Maybe we are entering into a new age – a time where we can no longer rely solely in the government to protect us from the big corporations (and perhaps other obstacles). But is this a good or a bad thing? Can this open dangerous precedents in the future?
Thomas Linzey, together with Anneke Campbell, in their new book ”Be The Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community”, bring us very interesting insights about how communities can fight corporations, without begging for government help – which, we all know, most of the time is a poor and defenseless hostage of these corporations.
Linzey and Anneke Campbell, an environmental justice documentary filmmaker, argue that it’s time to stop begging the government and corporations to cause less harm. It’s time to replace corporate minority decision-making with community self-government.
Linzey and Campbell write about people from all walks of life doing just that by leaving their comfort zones to become community leaders.
Gail Darrell left gardening to stop water-withdrawal corporations from taking her town’s water in Barnstead, New Hampshire; Michael Vacca pours concrete by day and stops coal corporations from destroying his western Pennsylvania community by night; Cathy Miorelli, a local elected official and nurse, has led her borough council in taking on some of the largest waste corporations in the state of Pennsylvania; and Rick Evans, a member of the Laborers Union in Spokane, Washington, is working to protect the constitutional rights of workers.
“They didn’t wait for an environmental group to come along and try to save them, or for a state or federal agency to intervene,” writes Linzey. “Just as important, they refused to listen to anyone who told them there was nothing they could do to keep their communities from being damaged or destroyed.”
So how did they do it? They just did it. They did it because they had run out of hope that anyone else would,” he writes.
Citizens in Santa Monica, California, are working on an ordinance called the Sustainability Bill of Rights, which would declare that Santa Monica residents, natural communities and ecosystems have a right to a healthy environment. Under the ordinance, corporations “shall not have the rights of ‘persons’ to the extent that such rights interfere” with its components.
Citizens in Mt. Shasta, California, are preparing to vote on an ordinance that would refuse to recognize corporate personhood and ban corporations like Nestle and Coca-Cola from extracting water from the local acquifer.
“Today, it is our communities and natural systems that are treated as property under the law – just as slaves once were – because people living in communities can’t control their own futures, and what’s in our communities is routinely bought, sold, and traded without a whisker of local control,” says Linzey. “In many ways, this work is about walking in the footsteps of those prior movements to transform ourselves from being property under the law to becoming people who harness the power of government to defend and enforce our rights.”
This could be an important lesson for us to learn, and a necessary one. The real democracy must be carried out from the bottom up, not from the top down. We, as humans beings – and as citizens – have tons of rights, but we also have some duties… not only to our country – but especially to ourselves, and to our communities.