I am forwarding this notice to activist groups across the globe that are in some way challenging corporate power on behalf of people and planet. I hope it is interesting or useful to you.
For the Earth,
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 17:38:53 +0700
From: Sabin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Democracy Teach-In, October 13-19
Can We Pursue Democracy & Social Justice
When Corporations Are Allowed
To Control So Much Power & Wealth?
Students in the 1960s didn't think so. They began organizing to rid their campuses of ties to the military, and in particular to the corporations which produced the things the military wanted. The intent was to end involvement in the Vietnam War.
Neither did students in the 1970s. On April 22nd, 1970, the first Earth Day heralded the beginning of the environmental movement, driven by public concern about tpollution, resource waste, and wilderness destruction committed by major corporations.
Student attitudes hadn't changed by the 1980s. At that time the student movement turned to a new demand, that North America divest "Out of Apartheid", and that corporations, including universities and colleges, cease supporting the racist regime in South Africa.
These justice movements were carried forward by millions of young people across the continent, and they were movements that brought home the struggle to stop corporations from committing injustices. They were movements which were to varying degrees successful. And they were all movements which were aided greatly by the use of national teach-ins that served to educate, alert, and engage many people in the issue at hand.
Once again, a justice movement is organizing to confront corporate power, and once again a national teach-in will take place. But this teach-in will be in one way fundamentally different, for it will not be about stopping corporations from committing injustices in one particular country or against one particular people; it will be about stopping corporate injustices altogether. This teach-in will be the start of a movement to end the greatest injustice of all: The denial of the right of self-rule.
- October 13-19 -
Can we pursue democracy and social justice when corporations are allowed to control so much power and wealth?
If the answer is yes, then we can continue in our work as we have been, attending public hearings, organizing demonstrations, running electoral campaigns, taking direct action, publishing information, all with the intent of achieving a little more justice, a little more freedom, a little more democracy. But if the answer is no, if we find the answer to be that for every gain we make there are a hundred setbacks, and that we cannot successfully pursue democracy or social justice, it is time to change our course.
One hundred years ago, a member of the New York Supreme Court stated that:
"The life of a corporation is worth no more than that of even the humblest citizen."
Yet at that time, the corporation already had more rights than most people on the continent. While women, immigrants, people of color, native americans, working men, and the natural world were not accorded even basic rights, the corporation was granted human rights and then some. Since that time, the corporation has come to dominate our economy, culture, and environment more and more, and the rights of women and men, immigrants and natives, people of color and whites, wildlife and humanity have all been trivialized to the point that our lives today are worth less than that of any corporation.
During the third week of October, from the 13th to the 19th, people across the continent will participate in an engaging event, a teach-in about what kind of "Democracy" we have, and about how the power of the corporation has come to overwhelm the rights of people, including the right to decide the character of their educational system, and of their society.
On every campus the teach-in will be different. At the University of Texas-Austin campus, a debate is sure to arise regarding Freeport-McMoran corporation, its doings in Indonesia, and how it uses Texans to accomplish its dirty work; at University of Wisconsin-Madison the Reebok corporation buyout of the athletic department will be a subject of local attention; at University of Minnesota the new Coca-Cola monopoly will be at issue; at MIT in Cambridge, people will examine the role of universities in conducting military research for corporations.
And in the communities as well, people will confront the myth that corporations have some sort of inalienable right to run our lives. A subject in Los Angelos will be the issue of corporate sweatshop labor, in Milwaukee the corporate takeover of the public school system, in Pennsylvania the ongoing labor battle with Shell oil, & in Seattle the revocation of the charter of the Weyerhauser corporation.
Whether the teach-in is taking place locally on campus, at a union hall, or in a community center, the teach-in will force a debate. And although the Democracy Teach-In is to take place in scores, if not hundreds of communities across the continent, it will force a united question: Can we pursue democracy and social justice when corporations are allowed to control so much power and wealth?
- Can Oregonians decide for themselves to create a just, forest-based economy, when Weyerhauser corporation controls so much power and wealth?
- Can Illinoisans decide for themselves to preserve their communities and their jobs for future generations when Phillip Morris corporation controls so much power and wealth?
- Can Alabamans decide for themselves to stop the flagrant dumping of toxic wastes into their drinking water when Monsanto corporation . . ?
The intention of the Democracy Teach-in is to force questions, as Ralph Nader recently put it:
" . . . addressing the great, enduring issues of who controls, who decides, who owns, who pays, who has a voice and access, and why solutions available on the shelf are not applied to the existing and looming crises of our society, both local & global."
The intention of the Democracy Teach-In is to force these questions in as many places as possible, with as many people as possible, and with the determination that justice be done.
Organizing a continental teach-in is no easy task, what with all the mailings, coordination, packet production, and training required. Luckily, it happens that a group of some 50 people from all over North America met in Chicago over the weekend of August 16-18 and worked out many of the details. Workers, students, members of the media, and educators met in Chicago for three days, discussed the rise of corporations, agreed on a common theme for the Democracy Teach-In, and set up two working groups to carry the Teach-In forward: The Democracy Teach-In Clearinghouse, & the Democracy Teach In Organizing Committee.
- The Democracy Teach-In Clearinghouse serves to assemble written, video, and audio materials for local groups to use in their Teach-Ins, and to distribute these materials in the form of two mass mailings of Teach-In packets.
- The Democracy Teach-In Organizing Committee is the coordinating body of the Democracy Teach-In, and is made up of fifteen elected people from across the continent.
Please contact us today if you plan to work on the upcoming October Democracy Teach-In, and we'll add your name to the growing list of participants. We can help you: Research your community, line up speakers, organize a training for the Teach-In, get in touch with other local activists, assemble teaching materials, and ensure that your Democracy Teach-In is itself a democratic and open process. Thank you for joining us.
DEMOCRACY TEACH-IN, OCT 13-19
731 State Street - Four Lakes Madison
Wisconsin - 53703 - 608/262-9036
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