Local Resistance Can Overthrow Our Political Masters

All resistance will be local. We will have to dismantle the corporate state, piece by piece, from the ground up. No leader or politician is going to do it for us.

– Chris Hedges

Every community that bans fracking, every university and institution that embraces the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) movement, every individual who becomes vegan to thwart the animal agriculture industry’s devastation of the planet and holocaust of animals, every effort to build self-sustaining food supplies, every protest to halt the use of lethal force by police against our citizens, especially poor people of color, every act of civil disobedience against corporate power and imperialism will slowly transform our society.

Those who rebel, once they rise up, will build alliances with other rebels. This will give birth to a new political expression, one that will be fiercely anti-capitalist and will seek to sustain rather than destroy life. Rebellion will come from the bottom. I do not know if we can succeed. The forces arrayed against us are monstrous and terrifying. The corporate state has no qualms about employing savage and violent repression, wholesale surveillance, the criminalizing of dissent, and its propaganda machine to demonize us all. But I know this: We are the only hope. We are the people we have been waiting for. And if we do not act to save ourselves, the climate crisis and the corporate state that caused it will continue to ravage the ecosystem and human societies until catastrophic collapse occurs. Indeed, we are already frighteningly far down that road.

I recently met here in Santa Ana with Gayle McLaughlin, who served two terms as mayor of Richmond, Calif., a city of 100,000, after being elected to that post as a Green Party candidate, and physician Jill Stein, a Massachusetts resident who was the Green Party presidential nominee in 2012 and now is a candidate for the party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

McLaughlin spent a decade building the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), a party that refuses corporate donations. The RPA formed coalitions with other groups and parties, including the Peace and Freedom Party, and by 2004 it was winning elections. Among the supporters it attracted were many disenchanted members of the Democratic Party.

McLaughlin was elected to the Richmond City Council as a Green Party candidate in 2004 and won a race for mayor in 2006. She served in that office until this year, when she termed out. She is back on the seven-member City Council—which includes two other RPA members—despite the efforts of Chevron, which has a huge refinery in the city and ran Richmond like a company town for decades (it used to keep a desk for a Chevron executive in the city manager’s office). The company poured $3 million into the 2014 City Council campaign in an unsuccessful bid to defeat McLaughlin and the other RPA candidates.

McLaughlin and the RPA have attempted to turn back the tide of corporate pillage in Richmond. They have doggedly fought Chevron, extracting an extra $114 million a year in taxes. They have stood up for the working poor and the homeless. They have pushed through a law requiring a minimum wage of $13 an hour by 2018. They have denounced the rampant militarism of American society. …


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