Lakeland, FL, a crowd of over sixty Southeastern University students, professors, staff, and Lakeland community members gathered to learn about the CIW’s groundbreaking work for farmworker justice and of the shameful, six-year refusal of their hometown supermarket, Publix, to join the CIW’s Fair Food Program. The began the evening with a screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “Food Chains“. Lakelanders’ response to the film was strong and clear: excitement at the tremendous gains of the CIW, and dismay that their hometown grocer has refused to take responsibility for farmworker exploitation in its supply chain.

José Mujica, Former President Of Uruguay: What Makes Us Human?

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José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, is one of the most interesting presidents in recent memory. He was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. He was a former urban guerrilla fighter with the Tupamaros in the 1960s and the 70s, a group inspired by the Cuban Revolution. In total Mujica was captured by the authorities on four occasions. He was among the more than 100 Tupamaros who escaped Punta Carretas Prison in September 1971 by digging a tunnel from inside the prison that opened up at the living room of a nearby home. Mujica was re-captured less than a month after escaping, but escaped Punta Carretas once more in April 1972. On that occasion he and about a dozen other escapees fled riding improvised wheeled planks down the tunnel dug by Tupamaros from outside the prison.

Four Years Later: Occupy Succeeded Despite Its Flaws

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By C. Robert Gibson in Occupy – Occupy Wall Street may not have dismantled capitalism – but it did profoundly change the way people perceived it, and how their voices impact institutions of power all over the world. While the tent encampments of fall 2011 were evicted within months, Occupy didn’t die – rather, its organizers went on to build social justice movements and affect political outcomes on multiple continents. Were it not for Occupy, Bernie Sanders may not be a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary. Jeremy Corbyn – a sexagenarian vegetarian socialist – wouldn’t have overcome the UK’s establishment political machine to become new Labour Party leader. And Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t have ousted Tony Abbott as Australia’s newest prime minister.

LAPD Police Commission Removing Last Shred Of Accountability

Six ton armored vehicle with 14 foot steel battering used by LAPD SWAT team in drug raids, Photo by Jack Gaunt for Los Angles Times

By PM Beers in The Anti-Media – On Tuesday, September 15th, the Los Angeles Police Commission will be voting on new rules for public attendance and participation at the commission meeting to “establish an appropriate level of safety, decorum, and efficiency.” The new rules were originally on the agenda for September 1st but were postponed after the ACLU voiced concerns. The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition also harbored apprehensions, which they addressed in an open letter to the ACLU. The proposal the commission will vote on would call for the removal of any person disrupting the meeting. According to the proposed regulations, if order cannot be restored by removing disruptive persons, the commission will be free to walk out of the meeting.