By Greg Coleridge, June 27, 2017, ZNet.
“Universalizing Resistance, Democratizing Power!” is an increasing quest of a growing number of individuals, organizations and movements, as well as the theme of the third Democracy Convention, August 2-6 in Minneapolis.
Attendees with personal concerns and collective experiences of threats and opportunities to create authentic democracy both before and especially since the November elections will find multiple spaces for learning, sharing and strategizing. The Convention’s objective is to not simply explore resisting ever increasing assaults domestically and in solidarity with those elsewhere, but to expand learning and strategizing about what it takes to build genuinely inclusive and powerful structures capable of achieving change while affirming the rights and dignity of all and protecting the planet.
Confirmed speakers at the Convention include Ben Manski and Timeka Drew (Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution), Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and George Friday (Move to Amend), David Swanson and Leah Bolger (World Beyond War), Cheri Honkala (Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign), Chase Iron Eyes (Lakota People’s Law Project), Medea Benjamin (CODE PINK), Emily Kawano (Solidarity Economy Network), Jacqui Patterson (Environmental and Climate Justice Program, NAACP), Jill Stein (2016 presidential nominee), David Cobb (Voting Justice), Michael Albert (Z magazine), Nancy Price (Alliance for Democracy), U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, Rev. Delman Coates (American Monetary Institute), Ellen Brown (Public Banking), Rose Brewer (U.S. Social Forum), and Gar Alperovitz (Next System Project)
The Convention couldn’t come at a more important moment. We’re living on the cusp of a new epoch. Oppressive, destructive and unsustainable systems – and their cultural roots – are yielding profound global threats and assaults to people, communities and the environment with life — and planet — altering consequences. Examples include rising income inequality, loss of public spaces, robots replacing workers, perpetual wars and threats of nuclear wars, the capitalist drive for endless growth using finite resources, media concentration, mass surveillance, racial/ethnic/religious conflicts based on structural injustices, creating endless money out of thin air as debt to service previous debt and to drive the economy, ever more creative ways at political disenfranchisement, human-caused climate change and eco-system destruction, and the corporatization/privatization of virtually every social, economic and political realm shielded by corporate constitutional rights and money defined as “free speech”
All these realities are headed toward more extreme levels. If unaddressed, any one of them reaching a tipping point will spark massive social disruptions. It’s a virtually certainly that the triggering of one reality will dramatically worsen others – the cumulative result being unpredictable forms and degrees of widespread societal collapse.
While maybe not quite as transformative as when humans learned to make fire, the above threats and assaults are inspiring people across the planet to ponder, promote and practice transformative micro and macro social, economic, political and legal alternatives. One epochal transformative approach overarching or undergirding many of our individual struggles is the authentic democratization of power – the recognition that all people should possess the right and authority to made decisions affecting their lives.
The sharing and collective discussion of how to widen and deepen these alternatives is a principal function of the 2017 Democracy Convention.
Like the previous two Convention in 2011 and 2013, this year’s gathering is a constellation of several individual yet interconnected “Conferences” — each exploring a different arena of current problems and prospects for fundamental democratic change through workshops, panels, plenaries and cross-conference sessions.
The Convention’s eight conferences are:
Representative Democracy – voting rights and open government
Racial Justice for Democracy – racial equity, equality and justice
Peace & Democracy – people power for peace and against war
Media Democracy – a free press for a free society
Education United for Democracy – democratizing our schools, colleges & universities
Earth Rights & Global Democracy – the earth for all the people: that is the demand!
Community & Economic Democracy – community and worker power: economics and politics as if people mattered
Democratizing the Constitution – amending our basic law
Two additional focus areas or “tracks,” on Skills and Arts and Overcoming Oppression, will provide hands-on skills and analysis necessary to assist in the building on more creative and inclusive social change movements.
Each conference will produce a “Democracy Charter” specific to their area of work. These will be specific statements about how our future, democratic society will be constitutionally structured and governed based on already existing democratic struggles.
Move to Amend, promoting the We the People constitutional amendment that would abolish all corporate constitutional rights and the legal doctrine that money is equivalent to “free speech,” is the lead enabler of a concluding multi-hour “People’s Movement Assembly.” The radically participatory session will draw upon the Democracy Charters as stepping stones to create a collaborative vision and strategy to build people power and grow and interconnect democracy movements for profound constitutional renewal. The ultimate objective is to replace our current oppressive, destructive and unsustainable systems with authentically democratic ones capable of implementing the alternatives each of the conferences will amplify.
Sponsors of the Convention include Liberty Tree Foundation for a Democratic Revolution, Alliance for Democracy, Fair Vote, Move to Amend, World Beyond War, Center for Partnership Studies, The Labor Institute, American Monetary Institute, Z magazine, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD), Global Climate Convergence, Mass Global Action, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Alliance for Global Justice, Energy Justice Network, NoMoreStolenElections.org, OpEd News, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Revolt Against Plutocracy, and World Citizens Association Australia.
Costs to attend the Convention are quite affordable. To register, go to https://www.democracyconvention.org/. A listing of the all the speakers and overall program will soon be posted at the same site.
Greg Coleridge is Outreach Co-Director of Move to Amend