| For Flacks'
essay, "Reflections on Strategy in a Dark Time," click here.
A Democratic AllianceRonnie Dugger I appreciate the chance to respond briefly to Richard Flacks' oddly devised essay. Flacks offers us a contorted history of "the organized left" in the United States that deftly omits the momentous populist rebellion of the late 1880s and 1890s. This is weird. Next he offers us his personal list of worthy proposals he says we should enact. In conclusion he tells us our progressive organizations are not cooperating with each other and should. But how do we get back the power we have lost to the corporate oligarchy which now rules the country through both the Republican and Democratic Parties, and how do we get the progressive organizations to act together? He does not say. He wants "a progressive new party that has the legal right to endorse progressive Democrats in partisan races," but adds that "the 100-year effort to create a left party is over and has failed." This is the battle plan for seizing democracy back from the corporations, their hired government, and their two political parties? How, in substance, is it any different from what we've been trying to do since 1968?
Last August, in The Nation, as a kind of second part to my piece in Boston Review on "Race, Class, and the Democrats" (Summer 1995), I proposed something different -- a new national populist alliance on the premise that the Democrats now belong to the corporations, and that what we need in response is not another third party, but a five-or-ten-year effort to organize a new people's movement. I received, in response, about 1,700 letters, faxes, and e-mails, wanting to do this or asking for information. Voila!
The Alliance is a new national membership organization of populists, progressives, independents, workers, small business persons, family farmers, liberals, humanists, and people of other descriptions who undertake together to end the domination of democracy by large corporations and to replace that domination with democratic self-governance. We intend to devote most of our thought and action to devising means to accomplish this purpose -- reorganizing society on models of the equal value and importance of every person, deep international democracy, social and economic justice, and the protection and fair sharing of the earth.
We realize that the emerging one-world corporate government of the transnational corporations cannot be brought to heel by a movement in any one country. By seeking, not coalitions in governance, but only coalitions in actions, we intend to help precipitate first a national, and then an international coalition of the Alliance and other consanguine people-based organizations. In the tradition of the historical American populist movement of the late 19th century, we undertake to help each other and to pursue, invent, and develop democratic alternate economic systems.
The Alliance is rooted in local and regional Alliances. The national (then the international) Alliance will coordinate and lead this movement, but always subject to the democratic decisions of the local Alliances, wherein the power of the Alliance permanently inheres.
This is only an unofficial draft of a description and mission statement of the Alliance. Interim decisions are being made, in consultation with formed Alliances and other members, by a preliminary steering committee, still in formation, that was selected during a three-day meeting of about 70 delegates from Alliances and other members in Chicago in October 1995. We recommended there a constitutional amendment to deny corporations their court-invented protections as persons under the 14th Amendment. We have sought to practice from the first, among ourselves, the democratic principle of horizontal communication, not vertical communication.
Local or regional Alliances are organized and meeting in urban Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Orange County, and San Francisco, California; in Seattle; in Ealy and St. Louis County, Minnesota; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Dalton, Massachusetts; the suburbs west of Boston; and on Cape Cod. Alliances are forming or ready to form in Berkeley, Denver, New Haven, Boston, New York City and State, and other parts of Texas. Core groups or Alliances are in early stages of organizing in Oregon, Kansas, Kentucky, New Orleans, Wisconsin, and Maine. The Vermont Alliance forms January 21.
As Ronnie Cummins of the Alliance Interim Executive Committee says, the Alliance is unique and historically significant in that we are framing our politics and our concerns in a "21st Century Populist" manner; identifying Big Business and indentured Government as the root of our problems; getting away from being fixated on single-issue or limited-focus politics, and focusing on the corporate causes of the crisis in democracy everywhere.
All success to the New Party which I have joined and to the thousands of other
organizations that are working to build the progressive/populist movement. Our
point in the Alliance is not to compete with others in this work, but to rejoice
when they succeed, enhance what they are
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