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Challenging Corporate Authority (Dozens of New Strategies 1/2)

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  • Clore Daniel C
    Dear friends and allies, Enclosed in both raw text below, and as an attached document in RTF, is an article i wrote surveying the new-paradigm projects and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2000
      Dear friends and allies,

      Enclosed in both raw text below, and as an
      attached document in RTF, is an article i wrote
      surveying the new-paradigm projects and campaigns
      against corporate rule which are beginning to
      sprout up across the US and beyond with increasing
      regularity. I list over 30 such examples, and
      provide full contact information for each. I
      encourage you to share this information widely
      with your associates, as i think you will find
      that this information has never before been fully
      collected or widely circulated. Thanks in advance
      for helping to spread the good word!

      Paul Cienfuegos (mailto:cienfuegos@... )
      Director, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County


      Paradigm Shift:
      Challenging Corporate Authority

      Dozens of New Strategies are Sprouting Up Across
      the US and Canada - Some of Them Dating Back to
      Previous Centuries - That Challenge Illegitimate
      Corporate Authority and Privilege

      by Paul Cienfuegos

      For most of the 20th century, American citizens
      have become accustomed to challenging corporate
      harms and corporate abuses of authority one harm at
      a time - one clearcut Timber Harvest Plan at a time,
      one toxic spill at a time, one plant closure at a
      time. It wasn't always like this. From the American
      Revolution through to the end of the 19th century,
      in the words of Richard Grossman, "Earlier
      generations of Americans were quite clear that a
      corporation was an artificial, subordinate entity
      with no inherent rights of its own, and that
      incorporation was a privilege bestowed by the
      sovereign people. For example, in 1834 the
      Pennsylvania Legislature declared:

      'A corporation in law is just what the incorporation
      act makes it. It is the creature of the law and may
      be molded to any shape or for any purpose that the
      Legislature may deem most conducive to the common

      Grossman continues, "People understood that they had
      a civic responsibility not to create artificial
      entities which could harm the body politic, interfere
      with the mechanisms of self-governance, and assault
      their sovereignty. They also understood that they did
      not elect their agents to positions in government to
      sell off the sovereignty of the people."

      Here are a few examples of how different the rules
      were in the US until the late 1800s. In many states,
      corporations were prohibited from owning other
      corporations, prohibited from donating to political
      candidates or charitable organizations, and prohibited
      from owning any land beyond what was necessary for the
      carrying out of their chartered duties. Boards of
      directors and stockholders were held personally liable
      for all harms and debts. The 'limited liability
      corporation', as we know it today, did not exist.

      Sadly, as we enter the 21st century, few Americans have
      any idea that such a history even existed in this
      country. Yet this is starting to change. Beginning in
      the early 1990s - thanks to the seminal work of Richard
      Grossman and his colleagues at the Program on
      Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) - Americans
      started to rethink how we go about challenging the harms
      that corporations get away with day in and day out in
      every city and town in America. We began to rediscover
      what an appropriate relationship looks like in a
      democracy between we the people and the fictitious
      subordinate creation we call the 'corporation'. And we
      began to learn how to reframe our analysis of what the
      problem is.

      Yes, of course, clearcut logging and sweatshop labor
      and genetically engineered "food" are a big problem. But
      the much bigger problem is that we've allowed fictitious
      corporate "persons" to usurp our authority as citizens
      to make these and other critical societal decisions
      which affect all of us and the natural world.

      If we no longer pleaded with corporate leaders to cause
      a little less harm, what would we do? If we no longer
      celebrated as victories every brief delay in the
      corporate devastation of our world, what would we

      By the mid-1990's, new groups were sprouting up across
      the US and Canada, and asking themselves these questions.
      Each was beginning to experiment with a different set of
      tools than anyone had used for a century. Groups like
      'Democracy Unlimited' in California, 'Reclaim Democracy!'
      in Colorado, '180/ Movement for Democracy and Education'
      in Wisconsin, 'Friends of the Constitution' in Nebraska,
      and 'Citizens Council on Corporate Issues' in British
      Columbia, are all examples of this fledgling new movement.

      Clearly, to ask people of every ideology to rethink how
      they respond to corporate harm is a very big task, so a
      number of groups are beginning with public education
      strategies. For example, in my community, 600 local
      residents came together for nine hours of Town Hall
      meetings last year to discuss the question, "Can we have
      democracy when large corporations wield so much power
      and wealth under law?" (Videotapes are available.)

      I am going to share with you dozens of stories of
      American and Canadian citizens educating and organizing
      themselves and others - no longer simply challenging
      individual corporate harms, but going after corporate
      privilege and illegitimate corporate authority. There
      is tremendous diversity in our goals and strategies -
      just what one would expect in a fledgling new social

      Yes, it's still a small number of groups, but the
      number is beginning to grow rapidly, and there's no
      question in my mind that this growth represents a
      profound shift beginning to take place in the
      consciousness of citizens.

      Our world is in terrible crisis. We need to focus on
      what strategies have the best chance of success, rather
      than those which simply postpone the destruction.
      Consider these dozens of projects as a guide for you
      and your community. Contact the organizers. Learn from
      their mistakes. Replicate the projects that seem to
      work. There is no time to lose.

      (I have organized the list into thirteen categories for
      easier perusal.)


      1. Bold Responses to Corporations Which Chronically
      Break the Law

      o The 'Wayne Township Ordinance' (Mifflin County, PA)
      was enacted into law in 1998 by a 3-0 vote, and has
      since also passed in Thompson Township. It prohibits
      any corporation from doing business in the township (even
      those that are already located there) if it has a history
      of consistently violating any regulatory laws
      (environmental, labor, etc), and further prohibits any
      corporation from doing business there if any of its
      current directors sit on other corporate boards which
      consistently violate regulatory law.
      Contact: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
      (CELDF), 717-530-0931 or http://www.celdf.org

      o Residents of Shasta County, CA are circulating a '10
      Strikes and You're Out' ballot initiative in the town of
      Shasta Lake City near Redding in order to try to stop a
      large German corporation (Knauf) from building a
      fiberglass manufacturing plant there (and other toxic
      industry which may follow).
      Contact: Protectors of Community Health, POB 1053,
      Shasta Lake City, CA 96019, or phone Heidi Silva at

      o The Clinton administration is proposing an
      Anti-Scofflaw regulation which would prevent the federal
      government from entering into contracts with companies
      that chronically violate regulatory law.
      Contact: Robert Weissman at mailto:rob@...

      o A Boulder, CO organization - Reclaim Democracy! -
      introduced for discussion (in 1998) a statewide 'Three
      Strikes and You're Dissolved' ballot initiative.
      Contact: 303-402-0105 or http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org

      2. Challenging Public/ Corporate Partnerships

      o The Berkeley and San Francisco School Districts are
      effectively challenging corporate advertising in school
      buildings and working to get tobacco corporation food
      out of school cafeterias.
      Contact: 'Center for Commercial-Free Public Education'
      ('UNPLUG') at 800-867-5841 or mailto:unplug@...
      or http://www.commercialfree.org

      3. Local Communities, Locally Owned Businesses and Entire
      States Organizing to Defend Themselves Against Corporate

      o In November '98, hundreds of campus organizers from
      across North America met at the Campus Democracy Convention
      and formed the '180/ Movement for Democracy and Education',
      a chapter-based organization that stands in opposition to
      the corporatization of education as well as other forms of
      institutionalized hierarchy and oppression, and calls for
      a 180 degree turn towards democracy. Since then,
      'Democracy Teach-Ins' have been organized on hundreds of
      college campuses, many of them with their own active
      chapters. They strive to unite students, campus workers,
      and the working public in asserting democratic authority
      over our schools. Ongoing projects include: challenging the
      authority of corporate-controlled boards of regents,
      mobilizing opposition to the WTO, forcing administrators
      to stop purchasing from sweatshops, and exposing corporate-
      controlled research programs.
      Contact: 608-262-9036 or mailto:clearinghouse@...
      or http://corporations.org/democracy

      o The Boulder Independent Business Alliance (BIBA) unites
      independent businesses to compete effectively against
      corporate chain stores. Recent work includes the 'Community
      Vitality Act' currently under consideration by the Boulder
      City Council. This legislation helps demolish the myth of
      the "business interest" by supporting alliances among small
      businesses that are victims of the chain stores. BIBA is
      also facilitating the creation of IBA's in other cities
      (two to date).
      Contact: 303-402-1575 or mailto:info@...
      or http://www.boulder-iba.org

      o A new ballot initiative campaign in Oregon was launched
      in winter/spring 2000 - the 'Oregon Human Rights Initiative' -
      which attempts to statutorily codify the UN's Universal
      Declaration of Human Rights (signed into law 51 years ago
      by virtually every nation in the world), making adherence
      to these principles a requirement to do civic or commercial
      business in Oregon. Non-compliance can result in charter
      Contact: chief co-petitioner Paul Van DeVelder, 541-752-8450
      or mailto:oneworld@...
      or http://www.oregonrights.com

      o A number of years ago, the town of Jay, Maine passed an
      ordinance which gave the town the power to license, monitor
      and enforce the same environmental regulations that the
      state Dept of Environmental Protection, and the federal
      E.P.A. do. In the town is a pulp&paper mill owned by
      International Paper company.
      Contact: Peter Kellman, 207-676-3356
      or mailto:pkellman@...

      o The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors has
      passed a law requiring all corporations doing business in
      the county to offer full benefits for same-sex partners.
      It has already withstood a court challenge.
      Contact: City of SF at 415-554-6141. Read the full text at

      o The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) in Minnesota
      launched the 'New Rules Project', which helps local
      communities to organize against the ravages of absentee
      corporate decision making by "identifying the rules that
      could close the gap between those who make the decisions
      and those who feel the impacts - new rules that could bring
      both authority and responsibility to the local level."
      Contact: 612-379-3815 or http://www.newrules.org

      4. Prohibiting (or Defining) Corporate Involvement in
      Particular Industries

      o New farming laws in Nebraska ('Initiative 300' - 1982),
      South Dakota ('Amendment E' - 1998), and Pennsylvania (1999)
      ban non-family-owned corporations from engaging in farming
      or ranching, or owning farmland. Nebraska and South Dakota
      achieved their success through ballot initiatives which
      amended their state constitutions. 'Friends of the
      Constitution' is a Nebraska coalition of 18 farm, church,
      and environmental groups which joined together to defend
      and enforce 'Initiative 300'. A similar measure was
      achieved by two Pennsylvania townships (Wells and Thompson)
      through ordinances passed by their respective township
      governments. There are also a number of PA townships
      discussing similar legislation which would ban corporate
      logging or forest land ownership.
      Contacts: South Dakota - Dakota Rural Action, 605-697-5204
      or mailto:drural@...
      or http://www.worc.org/member.html#dra
      Nebraska - Nancy Thompson at FoC, 402-494-9117
      or mailto:nanthomp@... or http://www.i300.org
      Pennsylvania - Tom Linzey at Community Environmental
      Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), 717-530-0931
      or http://www.celdf.org

      o In Sonoma County, CA, the Occidental Arts and Ecology
      Center's 'Food Systems, Corporations and Democracy Program'
      has two local projects aimed at shifting local decision
      making from the realm of private, property-based,
      corporate, "market" decisions to the realm of public,
      democratic decisions focused on the "commonwealth":
      1) 'Sonoma County Green Genes' is organizing to pass
      resolutions at city councils and school boards calling
      for a moratorium on the release of all genetically
      engineered crops and foods, and for full corporate
      liability for harms resulting from any releases of GMO's.
      (The city of Sebastopol has already passed the resolution);
      2) The 'Occidental Town Hall Coalition' has organized a
      dozen town hall meetings around the county - each attended
      by 250 to 500 people - to discuss the problem of and
      strategize solutions to the expansion of corporate-owned
      industrial vineyards, and the resulting loss of diverse
      small and family farms and local agrarian culture. They
      are writing ordinances that redefine "farming" and county
      land use policies away from corporate interests, and
      toward the interest of the people and wild nature.
      Contact: Dave Henson, 707-874-1557 ext 4
      or mailto:dhenson@...

      5. Suing Governments for Violating the Federal Constitution

      o A British Columbia-based organization - Defence of Canadian
      Liberty Committee - is suing the Canadian government alleging
      that Canada's participation in the MAI/WTO process of global
      corporatization is unconstitutional.
      Contact: Connie Fogal, 604-687-0588 or mailto:cfogal@...
      or http://www.canadianliberty.bc.ca


      Dan Clore

      The Website of Lord We├┐rdgliffe:
      The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:

      "Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
      zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
      not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
      Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
      and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
      night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
      &c., &c.,"
      -- The Book of Dzyan.
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