Democracy: Easier Said Than Done
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate Change, while wonderfully thoughtful, insightful, and useful-information packed book, is weak in several areas one of which is the pivotal one of engaging, empowering, and enabling people, communities, NGOs, to take action via democratic organizational structures. She says, after discussing actions that need to be taken, “And let’s take for granted that we want to do these radical things democratically and without a bloodbath, so violent, vanguardist revolutions don’t have much to offer in the way of road maps” (2014:452).
Well, how does one do radical things democratically?
Klein is aware of the need to do things collectively: “…any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood to be part of a much broader battle of world views, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect” (2014: 460).
And she points, tantalizingly, to efforts in Halkidiki, Greece, that give some clues about how some folks knew how to do things democratically: “As the villages organized, young people discovered that, though they were expert at certain things, like flash-mob-style organizing and getting their messages out on social media, their grandparents — who had survived wars and occupations — knew a great deal more about living and working in large groups” (2014: 445).
But when it came to getting down to the nitty-gritty of organizing, she plunges us into the unstructured, high adrenaline, crisis focus, slowing-down-the-bad-stuff politics of “resistance” movements, good at fighting against threats (2014: 450), but not positioned to move us forward on “the unfinished business of liberation” (2014: 458).
Well, the Alliance is taking up the challenge of bringing to the Lehigh Valley approaches to democratic, collaborative organizational structures that have been developed or proposed or initiated elsewhere. See info about some upcoming events below.
We don’t think the organizational structures can happen without folks working at it. It doesn’t seem like it is happening spontaneously by itself simply because we’re standing at a precipice and something has to be done. It doesn’t seem like it can happen “organically”. Because of how the dominant system has shaped things and us, letting things develop “organically” and “naturally” will have us falling back on old ways of doing things, where men, monied interests, and folks stuck in the rut of old organizing habits, will talk first, loudest, and longest. We need to fight against that kind of interaction and work instead toward interactions that foster collaboration, honor diversity, have us listen to each other, and create effective political action.
Please visit our Act Locally page. We’ve been revising it to reflect the urgency of collaborative organizational structures. New parts of the Act Locally section are under construction.
If Columbus Ohio Is Working On It, Why Not Us?
Community Bills of Rights
I’m writing this from Columbus, OH. The lead event in the Activist Calendar in the June 4, 2105 issue of The Free Press here curiously enough was:
Columbus Community Bill of Rights organizational meetings
Mondays, 7-9pm, Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center
Columbus Residents are working to ensure safe drinking water, clean air, and safe soil in the City of Columbus.
The Columbus Community Bill of Rights is an Amendment to the Charter of the City of Columbus. ColumbusBillofRights@gmail.com.
Well we’d like to work on Community Bills of Rights here. What with threats to our water, air, soil, people from fracked gas pipelines and expansion of associated infrastructures, we certainly can use whatever clout we can get from being organized. We cordially, collegially, but with a dash of urgency, invite you to the next Alliance monthly meeting (open to all), which will focus on:
Community Bills of Rights Strategy:
How might we use this strategy in the Lehigh Valley?
Monday – July 6, 2015 – 6:30-8:45pm – at Moravian College
(the specific room location will be posted in the Alliance website calendar as well as in the next Sustainability Doings)
Phila Back on Stopping Fast Track, 6/20/15 :
Call! Senate Fast Track vote Tuesday
Email and Call Bob Casey at 202-224-6324 and Pat Toomey at 202-224-4254 ASAP. Tell them “No Fast Track for the TPP.”
Derailing Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership has become a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole. A Fast Track vote could pop up again – this time in the Senate – as soon as Tuesday.
On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives — led by House Speaker John Boehner and his corporate cronies — used another procedural gimmick to punt Fast Track back to the Senate. Our concerns that more-of-the-same trade policy would offshore more jobs and push down our wages remain 100 percent unaddressed.
How do we demolish Fast Track? Focus all we’ve got on the U.S. Senate!
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning another Senate Fast Track vote for as early as next Tuesday. Our window is short. We must act NOW.
It’s hard to imagine, but the Fast Track bill that the House bounced back to the Senate is even worse than it started. To get the Republican votes to squeak it through the House, Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan added a ban on climate negotiations and gutted the ban on Fast Track for countries that ignore horrific human trafficking problems, like Malaysia. Modest language against currency cheating was dropped.
It is past time for the United States to forge a new path on trade that reflects our democratic values, not the interests of multinational corporations.
McConnell and Boehner are telling Senate Democrats to trust them and okay the latest Fast Track bill. And, then sometime later, they promise to pass legislation to help American workers who lose their jobs because of the unfair trade deals Fast Track would enable.
Seriously. The McConnell-Boehner plan is to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the Fast Track and never look back. But the only way they can do that is if the 12 Democratic senators who supported moving the previous Fast Track package go along with their ploy – or they get some new senators to take the bait.
Do you trust Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Paul Ryan to come up with a plan that will benefit American workers and grow the middle class? I don’t either.
With the next vote on Fast Track coming as soon as Tuesday, there is no time to spare. Write your senators today!
Thanks for all you do.
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
From the June 18, 2015 Organic Consumers Association Newsletter:
Today, at 10 a.m., Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and their band of pro-GMO, anti-consumer, stomp-all-over-states’-rights outlaws will stand before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and ask the Committee to support H.R. 1599.
We’ve been calling H.R. 1599 the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, because that’s what the bill is intended to do — keep you in the dark about the toxic chemical-drenched GMOs in your food.
But that’s only half the story. Since Pompeo introduced his bill-to-kill GMO labeling laws earlier this year, he’s been tinkering with the language. Now, the latest version of the DARK Act is even darkerthan the original.
Getting the Collaborative Structures Message Out
An Alliance working group has been set up to work on getting the collaborative structures message out. Both about what collaborative structures are and what we’re doing about them here in the Lehigh Valley. Includes work on videography, websites, emailings, social media, the arts. If you’d like to be part of this effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and/or come to our next meeting: Monday, June 29, 2015, 6:30pm, in the Political Science Lounge, Comenius Hall (#44 on map), Moravian College.