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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/14/18

Knowing History is Key to Saying No to Corporate Rights

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"If we want to get out of the mess we're in, we better find out how we got into it." -- Mark Twain

Not sure Twain actually said that, but since so much witty wisdom is attributed to him, why not that one?

What could have been the Sage of Hannibal's advice is the premise behind the Real Democracy History Calendar, a daily description produced and distributed by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy [POCLAD] of exactly how we got into our many legal, political, economic and social messes -- and what is being done in response.

Thankfully, many people have heard by now of "corporate personhood," that nonsensical development in U.S. history that gradually gave corporations (or legal fictions as we like to call them) the constitutional rights of real human beings. Just as thankfully, a lot of people can tell you what calamities corporate constitutional rights have caused, which seem to be expanding by the day, and, as a result, are increasingly taking action to end them.

What a lot of people don't know, however, is that it took a monumental effort to unearth that history and evangelize what was learned -- over two decades of research and organizing in fact -- long before more recent accounts of corporate history have received media attention. That research makes up a fair amount of the raw material for the Real Democracy History Calendar.

Eschewing all book and movie offers, POCLAD now offers that Calendar free to anyone. It's sent by email every Monday morning and provides 1-2 listings per day of activities, events, quotes from prominent individuals and other occurrences (both past and recent) on the themes of democracy, human rights, corporate power and rule, and wealth in society (especially in elections).

POCLAD began in the 1990's to share the stories of those who came before us who struggled and organized to fundamentally resist the British "Crown" corporations through revolution, then defined and authorized corporate actions by granting and revoking corporate charters by legislatures and courts, and then organized against and sought authentic democratic alternatives to a wide range of corporate-friendly Supreme Court decisions that repeatedly applied the Bill of Rights and other constitutional rights to business corporations. POCLAD and a few allied groups also contrasted the ease by which corporations were granted corporate rights with the built-in racism, sexism and classism of the US Constitution where only white, men of property -- roughly 5% of the original inhabitants of the new nation -- constituted the We the People that have been so lauded in our culture. Every other group of people have spent decades, if not, centuries trying to secure a seat at the human rights table through organized social movements where they should have been all along if ours had been an authentic democracy from the beginning.

POCLAD's research, writings, workshops, retreats, gatherings and talks over the past near quarter-century, including publication of Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies in 2001, inspired countless individuals and several organizations to appreciate the importance of building a modern day democracy movement that is diverse, independent and powerful to end all corporate constitutional rights and create a real political and economic democracy.

The goals of the Real Democracy History Calendar are to inform, intrigue and inspire -- and to illuminate the reality that creating real democracy will not happen by changing any one politician, passing/repealing any one law or regulation, or reversing any single Supreme Court decision. It requires, rather, changing our political, economic and social culture -- one byproduct of which will be to democratize our legal structures through genuinely inclusive, multi-issue, nonviolent social movements.

To subscribe to the free Calendar, go to

A few entry examples of the Calendar's breadth of coverage:

- January 5, 2012 - The article, "Granting Corporations Bill of Rights Protections Is Not 'Pro-business'" is posted on the American Independent Business Alliance website.

"The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) says such a change would badly harm the majority of America's independent businesses. AMIBA's brief to the U.S. Supreme Court...argued that even with present limitations on corporate political power, large corporations have converted their economic power into political favors that consistently harm small businesses. "

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Greg Coleridge is Co-Director of Move to Amend. He previously worked for more than three decades with the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio where he educated, advocated and organized on a range of justice, peace, environmental and (more...)

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