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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/23/13

Building a Movement for Real Change

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There is an ongoing debate about how to build a movement capable of producing fundamental change in the US government and American society. As has been the case generation after generation, groups working on the effort have largely failed to adequately study movement history in order to avoid the mistakes of the past and learn from the successes. One important exception to this rule is When the World Outlawed War, a book by David Swanson about the mass movement after WW I to make war illegal by international treaty. That was spearheaded in the US by a war hawk-turned-diplomat and supported by groups around the country and then around the world who realized that if the vast majority of the citizens of developed nations worked together to make their will known, their governments could not easily refuse.

One of the key constituent groups of this movement was the religious community who all agreed that offensive war should officially be made an international crime. They put aside doctrinal differences and came together in the cause of liberty and justice for all of the Peoples of the world, which is of course the message that all the founders of the great religions of the world tried to impart to the billions of their followers. It is this kind of unity upon which a successful mass movement depends.

The movement was divided at one point when those who wanted to pass the law through the League of Nations butted heads with those who wanted to do it outside of the League by treaties ratified between individual nations. In the end it was the latter strategy that succeeded, but only because the two sides put aside their differences and supported each other as they pursued their individual strategies in parallel with each other.

We know of course that a strategy to end war that tries to use the United Nations as its vehicle is doomed to failure because of the undemocratic nature of the UN, where the most powerful nations retain the right to veto the will of the majority. The token representation of the rotating members of the Security Council is thus a sham. The only benefit of the Security Council is that the major powers provide a check on each other's excesses. Even that was not enough to stop the rape of Libya and the weakening of the Russian sphere of influence that is one leg of the balance of power or the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Soldiers For Peace International was conceived as a model for how to build a movement capable of forcing the US government to obey international laws against war.   Like the Occupy movement that came two decades later, Soldiers For Peace International was designed to be anarchical. Contrary to the popular perception, that merely means that there are no designated leaders. The advantages of this structure should be obvious by now. Without designated leaders the movement is not subject to being co-opted. Leaders can arise only on the strength of their ideas, which is their only source of support. They become in a sense a natural "aristocracy" but one that can only retain leadership by consistently putting the interests of the 99% over ego and personal interest.

Soldiers For Peace also depends on the leadership skills of those who understand military strategy and tactics, whether they are veterans or not. Make no mistake: We intend to go beyond mere protest and create the conditions for a peaceful, democratic Revolution that will free all people from the threat of enslavement in a permanent fascist New World Order. That can only happen if we develop a consensus behind each step in the strategy that develops in this way. Our Army is not dependent on imposing the will of a few leaders on those who volunteer to serve but on the willingness of foot soldiers to fight for a cause they believe in, regardless of the strength of the opposition of their corrupt governments or the divisive infighting of self-appointed leaders within the movment.

We are seeing a point in the budding American and world Revolution where we have to choose whether to proceed together or in tandem. We have no hope of success if we cannot agree to work together on our mutual goal. If we compete with each other for money or for "followers," we will find that we have none. As the Occupy movement has shown, in this worldwide democratic Revolution each of us must aspire and be given the opportunity to become leaders in our own right, to the best of our ability.

Millions of Americans have already decided that the key to establishing true democracy in the United States is passing a constitutional amendment that will cut off the source of corporate power at its root: The ability to choose the Puppets of their choice to represent their interests over those of We the People. That power rests on their ability to pay for the obscenely expensive political campaigns of those willing to sell their independence in exchange for working for the international corporate terrorists or at best to fight a losing battle against the endemic corruption that corporate rule has created.

The largest coalition in the abolition movement is Move to Amend, a hierarchically structured organization controlled by a few self-appointed "leaders" who dictate strategy and tactics to the huge coalition of groups they claim to represent. They have rejected all efforts of constituent groups and individuals to persuade them that depending only on their strategy of passing resolutions at the local and state level has no chance of success. Their most active spokespersons have repeatedly argued that Congress is so corrupt that it is useless to try and persuade its members to introduce and fight for an amendment that will accomplish our mutual goal of moving us a giant step forward in ending corporate rule.

There is a second coalition forming that has a different strategy. It is to make support for a strong constitutional amendment a campaign issue in every race in 2012 and beyond until we elect enough servants of the People to get the amendment passed. This strategy has been embraced by groups as diverse as Take Back America for the PeopleAbolish Corporate Personhood NowMove to Amend of OhioPublic CitizenFree Speech for PeoplePeople for the American Way, and Demand Progress. Take Back America and Abolish Corporate Personhood Now are working to develop a common strategy, while each of the other groups is encouraged to promote the Pledge to Amend campaign in any way of its choosing.

One of the other problems confronting those of us who are working for unity in the abolition movement is that some groups have chosen to back a particular amendment and bicker and backstab supporters of other versions. Move to Amend for instance backs an amendment that the Steering Committee wrote without allowing constituent groups to criticize or debate. Once more, the ugly head of elitism is threatening unity of the movement. The amendment they produced has been criticized by a number of constitutional lawyers and other experts on the topic, yet their response to this criticism is to ignore the concerns until they feel that their positions of influence are threatened, then attack the critics and attempt to isolate us.

The persistent disregard and outright rejection of the will of the members of a coalition that voluntarily puts their names in support of the efforts of those who start the coalition is the sure sign of a failed leadership. That is what all of us are fighting: failed leadership in Washington. If we cannot move forward together to create the critical mass needed to succeed in this nonviolent democratic Revolution, we will fail. Those who divide us are agents provocateurs, whether that is their intent or not. Those who challenge their autocratic ways are seeking to unite, not divide. As sovereign citizens we will continue to demand that our voices are heard so that others may have the knowledge of the variety of strategies and tactics they may choose to put their efforts behind.

There is no reason that we cannot choose to work on parallel tracks to get to the same objective. In choosing to dissociate Move to Amend from the rest of the movement, the Steering Committee risks undermining its own authority, which depends on the consent of those they purport to lead. I fully expect that in the end all will be forgotten in the flush of victory, but in the meanwhile I encourage the foot soldiers of the Revolution to choose for themselves what path to take. We are all headed to the same objective, after all.
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Rick Staggenborg, MD Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and regulate campaign finance. A constitutional amendment banning (more...)

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