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May 23, 2018

The Climate Crisis Goes Vastly Beyond Any Notion of “Rights”

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“While scientists and climate negotiators mostly speak in terms of human impacts, we must begin to see the planet and its atmosphere as an ecosystem unto itself, worthy of being accorded the highest rights and protections….”
 
I’ve long respected the basic strategy of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and consider this community rights strategy to have promise against such specific physical assaults as fracking, pipelines, highways, CAFOs, etc. But I fear even they must falter where it comes to the vision necessary to come to grips with the climate crisis.
 
They’re correct to dismiss the “scientists and climate negotiators [who] mostly speak in terms of human impacts…”, primarily because these speak fraudulently even in those terms. None of them comes close to calling for the one and only meaningful response to the climate crisis: Stop emitting*, stop destroying sinks, rebuild sinks.
 
And it’s pure truth that “we must begin to see the planet and its atmosphere as an ecosystem unto itself” within which we ourselves are inextricably wound, bound, dependent.
 
But when they go on to say Gaia is “worthy of being accorded the highest rights and [legal] protections” I reply that we must get past the “rights”-speak which is yet another figment of the modern civilization dedicated to murdering Gaia. No great spiritual/cultural movement in its ascent and prime ever spoke of “rights”, only of power and responsibility. We do need a cultural campaign for a sea change in the human view of nature; this is a necessary part of spurring the necessary action. But to call for this change in terms of according liberal bourgeois “rights” to nature would be insufficient even if such rights were to be technically enacted. (Itself an extreme long-shot.) We’ve long seen how well legal rights actually protect us. We’ve seen how well blacks’ being accorded full civil rights has eradicated systemic racism. But what we’re up against here is the equivalent of systemic racism, albeit on a vastly greater, vastly more aggressive level. (Besides, the very liberals who would have to get behind it tend to be hostile toward the idea. Which is what one would expect, since by definition liberals are pro-capitalist, pro-property, pro-civilization; these are core principles of liberalism upon which the ideology’s adherents would never accept significant constraints. But any move to respect, let alone restore Gaia on any significant level automatically must mean the most extreme constraints on these forces of destruction.) The fact is, while notions of fighting for the legal rights of nature may sound good superficially**, they’re really another example of seeking reform within the congenitally destructive framework, a project self-evidently foredoomed to failure.
 
 
 
*Let’s be clear on what “stop emitting” means: It means STOP EMITTING, completely, NOW. It does not mean “a slight reduction in emissions by 2050,” such as envisioned (and falsely, at that) by the Paris Accord. That’s a contemptible dodge, a lie as bad as any which has wafted from ExxonMobil. If your spouse was a terrible drunk who lost their job, beat you, wrecked the car, set the house on fire, would you ask them to moderately reduce their drinking by 2050? Or would you demand they totally stop, NOW?
 
Of course the real reason the fraudulent climate crocodiles prefer the 2050 notion is that they themselves love getting soused, and they cherish all the same destructive actions. That’s why they refuse to acknowledge what’s necessary, for the climate crisis and every other ecological crisis. Only the total collapse of this “civilization” will change anything, and that’s the correction Gaia ultimately will impose.
 
To recap the fact, there is one and only one way to avert the worst consequences of climate change: Stop emitting, stop destroying carbon sinks, rebuild sinks on a massive scale.
 
All else is a lie. Especially, any version of claiming the crises can be met within the framework of productionism and capitalism is the most odious lie of all.
 
 
**I myself have found the rights-for-nature idea attractive at times. But I still always thought my way to what’s truly necessary:
 
“This judgement is nothing new but restates the truths of natural law, the moral and biological truth known to all of us..This tribunal has only restated the eternal truth. What’s lacking is the will to exercise this truth in reality…Multinational corporations like Monsanto comprise the core of this system, which is dedicated to aggrandizing these criminal organizations. So there’s an obvious contradiction in calling for Monsanto’s own lawyers, bagmen, and thugs to arrest and prosecute it. The same goes for corporate rule as such…To apply law and order to the crimes of ecocide and to all crimes against humanity cannot be done within the framework of a civilization dedicated to exploitation, waste, and destruction. The laws of such a civilization and the way these laws are enforced always will follow from this underlying dedication.
 
To make the call to justice real requires the movement dedicated to realizing these truths and values. We cannot carry out the tasks of necessity and justice within the framework of a system dedicated to every anti-human and anti-ecological action and institution. We can do it only through the action of a movement dedicated to abolishing these crimes and abolishing their ideological and institutional basis…The Monsanto Tribunal, in its compilation and assessment of the evidence and the history, has only provided the latest demonstration that humanity and the Earth cannot “co-exist” with these destroyers, and therefore cannot continue with a regulatory and legal model dedicated not just to this co-existence, but to co-existence on the basis of corporate profit [and destruction for the sake of destruction] as the great normative purpose. The Tribunal itself identifies this as the core of the crisis, even if it doesn’t draw the necessary strategic and organizational conclusions.
 
Morally, rationally, and legally the ruling of the Monsanto Tribunal is true and follows from the ruling of the Nuremburg Tribunal. The only difference so far is the force to put the truth into effect. Only the abolition movement can muster and organize the strength and the will to realize all the necessary truths. We have to begin.”
 
 
 
 
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March 29, 2014

The Community Rights, Anti-Corporate Movement, and its Liberal Pro-Corporate Detractors

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As the community rights and anti-corporate movement gathers momentum, it will increasingly strike fear in mercenary minds, and in the minds of all who remain stagnated in the obsolete ideologies of “left” and “right”, “liberal” and “conservative”, let alone the cretins who remain partisans of either the Democrat or Republican halves of the one-party corporatist state we now have.
 
At a website which claims to stand for a “participatory society”, and which likes to affect some radical-chic vibes, some members recently outed themselves as just another gang of masked liberals with an ethically and intellectually challenged hatchet job on the CELDF movement. Evidently when they say they want participation they don’t really mean participation, heavens no. How silly of us to misunderstand that word and think it means we the people politically and economically rule ourselves.
 
The fact is that this entire critique is from the point of view of statist, corporatist, pro-Democrat liberalism. It’s therefore irrelevant in principle, since the community rights movement cherishes participatory democracy and economic self-determination and rejects the legitimacy and authority of corporations and centralized states. The piece is also forced to lie at every practical point, since nothing has been more completely proven to be an historical failure than representative liberalism, insofar as it ever actually wanted to improve the lives of regular people and prevent concentrated power from preying upon the people. Of course, if it ever did want to do any such thing, it has long since ceased from any such intention and become a pro-corporate scam.
 
I’ll just make a few general replies to the piece.
 
1. It engages in bourgeois quibbling about what is and isn’t “constitutional”, what does and doesn’t derive from the Declaration of Independence in some sense a duly certified law professor would agree with, etc.
 
But citizens of a democracy care nothing about any piece of paper, except insofar as it expresses and helps realize political and economic democracy and freedom. Today we must care only about what’s effective toward anti-corporate abolitionism. The fact is that none of these documents has any eternal meaning at all, except to antiquarians talking about what they meant at a particular time in a particular context hundreds of years ago. Anyone who claims to think the Declaration of Independence, for example, has any ineffable “nature” other than what the people of a time are willing to fight to make it mean is a liar or is being completely ahistorical. (I’m not sure which of those a system academic is more likely to be.) But the only way these documents matter to modern abolitionists is in how they can help attain the abolitionist mission.
 
Of course, these liberal scribblers agree with me. Throughout the piece they repeatedly assert that what’s “constitutional” isn’t anything stable, anything based on principle, but is merely whatever the bourgeois courts say it is. The constitution is nothing but what Monsanto’s Clarence Thomas says it is. This is one of their core points.
 
Let’s correct a few historical facts obfuscated and falsified in the piece. In reality, the Declaration of Independence was not an affirmative statement of synthesized laws, but a rejection of illegitimate, usurped, and therefore tyrannical “law”. Therefore when we reject the legitimacy of the “laws” and rule of corporations, globalization tribunals, and the centralized governments who serve them, we are taking exactly the same stance as the signers of the Declaration. And when we cite it as precedent, we are using it in exactly the same way its original promulgators did. The dispute here is over whether the rule of Monsanto, the CAFOs, the frackers, Wall Street, is legitimate. We say it is not. The authors of this piece and their ideological ilk say it is. So it’s clear that there’s no common ground here, and that these scribblers are simply perpetrating a fraud when they claim to be arguing from some common principle, and that therefore people should listen to them and turn away from the anti-corporate struggle. But to be for or against corporate domination is the only meaningful demarcation today, which cuts across all other issues and gives them their true character, as opposed to the false divisions which system ideologues and partisans struggle to keep in place.
 
Similarly, the notion of constitutionalism propounded here, that “the constitution” is whatever is written and called a constitution, of course as interpreted by a handful of elite legal priests, is historically false and tendentious. On the contrary, one of the fiercely contested political controversies of the era leading up to the first stage of the American Revolution was the question of whether or not there’s an underlying sovereign constitution, of which even a written constitution is only a provisional expression, its legitimacy contingent on the institutions it establishes continuing to act in accord with the underlying people’s sovereignty. The gradually-adopted decision of the rebels that this sovereign constitution precedes any written one became a basic principle of this first stage of the Revolution. But this philosophical development was also an extension of the long evolution of the logic of political thought. When today a US liberal takes up the old British/Loyalist position, that the constitution is whatever a piece of paper (and really a handful of corporatist judges) says it is, and pretends this is “the” position, he’s simply trying to lie this controversy and this history out of existence. He’s probably totally ignorant of this history anyway.
 
So there’s our basic conflict over what is or isn’t constitutional: We say that this can only be decided through political struggle. They say it’s a purely elitist determination and decree. And there we see the basic difference between democratic philosophy and liberalism, which is inherently hierarchical, authoritarian, elitist. According to them, the courts and by extension the government are legitimate, the people are not. This is the basic liberal elitism. We see the basic contempt for a community-based organization daring to lay claim to constitutional interpretation, filthy peasants having the temerity to contradict Our Betters in the courts, academia, and of course among the professional liberal NGOs. 
 
2. They seem to have basically liberal-reformist objections to a more anarchistic philosophy. That’s irrelevant since the anti-corporate movement is, of necessity, both ideologically and on a practical level, anti-liberal. That’s because liberalism is inherently pro-corporate and pro-centralization, and also because it’s a proven failure at everything except helping to increase corporate power.
 
They also engaged in smear tactics, fraudulently seeking to conflate explicitly anti-corporate movements with, for example, racist “states’ rights” movements. This demonstrates their bad faith and their conceptual idiocy, since “states’ rights” makes no sense as a concept, while community sovereignty obviously does. It comes much closer to humanity’s natural and rational political and economic state, as well as being in much closer accord with the principle, paid lip service to even by today’s statist/corporatist tyrannies, that sovereignty can repose only in the people themselves, and that political power can only be conditionally delegated to any kind of hierarchy.
 
By now we know that these hierarchies, and the political philosophies which sought to justify them, including liberalism, were always frauds which have not improved the happiness, prosperity, and freedom of the people. At most they were able to use the age of cheap oil to build mass middle classes in the West. Here isn’t the place to debate whether or not this Western middle class existence is the highest utopia humanity can aspire to, the way liberals would have it. (I’d say the record shows that middle class existence, even where it was temporarily stable, didn’t seem to make people happier, and in many ways left them less content.) But I will stress the fact that as we reach the end of the Oil Age, this middle class is being ruthlessly liquidated, and the system is clearly headed back, as fast as it thinks it can politically get away with, to some pre-fossil fuel form of economic tyranny: Some kind of feudalism or debt slave society which will be much worse than even the medieval variety.
 
There’s no disputing this basic trend toward increasing corporate domination and the destruction of the economic middle class as well as the destruction of the Bill of Rights-based system of civil rights/liberties. All this is inherent to the system. Today liberalism, as an ideology and as a set of political prescriptions, is a massive scam meant to help this corporate domination plan along. That’s the basic aspect of the term “neoliberalism”: Liberal terms, concepts, forms like representative government, etc., have been completely harnessed to the goal of shifting all real power and control to corporate bureaucracies while maintaining nominal government as corporate welfare bagman, thug, and the impresario of circus “elections” and “representation”. I defy anyone to give me an example of any significant government initiative of recent decades which transcends those three basic categories.
 
(Obamacare, for example, is really a corporate bailout and a poll tax. It has no public weal character, but is a combination of corporate welfare conveyance (its main proximate goal was to bail out the financially beleaguered health insurance sector; from there it’s simply meant to keep this worthless corporate sector in profitable existence), political circus (it poses as a big public-interest program), with a thug element as well (the poll tax is meant to help force people who are trying to break free of the corporate cash economy back into it). Anyone who had really wanted a government program to provide better health care to the people would have demanded Single Payer, which would have been vastly less expensive for the people and would actually have helped people. But that’s not what government does any more, and that’s not what today’s liberal and conservative supporters of big government want to do. They want nothing but to aggrandize corporate power.) 
 
3. According to the comment thread, they’re the types who accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a “troll”. But as I said in points (1) and (2), they themselves are technically trolls in that they’re pretending to be making a critique of participatory democracy and natural real economies, based on some alleged common ground, when really there is no common ground between anarchism/mutualism/positive democracy and centralizing corporatist bourgeois liberalism. There’s no substantive common ground, just some vague alleged affinity of ideals. But as we’ve seen, liberalism has been nothing but the ongoing betrayal of these ideals, and is a definitively proven failure and/or treachery.
 
I will agree with one strategic point. My understanding of the CELDF strategy is that it seeks to use the concepts and rhetorical forms of constitutionalism and of the first stage of the American Revolution in an innovative and tactically effective way, to help organize modern anti-corporatism and rational economic tendencies toward building a coherent movement. But so far it seems pretty vague on what the next steps are, once organizations dedicated to fighting for these ordinances have been brought into existence.
 
But the hatchet job I critiqued here clearly has no goal other than as typical liberal gatekeeping. They’re trying to distract attention from the complete failure of their own scam and discourage people from taking up new ideas and new forms of activism and organization.
 
I especially like their horror at the prospect of communities fighting to resist interstate highways or fracking pipelines. And you always gotta love when so-called “leftists” take up the canned Frank Luntz term “patchwork”. Bush consultant Luntz called this one of his “words that work”, and we see how this term has indeed worked, to the point that it’s now a staple of alleged “left” discourse as well, wherever our pseudo-radicals are opposing the people where the people are trying to fight back at the community level, which is after all the natural level of human existence. Because liberals and authoritarian leftists have no such human basis for their existence, but are only synthetic products of mass society, they could never understand this kind of humanism.
 
(“Conservatism” is another part of the overall corporate propaganda scam, but in this case we’re concerned with a liberal and/or radical chicist attack, so I focused on that.)
 
In the end, the only meaningful diagnosis is that corporations are the overwhelmingly dominant form of economic and, increasingly, political tyranny today. Corporations are totalitarian, and are the radical enemy of all human values, as well as of our physical basis for existence. It follows that the only meaningful prescription is to commit to the clear goal of the total abolition of the corporate form.
 
This is not only the only meaningful analysis and goal, but has the virtue of presenting a clear goal, unlike the vapid “anti-“s of reformism and pseudo-radicalism. These clearly just want to talk and do nothing, which is why they intentionally claim to be for high-flown principles but offer only the most vague objections to “capitalism” or whatever in place of a clear prescriptive goal.
 
The community rights movement doesn’t have all the answers yet, but it does understand three basic facts which no one else seems to understand: The people and only the people are sovereign, corporations by definition are illegitimate and have no right to exist, and corporations are actively destructive of all human values and needs, and must therefore be fought to the end with all means at hand.

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May 19, 2012

The CELDF Strategy, and Similar Actions

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We’re trying to build a new society, and rebuild a natural one, based on Food Sovereignty and true democracy. The negative aspect of this is to abolish corporations and dissolve centralized hierarchies in general.
 
Finding focus on these simple goals is hard enough. But even among those of us who agree on the basic goals, there’s great strategic and tactical uncertainty. We can agree that in the end on bottom-up action, especially direct action, movement-building, and mutual assistance, will work. We can agree that the officially allowed modes of “action”, electoral voting and other passive, process “politics” and consumerism, cannot work.
 
But there’s an array of possible actions while lies somewhere between direct action and kettled process reformism which may, depending on the circumstance, the operational goal, and the execution, lie on the vector toward the great democratic goal.
 
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) strategy for local-level constitutionalism and anti-corporate ordinances is a good example of this. The CELDF was formed to fight back against several kinds of corporate assaults which are especially tyrannical at the immediate local level – CAFOs, fracking, dumping sewage sludge on fields, water privatization and plunder; and also against the overarching legalistic/constitutional framework for these assaults, such as federal pre-emption (anti-federal, by any non-Orwellian definition of the term), the captivity of the electoral system to money (but they want to focus on local ordinances banning corporate money in local elections) as enshrined by Citizens United, and the general regime of corporate personhood and “rights”.
 
The basic plan is for communities to enact ordinances asserting local sovereignty and proclaim local constitutions, really bills of rights, enshrining this. The people should take back their local governments and force these to serve the community against assaults from alien governments and corporations. Better yet, we can form our own democratic councils to parallel the “official”-track action shifting the initiative from the derivative government to the direct democracy of the people. These dual-track actions would bring power and authority much closer to the true sovereign level of the people. It would reverse the pre-emption doctrine enshrined in 1788, turning it right side up. These councils/municipalities would then confederate for mutual support, and to organize broader-scale constitutional assemblies.
 
The CELDF recognizes that central and state level process action, including electoralism, is largely “dead”, as co-founder Thomas Linzey puts it. It recognizes the real nature of regulatory bureaucracy is to assist top-down assaults on communities rather than restrain them. It rejects the notions of corporate property and rights in principle. It would exalt the rights of citizens, communities, and nature above these. It has assisted over 120 communities and larger towns in Pennsylvania, New England, and California in passing ordinances and/or drawing up constitutional charters asserting local democracy against corporate invasions. The largest action has been Pittsburgh’s law banning fracking within city limits. As I write Vermont is on the verge of banning fracking in the state. The Local Food Sovereignty ordinances passed in several Maine towns comprise a similar campaign. Meanwhile the movement of counties and towns banning GMOs goes back decades to Marin county in California, which was followed by Mendocino and Santa Cruz counties.
 
GMO labeling initiatives, such as those pending in California and Oregon, are another crucial form of this movement. Meanwhile state-level legislative attempts don’t work for this, as we’ve recently seen in Vermont and Connecticut. I’ll add that Label It Yourself is the direct action which should accompany all labeling initiatives. The California initiative, assuming the election isn’t rigged, will pass but won’t necessarily be enforced in the absence of unrelenting pressure from below, such as where this direct action alternative is not only mentioned but enacted.
 
(If it sounds inconsistent to be optimistic about Vermont’s anti-fracking law even as it just gutted its GMO labeling law, remember that most tactical precepts aren’t carved in stone. They need to be applied to specific circumstances. The Monsanto contingent is much stronger in Vermont than the pro-fracking forces, since it’s far from clear that there’s any fracking to even be done there.)
 
In Europe the Network of GMO-Free Regions has deployed a full range of tactics, from passing laws to directly destroying test plots. It’s developed into a Europe-wide confederation which now coordinates and mutually assists, achieving a great multiplier at every local point. This is just like the CELDF confederation goal, which I’ll describe shortly.
 
Other possible ordinances could deny bank or corporate ownership of land. In North Dakota corporations are legally prevented from owning farms. That’s a great model right there.
 
The General Public License for Plant Germplasm (GPLPG) is an attempt to bring the Creative Commons/general public license movement to the seed front, to contest corporate seed enclosure on its own battlefield. This kind of thing is at best a supplement to decentralized, confederated heirloom seed banking and direct action against proprietary seeds. Meanwhile Creative Commons, Copyleft, etc. comprise a good alternative to the intellectual property regime and self-defense against it, but are not a substitute for complete abolition of it.
 
Then there’s public interest lawsuits (which also have self-interest goals; as always, the right action is an inextricable mix of altruism and self-interest) like the anti-patent enforcement Monsanto lawsuit, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund’s (FTCLDF) suit against the FDA’s persecution of raw milk, and the recent Save Our Crops Coalition (SOCC) action against the USDA on Agent Orange corn. Predictably, even though they’re obviously right by common sense and according to the evidence, these suits are losing so far. Unlike in the case of the CELDF, the groups bringing these suits and coordinating the efforts seem to really hope to win in court, and that’s their main goal. They’re failing to use the lawsuits as participation/organization/education toward an alternative to the legal system as such. But as the CELDF shows, any such lawsuit could serve as a democratic vehicle.
 
The CELDF strategy isn’t meant to succeed according to the system’s own rules, but rather to provide a political and organizational framework for resisting the system’s depredations and for building a democratic relocalization movement. It’s not so much to level the playing field as to set up a new one.
 
Food sovereignty and positive democracy are, first of all, a set of principles. We must internalize it like the air we breathe, feel it assimilated to our very bodies, and experience any contradiction of it as an outrage. Every part of it is common-sensical and self-evidently moral and just. So we need to build the mindset, this is right. Then, wherever we see the system reject, resist, and repress it, we have a stark lesson in the illegitimacy of the system.
 
The CELDF isn’t naive about how well these ordinances and bills of rights are likely to fare in the system courts. The strategy doesn’t depend on “winning in court”. The plan is for communities to organize around their ordinances and constitutions, then confederate toward larger-scale constitutional conventions which would turn pre-emptive “federalism” right side up. So each community draws up its own bill of rights, and then this constitutional network is used toward building an amend-the-constitution movement. (Let me stress again, I don’t consider this sufficient, but it’s a piece of the overall movement strategy.) None of this is to say that the ordinances are “only” symbolic, or that we concede being ignored in court. This is just, this is the real law, this is the constitution, this is the right thing to do. Any legitimate court will uphold it.
 
Here’s the plan in their own words.
 

This idea that people have rights and that the state has no authority to license violation of those rights,
is the core principle, the underlying premise, for mounting a new civil rights movement for the legal recognition and protection of community rights…

The larger strategy behind organizing locally to assert rights has zero to do with relying on the courts. Adopting community rights ordinances and banning corporate activities that violate rights is an organizing strategy, not merely a legal strategy. The courts likely will not vindicate our rights; they may, on behalf of the corporations, strip them, as they have done for many years. But community rights ordinances force them to do so publicly, clearly, and not in a quiet blizzard of legal mumbo-jumbo hidden away from public attention or interest.

Exposing the oppressive conniving of state and corporate power publicly, in sharp contrast to the people’s
aspirations and sense of public justice – this is the legal goal.

Why take this route? If we are to have our rights stripped, let it not be because we failed to exercise them; let it not be because we surrendered them and settled for regulating the rate of destruction; let it not be because we zoned where our community rights could be denied, or because we adopted conditional use
regulations that amount to little more than terms of surrender. If we are to have our rights stripped by the state on behalf of wealthy and powerful corporations, let us expose it to the world as the tyranny that it is…

As it turns out, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There have been successful movements in the United States that have achieved constitutional change – including abolishing slavery and winning the right to vote
for women. Those movements didn’t focus on building a regulatory agency dedicated to regulating the number of lashes for slaves or new rules for how husbands should treat their wives – they focused instead on driving constitutional change by illustrating how the existing system was unjust and immoral. To do that, they broke existing law, forcing the system to punish them, as a clear, explicit, and public illustration of how the system functioned.

Northern juries violated the law by refusing to send slaves back to their owners, blacks sat at lunch counters
in violation of the law, women illegally cast ballots at voting places, and American revolutionaries illegally
declared their independence from England. Each of those actions served to illustrate how the existing system operated and what a new structure might look like. In the process, those actions galvanized people to join together to build movements that eventually undid the existing system permanently – not through the courts, but through changing the very structure of the existing system.

Eventually, there will be a thousand lawsuits just like the one in Blaine Township. And then a thousand more. As Frederick Douglass once noted, “power concedes nothing without demand.” We’ve become so obedient that we’ve forgotten how to refuse to submit to a structure of law that is harming us.

Some of those lawsuits may be appealed and, in others, elected officials will sacrifice their communities to
maintain the municipal treasury. Some cases may win, many will lose – but together, they will give birth to a
peoples’ movement that this country hasn’t seen since the late 1800s – a movement aimed at throwing off the authority that enables a small number of people to override community decisions dealing with energy, food, waste, and resource sustainability…

What’s the long-term goal of adopting ordinances?

Constitutional change. Since many of the doctrines – like corporate “rights,” for example, or corporate
commerce rights – are wrapped up in the constitution, State legislatures are powerless to change them (even if they wanted to). Thus, long-term, the ordinances aren’t really ordinances at all – they’re mini-constitutions which embody what constitutional change must eventually look like. To achieve that constitutional change, enough communities in enough places must begin to push-back against the structure of law, and then knit themselves together to drive changes to the state constitution, and eventually, to the federal constitution….

The inevitable result of these local refusals to follow illegitimate State law is the binding together of hundreds of municipalities to force constitutional change that overrides the authority of the State to gut community self-government. That means driving a right to local self-government into the Pennsylvania Constitution which enables our communities to begin to actually protect our health, safety, and welfare, rather than continuing to be at the mercy of gas and other corporations who solely seek to use our communities for resource extraction…

If your community hasn’t already adopted a local “bill of rights” that bans gas drilling, do it tomorrow. Without a critical mass of communities in Pennsylvania joining together, constitutional change that liberates our communities to determine their own futures will remain beyond our reach. And we will saddle our children with cleaning up the mess – and whatever is left of our communities and environment – that happened on our watch…

Here is no hypothetical calling of the corporate state to account. The question posed is this: What will lead to the exercise and protection of our unalienable rights, including the right to local, community self government? And the answer is: Nothing but the exercise and protection of unalienable rights through the exercise of our right to local, community self-government!

 
The activism of organizing and passing such laws, which are obviously more legitimate than the alien “laws” of the central government, and then having to fight against these alien forces for the simple right to rule ourselves, is intended to expose the truly tyrannical nature of the central corporate-government system and bring more people into the true federalist movement. That in turn will bring us to the point where we can change the Constitution, or achieve victory through bottom-up political attrition as the tyrants are unable to function once stripped of local support.
 
A goal here is to codify Food Sovereignty, positive democracy, and relocalization as explicit legal/constitutional principles. The more we go on record as wanting to redeem our democratic sovereignty, and the more the kleptocracy has to resort to brute lawlessness to assert its prerogatives, the more its true barbaric thug essence will be clear.
 
On a general level, all pro-democracy grassroots action is a tonic. Citizens are taking action, however small to begin with, directly against corporate and central government power. We’re answering “federal” arrogation and usurpation with our own version of pre-emption. We’re declaring that our people’s law supersedes, overrides, overthrows their illegitimate might-makes-right. We’re declaring the principles of true federalism, which is a vector opposed to all centralization and concentration. This is a value in itself.
 
If hierarchy and centralization ever made sense, it was only because the vast energy unleashed by the fossil fuel binge required them. By the same logic we must then recognize that post-oil, where the energy vector is toward far less consumption, and the economic vector is to relocalize, we must harmoniously refederalize political and economic power to the local/regional level. This is to obey the laws of history, as formulated here by the physical imperatives of energy and therefore of economics.
 
Constitutionalism means to govern according to the natural economic vector. Today that means Food Sovereignty, positive democracy, and relocalization. We don’t even have to dispute the motives of 1788. All we need to say is that its vector was the opposite of today’s. For that reason alone we have to turn it right side up.
 
As predicted, the system has so far been hostile to this effort. The earliest ordinance, an anti-mining ordinance in Blaine, PA, was forced to be repealed by corporate pressure. In response to the growing Pennsylvania insurgency the state legislature passed a pre-emption law which would turn the state into a veritable petrostate and fracking free-fire zone, with all democratic sovereignty legally abolished. In Maine prosecutors are carefully selecting a test case toward a more thorough assault on the local food sovereignty laws.
 
Where we fight this way, we force a more “de jure” demonstration of tyranny. Trampling a law is more easily understood by the masses than suppressing activism in general. In this sense, the movement’s use of laws and constitutionalism is a device to achieve better middle-class understandability. In this sense it’s educational, “symbolic”, movement-building. It states a “demand” which describes why citizens engage in direct action. In this way it supplements direct action. In the end it can only supplement direct action, not substitute for it.
 
The CELDF strategy and related actions are, in the end, trying to use these actions as exercises in direct democratic participation, as organizational campaigns, and to educate the public about corporate/government assaults on the people’s sovereignty and rights. (I call this POE: Participate-Organize-Educate.) The more we learn, the better organized we become, the more experience of democratic participation we get, the more of a taste for this participation we develop, the more we’ll build a movement which will actually fight for our food sovereignty, true democracy, and self-rule. Using the ordinance/bill of rights strategy as the vehicle toward attaining local power, within the official government as well as parallel sovereign councils, will be a self-perpetuating organizing process, and will also help build these quasi-governmental forms into real fighting structures which will render the assaults from outside and above less and less effective against us.
 
This stuff is important for anyone looking toward full transformation. The time isn’t yet ripe for a full-scale transformational movement. Occupy, for example, seems to be in a sophomore slump. We’re gradually, inexorably, but so far slowly building toward it. In the meantime, we need outlets for action, and we need our characteristic actions in the eyes of the public. Plus, most people will still need to try many sorts of “reform” before they finally realize that reformism does not and cannot work. While we do as much personal prepping, food-growing, reskilling and relocalization action as possible, and while we do all we can to propagate transformational ideas and evidence, we also need a suite of political action, right here right now.
 
We need actions which meet these criteria:
 
1. As bottom-up and relocalizing as possible.
 
2. On a vector toward abolishing the system.
 
3. Providing philosophical refutation of system sacred cows, and always explicitly refuting the system as such.
 
4. Affording real POE opportunities and execution.
 
This has to mean everyone’s on a vector and never stagnant. It means that every time a bottom-up reform action is smacked down, we must raise our aspirations and escalate our proclaimed goals. Above all, we must not keep doing the same thing that’s already proven to fail (the proverbial measure of insanity), and we must never regress. These comprise appeasement, which we know cannot work.