Ronnie Dugger: Some Lines of Action

Excerpted and updated from an address by Ronnie Dugger to the Alliance convention in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on June 7.


     Our country is in the Valley of the Shadow.

     Our people are afraid, and fear is being used to kill democracy.

     Possibly, the assassination of John Kennedy 39 years ago was a coup.  Definitely, the selection of the President by the Supreme Court in December 2000 was a coup.  From the day in January 2001 when William Rehnquist swore in George W. Bush as if he was the President, the federal government has been illegitimate. Everything Mr. Bush has done is illegal and the reach of his Presidency taints our very government as illegal.

   The mass murder of almost 3,000 persons on 9/11 is now being used by the illegal government to:

--Create a war psychosis among a people whose country is not at war

--Declare in the President's voice an endless war against elusive enemies

--Spy on citizens' political organizations and churches with no showing or claim that any crime has been committed

--Kill programs for the people while freeing the rich of taxes and literally repealing the estate tax

--Spend $400 billion of our money a year on the military, more than the 15 next most militarized countries in the world

--Go for Star Wars and control of the world with weapons from space

--Proclaim in our names a new military doctrine that our country will initiate the use of nuclear weapons to fight wars

--Proclaim in our names a doctrine of "strike first" military attack in or against any of 60 or more nations

--Repudiate the Kyoto treaty against global warming, kill the ABM treaty, continue as only one of the only two nations on earth that have not ratified the 1989 treaty on the rights of children

--Repudiate the International Criminal Court ratified by 76 nations and withdraw from all UN peacekeeping operations unless Americans are granted immunity from being charged with crimes against humanity

--Continue an oil-based energy policy that militarizes our foreign policy rather than stabilizing our national security with a shift to renewable energy and conservation

--And initiate “TIPS,” a massive Justice Department system setting citizens to spy on citizens just like such systems in Eastern Europe under communism. 

     Inexplicably, at the very time the system of gigantic-corporation domination is breaking in front of all of us, these usurpers of democracy are promulgating a raw, basisless new doctrine of aggressive attack anywhere we choose with any of our weapons including nuclear ones, with nary word or admission that we are thereby generating new hate and worse terrorists against us and opening ourselves to ruthless mass retaliation.

     We are not at war.  We cannot constitutionally go to war against any nation without a declaration of war by Congress, yet as if in our names too, the illegal Bush Administration is openly preparing to wage aggressive war against the 22 million people of the nation of Iraq, with "a coalition of the willing" or unilaterally if necessary, by bombing and invasion "from three directions" with 250,000 American troops to start, and probably by breaking the 58-year firebreak against the use of nuclear weapons.

     All this has happened about 20 years after the oligarchy, the plutocracy, of giant corporations and billionaires closed down democracy in the United States.  We no longer have an effective democracy.

     For if we have democracy, why don't we have national health insurance that the huge majority of us want?  Why can't we get honest elections free of corrupting interests' money, which the huge majority of us want?  Why, though the people own the airwaves, do the major corporations control, and sell as their properties, the radio and TV stations and networks?   Why are we about to wage an undeclared war against Iraq?  If we have a democracy, why don't we have an elected President?

     Raising the prospect of fascism now in America, we know we take a grave step.  Big corporations and big government militarized, governing together, equal structural fascism.  How real is American liberty and democracy?  Will it continue or vanish?  That is what is at test.

     But fascism requires two things:  a militarized government ruling in tandem with the major corporations, and the absence of civil liberties.  We are living with the first one, but we still have our liberties.  And there is resistance.  Committed together to nonviolence, we still have fighting room.  We are not yet a closed system of silence and fear under the power of government and the megacorporations welded together.  We have lost our democracy, but we still have our liberties for as long as we still have our courage. 

     That is why we are here together.  To globalize justice, not corporations.  To attack poverty, not any of 80 nations.  As Howard Zinn says, not to be the world's military superpower, but to become and to be the world's humanitarian superpower.

     When the Alliance began seven years ago, taking on giant corporations per se was practically unheard of.  We in the Alliance have been one of the few major causes of the paradigm shift to now, when the real subject has changed from two-party politics to subordinating the giant corporation to democracy and achieving economic democracy.

     We should try to help forge now a clear way through, to economic democracy and national modesty here, and economic justice and respite from war and terror among us all everywhere.  We can rejoice that so many have joined our call, now seven years young, to defeat massed corporate greed with democracy.  All power and credit to all of our allies, and our share, no more, to us.  And in this new situation we are to find our specific work to further advance our movement's work as a whole.

    At previous conventions we narrowed our active campaigns to four, on corporate globalization, transforming the corporation under economic and political democracy, national health insurance, and campaign finance reform.  The first three are now all movement-wide action causes, and while the campaign finance law just passed was two steps forward and three back, in substantial part because of the initiatives of Public Campaign and the Alliance for Democracy, public funding of federal elections is now a widely-supported cause.

     I suggest that there are two realms, one positive, and one synoptic, on which we can more saliently also focus.

     The one is economic democracy--in our chapters and in our networking, fostering and bringing further into being democratic, human-sized economic enterprises.

     Why not a solar panel in every yard, a solar array for your neighborhood?  Why not new chapters as study circles leading to actions?  Why not organize the uninsured by registering the patients at emergency rooms--why not a chapter composed entirely of the medically uninsured?  Chapters could organize a services exchange, a services bank.  What about a local conspiracy to buy from locally-owned businesses?  In Missouri and elsewhere AfD chapters have been instrumental in the formation of three food circles joining family farmers with local co-ops.  In Seattle Rev. Robert Jeffrey has invented an imitable model for community investment endowments for inner-city neighborhoods.

     Our most urgent new work, I believe, is outlined in AfD's prospectus for Equal Independent Allies, not an organization, but a communications center, Internet-based, for an optimally functional and effective local, regional, national, and global people's movement.  Following the lead of Jack VanderVen of the Cincinnati chapter, I suggest we form a consortium of four or five consanguine organizations to collectively formulate, obtain funding for, and put into practice, the movement’s communications center and sub-centers as Equal Independent Allies, while our chapters, and whole other organizations, adopt other nations to visit, study the NGOs of, and work with, first bilaterally.

     In the accelerating democratic showdown with big-corporate greed and power, the Internet is the break we needed.  Our new executive coordinator, Nick Biddle, is focused like a laser beam on our use of it for our own work and for this larger cause and requirement for our collective success.  Let's help him get this done now.

     As the first organization to use civil disobedience for campaign finance reform, our Democracy Brigades, in the Capitol, had their effect, as we were joined in jail by the likes of Bill McKibben, John Passacantando, Randy Hayes, and Doris Haddock.  What many of us have been into is nonviolent revolt, refusing, saying no, resisting, insisting, at some legal risk to ourselves, always nonviolently.

     Under the present deteriorating national circumstances we should try to develop actions on the model of Gandhi's noncooperation.  I believe that we also have to tighten up the entire movement so that our commitment to nonviolence comes to mean in practice anti-violence, the unwillingness to plan or network with any group or person that plans to use violence.

     Bush, the unelected President running the illegal government, openly plans to commit lawless aggressive war against the nation of Iraq starting next January or February.  From the Nuclear Posture Review that has been leaked, we must fear and anticipate that he also intends to use tactical nuclear weapons against Iraq.  That leaves us just six months to form together as a cohering, coherent national movement of organizations and demand that no such war be waged without a finding by Congress that it is mandatory for U.S. self-defense and a formal declaration of war by Congress.  This would be the first time in history that citizens in an orderly way in advance have opposed their government waging an aggressive war, but the realities here in our eyes and minds leave us no choice.

     As for the intermediate run, sitting up talking until 2 a.m. one morning, Ted Dooley and I were asking each other:  What can we do that's enough in this situation?--what, nonviolently, can we do, that will save the country and win for democracy?  Our thinking lubricated with a little single-malt, there arose from us, as if an idea rising up from two heads: Let's have millions of people, millions, occupy Washington in the summer of 2004, and stop the government.

     On the anniversaries of 911, this year and next, in league with several other organizations that have had the same idea, we should personally and in our chapters help arrange with co-sponsors town halls, or community or neighborhood meetings, to discuss 911 and what has followed, and to set up committees of correspondence among those who want to develop their community strengths as the basis of the strength of democracy.  As more and more of us, conferring through the communications center we are bent now to establish, can educate and act together, we should come together by the spring of 2004 in a massed nonviolent revolt in New York City.  That summer, we should accept the leadership of Martin Luther King once again, bring back Martin Luther King, and together with him bring into reality 36 years later his plan in the summer of 1968 for the Poor People's Encampment--in this emergency of fascism or democracy, we might call it the Plain People's Encampment--and peacefully occupy Washington, millions of us, for democracy, peace, and justice, for weeks, or months.

     So the one thing we must do by 2004 is cohere, because if we don't cohere, we won't be able to turn out millions in Washington in 2004.