REAL Democracy History Calendar: May 22 – 28

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.

May 23

1838 – U.S. troops begin forced removal of Cherokees from their land
Congress agreed to provide a 2-year “grace” period for Cherokees to “voluntarily” leave their lands in Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas for Oklahoma and further west. About 25% of those forced to relocate beginning on this date died from exposure, disease and starvation during the journey. What became known as the “Trail of Tears” was the forced removal of numerous Native American nations in the east, which included people from the Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations.

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.”

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.”

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

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 http://poclad.org/BWA/2007/BWA_2007_DEC.html

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.”  https://www.usworker.coop/about

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

May 27

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

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2-q-RBiWhk

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.
http://vault.sierraclub.org/planet/200111/investing.asp

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

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