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Corporate Colonization of the Left Message Has to Stop
By Bruce Gagnon
- The Minneapolis, Minnesota city council passed a version of the Bring Our War $$ Home resolution last week. St. Paul (MN) has already passed a similar resolution, and Duluth (MN) and Des Moines (IA) are expected to follow with similar statements. Many other cities across the nation, including Portland, Maine, have passed these same kind of resolutions. It is becoming clear that people want to connect the dots between endless war spending and fiscal crisis at home.
- But still some groups around the country who claim they want to save social programs refuse to make the connections to military spending. It is my opinion, and the opinion of many other grassroots leaders around the nation, that some NGO's refuse to include the military budget in their public articulation because the weapons industry unions and the Democrats don't want these links to be made. Just today one of my friends called an organizer in Maine and asked why their union sponsored protest event that was calling for tax increases on the rich was not also making the connection to the bloated Pentagon budget. The organizer told my friend that it is because of the "defense industry" unions in our state. They won't allow the links to be made.
- All across the country NGO's that get funding from foundations, or from wealthy individuals, that are linked to the Democrats are often not allowed to go near certain issues like the Pentagon budget, single-payer health care, Israel-Palestine, climate change and more. In recent years some so-called "progressive" foundations have been telling peace groups that they can't use the word "disarmament" any longer. Instead they have to use "arms control" because the Democrats don't want the grassroots clamoring for real disarmament. This "occupation" of the left's issue positions and public articulation is a form of corporate colonization of the progressive movement. This must end or we will never build an effective movement for change in this country and around the world.
- I expect to see this whole "issue control" situation come to a head during this coming year. With climate change and austerity budgets staring us in the face the independent left cannot cower in the face of these mainstream Democrat party operatives that serve as leaders of local non-profit groups but in essence have become "gate keepers" for the oligarchy as they help reduce our public discourse to the lowest common denominator that does not ultimately challenge the system.
- If the corporations and Democrats can control the money stream between funders and activists then the organizers get held hostage because they need the job in our declining economy. So they learn to shave the edges and over time they learn to stay away from the more independent organizers and groups that are not toeing the line. This essentially leads to splits in the movement and a bifurcation of the "progressive" message and demands that get made on the political system. The public gets confused. They wonder why the groups are not working together. No one wants to talk openly about what is really going on.
- I've seen this same story for years and usually those on the independent left are called disruptive and uncooperative if they try to bring these contradictions to light. But current realities are making it increasingly evident that we can't any longer afford to deny and sugarcoat these issues and happily a movement is springing up across the nation to face these challenges in a more direct way. It's about time.