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Phil Gramm FILE PHOTO OBSERVATIONS Did you say Reading? The House of Representatives, led by Newt Gingrich and his Texas pit bulls, Dick Armey and Bill Archer, has turned into a reactionary mob, tearing the middle class and the poor limb from limb to “Make way! Make Way!” for the stretch limousines of the very rich and the lords of the multinationals. The Democratic Party is in ruins which have long stopped smouldering. The American Republic will metamorphose into The United Corporations of America if the lapdogs who still call themselves Republicans hold onto their present power for another eight years. I’d say this is a time for some reading. I am convinced that the failure of popular democracy in the United States flows logically from the defeat of Populism in the late 19th century and the ensuing failure of 20th century American progressives to confront and deal with the nature of the corporation as an institution, its illegitimate intrusions into democratic governance, and now its de facto emergence here and internationally as governance, itself. So I recommend that people who care read, or re-read, the singular achievement of Lawrence Goodwyn, the definitive history of American populism, Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America. This was published by Oxford University Press in 1976. As we adapt Populism to 1995 we must take into account all that we have learned during this century. God help us all, but adapt 19th Century Populism, and adapt it faithfully, we must. Liberalism and progressivism just aren’t enough any more. The historical question, “What is the democratic basis of the legitimacy of the corporation as an institution licensed by the state,” is raised effectively in the work of Richard Grossman, an environmentalist and activist social philosopher. Grossman, whom I have sought out personally and has become a friend and to whom I gratefully acknowledge a large intellectual debt, correctly regards most of the efforts by liberals and progressives in this century as diversionary. He notes that again and again, in our time, when such folk meet in conferences and so forth, the one subject we never face head-on is the corporation itself, its nature and its total escape from its origins in the total sovereignty of the people into national and world-ravaging irresponsibility. To Grossman, and he’s right, it’s no longer a question of left or right, it’s a question of the rights of people in democracy versus the corporation itself. For inspiration, he is saying, let’s follow the founders of our country, the early Americans themselves, who knew, during our country’s first 100 years, that the corporation as they chose to permit it to exist wasand still should bea wholly subordinate creation of the people’s sovereignty, permitted to exist or abolished as the people alone, for whatever reasons they choose, decide. Accordingly I also recommend that you read an historically invaluable 32-page pamphlet “Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the Charter of Incorporation,” by Richard Grossman and Frank T. Adams. You won’t find it in the library. To get a copy you’ll have to send $4 and a self addressed #10 envelope with 52 cents postage on it to Charter Ink/CSPP, P.O. Box 806, Mass. 02140. Read while America burns? For burn it will if these bastards keep sucking up to the rich and powerful, punishing the poor, and handing out gu i ns like campaign cards. Yes, read, re-read, but selectively, and think things through again, to be sure you believe what you thought you did as you return to citizen action. In nine months it’s 1996. Up or Out, Philippic The Texas Legislature should quit letting its U.S. senators who run for President also run for re-election as senator in the same election. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5