As you know, I am the author of a delightful little piece of fiction, The Dandelion Insurrection, which is winning friends across the nation. It is an eerily prophetic story, one which posited a mass surveillance system in a United States “just around the corner of today” months before our friend Snowden told us the reality of the NSA. The novel contained the line, “The United States is no longer a functional democracy”, before former President Jimmy Carter practically spoke those words verbatim to the international press.
And, The Dandelion Insurrection portrays a hidden corporate dictatorship and the nonviolent movement to end it.
In our real lives, we are witnessing the advance of the corporate coup. The latest slurry of acronyms (TAA, TPA, FTA, TPP, TTIP) spells out the coded story of the rise of corporate power over living, breathing people. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is still shrouded in secrecy, but one detail we know from leaked text is that a transnational trade tribunal will have the authority to overturn local, state, and federal laws as barriers to trade.
Gone is our right to clean water and air. (China doesn’t have them, so neither should US citizens – such regulations hamper corporations’ ability to compete.) Gone is the dream of living wages (third world nations don’t have them, and neither should Americans – it gets in the way of corporations finding cheap labor). Gone are consumer protection laws like GMO labeling (what a hindrance to getting consumers to eat the poison!). Gone are regulations on cancer-causing chemicals (having such laws in this country means corporations can’t compete with other countries that allow corporations to murder their citizens).
Gone is our right to self-govern.
Democracy has always been a hollow word in the United States. We have never seen a full constituency of citizens voting in our electoral system. We have never witnessed all of our people voting directly on a single issue that affects our lives. We have never broken free of the prevalence of the wealthy ruling over the poor. We have never experienced real democracy.
But now, let us be clear: a trade court full of corporate lawyers will rule over your life. They will decide how the world works, what laws stand, how our economies and societies will be regulated. The rich will grow richer; the poor will grow poorer. The planet will be destroyed for the profits of the wealthy. War will remain what it is: a way for defense contractors to blow up their inventory and charge taxpayers more money to replace it. This is what corporate rule has always created . . . and we can only expect more of the same.
When President Obama signs the TPP trade agreement, he is handing our lives and our nation over on a silver platter. When the politicians in Congress passed the FTA (Fast Track Authority), allowing them to renege on their sworn duties, they behaved as shamefully as all sell-out politicians who sign the agreements with tyrants, invaders, coup d’état regimes, and dictators. Think deeply on this betrayal.
The TPP may be signed this fall, and the TTIP (its Atlantic counterpart) will follow thereafter. This is the end of the United States. Our colonizing nation has been colonized by corporations and rich people – many of whom identify as transnational entities. Sovereignty has sold to the highest bidder. We, the people, are indentured to the power holding elite.
These may sound like strong words, but remember: politicians speak in forked tongues. A soft coup slides into place to the singsong assurances of the empowered. Truth, by contrast, is harsh, startling, shocking, and sometimes frightening.
But, truth is also liberating, empowering, invigorating. And the other side of the truth is that we have options. We can rebel. We can resist. We can do what people have always done in the face of tyranny: we can overcome it, overthrow it, end it.
Here are a few recommendations:
1. At the risk of blowing my own horn, but in light of the human need for inspiration, adventure, and courage, read The Dandelion Insurrection. The story is rather prophetic about corporate tyranny, as well as invigorating in regards to the courageous, spirited resistance of ordinary, extraordinary people like you. Which means . . .
2. Study nonviolent civil resistance. This type of strategic, soulful work has occurred all over the world. Let us become versed in the knowledge our brothers and sisters have gained. I’ve put some of this into The Dandelion Insurrection Study Guide to Making Change Through Nonviolent Action, and there are excellent downloadable resources from the Albert Einstein Institution: here.
3. Withdraw your support from tyrannical corporations. Why are we paying our oppressors to oppress us? Take off their labels. You aren’t cattle; you don’t need to bear their brands on your backs. Support Mom & Pop, community thrift stores, local business, local farms, your community members. When Gandhi struggled for Indian independence from British Rule, he literally had to get his fellow citizens to tear the British cloth from their backs and wear Indian spun fabric instead. Likewise, we must support people, not corporations; communities, not tyrants.
4. Join the growing Movement of Movements. Sign up for Popular Resistance’s free Daily Digest so you can follow the people-powered efforts that are already occurring. It will bring you knowledge, courage, and inspiration. Prepare yourself to boycott, strike, march, divest, and yes, go to meetings, get on conference calls, talk with people, and openly oppose business as usual.
5. Take time for reflection and deepening your understanding of how all of our issues are connected. Stop looking for the silver bullet and learn to see the whole system, lock, stock, and barrel, hand, body, person, factory, mine, transport, laws, economics, and societies.
6. Join the effort to block or overturn these trade deals. Right now, you can join the weekly National Resistance Calls. Thank you.
And lastly, as we say in The Dandelion Insurrection,
“Be kind, be connected, be unafraid.”
With love (and revolution from corporate tyranny),