The last three weeks have seen a revolution brewing. As the corporatists, who have seized control of the Republican Party, attempted to launch their most audacious attempt at Disaster Capitalism, the Shock Doctrine, the people didn’t flinch. They didn’t get scared. Instead they came out in the thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands. They came out in Madison and then Hudson and then all across the United States. They found allies across the world. The revolution against the Chicago School of Economics and Milton Friedman has begun and not a moment too soon.
However, it would be foolish to think that a victory in the Battle of Wisconsin will be the end of the war. It will not. While every effort must be made to stop the Budget Repair Bill which strips public sector workers of their right to collectively bargain while creating an impossible mandate of annual certification on the labor unions, it is only the beginning of the war The corporatists and their henchmen in the halls of political power will not stop with a failure to seize our democracy in Wisconsin. They have already opened other fronts in Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey and Michigan.
While we work to stop this bill, stop the biennial budget bill (which is amazing in its heartlessness) that includes: electing a Supreme Court justice who supports people over corporations (Judy Kloppenberg), recalling the GOP Senators, and getting “people-first” candidates in the three special elections, we also need to start planning. We need to develop models for taking our economy back from the corporations. We need to create mechanisms that place the political parties in their proper place: expressing the will of the people, not the corporations. The parties and elected leaders should not be leading the people, but reflecting the people’s will.
What will all of this look like? I wrote about this last fall in my discussion of Distributism. My friend and comrade, Rebecca Kemble, brought the current protest into this focus with her excellent essay, Normalizing Control. We need to start having a national (if not an international) discussion. We need plans to change our world to one that is in alignment with human dignity and our values.
I’ll start with a discussion of how we might meet basic services given the worst case scenario of the Walker Corporatist Agenda. I hope that some of you will join in and offer your ideas on these pages.
There are three things we need to do, in broad terms, and they all dovetail. My approach is to make re-entry into the corporate economy optional.
First, we need to ramp up use of existing community resources. Strike funds are important, but we should really focus on resources that are self-replenishing. The TimeBank is a good example. Community gardens are another. Community Car is a third.
Second, we should be teaching each other how to live extremely frugally. We need to learn gardening, cooking and baking, fermenting, and so on. We should also learn the basics of carpentry, first aid, sewing, fixing household objects, etc.
Third, we should be actively creating paying work outside the corporate economy. People need help setting up sole proprieterships and worker co-ops close to home, or even in their homes.
To put it another way, the general strike should become a way of life. When we walk out, or get booted out, we shouldn’t be thinking of how to get back in, but how to build a new economy.