Yesterday, I was reading an article ("Making a More Perfect Constitution") by a professor, the director of U. Va.'s Center for Politics, Larry J. Sabato, who has spent the last ten years developing his dream of Constitutional reform and is publishing a book explaining his reasoning and his proposals. He indicated that such a process of reform (as is currently outlined in our Constitution) would likely be a ten year process. I commented that if we were to apply our energies to a ten year process of reform, it would better serve us to focus upon curbing the current abuses and excesses of corporate power, the henchmen of which are taking egregious liberties with our common good. Corporate interests have, over the last thirty years willfully and strategically infiltrated our government, our economy, our environment, our healthcare, and now are directing our military in an unlimited war with the Middle East for control of the supply and price of oil while we have been asleep at the wheel!
In my comment, I wondered why some of the progressive think-tanks such as the Rockridge Institute (who have been instrumental in developing a new narrative frame for progressive political thinking which successfully counters the neo-conservative rhetoric holding our public and its policy captive) haven’t been brainstorming about how to implement a new vision of economy, a more caring economy, that would act to preserve the common wealth of we the people, of our communities, both locally and globally.
In my very next session of internet wanderings, I came upon "Yes" Magazine’s fall issue which carries the theme: "Stand Up to Corporate Power", and includes a diversity of articles which speak according to a frame of reference being developed by a think-tank and social change group known as the Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI). This initiative is an organically formed group, one which has naturally come together after spending the last twenty years individually involved in developing strategies and campaigns for protecting the common wealth and good from assault by unethical and opportunistic power groups. See information about this group and its formation in the box below.
Over the past two decades, each member of SCI has been involved in often-successful campaigns to curtail excessive corporate power, from rainforest protection to social investing. We have worked on campaigns to abolish toxic chemicals, defend labor rights, advance corporate ethics, and block international trade agreements.
While we have helped make large corporations more responsible, we’ve failed to make them less powerful. We’ve come to realize that without unified action, we may win battles, but we will lose the war.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative is our attempt to ignite a critical discussion on the path forward. We believe that, if united, the scattered movements already creating change can be the catalytic force to create a humane, sustainable, democratic society and economy.
The Strategic Corporate Initiative (SCI) steering committee is made up of the authors of this issue's lead article, Who Will Rule?, Michael Marx, director of Corporate Ethics International (CEI) in Portland, Oregon and Marjorie Kelly, author of The Divine Right of Capital, with the Tellus Institute in Boston; along with John Cavanagh, Chuck Collins, and Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC; Charlie Cray of the Center for Corporate Policy in Washington, DC; and Mari Margil, formerly with CEI and now with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.
The SCI group put their heads together, integrated the wisdom of their diverse, yet common experience as agents of change, and developed a highly organized, intensive plan suggesting strategies that would change the very nature of the (corporate powered) market system, making it less destructive of the common wealth. These strategies, they say, would enhance the "countervailing powers" (those of the citizenry) to restore democracy. A central theme of their vision is the care and repair of livable communities, communities of people who have regained control over their futures.
Communities are the front lines in the battle for bringing power back under the control of the people for "bringing corporations back under citizen control". Communities, they say, are where the movement begins, and I agree! See what you think of their plan. (By the way, it is quite readable—it is organized into three sections: an outline overview, then a short summary outline, and finally, a detailed proposal following the original outline that is quite lengthy.)
The section dedicated to community care and repair through building economic relationships and empowering people with choice is the part of the larger plan that is of central interest to me. This is the section that touches into the territory of my thoughts about local community economies and forms of exchange that are a complement and an aid to the larger system. I will be writing more to you on this topic as the thoughts form coherence.
*See article by David Korten