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A Democratic Rebellion BY RONNIE BUGGER Wr e have lost out democracy. We have lost our self-governance. As I wrote in the Nation last August, “We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. Corporate money is wrecking popular government in the United States. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and bil lionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our health, our pension funds, our bank and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections, and our very government.” The divine right of kings has been replaced by the divine right of CEOs. If we just go on forever backing the sold-out Democratic nominee for President on the logic that we must be hypocrites in the voting booth every four years in order to help produce a less evil society, and we do nothing serious to replace this corrupted system, we are accepting the death of American democracy. Both parties now belong to the big corporations, and by voting for either one we abet them as they kill out our last remaining amplitudes and establish a new world-wide aristocracy of wealth and power, world government by the transnational corporations. To submit to that when we still have a fighting chance of stopping it is profoundly unethical. Whatever each of us elects this year to do in the voting booth, it’s time for a democratic rebellion. We in the Alliancea new nationwide movement of local chapters and individuals working to end the corporate domination of democracy–believe we have found a way out, a rational program of effort and work to end corporate rule, take back our economic as well as our political self-governance, and help precipitate a new national, then a global, people’s movement. Progressives and liberals generally fight for our issues, one after another, on the premise that the system may let us win. Almost all progressive organizations concentrate their work and passion on some form of the question, What should we should ask Congress for?What should we ask the legislature for? Those are not the questions now. They are simply our pleadings to the shadowy puppets of the ruling oligarchy to be nicer to us. In a significant new sense, “the issues” that inspire and bedevil usnational health insurance, progressive taxation, ending the war system, and so onare no longer the issue, because we cannot achieve fundamental change by fighting issues one by one. We still have the forms of a democracy, but the corporate oligarchy now buys and controls the content that is permitted to pass through the democratic system into law. No, the question has become: what can we the people do to get what we the people want? We in the Alliance may be progressives, but we are also populists: we fight the system of corporate domination of democracy on the premise that it will never let us win anything that will basically change the obscene prevailing over-con centrations of wealth and power. Therefore, by democratic and nonviolent means, in the spirit of ahimsa, satyagraha, doing no wrong, we must end corporate rule and reshape our work and production together, in forms that we control. The Alliance is a new national membership movement, multiply centered in local Alliances. It is made up of populists, progressives, independents, workers, small businesspersons, family farmers, liberals, humanists, people of all colors and religions and ethnic identities. We are devoting most of our thought and action to devising the means to end the domination of democracy by large corporations and to replacing that domination with deep economic and political democracy. Broadly, we think we know how to do it. We build the national. Alliance by organizing our own local Alliances. We keep the power in the local Alliances, but, making sure of our democratic footing, we also gather it into the national movement. And we help to precipitate, not by coalitions in governance, but by coalitions in actions, one broad national movement to deal, in coordinated action, with illegitimate corporate political and economic power. We realize that no one national movement can bring the multinational corporations back down to democratic earth. We must have an international people’s movement to do that. We are forming or augmenting local databases of friendly, people-based organizations; we are joining in forming a national database of the progressive/populist/labor organizations; and in due course we aim to help bring into being an international database of consanguine people-first, pro-democracy organizations for coordinated world-wide actions against the corporate usurpation of democracy. Thirty-four local or regional Alliances are organized and meetingformed since some 1,700 people responded to my call in the Nation nine months ago. In California, Alliances are meeting in West Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, San Jose, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, the East Bay. In Massachusetts there are Alliances in Boston, west of Boston, on Cape Cod, in Amherst, Berkshire County, the Merrimack Valley. There are Alliances in Austin, Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Denver, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Haven, Providence, Birmingham, other places. We will formally found the national Alliance after the election, probably in late November in the Texas Hill Country, in what will be the first national convention of anti-corporate populists in one hundred years. We are not competing with other organizations for members. We rejoice when other organizations do what we think should be done; we want to enhance what they are doing, not compete with them. We are following the alternative approaches theory. Our principle is that if an effort or group is independent of the corporations and the two major political parties, and we are moving in the same direction with shared values, we join in coalitions in actions without insisting that all of us follow the same approach. 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 12, 1996 1 _A r A 111,4. Abe frhe. X 1r