REAL Democracy History Calendar: June 1 – 7

June 1

1833 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Harlan – “Corporations are not people”
In Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 78 (1906), he asserted, “in my opinion, a corporation – an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law – cannot claim the immunity given by the 4th Amendment; for it is not a part of the ‘people within the meaning of that Amendment. Nor is it embraced by
the word ‘persons’ in the Amendment. “

1993 – Environmentalists are going to have be like the mob, in “Who Will Tell the People?,” by William Greider, published on this date
“’The big corporations, our clients, are scared shitless of the environmental movement,’ [public relations executive Frank] Mankiewicz confided. ‘They sense that there’s a majority out there and that the emotions are all on the other side — if they can be heard. They think the politicians are going to yield to the emotions. I think the corporations are wrong about that. I think the companies will have to give in only at insignificant levels. Because the companies are too strong, they’re the establishment. The environmentalists are going to have to be like the mob in the square in Romania before they prevail.’” (William Greider, Who Will Tell The People?, p. 24)

2003 – Publication of “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan
“Over the past 200 years, all over the world but especially in the United States, legal systems have been changed to accomplish two limits: limit the legal liability of corporations, and give corporations the rights and protections of citizens….

“Individual corporations wield enormous influence over government policy-makers, communities, and entire regional economies, but the true measure of corporate power is the ability of the owners and managers of corporations to unite to influence political agendas and to subvert national and international law.”

June 2

1870 — “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” (later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation”), written by Julia Ward Howe published
The appeal was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. An influential feminist, Howe felt that women had a unique responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. Howe was unsuccessful in establishing a “Mother’s Day for Peace” celebration on June 2 of each year. The modern Mother’s Day is an unrelated celebration, established years later by Anna Jarvis.

1953 – Birth of Cornel West, American academic, author and activist
“American society is disproportionately shaped by the outlooks, interests, and aims of the business community — especially that of big business. The sheer power of corporate capital is extraordinary. This power makes it difficult even to imagine what a free and democratic society would look like (or how it would operate) if there were publicly accountable mechanisms that alleviated the vast disparities in resources, wealth and income owing in part to the vast influence of big business on the U.S. government and its legal institutions.”
From The Role of the Progressive Politics,” 1982

2014 – “Corporations Are Not People. Period” article by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Move to Amend National Director
“[S]imply overturning Citizens United will not solve much. Narrowing the solution while our movement is on the rise will guarantee that we’re left with a Band-Aid trying to cover a gushing headwound that is the current state of our democracy. We need to go deeper and make clear that only human beings can claim Constitutional rights…Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule — there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.”

June 3

1918 – Hammer v. Dagenhart [247 U.S. 251] Supreme Court decision – Commerce Clause double standard
The Court ruled that Congressional action to ban products manufactured by child labor from interstate commerce was an unconstitutional invasion of states’ rights. The issue was responding at the federal level to long hours and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions for children in many states.

During this same period, however, the Court repeatedly used the hammer of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause on behalf of corporations to overturn democratically enacted laws and rules intended to protect workers, consumers and the environment.

2013 — “The Right to Evade Regulation: How corporations hijacked the First Amendment” by Tim Wu posted article
“Fred Schauer of the University of Virginia calls such claims ‘First Amendment opportunism.’ Free speech is a cherished American ideal; companies are exploiting that esteem, as he puts it, ‘to try to accomplish goals that are not so clearly related to speech.’ The co-opting of the First Amendment has happened slowly, but not at all by accident. First, it was helped along by questionable court decisions. Today, it is being accelerated by a strange alliance between two groups: a new generation of conservative judges, who have repudiated the judicial restraint their forebears prized, and legendary liberal lawyers, like Floyd Abrams and Laurence Tribe, who, after building their reputations as defenders of free speech, are using their talents to deploy it as a tool of corporate deregulation.”

2015 – “New Zealand Now Recognizes ALL Animals As Sentient Beings!” posted article
“New Zealand has just set a great example to the world by recognizing what animal lovers have known forever- that our furry friends are as sentient as we are, and (obviously, dur) they have feelings just like we do. It’s a theme we have covered time and again here at True Activist, but this landmark ruling by NZ is the first time this shift in perception and policy has been extended to all animals, not just chimpanzees, orangutans, or dolphins. “The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, passed last month, aims to make it easier to prosecute people in animal cruelty cases, as well as banning animal testing and research.”

New Zealand Now Recognizes ALL Animals As Sentient Beings!

June 4

1738 – Birth of King George III, King of England
The systemic usurpations or seizures of the rights of colonists by the English King and Parliament were the major cause of the American Revolution. Besides Parliamentary Acts taxing colonial trade, those seizures occurred primarily through global trading corporations – such as the East India Company – and colonial corporations – such as the Massachusetts Bay Company, Carolina Company, Virginia Company, Maryland Company, etc. – that received charters or licenses from the King to engage in trade and/or to govern/oppress the colonists.

The Revolution was not simply one against George III, but also against global trading and Crown corporations.

2018 – “The Pushback Against Ending Corporate Rule” by Greg Coleridge posted article
“What’s going on? Why do so many individuals who acknowledge major harms by entrenched corporate power advocate only relatively minor solutions…
“Increased opposition to ending all corporate constitutional rights has focused on several major concerns — presented below with a response.
“Fears the corporate press and property would be legally defenseless against random government censor and seizure…
“Corporations need legal “rights” / protections to function…
“Reversing Citizens United and/or ending the influence of the wealthy and corporations in elections should be our only focus…
“Abolishing all corporate constitutional rights in this political environment is not realistic…

2018 – “Corporate speech impedes city’s right to create municipal utility” posted OpEd
“When you stop to think about it, what we experienced in Decorah is absurd. Leaders of an out-of-state, regulated monopoly used money they earned from our electric bill payments to run a deceptive campaign against our right to municipalize — a move that could have saved our community up to $5 million per year according to the NewGen feasibility study.

“Some argue that corporations have the right to protect their interests. I disagree. The institution of the corporation is a social construct. We the people created corporations to solve specific problems and benefit the public, for example to build a bridge or a turnpike. According to Reclaim Democracy, corporate charters “were granted for a limited time” and “corporations could engage only in activities necessary to fulfill their chartered purpose.” Since the inception of this construct, corporations have taken on a life of their own, like rogue robots in science fiction movies. But we the people gave the corporation its rights and we can revoke them.”

June 5

1967 – See v. Seattle [387 U.S. 541] Supreme Court decision – corporations protected from random inspections under the 4th Amendment
The Supreme Court grants corporations 4th Amendment protection from random inspection by fire departments. The Court framed the issue on the basis of “business enterprises,” corporate or otherwise. An administrative warrant is necessary to enter and inspect commercial premises. Without random inspections it became virtually impossible to enforce meaningful anti-pollution, health, and safety laws.
2008 – Judge rules Blackwater Corporation is a person
Blackwater Corporation sued the City of San Diego to force it to issue the company a certificate of occupancy for its training facility in Otay Mesa before the plan went through the city’s public review process. Blackwater claimed its constitutional due process rights had been violated and that it needed to open its training facility on time to meet its contractual terms. “Blackwater is a person and has a right to due process under the law and would suffer significant damage due to not being able to start on its $400 million Navy contract,” ruled U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff.

2019 – How to Arm Nature Against Corporate Profiteers
“Corporate powers—who have perverted law, logic and nature to have their lifeless profiteering entities declared “persons”—are aghast that Mother Nature not only has rights but those rights can be legally and morally superior to the claim that a corporation’s right to profit is absolute.”

June 6

2006 – Voters in Humboldt County, CA pass initiative to protect right to fair elections and local democracy
“Measure T: the Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy” was passed by a vote of 55% to 45%. The measure prohibited corporations from outside the county from bankrolling political campaigns. The measure made clear that Humboldt citizens do not believe corporations are legal people and that only humans have constitutional rights.

2018 – “Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Surprising Breadth” by Adam Winkler published article
“After the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the same-sex wedding cake case, there was fast consensus that the ruling was a “narrow” one. The court, commentators insisted, had avoided creating any meaningful precedent and punted on the big and potentially difficult questions in the case pitting the baker’s freedom of expression and religion against the same-sex couple’s civil rights and equality. Yet, while the justices certainly found a convenient way out—the court unexpectedly held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated the First Amendment free exercise of religion by expressing hostility to the baker’s religious beliefs—the decision has the potential to be quite broad.

“Although the justices never explicitly said so, the court seems to have quietly established that business corporations have religious liberty rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. If that is right, then Masterpiece Cakeshop could be a groundbreaking decision with profound reverberations in American law.

June 7

1954 – Death of Maury Maverick, U.S. Congressman from Texas
“Democracy to me is liberty plus economic security.”

2001 – Publication of “Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History & Strategies” by the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), edited by Dean Ritz
The book is considered by many to be a standard introductory book for anti-corporate activism.
“In these 70 essays, speeches, sermons and screeds, [the contributors] probe: corporations as ‘legal persons’; corporate social responsibility as a ploy; strategies for amending state corporation codes and challenging judge-made laws; and much, much more. This collection, which Howard Zinn calls ‘powerfully persuasive,’ chronicles POCLAD’s evolution – among the twelve POCLADers and with thousands of activists. Here are hidden histories, crisp analyses and thoughtful responses to corporate apologists – all in one provocative book.”

“From studying popular movements of the past we discover that men of property wrote their laws to protect themselves from too much democracy…[c]orporations today act in the capacity of governments. Energy corporations determine our nation’s energy policies. Automobile corporations determine our nation’s transportation policies. Military manufacturing corporations determine our nation’s defense policies…Corporations…outlawed control by local government over the “placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 25 – 31

May 25

1787 – US Constitutional Convention convenes
Convention delegates (all white, male, property-owners) had originally come together merely to amend the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. Constitution. Merchants opposed the powers of individual states under the Articles to define the terms of trade. The new Constitution transferred state powers regarding trade to the federal level – creating what many believed was the template for modern-day so-called trade agreements that seek to transfer power regarding trade from the federal level to the international level.

The Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Convention did not include the Bill of Rights, which later became the first 10 Amendments. Numerous other anti-democratic provisions of this Constitution are outlined at

2004 – Founding of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives at U.S. Conference of Democratic Workplaces in Minneapolis
“The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Our membership also includes democratic workplaces, cooperatives, developers and organizations that support worker cooperatives. In 2014, we will celebrate our tenth anniversary, with over 100 member workplaces across the country that are building a dynamic movement for democratic worker-ownership.

“Our mission is to create a thriving cooperative movement through the development of stable and empowering jobs and worker-ownership. We advance worker-owned, -managed, and -governed workplaces through cooperative education, advocacy and development…Our 100+ (and growing!) worker cooperative and democratic workplace members represent over 1600 individual worker-owners.”

May 26

1894 – Moran v. Sturges [154, U.S. 256] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them.

1924 –Immigration Act enacted
Also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, the law created an immigration quota system based on national origin favoring “Nordics” over the “inferior” races of Asia & Southern and Eastern Europe. Immigration of Africans was severely restricted. Arabs and Asians were banned outright.

May 27

1895 – Law intended to break up corporate monopolies used to break up labor strikes
Passed in 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act empowered the federal government to break up any corporation that prohibited economic competition. While its most widely notable use was the break up of the Standard Oil corporation in 1911, the Act was used almost exclusively for more than a decade after its passage against labor unions, which were deemed by the pro-big business courts as illegal combinations. The Supreme Court ruled in In re Debs 158 US 564 (1895) on this day that the Act could be used against interstate labor strikes (the railway strike of 1894 in this instance) because they were restraining trade.

1964 – Death of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian nationalist leader and first Prime Minister
“Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.”

1998 – Retired judge seeks to revoke the charters of tobacco corporations
Retired Alabama Judge William Wynn filed court documents (called a writ of quo warranto) to revoke the charters of five tobacco corporations and, therefore, should be dissolved. Acting as a private citizen, Wynn claims that Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, The Liggett Group, and Lorillard Corporations violated various long-standing state laws, including contributing to the dependency of a minor, unlawful distribution of material harmful to a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, assault in the third degree, recklessly endangering another, deceptive business practice, and causing the delinquency of a child.

The case was filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama but was transferred to federal court and then back again to the Circuit Court, where it was dismissed with no opinion provided for its dismissal. Both the governor and attorney general had close links to the tobacco industry.
The original case citation is William Wynn, ex. rel., v. Philip Morris, Inc. et al. 51 F. Supp. 2d 1232 (N.D. Ala. 1999). The federal court citation is 51 F.Supp.2d 1232

2019 – Online posting, “The Only Solution to America’s Political Crisis” by Paul Street
“’If we’re serious about popular sovereignty, we’ll stick around to “dismantle the corporate state’”

“If we, the people, are serious about stopping Trump, we’ll take to the streets en masse to engage in substantial and unrelenting civil disobedience. If we are serious about democracy beyond just the removal of a single noxious ogre, we won’t go home just because a narrow-spectrum, big money, major media candidate-centered election is being held on its regular, absurdly time-staggered, once-every-1,460-days schedule. We won’t go home even if Trump loses and agrees to leave without incident. If we’re serious about popular sovereignty, we’ll stick around to “dismantle the corporate state” (Chris Hedges) that birthed both Trump and the inauthentic opposition party (the neoliberal era Democrats), along with so much else that has long outlived its expiration date (i.e., the fossil fuel industry and the Pentagon system).”

May 28

1830 – Congress passes Indian Removal Act
Indigenous communities are forced from their homelands. Over 10 years, 100,000 native children and adults march thousands of miles west into unknown arid territory in Oklahoma. Fifteen thousand people do not survive the journey. However, over 25 million acres of land is made available for white settlers.

1892 – Sierra Club founded – establishes “Corporate Accountability Committee” in 1990’s
One of the oldest and largest environmental organizations in the nation, the Club established a “Corporate Accountability Committee” in the 1990s. The Committee looked beyond the behavior of individual corporations and toward the underlying constitutional rules (i.e. Supreme Court decisions) that give them their power. Through talks and workshops, the Committee also explored democratic strategies in response to growing corporate rule, specifically revoking corporate charters. Ruth Caplan and Jim Price were among the Committees initiators.

2014 – Death of Maya Angelou, American poet, writer and civil rights activist
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of things unknown, but longed for still,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
From: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

May 29

1911 – United States v. American Tobacco Co [221 U.S. 106] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them. The Court held that the corporation engaged in a restraint of trade and attempted to monopolize the business of tobacco in interstate commerce, a prohibition of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The company was split into 4 competitors

2004 – Death of Archibald Cox, Solicitor General under President Kennedy and Watergate Special Prosecutor – on Supreme Court power
The power of the U.S. Supreme Court is “unique in judicial history…no other country has given its courts such extraordinary power.”
From The Court and the Constitution, 1987, p 44-45.

May 30

2003 – Article published this month “How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy” by Kimberly French
“In 1995 [Ward] Morehouse and Richard Grossman cofounded a think tank called the Program on Corporations, Law, and Democracy (POCLAD), a project of CIPA. They invited a dozen fellow activists to join them. Their primary tool has been weekend retreats they call rethinks, short for Rethinking Corporations, Rethinking Democracy. The workshops bring together twenty to twenty-five activists who live near each other or work on similar issues. Over the past decade, POCLAD has conducted several hundred of the retreats all over the country and is now training others to lead them.

“Morehouse and Grossman never set out to become experts on corporate history and law. But they have concluded that, to effect any lasting change, that is where activists must focus their energy.

“Morehouse calls movements that simply ask corporations to behave better, such as socially responsible investing, social auditing, business ethics, or wise use, accommodations to corporate power. ‘It’s not . . . ‘good corporate citizenship’ that sovereign people must seek. Those phrases are contradictions in terms and diversions from the public’s central task to become unified enough to exert citizen authority over the creation, structure, and functioning of all business enterprises,’ Morehouse and Grossman write in the POCLAD anthology Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy.”

2019 – Online posting, “FOOD FREEDOM” about corporate agribusiness
These same interests, helped by certain banks and dummy farm organizations, launched the “Right to farm” Constitutional Amendment 1, which in August 2014 asked voters to guarantee the right of Missouri citizens to engage in “agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed.” Seeing the coming train wreck in Europe, Big Money launched a national campaign to keep the system rigged in their favor for all time. Now here’s the rest of the story:

“Corporate agriculture sought to carve out constitutional protection for one special industry – its own. It’s important to note that the ‘Right to Farm’ scam didn’t start in Missouri. It’s part of a coordinated, nationwide effort by Big Ag and the administrative Deep State, to give a free pass to corporate agriculture. ‘Get Big or get out!’ has been the corporatist policy since the earliest days of Allen Dulles.

A Small Medium @ Large

May 31

1904 – Terre Haute & I.R. Co. v. Indiana [194 U.S. 579, 589] Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This is one of them. The railroad corporation invoked the 14th Amendment in its defense.


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 18 – 24

May 18

1896 – Plessy v. Ferguson [163 U.S. 537] Supreme Court decision – “Separate is equal”
The Court ruled in this landmark decision that state laws enforcing separate accommodations by race are constitutional if the accommodations are equal. Black males effectively lost 14th Amendment rights (which by that time had been granted to corporations) and much access to the “white world.” The decision legalized “Jim Crow” laws.

Justice John Marshall Harlan was the lone dissenter, asserting “separate” was not “equal:” …”Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

1973 – Death of Jeannette Rankin, first women elected to U.S. Congress
“Establish democracy at home, based on human rights as superior to property rights!”

May 19

2000 – Talk by Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principal, at End Corporate Dominance Conference, Portland, OR
“I’d like to introduce three realms of our work where these roots must play a critiquing and clarifying role if we are to celebrate true rather than false victories.

“The first realm is associated with how we take things in: how we listen, our habits of noticing, our care in reading and commenting. We can learn and we can teach only that for which our receptors are tuned…

“The second realm to which roots and rigor must be brought to bear is in the kind of strategies we design into our campaigns against corporate power. These strategies need to reflect an understanding of the current “rule of law” that puts We the People subordinate to the propertied few organized in their corporate forms, and they must reflect our commitment to reversing that law…

“The third realm to which we must bring critically fundamental thought and feeling relates to our vision of what is possible. For us to propose that people have the capacity for true, inclusive, democratic self-governance is to place ourselves within a worldview and set of assumptions wholly contradictory to the patriarchal worldview that brought us our present earthly and human predicament… Without the opportunity to effectively engage this conversation, people will flounder, will be highly skeptical that anything better is possible from us human beings.”

May 20

1862 – Homestead Act signed by President Lincoln
“Fifty million acres of formerly indigenous land in the west having been violently invaded by US soldiers in violation of treaties is distributed by the government at low cost to white settlers only and 100 million acres of indigenous land are given for free to railroad developers.”

1915 – Death of Charles Francis Adams, author and soldier
“The system of corporate life is a new power, for which our language contains no life. We have no word to express government by monied corporations.” (Charles Francis Adams, A Chapter of Erie, 1869)
[Note: Just a friendly reminder to those who think the major corporate influence on government began with the Citizens United 2010 decision]

2004 – Posting of article “Abolish Corporate Personhood” by Jan Edwards and Molly Morgan
“Corporations are whatever those who have the power to define want them to be to maintain minority rule through corporations. As long as superhuman “corporate persons” have rights under the law, the vast majority of people have little or no effective voice in our political arena, which is why we see abolishing corporate personhood as so important to ending corporate rule and building a more democratic society. When the Constitution was written and corporations were part of the government, having duties to perform to the satisfaction of the people, the primary technique for enforcing minority rule was to establish that only a tiny percentage could qualify as “We the People” – in other words, that most people were subhuman. As different groups of people struggled to become persons under the law, the corporation acquired rights belonging to We the People and ultimately became superhuman, still maintaining an artificially elevated status for a small number of people….”

Abolish Corporate Personhood

”’Time and time again, Veolia is shirking responsibility when it comes to mismanaging these water systems,’ said Alissa Weinman, national campaign organizer for Corporate Accountability, which pointed to the industry’s failure to protect against lead in Flint and Pittsburgh back in 2016. According to Weinman, the growing number of cities that struggle to maintain their water systems are particularly vulnerable to the promises of private water companies. ‘Veolia is preying on cities that aren’t getting the federal investment they need to upkeep their systems.’”…

“As the Trump administration plan is being hashed out, more private companies will likely profit off public water systems. Yet when something goes wrong with their provision of basic services, the public has little recourse other than to end their contracts, according to Barlow. ‘It’s very hard to hold a private corporation accountable for this or any other kind of travesty,’ she said. “Governments make bad decisions too, but we can hold them accountable” by voting them out of office.”

May 21

2012 – Baltimore City Council supports abolishing corporate personhood
The City Council of Baltimore passed a resolution in favor of a constitutional amendment ending the doctrine that corporations should be deemed legal persons.

2018 – Supreme Court upholds agreements that prevent employee class-action suits
“The Supreme Court’s decision Monday allowing employers to keep employees from joining together in wage and hour disputes could have a dramatic and lasting impact on the American workforce.

“In a 5-4 ruling, the justices said arbitration agreements that bar employees from joining together in arbitration or a class-action lawsuit to settle labor disputes are enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act…

“Worker rights advocates denounced the decision, fearing it will make it harder for employees to sue their employers for lost wages.

“They also warned the ruling will likely lead to more businesses placing “take it or leave it” clauses in their contracts, meaning people will have to waive their right to join a class-lawsuit before they can even get a job.”

2018 – “The Coming Collapse” published article by Chris Hedges
“The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.”

May 22

1898 – Death of Edward Bellamy, on private vs public power in “Looking Backward”
“Looking Backward” was a utopian novel written in 1888 set in the year 2000. From the book: “The records of the period show that the outcry against the concentration of capital was furious. Men believed that it threatened society with a form of tyranny more abhorrent than it had ever endured. The believed that the great corporations were preparing for them the yoke of a baser servitude than had ever been imposed on the race, servitude not to men but to soulless machines incapable of any motive but insatiable greed. Looking back, we cannot wonder at their desperation, for certainly humanity was never confronted with a fate more sordid and hideous than would have be the era of corporate tyranny which they anticipated.”

From the book’s introduction by Professor W.J. Miller: “Reading Bellamy, history buffs readily recognize Nationalist principles in twentieth-century social legislation. One typical instance of a Bellamy principle that bore fruit: He had urged the government to set up federal corporations to discover whether non-profit industries could serve humanity better than private companies did. Along these lines the New Deal created the Tennessee Valley Authority. One of its functions was to serve as a ‘yardstick,’ to measure actual costs of generating electricity against the prices charged by utilities run for profit.”

1967 – Death of Langston Hughes, American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist
“Democracy will not come today, this year, nor ever, through compromise and fear.”

1989 – Former Vice President Dan Quayle on freedom and democracy
“I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.”

2018 – Posted article, “Epic Distortion: Neil Gorsuch’s ruling on mandatory arbitration clauses doesn’t reflect the reality of American labor relations”
“In 2013, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a widely condemned opinion holding that federal law allows corporations to insulate themselves from antitrust suits by forcing potential litigants into arbitration, shielding their monopolies from judicial scrutiny. Scalia did not pretend that his ruling helped anybody except monopolists—and in dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wryly commended his candor. Thanks to that ruling, she wrote, ‘the monopolist gets to use its monopoly power” to deprive “its victims of all legal recourse.’ The upshot, she explained, is ‘admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad.’

“On Monday, Justice Neil Gorsuch issued a sequel to Scalia’s infamous decision that took the opposite rhetorical tack. Writing for the majority in the Supreme Court’s 5–4 ruling in Epic Systems v. Lewis, Gorsuch presented mandatory arbitration clauses—which prevent employees from suing employers collectively in court—as genuine ‘agreements’ that workers enter into freely and may even favor. This framing is wrong and dishonest. It ignores the reality of labor conditions, falsely implying that workers have real bargaining power to reject arbitration clauses. And it seems to rest on a discredited theory of economic freedom that underpins the Supreme Court’s most notorious pre–New Deal decisions, rulings that purported to safeguard workers’ liberty while undermining their ability to protect their own rights.”

May 23

1838 – U.S. troops begin forced removal of Cherokees from their land
“On December 29, 1835, chieftain Major Ridge and his faction , only a minority of Cherokees – signed The Treaty of Removal, ceding all of their territory east of the Mississippi river for 5 million and pledging to move within two years. However, by the May 23rd, 1838 deadline, few Cherokees had actually evacuated. As a result, the United States Army forcibly removed the remaining Cherokees in what would later be referred to as the “Trail of Tears.’ In response, the Cherokee Council executed chieftain Ridge as a traitor. He was not the only casualty; by the end of the removal, 4,000 Cherokees lost their lives. This event is significant both in its demographic consequences, and the nation’s general disregard for Native American welfare.”

1933 – Articles of impeachment presented in the U.S. House of Representatives against the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Officers and Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, the US Secretary of Treasury and others for their collusion in causing the Great Depression
US Congressman Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee, introduced the Articles of Impeachment. McFadden stated,

“The Great Depression was not accidental; it was a carefully contrived occurrence… bankers sought to bring about a condition of despair here, so that they might emerge as rulers of us all.

“We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Banks. Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are U.S. government institutions. They are private credit monopolies; domestic swindlers, rich and predatory money lenders, which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers….The truth is, the Federal Reserve Board has usurped the Government of the United States by the arrogant credit monopoly, which operates the Federal Reserve Board.”

1978 – Marshall v. Barlow [436 U.S. 307] Supreme Court decision – corporations are protected by 4th Amendment
The Court ruled that corporations have the 4th Amendment right to require the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to produce a warrant to check for safety violations.

May 24

1941 – Birth of George Lakoff, Professor, cognitive linguist, author of “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”
“[There is much that is unframed by the general public that needs to be framed…runaway wealth to the wealthy…runaway climate change…[and] runaway privatization of public resources. But there is an important framing that is beginning to catch on: The Constitution applies only to human beings. Conceptual metaphors have no legal standing.”

1976 – Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976) Supreme Court decision – advertising is free speech
The Court declared unconstitutional a Virginia law that prohibited price advertising of prescription drug. The Supreme Court protects commercial speech. Advertising is now free speech.

1999 – Supreme Court affirms corporate 5th and 14th Amendment rights
A corporation wanted to develop a residential complex on ocean front property in Monterey, California. Public officials rejected the application based on various laws protecting the human and natural community…and in response to wide public pressure. The corporation eventually sold the land to the state of California for a profit. It then sued Monterey for violating its “corporate rights” under the Takings, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The court ruled in favor of the corporation on the first two claims and awarded it damages of $1.45 million paid from city funds.

The case was Del Monte Dunes at Monterey, Ltd. v. City of Monterey, 95F.3d 1422 (9th Cir. 1996), aff’d, 526 U.S. 687

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 11 – 17

May 11

1935 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration (REA)
The REA was created to supply electricity to rural areas of the country that private electricity corporations ignored since it wasn’t profitable. Neighbors joined together in rural areas to create cooperatives that borrowed money from the REA to build electrical systems.

As late as the mid-1930s, nine out of 10 rural homes were without electric service. By the mid-1950’s, more than 90% of U.S. farms had electricity. About 99% of our nation’s farms today have electricity thanks to locally owned rural electric cooperatives sparked by REA loans.

May 12

1937 – Birth of comedian George Carlin
Carlin on the American Dream:
“Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice! You have owners! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls.

“They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want: They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests…

“It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”

George Carlin on the American Dream (with transcript)

1944 – Birth of Chris Patten, British politician — on democracy
“In a democracy everybody has the right to be represented, including the jerks.”

May 13

1819 – Birth of Walt Whitman, American poet
“Did you … suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction … in religion, literature, colleges and schools: Democracy in all public and private life.”

May 14

1940 – Death of Emma Goldman, anarchist and feminist
“Democracy must first be safe for America before it can be safe for the world.”

“The history of progress is written in the blood of men and women who have dared to espouse an unpopular cause, as, for instance, the black man’s right to his body, or woman’s right to her soul.”

2012 – “Colonized by Corporations” article by Chris Hedges published
“We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense…

“A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process…”

May 15

1911 – Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States [221 U.S. 1] Supreme Court decision
The Court ruled that the petroleum giant was engaged in monopolistic practices and ordered that the company be broken up into 34 separate oil companies that would compete with one another. Standard Oil Corporation had previously escaped attempts to revoke its corporate charter by the Republican Attorney General in its original home state of Ohio for forming a trust, a violation of its charter or license. Standard Oil subsequently left Ohio for New Jersey where the laws were more corporate friendly.

Justice John Marshall Harlan concurred in the result but dissented claiming it was not definitive:
“Taking this language, in connection with other parts of the opinion, the subsidiary companies are thus, in effect, informed—unwisely, I think—that although the New Jersey corporation, being and illegal combination, must go out of existence, they may join in an agreement to restrain commerce among the states if such restraint be not ‘undue’…
“All who recall the condition of the country in 1890 will remember that there was everywhere, among the people generally, a deep feeling of unrest. The nation had been rid of human slavery, fortunately, as all now feel, but the conviction was universal that the country was in real danger from another kind of slavery sought to be fastened on the American people; namely, the slavery that would result from aggregations of capital in the hands of a few individuals and corporations controlling, for their own profit and advantage exclusively, the entire business of the country, including the production and sale of the necessaries of life. Such a danger was thought to be then imminent, and all felt that it must be met firmly and by such statutory regulations as would adequately protect the people against oppression and wrong. Congress, therefore, took up the matter and gave the whole subject the fullest consideration.”

2015 – “Oldest Person in the World Turns 129″ Mike Ferner and Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principals, published this month
“The ins and outs of this story…make two things perfectly clear: 1) the conflict between public and private interests has been ongoing since the nation was founded and 2) ‘The law’ is not something handed to us on stone tablets, but is an evolving interpretation serving the interests of those who have the power to make it stick.

“That’s why this democracy business is so damn important.”

May 16

1918 – Congress passes Sedition Act to suppress wartime dissent
The law extended the Espionage Act of 1917 by further stifling the expression of free speech. It outlawed the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the United States government – including the U.S. flag, armed forces and war effort in Europe and at home. Those convicted under the act generally received sentences of imprisonment or from five to 20 years.

2010 – March of the Monahans cross-country walk for Democracy begins
Laird and Robin Monahan left San Francisco in their trek across America to educate people and protest the January 21st Citizen United Supreme Court decision. This ruling by five unelected Justices, invalidated decades of democratically-passed campaign finance legislation by federal and state legislators and upheld by previous Supreme Court rulings.

The brothers from Minnesota engaged directly with people in communities across the nation advocating for a Constitutional amendment to end corporate “personhood” and money defined as free speech. They marched 3072 miles in 158 days, ending their “Walk Across America for Democracy” by crossing the Potomac River into Washington, DC, rallying with supporters in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol Building on October 20.

2014 – Premiere of “Sound from the Bench,” composed by Ted Hearne, Pulitzer Prize runner up
“Sound From the Bench is a reaction to Jena Osman’s incredible book ‘Corporate Relations,’ a collection of poems that follows the historical trajectory of corporate personhood in the United States. The five movements combine language taken from landmark Supreme Court Cases with words from ventriloquism textbook.”

May 17

1954 – Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka [347 U.S. 483] Supreme Court decision
This landmark unanimous decision proclaimed that segregating public schools was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling invalidated the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision. Separate was no longer considered equal.

The decision was the product of a long campaign by civil rights organizations and activists. It was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement and served to inspire subsequent legal and social movement activism over the next decade.

2000 – Publication of “Labor Organizing and Freedom of Association” by Peter Kellman
“Freedom of speech plus freedom of assembly equals freedom of association. It works like this: a group of people want to form a corporation. They call a meeting (freedom of assembly) and discuss (freedom of speech) their options and decide they want corporate recognition. Then they send a representative to the state capital and file some papers. That’s it. Their corporation is recognized by the rest of the society. No cards are signed; no campaign is waged; no one gets fired; and no election. Just recognition. In this country forming a corporation is a protected activity. It is a right. Getting a corporation to recognize a union is not a right; it is not a protected activity…If we want to associate to organize, to exercise power, we need to change some fundamental relationships in our society.”

2017 – “An Informed Public Threatens Those in Power, But Our Public Is No Threat” published article by CELDF
“In many ways, the Trumpians are right on the money. Past movements in this country have all been about trying to morph the “America” that was set into stone by the white, wig-wearing new aristocrats of the 1780s. Those one-percenters who gathered in Philadelphia to write a new constitution so distrusted “we the people” that they created constitutional provisions elevating corporate commerce above democratic control, while diluting the authority of people to choose their own governments.

“In striving to make a new world, past movements had to untangle the “founding violence” that made women property, endorsed and protected slavery, and enshrined a centralized form of government that was very much about white privilege and the protection of those with property and wealth.

“We must do the same. But the first mountains to climb reside in our own heads. We must grapple with the fact that we don’t even know the scope of the problem that we face. Until we take time to figure that out, a new way of life will remain beyond our reach.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 4 – 10

May 4

2014 – Launch of Cooperation Jackson
Cooperation Jackson is an emerging vehicle for sustainable community development, economic democracy, and community ownership.

Our vision is to develop a cooperative network based in Jackson, Mississippi that will consist of four interconnected and interdependent institutions: an emerging federation of local worker cooperatives, a developing cooperative incubator, a cooperative education and training center (the Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development), and a cooperative bank or financial institution.

Cooperation Jackson’s basic theory of change is centered on the position that organizing and empowering the structurally under and unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from Black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.

May 5

1911 – Birth of Edward J. Devitt, United States Senior District Judge District of Minnesota, author of article “Your Honor” in “Handbook for Judges”
“Being called ‘Your Honor’ day in and day out is a constant reminder, not alone of the prestige of the office, but more importantly of the tremendous power and heavy responsibility and absolute independence of the federal judge.

“We are practically immune from discipline or censure or supervision. We cannot be defeated at an election or discharged by a superior…By striking down many government decisions…the Supreme Court has established itself as a major participant in the policy-making process.”
“Handbook for Judges,” Glenn R. Winters, ed. (The American Judicature Society, 1975)

2003 – UU WORLD May/June issue “Does He Have More Rights Than You Do?” published this month
The Unitarian Universalists become the first religious denomination in the US to devote an entire issue of their monthly magazine to the issue of corporate personhood as it relates to self-governance. The whole issue is worth reading:

May 6

1882 – Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act
The law banned Chinese immigration of both skilled and unskilled workers for ten years. It was renewed in 1892 and made permanent in 1902. It was repealed in 1943.

2015 – “Amending the US constitution: the political rarity that’s suddenly in vogue” published article
“Constitutional experts say an increase in activity could coincide with the influential campaign for a balanced budget, which claims to be within seven states of the two-thirds majority of state legislatures needed to trigger an alternative method for seeking amendments…Triggering a convention is still an enormous long-shot and one that could be easily blocked by challenges in the supreme court, yet its possibility highlights the extent of legal uncertainties….’Nobody has really thought hard about any of these issues – it hasn’t come up since 1789 – and nobody is paying much attention to it right now,’ adds Seidman. ‘But that’s a possibility that would shake a lot of things loose. It’s possible such a convention would consider things like campaign finance.’…That would certainly please the other grassroots movements pushing hard for an amendment that sees the dominance of corporate money in politics as just the sort of issues the founders expected to see tackled…One such group is called Move to Amend. It seeks to reform campaign finance by removing the protected status of corporations which it says lies at the heart of the 2010 supreme court ruling that political campaign spending is a form of free speech protected by the first amendment.

2019 – Online article, “Creeping Toward Tyranny” by Chris Hedges
“The mechanisms that once made democracy possible have withered and died. We no longer have elections free of corporate control; real legislative debate; an independent press rooted in verifiable fact that lifts up the voices and concerns of the citizens rather than peddling conspiracy theories such as “Russiagate” or cheerleading for disastrous military interventions and occupations; academic institutions that vigorously examine and critique the nature of power; or diplomacy, negotiation, détente and compromise. Puffed up by self-importance, intoxicated by the ability to wield police and military power, despots and their grotesque courtiers are freed with the collapse of the rule of law to carry out endless vendettas against enemies real and imagined until their own paranoia and fear define the lives of those they subjugate. This is where we have come, not because of Trump, who is the grotesque product of our failed democracy, but because the institutions that were designed to prevent tyranny no longer function.”

May 7

1936 – Birth of Virginia Rasmussen, POCLAD principal
“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

“Gender and Global Corporatization” article by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick
The article originally appeared in Peace & Freedom (Spring 2000), a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Click to access sPeaceAndFreedom2000Spring.pdf

1879 – Ratification of California Constitution – on public power over corporate power
“The exercise of the right of eminent domain shall never be so abridged or construed as to prevent the Legislature from taking the property and franchises of incorporated companies and subjecting them to public use the same as the property of individuals, and the exercise of the police power of the State shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State.” (Article XII, Section 8)

2014 – Survey: Broad Bi-Partisan Support for Supreme Court Reforms
A national survey on the Supreme Court concluded that just 35% of respondents gave the Court a positive job performance rating and a strong majority believes that Justices are influenced more by their own personal beliefs and political leanings than by a strict legal analysis. A huge majority, 74%, believes there should be a fixed term of 18 years for Justices. Larger majorities would require Supreme Court Justices to follow the U.S. Judicial Code of Conduct – the ethical code that binds other federal judges from which they are currently exempt (85%) and for Justices to disclose any outside activities paid for by others (80%).

May 8

1899 – Birth of Friedrich A. Hayek – economist, social theorist and political philosopher
“Nowhere has democracy ever worked well without a great measure of local self-government.”

2014 – “And What Do We Do Now?” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal, published this month
“Now that most people perceive the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be over… will this legion of tenacious, tireless citizens from backwoods, big cities and everything in between, redirect their energies and skills?…

“Today, unlike the period following the war in Viet Nam, there is a movement that has a clear, fundamental goal that addresses these questions and a strategy to achieve it: to greatly expand democracy so that we the people, not corporations, do the governing; so our elections aren’t sold to the highest bidder; so private interests can’t determine national policy in healthcare or education or energy…or war.

“What I’m talking about is, a national grassroots campaign to amend the U.S. Constitution to remove corporate money from elections and end the insane practice of giving the legal fictions we call corporations the same constitutional rights as real human beings…

“Personally, I’ve been a chump on defense long enough and I’d like to start winning for a change. Move to Amend is the only game I know of with a vision to change the rules of the game so that “winning” actually means we start running the show, not just rejoicing that we’ve stopped a weapons system or elected Tweedledum instead of Tweedledummer.”

May 9

2010 – Mother’s Day (it’s May 10 this year)
Anna Jarvis held the first “Mother’s Day” in 1908, a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, at St Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Ann Reeves Jarvis had been a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and created “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to address public health issues.

Although Jarvis successfully founded Mother’s Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday. By the early 1920s, Hallmark Cards and other companies had started selling Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis believed that the companies had misinterpreted and exploited the idea of Mother’s Day, and that the emphasis of the holiday was on sentiment, not profit. As a result, she organized boycotts of Mother’s Day, and threatened to issue lawsuits against the companies involved. Source: Wikipedia.

May 10

1823 – Birth of John Sherman, US Senator of Ohio on Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890
The federal law trumped much stronger anti-trust laws that had already been passed by many states.

His words in support of the Act: “[P]eople are feeling the power and grasp of these combinations, and are demanding of every State Legislature and of Congress a remedy for this evil, only grown into huge proportions in recent times… You must heed their appeal, or be ready for the socialist, the communist and the nihilist.”

1886 – Yick Wo v. Hopkins [118 U.S 356] Supreme Court decision
The Court ruled that aliens (persons living in the U.S. who are not citizens) are protected by the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment

1886 – Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad [118 U.S. 394] – corporations first granted corporate “rights”
“The Court does not wish to hear argument on the question of whether the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does.”

This statement by the Court before the hearing meant “corporations” were included in the word “person” in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case was ultimately decided on other grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court reiterated and reinforced the Santa Clara “corporate personhood” ruling in more than twenty different cases.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 27 – May 3

April 27

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson on helping business corporations
“We haven’t done anything for business this week — but it is only Monday morning.”
— speech to U.S. Chamber of Commerce

2009 – Comment by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin – banks own Congress
“And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”

What was a refreshing bit of true reality in 2009 is even truer today. The finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector tops all sectors in political campaign contributions (or are they investments?) to Washington politicians. The return on their investments are substantial – no indictments of top bankers responsible for the 2008 sub-prime crisis and financial implosion, bailouts galore…and, of course the continuation of the license to print debt money that is loaned to the US – at interest.

2018 — “2020 Democratic Contenders are Making the ‘Cheap Gesture’ of Sharing off Corporate PAC Money, but Big Checks are Still Flying” posted article
“The reason is that money from PACs – corporate or otherwise — comprises a relatively insignificant portion of these senators’ campaign contributions, raising the question of whether curtailing donations from corporate PACs will really make a difference. Critics think it doesn’t, noting that the bigger threat of influence comes from wealthy donors who don’t funnel their cash through PACs. But for politicians looking to seize on public discontent with the influence of money on politics, the decision makes for an effective messaging ploy.”

April 28

1890 – Leisy v. Hardin [135 U.S. 100, 128] Supreme Court decision – federal Commerce Clause overrules state law protecting citizens.
The Court ruled that the laws of Iowa prohibiting in-state sales of out-of-state produced alcohol were unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. The state argued that the state had the right to bar sales under the “police powers” of Iowa that charges the state with protecting the life, health and welfare of its citizens. The Court disagreed.

In his dissent, Justice Gray stated:
“The police power includes all measures for the protection of the life, the health, the property and the welfare of the inhabitants, and for the promotion of good order and the public morals. It covers the suppression of nuisances, whether injurious to the public health, like unwholesome trades, or to the public morals, like gambling houses and lottery tickets.

“This power, being essential to the maintenance of the authority of local government, and to the safety and welfare of the people, is inalienable. As was said by Chief Justice Waite, referring to earlier decisions to the same effect, ‘No legislature can bargain away the public health or the public morals. The people themselves cannot do it, much less their servants. The supervision of both these subjects of governmental power is continuing in its nature, and they are to be dealt with as the special exigencies of the moment may require. Government is organized with a view to their preservation, and cannot divest itself of the power to provide for them.’”

1915 – Founding of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF)
As part of the WILPF’s ‘”Challenge Corporate Power, Assert the People’s Rights” national campaign in the early 2000’s, study materials were developed and six-session study groups were formed across the country to “explore the history and roots of corporate power, examine global corporatization, decolonize our minds, and participate in democratic conversation.”

April 29

1938 – Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“[T]he liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
– Message to Congress on the Concentration of Economic Power

April 30

2011 – Washington State Democratic Party passes “Amending the U.S. Constitution to Reserve Constitutional Rights for People, not Corporations” resolution
The resolution calls on the state legislature to pass a resolution urging Congress “to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to establish that a corporation shall not be considered a person eligible for rights accorded to human beings under the U.S. Constitution.” The resolution also declares “the use of money to influence elections or the acts of public officials shall not be considered a protected form of speech.”

2019 – “Corporate Leaning SCOTUS Makes It Easier For Employers To Steal From Workers” online article
The US Supreme Court ruled that workers cannot filed lawsuits against employers for stealing their wages and instead they have to go in front of a panel of corporate friendly arbitrators that are always hand picked by the corporation. This story’s been kicking out there for a long time, I mean you’ve got a labor policy that makes it virtually impossible for individuals to sue their employers, in other words an employer literally steals money from them. They do it all kinds of ways.

Corporate Leaning SCOTUS Makes It Easier For Employers To Steal From Workers

May 1

1847 – Birth of Henry Demarest Lloyd
“We are calling upon the owners of industrial power and property, as mankind called upon kings in their day, to be good and kind, wise and sweet, and we are calling upon them in vain…We have put power in their hands and ask them not to use it as power.”

American political activist and muckraking journalist Lloyd was best known for his exposes of the Standard Oil Company.

2012 – Publication of “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power” by Steve Coll
“The main themes of ‘Private Empire’ involved the ways that ExxonMobil saw itself as an independent, transnational corporate sovereign in the world, a power independent of the American government, one devoted firmly to shareholder interests and possessed of its own foreign policy. Exxon’s foreign policy sometimes had more impact on the countries where it operated than did the State Department.”

2020 – May Day
“International Workers’ Day, also known as Workers’ Day, Labor Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival.

“The date was chosen by a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on ‘all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.'”

The US is one of the few countries not to celebrate their Labor Day on May 1 — done intentionally to dissuade workers from thinking and acting in solidarity with workers in other nations.

May 2

2000 – “Gender and Global Corporatization” by Molly Morgan, Virginia Rasmussen & Mary Zepernick published this month in Spring issue of Peace & Freedom, a publication of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
“The power-over model, because it is a human invention, arbitrarily assigns unequal value to human difference, establishing dominant and subordinate categories and the political concept of “other” as the basis for discrimination and exploitation. Though rooted in male dominance, patriarchal behavior applies to all of us when we exercise power over others and the Earth. Global “corporatization” is a logical extension of the “dismemberment” that accompanied the development of “civilization.” Far from being natural and inevitable, the transnational corporation, with its vast supporting infrastructure, is the most virulent manifestation of power-over to date.”

May 3

2002 – “The End of Agribusiness: Dismantling the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule:” by Dave Henson, Director of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) and POCLAD principal, published this month
“However, an honest assessment of the overall effectiveness of this strategy of regulating corporate harms must conclude that it is a limited strategy and that it has ultimately licensed an unsustainable and unacceptable level of ecological destruction and marginalized our most fundamental concerns. We have been fighting corporate assaults against nature timber harvest plan by timber harvest plan; factory farm by factory farm; dying stream by dying stream. We are constantly being called to fight against new and more virulent crises. If we win one, there is little time to celebrate because there are many more crises created by corporate agribusiness every day. Corporations have grown and become far more powerful in this regulatory environment. In short, corporations have successfully framed both the arena of struggle and the terms of the debate, and have limited us to incremental compromises…

“What happens when we try to reassert democratic, public control over major economic decisions?… Corporate attorneys (and they are plentiful) respond with legal defenses based on the fiction that a corporation is a legal “person” in terms of constitutional protections. They use the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to assert that states, counties, and cities have no authority to restrict interstate and transnational commerce. They assert for the corporation the property rights, due process, and equal protection guarantees meant in the Constitution for real, human persons…

“To win this fight… we must do three kinds of activism at once.
1. Fight Fires…
2. Create Alternatives…
3. Dismantle the Mechanisms of Corporate Rule…

2016 – Pennsylvania Township passes law legalizing direct action against corporate frack wastewater injection well
From a press release
“Grant Township, Indiana County, PA: Tonight, Grant Township Supervisors passed a first-in-the-nation law that legalizes direct action to stop frack wastewater injection wells within the Township. Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically enacted law that prohibits injection wells.

“If a court does not uphold the people’s right to stop corporate activities threatening the well-being of the community, the ordinance codifies that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” Further, the ordinance states that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected, “prohibit[ing] any private or public actor from bringing criminal charges or filing any civil or other criminal action against those participating in nonviolent direct action.”

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 20 – 26

April 20

1868 – Birth of John Hylan, New York City Mayor – corporations and their leaders like a giant octopus
Hylan was Mayor of New York from 1918-1925. He said, “The real menace of our republic is this invisible government, which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation. Like the octopus of real life, it operates under cover of a self created screen…At the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests and a small group of powerful banking houses generally referred to as international bankers. The little coterie of powerful international bankers virtually run the United States government for their own selfish purposes. They practically control both political parties.”

1920 – Birth of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
In his 2014 book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,” Stevens proposed the following Constitutional Amendment:
“Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”

April 21

1796 – Birth of Thomas Earle, U.S. journalist and lawyer – on power of Supreme Court
Many citizens were outraged by the power of the Supreme Court, which they considered to be a direct attack on the sovereignty of “We the People.” In one protest pamphlet, journalist Thomas Earle penned:
“It is aristocracy and despotism, to have a body of officers, whose decisions are, for a long time, beyond the control of the people. The freemen of America ought not to rest contented, so long as their Supreme Court is a body of that character.”

1830 – Birth of Mary Ann Brayton Woodbridge, U.S. Temperance Leader
Woodbridge, a Quaker, was President of the Ohio National Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WTCU) and later became a leading organizer and editor for the national Christian organization. The WTCU, founded in 1874, focused on social reform issues of child labor, public health, peace and suffrage. It’s major focus, however, was promoting temperance. The WTCU was one of the leading groups behind the movement for passage of the 18th Amendment that prohibited the production, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages. The Amendment went into effect in 1920.

2018 – Published article “A Cancer on Society: Monsanto Claims Right Not to Speak About Roundup” by Alfonso Saldaña, Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap
“What might be a surprise to most is that, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), glyphosate, the principal ingredient in the herbicide, is a ‘probable carcinogen’”…

“Despite the IARC’s findings, a U.S. District Judge has temporarily suspended the labeling of food products that contain traces of the herbicide, because it violates Monsanto’s First Amendment ‘right not to speak.’”

April 22

1970 – Earth Day, birth of environmental movement – 50th Anniversary this year
An estimated 20 million people took part across the US in marches, rallies, teach-ins and other public events to demonstrate support for the environment. Much of the environment’s deterioration/destruction from toxic and radioactive dumps, pesticides, wildlife extinction, air pollution, oil spills, raw sewage, wilderness loss and freeways came from corporate actions – that were ignored, sanctioned or subsidized by the government. The day led to the creation of organizations and massive grassroots pressure leading to the establishment of the EPA and federal laws addressing clean air, water and wildlife protection.

Earth Day went global in 1990. More than 200 million people in over 140 countries took part in activities and sparked a global movement, which continues today against these same issues as well as climate change.

Corporate entities remain a major cause of environmental destruction.

2011 – Students call for constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood
The Associated Students organization of Humboldt State University in California pass a resolution supporting the Move to Amend campaign and calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. The resolution was proposed by a group of students working with Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC).

2019 – How a River Was Granted Personhood published article
“Then, in 2017, something unprecedented happened. The New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood—a status that is in keeping with the Maori worldview that the river is a living entity. The legislation, which has yet to be codified into domestic law, refers to the river as an “indivisible, living whole,” conferring it “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of an individual.

“An ancient Maori proverb reads, ‘I am the river, and the river is me.’”
[Note: A very appropriate piece to be published on Earth Day!]

April 23

2001 – Publication this month of “How Long Shall We Grovel: A Memo for the Record” by Richard Grossman, POCLAD co-founder
“…ANYONE who chooses to look will find massive evidence of chemical corporation murder, pillage & lies extending over a century. ANYONE who chooses to look will see persistent corporate denial of people’s constitutional and human rights, & government complicity. This country exalts the platitude “all political authority is inherent in the people.”

But our great corporations have long been protected by the rule of law … empowered by our own constitution and bill of rights. Our society has bestowed upon chemical corporation leaders, as upon top officials of all giant corporations, the highest rewards & honors, & great wealth.

Great corporations have been exalted by legislators & judges, presidents & governors, police and national guards, by local, state & federal governments. How long shall we authorize chemical corporate officials to kill? How long shall we beg them to tell the truth? To make the earth’s air, water and soil, our foods and our jobs, a little less deadly? To please “give us” the right to know? How long shall we grovel before our elected public servants? Other species are counting on us to do more than regulate the destruction of the planet. What do YOU think we the people should do now?”

April 24

1936 – Death of Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley), humorist and writer
“I niver knew a pollytician to go wrong ontil he’s been contaminated by contact with a business man.”

2018 – Mick Mulvaney says in Congress, he only talked to lobbyists who gave him money
“We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress…If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.”
Talk by Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and head of the Offie of Management and Budget Office of Management and Budget, gave to a group of some 1,300 bankers and lending industry professionals at the American Bankers Association conference in Washington, DC.
[Note: Mulvaney served as Acting Chief of Staff to Trump from 2019-2020]

April 25

2000 – Point Arenas CA becomes first modern-day community in nation to pass resolution challenging corporate personhood
“• Whereas, the Citizens of the City of Point Arena hope to nurture and expand democracy in our community and our nation; and
• Whereas, democracy means governance by the people and only natural persons should be able to participate in the democratic process; and
• Whereas, interference in the democratic process by corporations frequently usurps the rights of citizens to govern; and
• Whereas, corporations are artificial entities separate and apart from natural persons, are not naturally endowed with consciousness or the rights of natural persons, are creations of law and are only permitted to do what is authorized under law; and
• Whereas, rejecting the concept of corporate personhood will advance meaningful campaign finance reform.
• Now, therefore, be it resolved that: the City Council of the City of Point Arena agrees with Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black in a 1938 opinion in which he stated, “I do not believe the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment includes corporations;” and
Be it further resolved that the City of Point Arena shall encourage public discussion on the role of corporations in public life and urge other cities to foster similar public discussion.”

Jan Edwards and others promoted the resolution campaign with the Redwood Coast Alliance for Democracy

April 26

1978 – First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti – corporations win right to spend money in elections
Corporations win the First Amendment “free speech” right to spend money influencing ballot measures. The Supreme Court ruling (435 U.S. 765, 822) threw out a Massachusetts law and nullified the laws of thirty states that had adopted similar legislation prohibiting corporate spending to influence ballot issues. Dissent by Justices White, Brennan, Marshall: “Corporations are artificial entities created by law for the purpose of furthering certain economic ends…It has long been recognized…that the special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast amounts of economic power which may, if not regulated, dominate not only our economy but the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process…The state need not allow its own creation to consume it.” Rehnquist also dissented: “The blessings of perpetual life and limited liability…so beneficial in the economic sphere, pose special dangers in the political sphere.”

This ruling coupled with Buckley v. Valeo is used to deny democratic attempts by We the People to remove corporate money from politics.

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 13 – 19

April 13

1743 – Birth of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States – on banks and judicial review
On banks: “And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

On Judicial Review (the doctrine that all legislative and executive actions are subject to the review for constitutionality by the judicial branch), Jefferson warned that it would make the Constitution nothing but “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

1752 – First successful cooperative organized in the United States in Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire.

The company remains in existence, although its web site notes “The company’s most recent change is structural: The Philadelphia Contributionship Mutual Holding Company is the overall umbrella organization which owns the insurance companies and Vector Security Holdings.”

April 14

1873 – “Slaughterhouse Cases” – Supreme Court favors corporate protections over civil rights
Combining three cases, this single decision was the first Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868. The Court ruled very narrowly – concluding that individuals possessed federal rights of citizenship, but not state rights of citizenship. Justices didn’t desire in essence the Bill of Rights to be applied to the states for fear that the Court would become a “perpetual censor upon all of legislation of the States” related to civil rights.

The contradiction of this decision was stunning. The same court was during this era a “perpetual censor” of state laws through its use of the Commerce Clause to invalidate scores of democratically enacted local and state laws promoting safety, health and local businesses in defense of national corporate interests. This narrow interpretation of the 14th Amendment set back efforts for civil rights and labor rights for decades.

1976 – Death of William Henry Hastie, Jr., American, lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans
“Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can be easily lost, but is never finally won.”

April 15

1865 – Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
“The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy.”

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution provides Congress with the power to “coin” or create money. Under the Lincoln administration, the US Government issued 450 million “Greenbacks” – interest and inflation-free money – after private banks refused to lend the government funds to pay for the war unless the government agreed to pay exorbitantly high interest payments. Greenbacks weren’t government bill, bonds or any other debt-bearing notes. They were actual US money.

“The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of government, but it is the government’s greatest creative opportunity. The financing of all public enterprise, and the conduct of the treasury will become matters of practical administration. Money will cease to be master and will then become servant of humanity.”

1975 — Death of Halena Wilson, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Ladies Auxiliary
The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was the first official independent Black union. Wilson and the union’s President, A. Philip Randolph (ironically, born on this day in 1889), wrote about, promoted, taught and organized democratic economic cooperatives to keep resources recycling in the Black community.

2011 – Posted poem, “Persona Ficta,” by Jena Osman
a corporation is to a person as a person is to a machine
amicus curiae we know them as good and bad, they too are sheep and goats
ventriloquizing the ghostly fiction.
a corporation is to a body as a body is to a puppet
putting it in caricature, if there are natural persons then there are those who are
not that, buying candidates. there are those who are strong on the ground and
then weak in the air. weight shifts to the left leg while the prone hand sets down;
Rest of poem at

2015 – Postal worker lands gyrocopter at US Capital to protest influence of big money in politics
A Florida postal worker, Doug Hughes, carried 535 letters – one for each member of Congress – when he landed his one-person gyrocopter on the US Capital grounds. He was arrested before he could make his delivery of letters calling for campaign finance reform and sentenced to 120 days in prison.
“As long as law recognizes corporations as people, they have the same human rights we have, along with perks we don’t have such as limited liability. Combine those rights with their treasuries, and multi-national corporations have become super-sized people rolling over actual human beings and the institutions designed to protect us.”

April 16

1862 – Emancipation Proclamation in DC signed by President Lincoln, but slaveowners paid reparations
Slaves are freed in DC but former slave owners are reimbursed for slaves given up. Whites are paid over $1 million in reparations for “lost property.” After all, the US Constitution established that slaves were “property,” not human beings.

1931 – Birth of Ronnie Dugger, co- founder, Alliance for Democracy; Texas Observer founding editor
“We are ruled by Big Business and Big Government as its paid hireling, and we know it. The big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our healthcare, our pension funds, our banks and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our elections and our very governments…The issue is not issues, the issue is the system.” [emphasis added]

1995 – Presentation of “Certificate of Dissolution: Weyerhaeuser Corporation”
The public presentation was part of a “guerilla theatre” gathering outside the home of Weyerhaeuser Corporation CEO George Weyerhaeuser as an example of how to reframe an issue from one of corporate harm into that of contesting corporate authority and asserting the right of the people to define the very existence of corporations.

After providing a long list of political and ecological abuses, the “Certificate” reads:
“The people of the U.S. retain the unalterable right to revoke the charter of corporations which violate the common good. Originally, after the American Revolution, charters were rarely granted, and often revoked—with their assets distributed to compensate for damages and the corporate owners held accountable for their criminal acts. Today we are re-invoking this right. In addition, the inalienable rights of the existence of numerous species of life upon this Earth demand this revocation. Therefore be it ordained, by the powers of the laws of Washington State and the higher laws of Nature, that the corporate charter of Weyerhaeuser be revoked and the said company dissolved.”

2018 – Pulitizer Prizes announced: “Sound of the Bench” by Ted Hearn was runner up in music category — lyrics inspired by corporate personhood
“‘Sound From the Bench,’ a cantata for choir, electric guitars and drums, with texts drawn from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and inspired by the odd idea of corporate personhood. This is the work that caught the attention of the Pulitzer people.”

April 17

1905 – Lochner v. New York [198 U.S. 45] Supreme Court decision – use of the 14th Amendment to invalidate government regulation of corporations
The decision was one of the most controversial in the history of the Court. It concluded that “liberty of contract” was inferred in the “due process” clause of the 14th Amendment (originally intended to apply to freed black slaves). The specific case involved the state of New York seeking to limit working hours to 10 per day and 60 each week. The Court rejected the claim that the law was needed to protect the health of workers, asserting that the labor law was an “”unreasonable, unnecessary and arbitrary interference with the right and liberty of the individual to contract.” In other words, the majority of Justices felt that the law inhibited the constitutional right of workers and employers to make contracts freely.

The implications were devastating. The decision shielded corporations from vast forms of government regulation. The Court invalidated approximately 200 economic regulations from 1905 until the mid-1930’s passed by legislators — usually under this interpretation of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment

2018 – The EU is trying to decide whether to grant robots personhood
“Under an ongoing EU proposal, it might just be the bot itself. A 2017 European Parliament report floated the idea of granting special legal status, or “electronic personalities,” to smart robots, specifically those which (or should that be who?) can learn, adapt, and act for themselves. This legal personhood would be similar to that already assigned to corporations around the world, and would make robots, rather than people, liable for their self-determined actions, including for any harm they might cause. The motion suggests:

“‘Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently.’”

Related: Experts Sign Open Letter Slamming Europe’s Proposal to Recognize Robots as Legal Persons
“Over 150 experts in AI, robotics, commerce, law, and ethics from 14 countries have signed an open letter denouncing the European Parliament’s proposal to grant personhood status to intelligent machines. The EU says the measure will make it easier to figure out who’s liable when robots screw up or go rogue, but critics say it’s too early to consider robots as persons—and that the law will let manufacturers off the liability hook.”

April 18

1996 – Publication this month of “Corporations for the Seventh Generation: Changing the Ground Rules, Part 1” by Jane Anne Morris, corporate anthropologist and POCLAD principal
“What if…
• corporations were required to have a clear purpose, to be fulfilled but not exceeded;
• corporations’ licenses to do business were revocable by the state legislature if they exceeded or did not fulfill their chartered purpose(s);
• the state legislature could revoke a corporation’s charter for a particular reason, or for no reason at all;
• the act of incorporation did not relieve corporate management or stockholders/owners of responsibility or liability for corporate acts;
• as a matter of course, corporation officers, directors, or agents could be held criminally liable for violating the law;
• state (not federal) courts heard cases where corporations or their agents were accused of breaking the law or harming the public;
• directors of the corporation were required to come from among stockholders;
• corporations had to have their headquarters and meetings in the state where their principal place of business was located;
• corporation charters were granted for a specific period of time, like 20 or 30 years (instead of being granted “in perpetuity,” as is now the practice);
• corporations were prohibited from owning stock in other corporations in order to prevent them from extending their power inappropriately;
• corporations’ real estate holdings were limited to what was necessary to carry out their specific purpose(s);
• corporations were prohibited from making any political contributions, direct or indirect;
• corporations were prohibited from making charitable or civic donations outside of their specific purposes;
• state legislatures set the rates that corporations could charge for their products or services;
• all corporation records and documents were open to the legislature or the state attorney general?
All of these provisions were once law in the state of Wisconsin. And similar ones existed in most other states.”

April 19

1775 – Revolutionary War Begins
Shots fired and the subsequent battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. Colonists sought independence not only from the Crown (King), but also from the Crown’s military arm (Redcoats, which oppressed the colonists) and from the Crown’s economic/governing arms (Crown corporations, chartered by the King to conduct the King’s affairs in the colonies – which also oppressed). Examples included the Massachusetts Bay Company, the Carolina Company, the Maryland Company and the Virginia Company. The Revolution constitutionalized these corporations, transforming them into states or commonwealths. It also democratized “sovereignty” from rule by a single person to in principle We the People. In practice, only white, male property owners assumed power and rule.

2012 – Vermont Becomes First State to Call for Amendment Removing Corporations From Constitution
“[Other states] have passed resolutions against the Citizens United v. FEC ruling by the Supreme Court, but the Vermont resolution goes beyond simply overturning that case and aims to remove corporations from the constitution altogether and make clear that money is not speech and that campaign spending and political contributions can be regulated by government.”


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REAL Democracy History Calendar: April 6 – 12

April 6

1956 – Birth of Michele Bachmann, four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota and founder of the House Tea Party Caucus
In founding the Tea Party Caucus in 2011, she said, “I think it is because of the corrupt paradigm that has become Washington, D.C., whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents. … That’s the voice that’s been missing at the table in Washington, D.C. — the people’s voice has been missing.”

2018 – Published article, “Shell Suppressed the Dangers of Fossil Fuel Emissions for Decades: Report”
“This latest confirmation that Shell, for more than three decades, has been privately aware of its products’ contributions to the climate crisis but opted to publicly promote skepticism about climate science mirrored similar findings about ExxonMobil in 2015.
“’Just like Exxon, Shell knew about the dangers of climate change and instead chose to embark on a decades-long campaign of deception. These reports reaffirm that fossil fuel companies have been—and always will be—bad actors,” declared executive director May Boeve. The new revelations on Thursday were met with both frustration and fresh demands by environmentalists for legal consequences.

Shell Suppressed the Dangers of Fossil Fuel Emissions for Decades: Report

[Note: How and why, again, do many people think corporations should be able to do what they want, when they want, wherever they want with no public interference? Legitimately self-governing people don’t allow their creations to act beyond the reach of democratic definition and accountability. When abuses to people, places or the planet occurs, this should go beyond a fine or temporary suspension of gaining a government contract. As was true in the past for decades by those who came before us, this should also include the ability to dissolve the corporate charter – ending the ability of that corporation to exist.]

2019 – Zuckerberg is right: Third-party standards must govern online speech
“Freedom of speech, guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution, is among our most basic and fundamental rights. Its protection on social networking platforms has become increasingly vital as these sites serve as near-ubiquitous, monopolistic communication vehicles. Preserving this freedom while stemming the proliferation of hateful or harmful online content is an extremely difficult, delicate task – one that should not fall to corporations.
“Rather, representatives of the people must do the difficult work of setting standards for protected online speech, ensuring regulations don’t open doors for government-led censorship or create open-ended precedents that would allow expansive regulation of content. When disputes arise, and they inevitably will, courts and other independent judicial bodies must have the final say over what does and does not constitute a violation of constitutional rights.

Zuckerberg is right: Third-party standards must govern online speech

April 7

2003 – Supreme Court rules to slash jury award over Exxon Valdez oil spill based on 5th and 14th Amendments corporate personhood claims
A jury awarded a settlement of $5 billion to 38,000 commercial fishermen and native Alaskans following the spilling of 20 million gallons of oil by the Exxon Valdez tanker in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Exxon Corporation challenged the settlement amount, claiming that it violated the corporation’s due process constitutional rights by the “excessive” jury award of punitive damages under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court agreed and reduced the original jury award settlement to a little over $500 million. A “line of constitutional impropriety” has now been established by the courts that protects large corporations from certain punitive damage awards.

2002 – Publication this month of “War Inc.: On the true nature of armed hostilities” by Mike Ferner, POCLAD principal
“A modicum of historical perspective explains why America’s New and Improved War is not a surprise. It’s not just oil. It’s not just acquiring territory or the use of territory. It’s property and property rights consistently trumping human rights. The names change. The song has remained the same throughout our history.

“For instance, check out a few lines of our Constitution: Article 4, Section 2. Imbedded into the most fundamental law of our land is the duty to return property—in the form of slaves and indentured servants—to its owners. Or read Article 1, Section 10, the Contracts Clause. According to Peter Kellman, ‘The meaning is clear: the obligation of the government, as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, to promote the general welfare is secondary to the private law, the law of contracts.’ Or ask yourself why First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly do not apply when you’re at work? Or why corporations have more free speech rights than people?

“Try this at home. Make your own list of how our world would look if America was a functioning democracy, actually governed by “we the people;” if human rights trumped property rights; if the vast decency, wisdom and compassion of the American people and not the interests of the propertied elite guided our foreign and domestic policies

“Not only could we generate a stunning agenda, we can actually begin making some fundamental improvements once we start finding ways to make the peace movement a democracy movement, and the environmental movement a democracy movement, and the labor movement a democracy movement, and…

“You get the picture.”

April 8

1838 – Loan application with slaves used as collateral
“George Guion wrote to the Thibodeauxville Branch of Union Bank of Louisiana asking for a loan of 5,000 in addition to a 10,000 mortgage he already had from the bank on his plantation and slaves….As security for the additional loan he offered to the bank his plantation and sixteen slaves whose ages ranged from sixteen months to fifty years. It is unknown if the bank granted his loan…

“Although collateralized transactions usually accounted for a small number of credit transactions, slaves were the most popular form of collateral for those short-term and long-term loans that required collateral. For example, slaves accounted for 80 percent of the securities offered in recorded mortgages in antebellum East Feliciana Parish in Louisiana. Slaves could also be used as collateral for purchasing shares in Louisiana’s investment banks.

“In the South, slaves were property-they could be bought, sold and transported to any location that allowed slavery. As property, their owners could use slaves when they needed loans.”

1901 – John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Warren Supreme Court decision
The United States Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that corporations are “creatures of the state” in at least thirty-six different rulings. This was one of them. 181 U.S. 73 (1901)

1913 – States ratify Seventeenth Amendment, allowing for the direct election of senators
The Connecticut legislature ratifies this Constitutional Amendment permitting for the first time direct election of U.S. Senators by citizens. With 36 states having now ratified the Amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution a month later when certified by the U.S. Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan. No longer would state legislatures and the corporate agents behind them choose Senators.

The Amendment represented a victory for the populist and progressive social movements, which included Bryan, who opposed centralized power in the hands of party bosses and politically influential corporations, monopolies and trusts.

April 9

1866 – Passage of Civil Rights Act
This was the first Congressional Act in US history sustained over a presidential veto (of President Andrew Johnson). It provided that people of different races should have full and equal benefit of the law.

1988 – Publication in New York Times of “Corporations Are Not Persons” by Ralph Nader and Carl Mayer
“Our constitutional rights were intended for real persons, not artificial creations. The Framers certainly knew about corporations but chose not to mention these contrived entities in the Constitution. For them, the document shielded living beings from arbitrary government and endowed them with the right to speak, assemble and petition.

“Today, however, corporations enjoy virtually the same umbrella of constitutional protections as individuals do. They have become in effect artificial persons with infinitely greater power than humans. This constitutional equivalence must end.

“…The corporate drive for constitutional parity with real humans comes at a time when legislatures are awarding these artificial persons superhuman privileges. Besides perpetual life, corporations enjoy limited liability for industrial accidents such as nuclear power disasters, and the use of voluntary bankruptcy and other disappearing acts to dodge financial obligations while remaining in business.

“The legal system is thus creating unaccountable Frankensteins that have human powers but are nonetheless constitutionally shielded from much actual and potential law enforcement as well as from accountability to real persons such as workers, consumers and taxpayers.

“Of course individuals in these companies can always exercise their personal constitutional rights, but the drive for corporate rights is dangerously out of control.”

2012 – Is The USA The Only Nation in the World With Corporate Personhood
“It’s not surprising to learn that no nation on earth enshrines in its constitution the right of corporate personhood…

“They explained that the U.S. with the oldest constitution, probably has the hardest to change constitution in the world, suggesting that it has become fetishized, with constitutional fundamentalism based on ‘textualism’ and ‘originalism’ which Justices Scalia and Thomas both advocate…

“Next, I asked, ‘So, from what you know, having looked at 186 foreign constitutions, none of them offer corporate personhood rights.’

“Versteeg replied, ‘I’m pretty sure that none of them do and also, foreign constitutions tend to be more explicit. They can be 400 pages long and I haven’t seen any of that and I’m pretty sure about it.’”

April 10

1816 – Federal charter granted to create the private Second National Bank of the United States
As with the earlier First Bank of the United States, the Second National Bank of the United States was private with many of the largest investors being foreigners and those representing great wealth. Congress chartered (licensed) the bank for 20 years. Corporate charters were democratic tools once used by sovereign people to control and define corporate actions. As a result of bank practices geared to serving the interests of banks/bankers, (including limiting the issuance of money into the economy – which triggered economic stagnation), President Jackson pledged that the bank would not be issued a new charter after its 20-year charter ended. Without a charter – which provides those forming corporations certain legal protections (then and now) – corporations cannot exist.

1900 – State ex rel. Monnett v. Capital City Dairy Co., 62 OS 350 (1900) – example of corporate charter revocation
It was common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries for state legislatures and courts to revoke the charters or licenses of corporations that violated the terms or conditions of their charters. The legal procedure for this was called “quo warranto” in which the state demanded to know what right the corporation possessed to act beyond the terms of its state-granted charter.

Some states were more active than others in utilizing this democratic tool. Here’s an example of the language from an Ohio State Supreme Court “quo warranto” charter revocation decision:
“Quo warranto may be invoked to stop corporation’s disregard of laws in conduct of authorized business, and to oust corporation if abuse be flagrant….The time has not yet arrived when the created is greater than the creator, and it still remains the duty of the courts to perform their office in the enforcement of the laws, no matter how ingenious the pretexts for their violation may be, nor the power of the violators in the commercial world. In the present case the acts of the defendant have been persistent, defiant and flagrant, and no other course is left to the court than to enter a judgment of ouster and to appoint trustees to wind up the business of the concern.”

1930 – Birth of Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist who was the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW)
Along with UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, Huerta led the effort to democratically and nonviolently educate, advocate and organize the farmworker community. The results were significant improvements in the lives and working conditions of farmworkers and a change in culture in how Americans thought about the sources of our food.

April 11

1966 – Birth of Steve Bullock, Montana Governor
“In 1906, a newspaper in Montana said, ‘The greatest living issue that confronts us today is whether the corporations shall control the people, or the people shall control the corporations.’”

2010 – “To Be Human” sermon delivered by Rev Colin Bossen, Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland
“The absence of conscience means that if corporations are to consider anything other than maximizing their profits then it must be outside forces that compel them to do so.

“This is a political problem but it is also a spiritual one. It is a political problem because how decisions are made, and who gets to make them, are ultimately questions of politics. Restraining corporate power, and ending corporate personhood, will only come about if people organize to do so. With the Supreme Court on the side corporate personhood it is clear that change will not come from the courts. Instead what is needed is a constitutional amendment delineating that corporations are not afforded protection under the Bill of Rights. Currently the grassroots campaign Move to Amend is pushing just such an amendment. Whether they succeed or not will depend upon how much support they get.

“It is a spiritual problem because what differentiates us humans from corporations is spirit. The word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. Spirit is often equated with the force that propels life forward. Corporations lack this force. They follow a different trajectory. It is trajectory that leads towards a Gibsonian dystopia where the richest live in abundance; the masses in squalor and the planet is threatened with extinction.

“The alternative is a world where spirit reigns and the life force is honored above profit.”

From More info on Move to Amend’s Interfaith Caucus is at

2018 – Published article, Goldman Sachs asks in biotech research report: ‘Is curing patients a sustainable business model?’”
“’The potential to deliver ‘one shot cures’ is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies,’ analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. ‘While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.’”|twitter&par=sharebar

April 12

1787 – The Free African Society is founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones
It was the second African American mutual-aid society to open in the United States. Mutual-aid societies are considered the precursors to formal democratic cooperatives.

From its Preamble: “a society should be formed, without regard to religious tenets, provided the persons lived an orderly and sober life, in order to support one another in sickness, and for the benefit of their widows and fatherless children.”

1945 – Death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S.
“The real truth is…that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.”

“The Bill of Rights was put into the Constitution not only to protect minorities against intolerance of majorities, but to protect majorities against the enthronement of minorities.”
From The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt 366 (1941)

Roosevelt also proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” that focused on economic freedoms. “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” The rights included a job, adequate income to meet basic needs, housing, medical care, and education. It also included rights protecting businesspersons from unfair competition and monopolies, and enabling farmers to raise and sell products and earn enough income to have a decent living. The full list is at

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REAL Democracy History Calendar: March 30 – April 5

March 30

1822 – Birth sometime this month of Harriet Tubman, “conductor” on the Underground Railroad
“I freed thousands of slaves; I could have freed more if they knew they were slaves.”
[Note: How many of us know we are enslaved by our mental box of reality that limits what what we think is possible or achievable.]

2016 – Statement on Supreme Court by Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law professor
“A popular conception of the Supreme Court is that it is designed to protect vulnerable minorities from majoritarian rule. Instead, the court of recent memory has enhanced a powerful minority at the expense of the majority. I believe we currently have a court for the one percent.”
Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law prof, The Conversation, March 30, 2016

March 31

1776 — Abigail Adams tells John not to forget women in the new government
“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And by the way, in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.

“Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.

“If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

“That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend.” “Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams” (1875), edited by Charles Francis Adams, p. 147

1927 – Birth of Cesar Chavez, American labor leader, civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW)
March 31st is César Chávez Day, a holiday observed in ten states. The holiday memorializes the life and work of this Mexican-American farmworker. His creative uses of nonviolent tactics helped create a solidarity movement to benefit the working conditions and lives of farmworkers, all workers and consumers. His most famous campaign was the nationwide boycott of table grapes.

1948 – Birth of Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States
“We can’t solve the climate crisis until we solve the democracy crisis.”

1999 – Release date of the film “The Matrix”
“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” — Morpheus to Neo
[Note: Morpheus could easily be asking the same question to all of us today in our politically and economically increasing top-down, corporate-controlled society that is destroying people, places and the planet.]

April 1

1929 – Birth of Milan Kundera, Czech writer
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

2010- Publication of “The Case Against Judicial Review” by David Cobb
“In a nutshell, judicial review is the power of a court to review the actions of executive or legislative bodies to determine whether the action is consistent with a statute, a treaty or the U.S. Constitution. In its most basic expression, it is the authority of the unelected Supreme Court to declare acts of elected members of Congress or the elected President unconstitutional…Judicial review is an undemocratic extension of the undemocratic nature of the Constitution itself, a document protecting the rights of property over the rights of people. Given that the Constitution was drafted by a small number of people who met behind closed doors, the fact that a small number of unelected judges overrule citizen initiatives or laws passed by legislative bodies is not very surprising…The sobering reality is that judicial review is politically illegitimate. The fundamental premise of this government is that all legitimate political power resides with the people.“

April 2

1930 – Birth of Lawrence M. Friedman, legal historian, Stanford Law School professor – speaking of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution
“Corporations confronted the law at every point. They hired lawyers and created whole law firms…They bought and sold governments… No [state] constitutional convention met, between 1860-1900, without considering the problems of the corporations,”

2014 – McCutcheon vs Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision – prohibition on political contribution aggregate limits
The decision (12-536) struck down aggregate limits on individual contributions to national political parties and federal political candidate committees. The existing limits, which Mr. Shaun McCutcheon asserted were too constraining and violated his First Amendment “free speech” rights, had stood at a stifling $46,000 for federal candidates and $70,800 for political parties, or a $117,000 aggregate limit in the last election cycle. Following the decision, McCutcheon and his 1% friends are now free to donate to as many candidates as they wish and to as many political parties as they desire knowing their “free speech rights” are protected.
The aggregate limits dated back to the Watergate era of the early 70’s. The majority of the Supreme Court justices obviously felt that the rules to curb the political corruption of the Nixon era connected to money in elections were as antiquated as bell-bottoms and vinyl records.

April 3

2010 — Online posted article “Court’s Money Ruling Is a Red Herring” by author and corporate anthropologist Jane Anne Morris
“The Citizens United case was presented in a false frame: ‘Must we limit speech in order to have free and fair elections? Or must we accept corporate-dominated political debate in order to preserve free speech?’ This false dilemma disappears if we reject corporate personhood with constitutional rights. Only if we pretend that corporations are persons under the Constitution is limiting corporate ‘speech’ a constitutional infringement.”

2018 — Published article, “Michigan OKs Nestlé Water Extraction, Despite 80K+ Public Comments Against It”
“In a much-watched case, a Michigan agency has approved Nestlé’s plan to boost the amount of water it takes from the state. The request attracted a record number of public comments — with 80,945 against and 75 in favor…

“‘The interesting thing to me,’ Smith said, ‘was the top three themes — by far — are: [one,] corporate greed versus people and the environment; two, water is not for profit; and three, worries about privatizing water’

“Smith added, ‘about 40,000 people wrote about each of those concerns’…

“‘And that’s the end of it,’ the agency’s source water supervisor, Matt Gamble, told Smith last month. ‘We don’t have the power to say no arbitrarily. We can’t just say no for reasons that aren’t attached to the law.'”

[Note: Who wrote the law? Did the public have an authentic voice in the shaping of the law? Did Nestle Corporation have any influence over the lawmakers? What do you think?]

April 4

1834 – US House of Representatives Votes Against Re-chartering the Second National Bank of the United States
The US House voted 134-82 against rechartering (re-licensing) the nation’s central bank – a private bank not ultimately accountable to the public but to its shareholders. Charters were originally considered democratic instruments of public control to keep corporations accountable – as opposed to today where charters are issued automatically as long as minimal conditions are met and a fee is paid. The bank had established loan policies that were detrimental to the nation’s economy but very profitable for its owners. The bank’s President, Nicholas Biddle, had threatened to harm the US economy by restricting the nation’s money supply if the charter was not renewed. The bank shrank the money supply. A financial panic and deep depression followed. President Andrew Jackson was convinced that the private bank should not be in charge of issuing and circulating the nation’s money supply.

1968 – Assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

April 5

1588 – Birth of Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher
“Corporations are many lesser commonwealths in the bowels of a greater, like worms in the entrails of a natural man.”
Translated: Corporations are worms to the body politic.

1901 – Birth of Chester Bliss Bowles, American diplomat and ambassador, Governor of Connecticut, Congressman
“Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians.”

2018 – Publication of “The New Power Structure” Opinion piece by David Brooks
“Many organizations profiled in “New Power” are decentralized but have wrestled with the challenges of decentralization, like: How do you establish unity of purpose amid the cacophony of voices? How do you maintain standards of excellence amid the democratization of control? How do you get loosely affiliated people to commit long term, so your movement won’t fizzle out, the way the Ice Bucket Challenge did?

“These organizations are often founded by what you might call disappearing organizers. Somebody comes up with a compelling concept, like TED or Black Lives Matter. The concept gives people a sticky group identity; many people think of themselves as Tedsters. The core idea is spreadable, actionable and connected — it allows participants to subcreate in local and flexible ways. Tedsters organize and attend over 20,000 local TEDx events. The founder doesn’t dominate the network so much as manage the community.

“Successful movements create what Marilynn Brewer calls ‘optimal distinctiveness’ — as Heimans and Timms put it, ‘making people feel like they are part of it and that they can stand out in it.’

“The concepts binding these movements are clear, emotional and concrete and have an implied communal narrative (MeToo). But the successful organizations also feature some structural innovation. They tend to have very low barriers to entry — no dues, no loyalty pledge up front. But they have ways to incentivize members up the participation ladder, offering premiums for super-participants who adapt, organize and share.”

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