Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What is the weak underbelly of corporate government?

Like Al Jazeera anchor, this BBC anchor appears bewildered by information that does not fit into her frame: Darcus Howe, a West Indian Writer and Broadcaster, speaking about systematic police harassment of his grandson and other youths in England.

Great Common Dreams article from Londoner Laurie Penny had this quote in it:
In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything: "Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"
"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."
It's time to really study and promote what we know about nonviolent methods. Some of the most salient points for the times ahead:

* Nonviolent methods are not about getting attention from corporate owned media; they are about sapping a regime of its strength by not cooperating with it.

* You do not have to feel peaceful inside to successfully employ nonviolent methods.

* Nonviolent methods are effective more than twice as often as violent methods when used by groups of at least 1000 people, 46% versus 20% in research by non-pacifist Erica Chenoweth.

* Nonviolent methods do not require charismatic leaders. In fact, such leaders may be detrimental -- because if one is nabbed, the movement loses momentum.

* Albert Einstein theorized that if a tiny percent of a population stopped cooperating with authorities, a system could be brought to a standstill. Was he correct? We'll only know if we try.

There are 198 nonviolent methods listed here, everything from being your own media to occupying the streets, from supplying real needs of the masses e.g. food AND medicine, to civil disobedience. Sometimes these methods overlap, as when activists were arrested for feeding homeless people in public parks in Florida recently.

The most important point of all is that nonviolent methods are effective when used as part of an overall strategy that includes assessment of the strengths / weaknesses of one's opponents as well as the strengths / weaknesses of one's own organization -- and capitalizes (sic) on them accordingly.

This summer I asked several people what they thought the strengths and weaknesses of the corporate government system in the U.S. are. One of the most interesting weaknesses: how corporations treat our fellow animals. (Not sure of what the implications of that are for planning, but it has continued to intrigue me.)

I would love it if you would comment on this blog telling what you think some of the strengths and weaknesses of the corporate system are. Here's just a few items for my starter list:

  • owns the mass media and has them well under control
  • uses air and water free of charge for profits
  • able to block wishes of majority of citizens (e.g. for universal health care, to stop waging wars abroad)
  • polarizes people in the U.S. via racism, constantly promoted by entertainment and "news" media
  • rapidly privatizing schools, after decades of successful underfunding of public schools
  • male dominated, lacks women's collective wisdom
  • adult dominated, lacks youth & children's collective wisdom
  • white dominated, lacks collective wisdom of indigenous people and other non-white groups
  • cruelty to animals
  • most citizens in U.S. understand that the groups controlling their government do not mean them well
  • hubris and blindness to facts on the ground, characteristic of dominant groups
  • assumes and depends upon continued passivity of the masses
Please add to the lists!

ADDENDUM: Just ran across this paper by researchers Ponticelli & Voth, "Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009" reporting a high correlation between budget cuts and subsequent turmoil. Posted online a week before riots broke out in the U.K.

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