Part 4 - global governance:who or what will rule the world
Class 11: corporate global trade vs. popular local control
CORPORATE GLOBAL TRADE VS. POPULAR LOCAL CONTROL
Globalized Elites, Neoliberal Trade, Competitive Destruction
Solutions: Democratic Decentralization, Global People’s Movement, World Social Forum
Purpose: To understand globalization as an historic corporate drive for global power using trade agreements, global social institutions, and a globalized military as the central mechanisms to enact corporate global governance, and to highlight the global popular pushback against the corporate global empire.
Readings: Justice Rising, Winter 2005-06, Global Corporate Empire or Popular Governance: The Next Millennium; Fall 2013, World Citizenry Takes On Corporate Global Rule
Handouts: : Questions, Article Rankings, Talking Points
Paradigm: The nation-state system is unable to handle our most severe global problems, including climate change, resource depletion, global pollution, and human migration. It must be replaced by a system of global governance based on subsidiarity, whereby decisions are made at the most local level possible while still being able to solve our threatening global problems.
Context: For 1700 years, Silk Road trade formed the basis of the Chinese, Persian, and Venetian Empires. When Mongol and Turkish control blocked the Silk Road in the 1400s, European merchants struck out in different directions. Portuguese explorers found a route around Africa to Asia, and Columbus sailed west from Spain to discover the Americas. Thus began globalization.
Theft, military violence, and trade played a central role in the corporate take-over of the globalization process. It began with the British and Dutch merchants’ heist of the Portuguese trade routes around Africa in the late 1500s, which led to the formation of the first business corporations in the world, the British East India Company and Dutch Vereernigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. Their royal charters gave them the privilege to raise private armies and violently conquer all the territory necessary to exploit resources throughout Africa and Asia. At the same time, their founders were also pioneers in the money-laden democracy movement. Mayors of London revolved through the leadership of the British East India Company. Founders of the Vereernigde Oost-Indische served as the leaders of the Dutch Republic. Corporate elites, war and democratic elites have been close partners from the beginning of both modern democracy and corporations. Merchants took over almost all British public policy making in the mid-1600s and relegated the monarch to a figurehead by the 1680s.
But, American revolutionaries rejected the power of corporations and England’s money-based governing structure. Patriots threw British East India Company tea into Boston Harbor. After the revolution, states limited the lifespan of corporations and required that they serve the common good. John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company and the early railroad corporations slowly weakened state control of corporate power. Corporate elites exercised over arching power in the United States by the late 1800s in the era of the robber barons.
Corporate lawyers took direct control of US foreign policy at the turn of the twentieth century. They launched America into the corporate globalization process with the Spanish American War, giving the tycoons of the American Sugar Trust colonial access to the best sugar cane-growing regions in the Philippines, Cuba, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Wall Street lawyers took over the US War and State Departments in the first decade of the twentieth century. Elihu Root, legal counsel for steel baron Andrew Carnegie, served as US Secretary of War from 1899 to 1904 and Secretary of State from 1905 to 1909. Banking mogul JP Morgan’s partner, Robert Bacon, followed Root as Secretary of State and Philander Knox, who helped establish the US Steel Trust, followed him, serving until 1913.
When Democratic President Woodrow Wilson and his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant shunned corporate interests in 1913, Elihu Root and Philander Knox created a private group to control US foreign policy and established the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) to reinsert corporate interest into US foreign policy on a permanent basis. It has overseen US foreign policy for the last century by revolving its members through the US State Department. Since its founding, CFR has been managed by financial titans including David Rockefeller and Robert Rubin. CFR member Henry Kissinger, a primary protégé of the Rockefellers, served corporate interests as US Secretary of State and National Security advisor.
Meanwhile, Elihu Root’s Wall Street legal protégé, Henry Stimson, served as Secretary of War from 1911 to 1913 and then went on to serve as Secretary of State from 1929-1933 and Secretary of War from 1940 to 1945 during World War II. All these corporate functionaries served as central policy makers in the establishment of the American Empire that opened up resources and markets to American corporations around the world.
Corporate elites around the world have also come together in social institutions like the World Economic Forum, the Tri-lateral Commission, and the Bilderberg Group. Their gatherings operate to establish the social and economic ties necessary for them to establish their own global governance in alliance with global military leaders.
Spurred by oil and money, corporate globalization of the Twentieth Century turned into the global corporatization of the Twenty-First Century. The trajectory of global corporatization began with the oil crisis of the 1970s when the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) brought the Western industrialized world to its knees by controlling the price and distribution of oil around the world. The resolution of the crisis came when the oil producing states — dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations — agreed to place their oil profits with big New York banks. Flush with cash, those banks identified the “underdeveloped” nations as prime targets for development loans. As told by John Perkins in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, they persuaded these countries to undertake loan obligations they could not afford. When those countries defaulted on their loans, the global financial community leaned on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bail those countries out.
The International Monetary Fund came out of the Bretton Woods Conference at the lavish Mount Washington Hotel in 1944. It was openly acknowledged that attendees were there to make the world safe for investment capital. Along with the IMF, corporate and Western leaders launched the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the World Bank. They created the IMF to help countries deal with short-term balance of payments problems.
When bankrupt countries were unable to repay the big banks in the 1980s, the IMF stepped in to bail those countries out. In return for the bail-out, the IMF forced them to privatize their public services, cut back their public benefits, and promote the growth of a cash economy dedicated to exporting commodities and importing industrialized goods. These actions devastated land-based, peasant cultures around the world. Banks benefitted because nations paid back the fraudulent loans. Privatization of state enterprises and expansion of their cash economies ensured the expansion of global corporate empire.
Corporate-driven trade agreements joined this IMF effort to facilitate global corporate governance. The World Trade Organization (WTO) grew out of the GATT and advertised itself as the new global constitution under which nation-states would lose their sovereign right to protect the health and safety of their citizens and environment. Capital could flow freely around the world unrestrained by national laws. Corporate lawyers would settle disputes in secret. The WTO was not concerned with setting up a fair global trading system; it was set up to give capital ultimate power and bypass national regulatory laws. This same model was used to make regional trade deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and others.
This process came to a standstill when citizens rose up and shut down the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in November 1999. Activist organizers then formed the World Social Forum as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum and the global civil war continues.
Activities: Present the historical narrative above to give a sense of the origins of corporate globalization. Here are links (PowerPoint and notes on each slide) to the primary teaching tool we have used for this class, Ecuador: Globalization, Devastation and Hope, a PowerPoint I put together that provides a classic example of what has happened to much of the world in the process of global corporatization. It depicts how multinational oil corporations penetrated the Amazon jungle to extract oil, leaving an environmental disaster, which led to one of the largest environmental lawsuits in history. The PowerPoint shows how the Ecuadorian elite leveraged future oil profits to borrow heavily from international financial markets for projects that never delivered the necessary returns to repay the loans. When Ecuador went broke, international bankers demanded that Ecuador get rid of its national currency and use the US dollar, destroying all the savings of the Ecuadorian middle class. The “Hope” comes from the response of the Ecuadorian indigenous and peasant communities that rose up in the face of globalization and devastation to throw out the elites and, for a short time, rule the country. This catalyzed a national movement to confront the devastation caused by globalization, including efforts to stop a second oil pipeline over the Andes Mountains and localized efforts like that of Junin, where the people burned down a copper mine twice in their 20-year effort to stop its development from devastating their town.
In addition to the PowerPoint, there are many excellent videos about globalization. I have listed some here showing presentations by:
• Kevin Danaher, the co-founder of Global Exchange and one of the most dramatic speakers on the topic,
• Lori Wallach, long-time activist organizing protests against the international trade agreements,
• Ruth Caplan from the Alliance for Democracy,
• David Rothkopf, who operates inside corporate globalization,
• Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom on global governance from the local level,
• Professor William Robinson on what the next systems might look like.
You may also be able to find a local speaker on these issues, particularly someone connected with Citizens Trade Campaign, which is connected with local groups across the country. You can get a list of their affiliated organizations here.
You could also concentrate on a current topic. One example is the story of the global corporatization of the Ukraine, which is an obvious case of the global corporate empire dragging a part of the old communist bloc into the imperial corporate sphere. Here are links to a couple of studies by the Oakland Institute The Corporate Takeover Of Ukrainian Agriculture and on Walking on the West Side: The World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.
This should be enough material for the first part of this class. Take a break and in the second part of the class, discuss the questions for this class. Here is a link to notes on the answers. Remember to discuss the many books on globalization. Also be sure to pass out the questions, reading rankings and talking points for the next class on global military and the imperial media.
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on corporate globalization.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe a piece on corporatization of the military.
Class 12: war and its promoters
6,000 years of Human History, Militaries as Global Governors, The Imperial Media
Solutions: Global Anti-War Movement, Rise of Popular Media, Partnership Society
Purpose: To show how Western militaries, the largest military operation in the history of the world, have long been dedicated to protecting and promoting the interests of the global corporate empire, while the media giants, as multinational corporations themselves, perform as a mouthpiece for our corporate/military public policy.
Readings: Justice Rising, Fall 2006, Corporate Origins of War and Grassroots Struggles for Peace; Fall 2005, Vol. 1 Information and Democracy: Corporate Control and the Rise of Popular Media
Handouts: Questions, Article Ranking, Talking Points
Paradigm: Media and military are portrayed as adversaries, but in reality the press has sold the American public on going to war for corporate gain for over a century.
Context: Corporate money purchased the US presidency for William McKinley in 1896. This led to an immediate and long-term takeover of US military policy by Wall Street lawyers and corporate CEOs. They used the US military to open markets and resources for American corporations around the world. McKinley appointed well-known Wall-Street lawyer Elihu Root as Secretary of War in 1899. He became the prototype of the “wise man” who spins the revolving door between defending elite corporate interests in the courts and making public policy in the corporate interest as a government official. Root performed corporate legal work for railroad barons Jay Gould and E. H. Harriman and then enforced the “open door” policy that created US corporate access to any and all resources and markets around the world. Under his oversight, the US military blew doors open in China, Cuba, and the Philippines.
America’s corporate press promoted such policies, often inventing events to rile American public opinion in favor of aggressive military action.
• Hearst’s New York Journal headlines about the sinking of the Maine that the Spanish American War;
• The popular media narrative that we were bringing civilization to the Philippines as we slaughtered millions of Filipinos fighting for their independence;
• The widespread media claim that America put down the Chinese Boxer Rebellion to protect American missionaries.
This is the sort of headlines Americans received in the media for the next century. They claimed the military performed a policing role either to improve the invaded countries or to protect American citizens at home and abroad. In reality they were carrying on a constant campaign of military brutality to promote corporate interests.
Known globally as “gunboat diplomacy,” Teddy Roosevelt called it “Big Stick Diplomacy.” Since 1900, the US military intervened in foreign countries over two hundred times. After 33 years of participating in military ventures, Smedley Butler, the top-ranked Marine and most decorated military officer, as well as the son of the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, rebelled. Smedley Butler proclaimed that in his military service he had really been a “high class muscle man for Wall Street…a gangster for capitalism…I helped make Mexico safe for American oil, Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank…I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests…I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies…In China I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.”
Heading into World War II, the Council on Foreign Relations, which had become a major voice in promoting multi-national corporate interests through US military and foreign policy, produced a study proclaiming that it was in our “national interest” to control certain global resources if we were to maintain a dominant position in the world. Those resources included the oil in Indonesia. Our protection of those resources animated US foreign and military policy throughout the Cold War, including our tragic engagement in Vietnam.
Norman Solomon took on the imperial press as promoters of war in his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, and with Sean Penn, in the movie by the same name. They highlight how the media unquestioningly spread disinformation across the country about a fictitious Gulf of Tonkin incident that was used to gain congressional approval for the Vietnam War. They explain how the media/Pentagon disinformation campaign continued from Vietnam to the War on Terror.
They also point out that the military always blamed the media coverage of the Vietnam War for the loss of American public support for the war. That excuse led the military to increasingly control the information that the media could put out, to the point that they incorporated the media into their disastrous invasion of Iraq where the media performed as partners with the military. Entrenched reporters ballyhooed the technical perfection of the new weapons, claiming they saved civilian lives. Meanwhile civilian casualties went from 10% of the casualties in World War I to 90% of the casualties in George W. Bush’s Iraq War.
That was a war sold by both the Pentagon and the media on entirely false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The false claims obfuscated the real purpose of the war: to “open the door” to American corporate access to Middle East markets and resources. The fallout from this fallacious, violent conquest of Iraq continues to be an all-out disaster
.Major media outlets also supported our military policy during the Iraq war by underreporting the size of the anti-war movement in the United States while discrediting the participants. Bill O’Reilly on Fox News said that all the protesters were part of the “Far Left,” which he called, “a destructive force that must be confronted.” Michelle Malkin, another Fox commentator, called Medea Benjamin, the founder of Code Pink and one of the leaders of the anti-war movement, a “terrorist sympathizer, dictator-worshipping propagandist.” This statement could not be further from the truth. As a leader of the demonstrations against the WTO and formidable critic of US imperial policies, she has long highlighted the importance of true democracy and the power of people over corporate military power.
The global military has positioned itself along with corporations as the two institutions taking a central role in creating de facto global corporate governance. Along with multinational corporate leaders who meet at global forums and have long-term social and financial relations, the members of the various regional and national militaries, including NATO, also establish long-term personal and financial relationships. This enables them to form essentially a single, coherent military force aimed at protecting corporate interests. Derek Reveron, professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, detailed this military role in his book Exporting Security. Quoting from the Justice Rising review of that book, Reveron “outlines the development of this globalized military coming together to support the objectives of the neoliberal strategy for corporate dominance…He points out that militaries around the world talk the same language and frame the world in a similar light, making it easy for them to establish life-long relationships of trust. These relationships have helped in partnering with almost every nation in the world to ensure security for foreign investments, corporate access to natural resources, global trade, and economic integration with global corporatization. They hold conferences and train military leaders, as well as police and other law enforcement units in operations from oil platform security to non-lethal crowd control.” NATO is the premier example of the globalized military.
Four decades ago, corporate imperial policy identified nation-states in the Middle East, particularly Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, as obstacles to global domination by corporate empire. Since that time, war supported by Western allies has been waged in three of those countries and is often threatened in the fourth. NATO has been at the heart of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is allied with the Western Powers in Syria, and leery of the situation in Iran.
The global military made its first foray into global affairs with its incursion in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Yugoslavia was the only functioning communist state in Europe. Corporate global empire needed to have it crushed. It was NATO’s first action in its new role as the military of the corporate global empire. For background reading, see these pieces by Michael Parenti and Michel Chossudovsky.
As was fully demonstrated during the months before the Iraq War, there exists a huge, united, global movement opposing war to enhance corporate interests. Millions of people joined a coordinated anti-war effort in 2003 and are ready to unite under the banner of the World Social Forum, “Another World is Possible.” Here is how we portrayed this movement in our book Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire:
Activities: You can start the class with the 6,000 years of history chart we developed to show the historic cycles when people power, violent power, and money power dominated public policy making. It extends from the Mediterranean partnership culture to the Age of Aquarius. Here is the timeline chart to print out on a 36” format printer. You can also use this PDF to print it out at 8.5 x 11 and hand out to all of the class for discussion. Here are notes to be used for discussing the timeline.
The time line starts with the rise of non-hierarchical, partnership cultures in the Mediterranean more than 6,000 years ago. They lived without war or hierarchy for thousands of years. From there it traces the invasion of violent armies from the steppes armed with horses and chariots between 1500-1000 BC that began a thousand years of violence dominating human existence. The final extinction of any people power came in 50 BC with the end of the Roman Republic. This is the era of violent kingdoms when public policies came from the point of a sword.
Money as we know it first came into use in 700 BC, and monied elites first showed their dominance over the power of violence with the Magna Carta in 1220, when the English aristocracy acted to curb the king’s powers because he wanted their money.
We still live in an age where money is power, with money power often using military violence to ensure its rule. However, beginning in the enlightenment 200 years ago, personal power of the people began to emerge. By the 1960s, American Blacks, women and Native Americans, along with the anti-war movement, challenged the power of the wealthy white patriarchy. The Age of Aquarius began in 2015. It promises two thousand years in which:
Once you have covered the 6.000 years, you can go back and highlight the history of the past 100 years discussed in the Context section above. Follow this up with a description of the global military dedicated to protecting the neoliberal trade agenda. Finish with a discussion of the global movement to make another world possible.
Here is a list of videos you can use to flesh out this topic. Norman Solomon and Sean Penn’s War Made Easy is one of the best as it portrays the cheerleading role the corporate media plays in the lead up and execution of US war policies. It is a long documentary; you might want to show a few of the shorter pieces to stimulate discussion of the various topics.
By now it should be a time to take a break and go onto the second part of the class discussing the questions. Here are notes to help stimulate discussion around the questions.
Do not forget to hand out the article rankings, questions and talking points for the next class on World Citizenry & Global Consciousness. Also make sure you give out the list of books for more in depth reading on War and the imperial media
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone on your class list and include a current article on global citizenship and global values. Make sure that you include a PDF of the reading for the next class, which is a combination of the JR on progressive religion and Yes Magazine on Together with the Earth. Here is a PDF of that issue.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe a piece on immigration or global consciousness
class 13: world citizenry and global consciousness
World Citizenry and Global Consciousness
Migration, International Workers’ Rights, Earth Consciousness
Purpose: To examine the need for global citizenship and earth consciousness in an age of corporate empire and corrupted morals.
Readings: Justice Rising, Spring 2008, Emigrants—World Citizens or Corporate Slaves?; Combined JR Winter 2007, Progressive Religion vs. Pervasive Corporate Corruption; Yes Magazine, Spring 2015,Together with the Earth
Handouts: Questions, Talking Points
Paradigm: Policies of the global corporate empire and their failing nation-states, driven by an amoral corporate culture, have created a crisis of worldwide emigration, earth destruction and human bondage that can only be reversed with global citizenship and earth consciousness.
Context: Humans have revered birth’s magic and held nature’s wonders in awe since our beginning. Our oldest human artifacts honor fertility. Ancient cultures shared a deep respect for their fellow humans and nature. They flourished in societies built on partnerships, cooperation, and the sacredness of the land. That social milieu occupies 99.8% of the human time line.
The disintegration of those societies erupted 3,500 years ago as notions of private property began erasing old concepts. The Old Testament, which forms the basis of our Judeo/Christian culture, displaced the old pagan cultures and supported the domination of nature by humans, establishment of private property, and patriarchal rule. The first human writing systems arose in this era and were used to divide land and wealth between haves and have-nots.
Notions of human domination over nature and male patriarchy still drive today’s extraction societies of our global corporate empire. Imperial wars in the Middle East are destroying local societies. Western-promoted trade agreements help lay waste to local economies. Both wars and trade agreements send floods of migrants across borders to places where the corporate empire needs workers. This has led to racially tainted culture wars across Europe and the US, instituting uncooperative national governments that denigrate migrants and eschew social justice. Nation states have proved incapable of solving these problems of migration.
Meanwhile, as outlined in Part 3 of this course, the corporate empire is fouling the nest we live in. Oblivious to the economic and spiritual values of our natural systems, we are ruining nature’s systems and depleting our natural resources.
We all need to adhere to a moral narrative that recognizes the value of other humans and nature and understand how we are all connected. Continual migration of humans has long developed a sense that more than anything we are citizens of the earth. That sense was canonized in the 1948 passage of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights. That document creates a basis of human rights and includes:
• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
• Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.
• Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family.
• Everyone has the right to education.
Our inherent respect for social justice does animate parts of our major religions. An Episcopalian priest once implored me to understand that the gospel never says that you win, that it is always a struggle. Most religions also address concepts of social justice including:
• The concept of Karma in Buddhism,
• The Zakat of the Quran,
• Rita of the Hindu tradition,
• Jewish “simcha ("gladness" or "joy"), tzedakah ("the religious obligation to perform charity and philanthropic acts"), chesed ("deeds of kindness"), and tikkun olam ("repairing the world").
The Quakers emerged during the strife of the English Civil War when merchants, corporations, and capitalism began dominating the culture in England. They presented a stinging analysis of what the new commercial ethos meant to the lives of the common people:
This is the type of analysis we should be embracing. Martin Luther King in his great Beyond Vietnam speech encouraged us all to embrace a new morality. He declared “We must rapidly shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives, and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Almost all indigenous belief systems embrace social justice along with a respect for nature. When indigenous cultures rose to political prominence in Ecuador and Bolivia, indigenous leaders placed “sumak kawsay — “living well” or living in harmony with the natural world, while insisting that nature has rights deserving of protection — into their national constitutions. Those cultures have recognized that the earth is in peril and chosen to spread their concepts of sumak kawsay to the far corners of the planet.
After the 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and The Rights Of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the participants declared the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It is a great addition to the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights that essentially calls for global citizenship for all humans. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth presents a moral and spiritual connection between humans and nature. Its dozens of statements include:
• We are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;
• Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;
• All beings have the right to
— maintain their identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;
— be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;
— water as a source of life;
; • Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth;
• Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:
— ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth;
— respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;
— promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings;
— promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth;
Such global visions animate the growing global movement against corporate imperial empire that flooded the streets of the world with millions of people in February 2003. It also inspired the 2017 global women’s marches confronting the institutionalization of patriarchy in many societies around the world. Both events demonstrated that a global movement is coming together to promote cooperation, social justice, and a vision that we are all a part of nature.
The great questions are: Will this movement achieve acceptance and political power before the earth plummets into endless wars over resources or rising waters flood our streets? Can we bring on the Age of Aquarius in time to save earth as we know it?
Activities: Give the class a historic sense of our migratory and spiritual history described above. Emphasize that we are a land of migrants and that economic policies and wars driven by economic/political/corporate conquest often force that migration. It might be interesting to see if economic necessity or wars drove the migration of the class members’ ancestors.
You could also have someone talk to the class who has, or whose family has recently migrated to your community, especially if their migration was caused by corporate trade policies, resource wars, or the power of money.
You can also distribute a copy of the Declaration of Human Rights. Please download a copy here. You can also download a copy of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It can be interesting to have each member of the class read an individual section of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth and come to a sense of our moral responsibilities to each other and to nature.
It is also interesting to discuss the early Quaker critiques of the budding capitalism of the 1600s. For ideas on this, here is a link to the transcript of a talk I once researched and gave on Commercial Empire and the Selling of the Soul. You can see videos about global citizenship and global consciousness here. These are such important and personal issues, it might be good to go around the class and solicit people’s thoughts on these two topics.
These activities can easily take up the first part of the class. Take a break and come back for a discussion on questions about migration and spiritual responses to our global problems. Here are notes to help facilitate the answers to those questions.
This is the end of the regular class portion of this course. The last class helps people develop local solutions. One of the things we have done for that class is have everyone create a thirty-second elevator speech on one of the topics we have covered. To facilitate that, we have created an expanded list of the talking points you have handed out for each class. It provides background material for each of the talking points. Here is a link to those talking points. Send it as a PDF to all the class participants. Here is also a shorter amalgamated list of the talking points you have handed out for each class.
You could also prepare the students to do some role-playing with the talking points and get ready to practice talking to their “conservative Uncle George” on one of these topics. Also hand out the survey about the class for class members to fill out and bring back
The day after the class, email the word document giving background for the talking points. You can also send them the survey for the class, a document about making an elevator speech, and a list of the solutions that have been discussed in class or in the readings. You can also send them this URL to a video about making an elevator speech. https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/1248069313393/refining-the-elevator-pitch.html
The day before the last class, send a reminder email that the last class is coming up and maybe resend the survey, talking points, elevator speech information, solutions and the URL to the video.
Class 14: the last class: Conclusions and Solutions
Other Local Solutions, Elevator Speeches, Role Playing, Survey
Purpose: To wrap up the preceding 13 classes by emphasizing local responses to corporate power available to your community and providing an opportunity for putting what we have learned into action.
Materials: Solutions, Talking Points complete, Talking Points abbreviated, Survey
Paradigm: We have studied the history and problems of corporate power, and we have explored the solutions. Now, it is time for action.
Context: Our friend and cohort Jan Edwards, who worked to pass the first corporate personhood resolution in Point Arena, California in 2000, often reminds us of the old phrase, “Ready, Aim, Fire.” If we only get to the first two stages, continually saying “ready, ready, aim, aim, ready, aim, ready,” we will never solve problems. At some point we have to take action. The concluding class is an opportunity to move in that direction by exploring any unexamined local solutions, discussing the solutions we have studied, and discuss local community actions that can impact the problems of corporate power and help build a local, sustainable, cooperative, vibrant community in the future. It is also a time to practice acting personally as a responsible citizen to educate and advocate for the democratic solutions you feel most deeply about. Finally, it is also a time to reflect on your experience with the class, what you liked, what could be improved.
Activities: This class is a time to cover all of the important points that did not get covered in the first 13 classes. If there is someone in the class who is involved with creating a local solution but has not already discussed their work, this is the time to invite him or her to make a presentation about that solution to the class. It can also be a time for the class as a whole to identify local initiatives they can take as a group to further build the resilience of the local community and counter the depredations of corporate power. You can also review all the solutions that have been brought up in the readings
This is also a time for everyone to put themselves out into the public space and practice a short speech on a topic of their choosing connected to this class. Here is short video at https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/1248069313393/refining-the-elevator-pitch.html on making elevator speeches that you may have sent to everyone, but if only a few people watched it, you can show it in class. Here is another video that is a great example of an elevator speech on ending plutocracy. Here is a template for organizing an elevator speech. Students can then make their elevator speeches. It is important to be supportive while discussing and critiquing the talks.
People can use the information from their elevator speech to have a role playing discussion with someone sitting near them. Have their partner be a fictional opponent, like Old Uncle Bob who spent his life as a corporate executive and thinks that corporations should rule the world and that governments are just getting in the way of corporations making life better for everyone. Or people could role-play with a potential ally like a young cousin Ned who is just figuring the world out, or an old Aunt Alice, who was or is a hippie and activist but who spent most of her life as a middle-class housewife far from the world of money and power, though probably deeply involved with community. The partner should start the conversation so the speaker has to adjust to a real world situation. Then switch roles.
By now you are probably coming to the end of the class. One of the final things to do is to pass out the survey. Our advisor and mentor, Lillian Carttright, who has been involved in academia on many levels for many years, recommends doing this sort of survey to give the participants time to reflect on what the class has meant for them and to give the facilitators some pointers on how the class might change and improve in the future. If there is time, have people fill them out in class. If there is not time, have them send them to you. Finally, give everyone a big thank you and ask if anyone has any parting words.
It can also be fun to organize a party for all of the participants. We do this once a year in the middle of the summer. We invite all the people from the most recent class plus everyone else who ever took any of our classes. Here is a sample invitation. Have Fun! That is one of the most important parts of doing this work. Let us know how it works out.