Overview of the Campaign to Transform the Corporation
Overview by Ronnie Dugger
(Oct. 2000)

Transforming the corporation to totally subordinate it to democracy is the most basic long-run work of the Alliance for Democracy. The Alliance mission is first "to end the domination of our politics, our economics, the environment, our information and our culture by large corporations, to establish true economic and political democracy..." The national action campaign to transform the corporation is one of AfD's four national campaigns.

For the first five years of the Alliance, our chapters, members, and working groups have been approaching this undertaking from many vantage points, much like the blind man figuring out that he is feeling an elephant. The campaign began to attain operational maturity nationally at the 1999 convention of the Alliance during programs on what kinds of future societies we want and became ideationally mature during talks and workshops on the issue at the Davis convention last summer.

We have a substantial working task force for this campaign and the perspective and work plan below is subject to on going to the deliberations and initial in-person meetings of the members. If your chapter would like to conduct research, networking, or forums on aspects of the campaign, that will be very welcome. If you would like to join this national task force, please so notify the chair, Ronnie Dugger, at rdugger123@aol.com or 781-894-9726, and the list of the other members and the programs of action will be provided to you. The work is research, strategy, programmatics, and action. The modes into which this protean campaign seems naturally to compose itself are eight-fold.

1. Specifically qualified persons, others qualified by movement work, and invited interested other parties, composing perhaps 10 or 20 persons, will meet quarterly for long-weekend mutual-education and working sessions. Subject-area foci which present themselves for these sessions are state and national corporate-political history, comparative national corporate systems, law and the corporation now, working people and the large corporation now, model remedial statutes, model remedial constitutional amendments, broader political and societal issues in the United States, and the enveloping issue of overall democratic shape which might be roughly characterized as anarchism v. democratic world government. The campaign task force will seek to include in these meetings forward-thinking leaders from the union and co-op movements so that the work sessions are rooted in contemporary working-life realities. Persons from the new anti-corporate university-student organizations might participate. Each person attending these meetings will be asked to undertake to produce a written work product, for example, perhaps a historical focus, a study paper on some feature of corporate behavior, or a draft statute or constitutional amendment.

The campaign's collective work product in view is a program and strategy, to be presented to the next Alliance convention for debate and approval, for achieving economic justice and deep democracy by transforming the corporation. The chair has posited, for the consideration of the campaign working group, the principle that while the campaign working group will be conferring collegially with and intellectually collaborating with other groups on this issue, this is an AfD project with the aim of producing, by democratic AfD procedures, a set of outcomes on the subject which express and represent the Alliance position. Needless to add, other organizations may choose to develop their own positions and/or to take up as their own part or all of the Alliance outcomes.

2. In time-conjunction with the quarterly meetings we posit two to four invitational conferences a year, open to the public, on ending corporate domination, probably based in law schools, with co-sponsorship by closely-allied organizations (we might hope, for example, for participation from the Council of Canadians, POCLAD, United for a Fair Economy, Rainforest Action Network, 180, interested unions, and local economic-justice and neighborhood-development organizations.)

3. The campaign is asked to consider developing a shift, or complexifying, of the AfD action foci, by adding, to the targets of our direct-action participations (international financial institutions at Seattle and Washington, the Congress in the Capitol Rotunda), corporate headquarters and facilities, transnational banks, and media corporations headquarters and local facilities--in short, going directly to the locations of corporate, finance-capital, and corporate-media power to make our direct-action statements.

4. As the Alliance is now resuming publication of Deep Democracy and is entering upon publishing a pamphlet series, the action campaign has in view the publication of signally important or suggestive papers and documents on transforming the corporation.

5. The transforming-the-corporation campaign needs to open a research and projects website. Corporate-focused research and information sites exist on email and the web. The ongoing work of the AfD website is a coordinated description of these, the ongoing development of reading resources, the permanent posting of basic research. Perhaps we also need a chat group.

6. On an 18-month or two-year run-up, we advocate, within the Alliance, that the focus of the next Alliance convention be transforming the corporation to save and deepen the democracy, with the program enriched by the learning and work products of the first two modes, and the convention called on to consider, debate, and make decisions on the policy issues here, and with focused workshops on what to do how in one's own communities to carry out this democratizing mission.

7. Chapters are invited to consider developing, on a model being developed by the Minneapolis chapter, "the Local Conspiracy," that is, a conspiracy to buy local and to not buy the products of egregiously-behaving big corporations. How this might work is best visualized by considering some local chapter undertakings: to define what is meant by "locally-owned small business," to do an inventory of such businesses along with co-ops, family and community-supported farms, and other local human-scale enterprises, to solicit participants in the local conspiracy who might put decals so announcing in their storefront windows or inside their car windows or on their car bumpers, perhaps even to develop a buy-local discount system for participants.

8. Finally, there is the matter of funding the work of the transforming campaign. We have obtained about $700 from sale of the paperback, Challenging Corporate Rule, which is about the petition to revoke the charter of the Union Oil Co. of California, and proceeds from further sales of it are similarly dedicated. Task force members need to decide the time and place for the first quarterly meeting (December?--January?) and who will attend, after which an agenda needs be drafted. One item on that agenda, no doubt, will be sources of funding for the ongoing work of the campaign--the costs of the quarterly work sessions and the forums, perhaps the formation of Economic Democracy Brigades as a foundation for funding applications, major donors who might concentrate on this part of the Alliance mission. This initial website statement will be sent to everyone now on the task force and a revised one later posted. At the in-person Council meeting in Waltham, MA, Sept. 29, task-force chair Dugger undertook to provide Council a written report from this campaign about Nov. 1.

Again: if you wish to add yourself to the campaign working group, as noted earlier please so notify Dugger at rdugger123@aol.com or 781-894-9726, and the list of the other members and the programs of action will be provided to you.