December 3, 2008

Thoughts of a People's Democracy

Thoughts on a morning off. Frances Moore Lappe and the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) are on my mind, as is Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County and Jim Hightower as Secretary of Agriculture.

In Spring 2008, Lappe participated in a discussion of the New Deal on Radio Nation, with Laura Flanders. Lappe observed the New Deal was about "rights and structure" and that "it's not just [about] particular program[s]." She gives as a tangible example for our times, "significant effort to get money out of our political system."

POCLAD invites people into a dialogue at the level of structural change in our society. For example, POCLAD points out the distinction between defining laws that establish the system itself and subordinate laws that operate in the context of the defined system. The federal and state constitutions are examples of defining laws.

Defining laws are often very dry, and go unnoticed, such as contract law or laws about who has the right to access the court system. A classic example is when a corporation is violating an environmental regulation under some environmental law. You want to stop it. Then you discover you can't because you don't have "standing" to bring a law suit. The environmental law is one of those subordinate administrative laws that rest upon the groundwork of defining law. In this case, the defining law says who has the right to challenge the violation of the environmental law.

Social change is doomed to failure unless people recognize this distinction in laws. We must devote some of our efforts to challenging the defining laws that are rigged in favor of the corporations and modern aristocracy.

I'll have say more about Jim Hightower for US Agriculture Secretary some other time.

Psssst... Do Something




Dusty said...

Hightower is a great choice for AG.

Environmental law IS a bitch.

GDAEman said...

Some laws that "sound" like they are progressive are actually written for the corporations. Take labor law. The Robber Barrons didn't like the idea of workers being able to organize unions and strike; there were no "laws" against it. So, they created labor laws that set complicated rules, presumably to give labor "rights," when in fact these laws put labor in a box. Go outside of that box, and workers are violating the law.