Occupy Portland / The 99% / Occupy Wall Street Interoccupy
Breaking News: Resist!
Attorney Kevin Zeese discusses how the judge hearing Cecily McMillan's
case did not allow the defense to show images, which would have proven
that the activist was reacting to getting her breast grabbed
On this Fourth of July, let us pause in our festivities to consider what we are celebrating. To help, we’ve posted several reflections about Independence Day on PopularResistance.org.
We begin with the transcript of a speech given by Frederick Douglass on the fourth of July in 1852. He acknowledges the accomplishment of gaining independence from the British Empire but reminds the audience that he does not share in that independence. Douglass urges the young nation to acknowledge the truth of its founding and the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while millions were not free. He concludes,
“For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed….”
Bill Bigelow, an educator from Oregon, similarly writes about the need to understand the truth of our history and how social change occurs and to teach it in our schools. The United States has become that from which it originally sought to separate itself: an Empire. Class War Films provides a new short video history of American Empire in which it states that the function of empire is as follows: “It is by violence abroad and deception and repression at home to enrich the ruling class at the cost of the utter ruin of its society.”
Breaking News: Resist!
All Empires fall when they overreach and Class War Films concludes that the United States is in decline. Put simply, the primary responsibility of governments is to ensure security, but US government has gone astray to protect the security of multinational corporations at the expense of its population. Tom Dispatch published Noam Chomsky’s article, “America’s Real Foreign Policy,” which describes this misdirection in greater depth.
But we don’t have to look far to see it. The recently leaked text of another secret trade agreement, TISA, shows that it serves to further roll back corporate regulations. The twin agreements, TPP and TAFTA, are huge corporate power grabs and the negotiators know it. That is why they fled in the dark of night almost 3,000 miles to avoid protests this week. And that is why corporations are gagging employees.
Secrecy is one tool used by the elites to do their dirty work, and another is doublespeak. Chair of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, says that he opposes a tiered Internet but he is avoiding what the public is clearly demanding, reclassification of the Internet as a Common Carrier so that all people would have equal access. With less than two weeks before the public comment period ends, we performed a musical in front of the FCC on Tuesday which asked “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” Click here to take action.
The Supreme Court revealed which side it was on this week through decisions that weaken the rights of women. Obama also says one thing and does another as he speaks about our nation’s immigrant heritage while separating families by deporting millions of people. The US response to the influx of immigrants is being questioned as possibly violating international law. And Hillary Clinton has had a busy week supporting rigged corporate trade in Denver and helping Big Ag frame GMOs in more acceptable terms in San Diego.
It is time once again to reject Empire and oligarchy and change the course of our still young nation. Today marks the beginning of a campaign called the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy. Click hereto learn more about it and to get involved. People are holding creative actions across the country to make our true history and lack of true democracy visible.
Of course, what we lack is democratic governance. True democracy, defined as ‘people power,’ is on the rise. There are victories to celebrate this week. In Maryland, students announced the halt in construction of a huge trash incinerator close to their school that they’ve been fighting for three years. In New York, local governments won the right to ban fracking. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to allow victims of torture in Abu Ghraib to sue the private contractors who abused them. And the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution in favor of postal banks that could end predatory financial practices and keep wealth in communities.
Resistance is ongoing. Protesters in Detroit called for a moratorium on the water shut-offs and promised to take direct action if necessary to protect their right to water. Homeowners in New York City who are still at risk of foreclosure released a new report showing how people of color are adversely affected by underwater mortgages and demanded that the city take steps to protect them. And dozens of people walked more than 150 miles straight to the Governor’s home to protest a law that exempts oil and gas companies from liability for damage to water. On July 13, a rally will be held in DC over a new gas terminal being proposed in Maryland that would increase fracking and threaten the safety of the surrounding community.
A growing global campaign to stop corporate abuses and hold transnational corporations accountable held a week of actions in Geneva during the meeting of the Human Rights Council which included a People’s Tribunal.
As we celebrate the nostalgia of Independence Day, let’s resolve to actually become independent from our Empire economy that never fails to fund wars while our domestic infrastructure and economy falter. Let’s resolve to become independent of oligarchic rule that puts the rights and interests of large corporations before the needs of the public, and that finds it acceptable to pollute or to cut off water to hundreds of thousands while corporations escape accountability.
When the Occupy Movement joined the global uprising, the encampments gave us a taste of what caring communities looked like, of what participatory democracy felt like and how to create new sustainable systems. Since then, as occupy chronicler Nathan Schneider writes, activists are engaged in all sorts of efforts to protest injustice and build alternatives. It is difficult but also rewarding work.
Let’s imagine what real democracy would look like. Howie Hawkins gives us some ideas in his new article on the meaning of democracy. And Professor Steven Colatrella goes even further by gathering ideas from all over the world and assembling them into a roadmap for “A Civilization based on Self-Governing Cities and Townships, Cooperative Self-Governed Workplaces and Public Finance, Sustainable Agriculture and Renewable Energy and Universal Access to Citizenship, Income and Subsistence.”
Out of crisis comes opportunity for real solutions. Take some time this weekend to lean about our true history, talk about the kind of society that we want to live in and become active in making it a reality.
Chris Hedges wrote an excellent article this week on the lessons learned from the Tiananmen Square massacre that occurred 25 years ago. These lessons are salient today, particularly as we watch the violent repression of protests happening around the World Cup in Brazil.
Hedges emphasizes the importance of creating a broad movement grounded in nonviolence that draws in groups supporting the power structure. In Brazil, there is broad support for the protesters including the police and multiple unions that have gone on strike. In response, Brazil mobilized its military against the people injuring both protesters and tourists on opening day.
There is evidence that a similar response can occur in the Americas. Nafeez Ahmed writes that the US Department of Defense is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to study social movements in order to develop ‘operational tools.’ In Canada, this week there was adiscussion in the House of Commons about surveillance of peaceful protesters. PM Harper’s spokesperson revealed a rationale that makes all people suspect, saying “Peaceful protests can suddenly turn violent, just as law-abiding citizens can suddenly create a crime.”
Of course, such sentiments are ridiculous and are used to justify further clamp downs on our civil liberties. And that is why the people need tools to know what is going on and to resist injustice.
Last week Internet freedom groups launched the Reset the Net campaign to provide tools for everyone to make it more difficult for the NSA to spy on us. This is an ongoing campaign, so if you haven’t done so already, you can still download these tools. Click here to learn more. And check out and share Shahid Buttar’s (of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee) new music video about the NSA.
There are also new groups and tools for blowing the whistle. Last week, ExposeFacts.orgwas launched to “shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war.” They provide access to Secure Drop, as does The Guardian and other media, so that whistleblowers can transmit information. And this week, the Courage Foundation, an international whistleblower support group, was also announced. Their mission is to defend the people’s ‘Right to know.’
Given the corporate influence over our government agencies and the actions that Big Business will take to suppress information, we need whistleblowers and the public needs to support them. Kamil Ahsan writes about scientist Tyrone Hayes who was targeted by Syngenta when he exposed the toxicity of one of their products.
We know that Monsanto heavily influences the FDA and USDA to keep toxic pesticides like RoundUp and genetically engineered foods on the market. In response, people are pushing at the state level to ban and label GMO foods. Vermont was the most recent to pass a GMO labeling law. To stop them, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) filed a lawsuit. You can boycott and urge these members of the GMA to drop their membership. The best way to avoid GMOs is to buy organic. Here is a tool that helps you to understand food labeling. You can also buy more responsibly by being aware of where your food comes from. Al Jazeera published an in-depth piece this week on the slave labor used to supply shrimp to stores in the US and UK.
The Post-extraction World
We are coming to the end of easy extraction of a number of different fuels and minerals which is begging for us to find new ways of doing things. This is documented in a new report. The authors warn that the window is closing for the adoption of new policies in time to avert significant harm to our economy.
There is a new way forward in the post-extraction world. Jeremy Rifkin envisions a commons-based economy that uses technology and decentralized renewable energy production to create a Third Industrial Revolution that is sustainable. And as we end the post-fossil fuel era, young farmers are already adopting more organic practices.
In addition to creating alternatives, we must stop out-of-control Big Energy from further harmful extraction. Numerous tools are being used to accomplish this and are succeeding. The Great Climate March is bringing awareness to communities that have not been discussing the reality of climate change. Blockades recently succeeded in stopping an $11 billion expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands. Long-term opposition in Chile caused the rejection of a large hydro-electric dam project in Patagonia. And court cases were filed to stop fracking in Colorado and a liquefied methane project in Maryland.
Ending wealth extraction
Big Business is also extracting wealth from our communities in a number of ways. This survey documents that wage theft is rampant in the US. In the EU, austerity measures are causing a rise in poverty. In a related move, a wealthy Silicon Valley man created a front group called Students Matter and ended tenure for teachers in California (the decision is being appealed). Keeping teachers insecure in their jobs is one tool for preventing academics from speaking out and for dumbing down education.
People are fighting back though. We’ve covered the struggles for higher wages previously. In addition, the movement for postal banks that can provide financial services to the un- and under-banked is growing nationally. In the EU, France was the first country to audit its debt. They found that 60% of the national debt is illegitimate and that excuses for debt and austerity were unsubstantiated. Imagine if the same were done in the US. An audit could also be done at the local level.
To protect public education,a tri-national North American coalition of students, teachers and unions is growing. Here is a report from their conference last month in Chicago.
Even the struggle to protect Internet equality is connected to wealth extraction. The Internet was developed using public dollars and was initially regulated as a Common Carrier like a public utility. Now, giant telecoms are trying to wrest greater control over it in order to monetize it.
The giant telecoms are going to great lengths to confuse the public. They even created a front group and signed organizations on as members without their consent. Comcast has been promoting its program to provide low cost Internet to the poor despite its failure.
Internet neutrality is confusing. If you want to understand this important issue more, you can participate in an online discussion on June 14. Click here for more information. If you want to file a public comment with the FCC, you will find information about that by clicking here.
And check out the Rolling Rebellion for Real Democracy. Actions are being planned across the US the week after July 4 to raise awareness of the illegitimacy of our government.
Hedges writes that following violent repression, “the state invests tremendous energy to foster historical amnesia.” In fact, such amnesia and distraction are tools the state often uses to maintain the status quo.
The recent vilification of Bowe Bergdahl is an example of an attempt to bolster the War Culture in the US by avoiding the harder questions raised by his return. In response, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace and other groups held a press conference and rally in DC to speak about the Afghanistan War and the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Medea Benjamin and Alli McCracken also wrote that Obama no longer has excuses to keep Guantanamo open.
This is why whistleblowing and a truly open Internet are fundamental in the struggle for justice. And it’s why we mustn’t allow ourselves to be fooled or taken off track. In addition to tools for justice, we need creative ways to reach people such as these powerful one word ads in Boston exposing Israeli apartheid. For other creative ideas, check out CreativeResistance.org.
In the face of corruption, let’s show courage and create tools for justice. People power is showing every week that by working together we can prevail.