How Popular Resistance Can Defeat Corporate Power
Two years ago, we announced October2011.org with an article called “History is Knocking.” We asked if the time might be right for a larger mass of people to rise up and occupy public space to challenge the corporate control of our government, a corrupt economy and US militarism. We were not certain what the answer would be, but six months later hundreds of thousands of you did rise up in Occupy encampments across the nation. Many more were inspired by the massive mobilizations to join the work on a broad variety of injustices in their communities.
Today we know that history is no longer knocking. History has opened the door and is standing in front of us. The broad movement for peace and social, economic and environmental justice is here and you should be part of it.
Today we announce the launch of a new platform to connect and build that mass popular resistance that is growing in the US, PopularResistance.org. It provides daily movement news and resources to keep you informed about actions and events and to provide you with tools for organizing in your community (See for example these two new Occucards on Corporate Media and Public Banking).
The vision of PopularResistance.org is to end the rule of money so that people’s needs and the protection of the planet come before corporate profits. The website puts forward a strategic framework to achieve this goal and links to 200 tactics that have proven effective – our two track philosophy is to protest and build, i.e. stop the machine and create a new world. This process will build a mass movement, first by creating solidarity among the movements currently working for transformative change; and, second by pulling key groups of people to the movement, thereby weakening the power structure.
To make this next phase effective, we need you to be involved in PopularResistance.org. We ask you to share this article with people in your community, people you work with across the country and people who you think should be involved; share it on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. We want this site to be the movement’s site and encourage you to use it: submit your projects to the calendar, send us your ideas, and share articles and tools. Many have already joined as contributors and more are being added.
We announce this new effort after a tremendously successful worldwide March Against Monsanto where more than two million people participated in protests in 52 countries and 457 cities. This shows the potential of the movement and the need for sites like PopularResistance.org to let people know what occurred because the corporate, mass media gave virtually no attention to these protests.
The Monsanto march showed the power of non-hierarchical organizing, allowing leadership to grow wherever it was, and the potential for solidarity across cities and nations of the world. Now, we need to build on this success. Two nonviolent activists from the Metta Center ask the question: Could the 2 million person worldwide, May 25 march against Monsanto be the equivalent of Gandhi’s Salt March? In other words, could this be a turning point in our challenge to corporate power? We think it could be, because opposition to Monsanto is really about bigger issues of corporate power and globalization that make corporations more powerful than governments.
To build on this momentum, our first campaign as PopularResistance.org will be to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We will stop the TPP and when we do, it will be a tremendous victory against a global corporate coup of transnational corporations. It will be a victory on which we will continue to build a mass movement against the rule of money and concentrated corporate power. Here is the strategy:
Educate and unify people by showing how every big issue of our times is affected by the TPP. The issues we care about will be made worse by the TPP. The TPP is not really a trade agreement at all, but rather it is a corporate end run around government on everything from Internet freedom to banking regulation; from worker rights to health care; from environmental protection and agriculture to consumer safety. The TPP will affect all of us in multiple ways. It is an issue that unites us in solidarity across issues and across nations.
Expose the corporate interests who have drafted the agreement. Three years of negotiations have been kept secret from the media, elected officials and the public while business interests like Monsanto, WalMart, Wall Street banks, massive pharmaceutical companies, Exxon-Mobil, BP - in all there are 600 corporate advisers - are helping to draft the TPP. The result is an agreement that puts profits ahead of the necessities of the people and the protection of the planet.
Stop “Fast Track,” now known as Trade Promotion Authority. The Obama administration knows it cannot pass the TPP if Congress plays its constitutional role by holding hearings, allowing witnesses to testify about the impact of the TPP and allowing amendments. The people know that the economic impact of NAFTA-like trade deals are bad for the economy.
Stop the TPP with protests at negotiations, corporate headquarters, in Washington, DC political offices and at home in congressional districts. Since the Battle of Seattle in 1999, the World Trade Organization has been stalled. When the people know what is in the TPP, they will stop this too and members of Congress who support it will be kicked out of office.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership can be stopped. Already, a movement is growing to stop it and we will work closely with that movement, adding to their excellent work and building a campaign. We expect this campaign to last for several months, perhaps the rest of the year. We need you to help: spread the word and be part of this historic effort to stop transnational corporate power.
This is why the TPP is so important. When we look at the resistance efforts of the last week, we recognize that all of these struggles would be made more difficult if the TPP becomes law:
Worker’s Rights: Today, Seattle became the seventh US city in which low-paid workers walked out of McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants demanding a living wage of $15 per hour. Thousands of women in Cambodia who work in garment factories held a sit-down strike this week despite being confronted by police wielding electric stun batons akin to cattle prods. WalMart workers launched their first sustained strike yesterday and are continuing to plan their June 7 Ride for Respect to the annual shareholders meeting. United Students Against Sweatshops is organizing at 180 colleges across the country and continues to protest sweat shops, unfair wages and industrial accidents. Under the TPP, laws protecting workers would be challenged with corporate lawsuits for lost profits.
Housing Foreclosure: Activists conducted mass protests last week in Washington, DC to build awareness that in order to protect homeowners and end the economic collapse we need to prosecute the big banks and rewrite mortgages to their true value. Laws like the Homeowners Bill of Rights in Minnesota, which passed because of activist pressure, would be challenged under the TPP. Banks and mortgage lenders could sue in trade tribunals for lost profits, where the judges will often be corporate lawyers on leave from their job.
School Closings and Privatization: Communities who are protesting the closing and the privatization of schools will find the TPP favoring corporate schools over public schools. Indeed, there is strong opposition in the TPP to so-called “state-owned enterprises” which will also weaken public services like health care in favor of for-profit corporate interests.
Environmental Justice: Activists organizing for the fearless summer of protests against extreme excavation of radical energy will find their goals more difficult to achieve despite the intentional environmental destruction of “terracide” and tar sands waste that is piling up and so many other attacks on the environment. Existing trade laws have resulted in 450 suits by corporations against 89 governments, including the United States. Over $700 million has been paid to corporations under US trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties, about 70 percent of which are from challenges to natural resource and environmental policies. In other words, if a country decides to ban fracking or tar sands, the companies will sue for exorbitant lost profits.
Stopping Wall Street Financial Abuse: Protesters who want to see the big banks broken up, top officials at banks prosecuted or the regulation of the derivatives market will find the TPP makes these more unlikely. The TPP gives banks greater laxity to move money in and out of countries, stops regulation of banks and allows casino-style high risk investments to continue. Wall Street is using the TPP to weaken the already weak financial regulation of the big banks.
Getting Money Out of Politics: Last week in Los Angeles, 76.6 percent voted to end corporate personhood. They joined 175 other cities calling for a constitutional amendment to end the rule of money. If the TPP goes through, we will look back on it as a move to corporate nationhood undermines democracy and makes corporation more powerful than nations.
Food and Agriculture: The opposition to Monsanto and genetically engineered foods will be more difficult. As Trade Justice for the New York Metro area points out: “Under the TPP, the sovereign right to control biotech foods will be delegated to BigAg – a world market concentrated in the hands of a few multinational players that will entirely circumvent the democratic process and political action. Pressure from US corporations in previous bilateral (two-nation) trade negotiations has already caused India, China, Vietnam, and Bangladesh to back down or remove their import restrictions on GMO’s. BigAg has also demanded that the US government use the proposed TPP to force other countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Peru, Chile, Malaysia and the Philippines to allow field testing of GMOs and remove any labeling restrictions that would disclose a product’s GMO content.”
These are just a few examples of current injustices people are working to end that will be made more difficult if there is a global corporate coup. We will write more on the Stop the TPP campaign in coming weeks. For now, begin to educate the people you know by sharing this article and urging them to sign up for the weekly newsletter here.
This weekend there are two events we want to highlight from our calendar. On Saturday, June 1, there will be a massive rally in support of whistleblower Bradley Manning. His court martial begins next week. In New York City, June 1 is Occupy Homecoming, as occupiers re-take Liberty Plaza (aka Zuccotti Park). The convergence begins at 9 AM and at 6 PM there will be a People’s Assembly. There are events planned for the days after that as well. Next week is the Public Banking conference in San Rafael, CA from June 2 to 5. There are lots more events on our calendar. Please add more if you know of or are planning events.
All of the ingredients for a mass popular resistance movement exist. People are suffering under an economy that favors wealth and makes it difficult for small businesses and entrepreneurs to operate; the government is corrupted by campaign money and is dysfunctional and unresponsive to people’s needs; the connection between all the key issues of the day and how progress is prevented by the rule of money is evident to many; and people are seeing there is a path that could lead to successful transformation of the government and economy. Now is the time to get involved and help make the potential a reality.
This article is produced in partnership with AlterNet and is based on the weekly newsletter of PopularResistance.org. You can sign up to receive the newsletter here.