The Coastal Post - January, 1997

One-Thousand Days to the Millennium

By Frank Scott

There are many questions to consider as we begin 1997 and near the century's end. Among them: can corporate media's highway to the mall be intersected by an information highway to democracy? Can a divided people find common purpose other than as consumers? Can we stop the rape of our environment-and the invasion of our personal lives-by the oil, gas and weapons lobby, before it causes social breakdowns beyond what has already happened?

The most important question may be whether our political parties will continue representing Corporate America, money and hypocrisy, or whether a democratic movement of citizens can learn how to end racial, sexual and ethnic divisions that strengthen minority control over everything, including private space.

Members of a society that worships individual rights and private property ought to wonder just how individual and private it is to sit strapped in metal, speeding over asphalt, rushing to the next purchase of waste or experience of neuro-psychosis, propelled by images and voices of mass consciousness, programmed by mind managers who have us thinking it was all our idea. Huh?

Was it you who spent $1.8 billion in the last election, while more than 50% of Americans stayed home and 95% of incumbents were re-elected? Did you triple the value of your investment portfolio, while thousands of your fellow citizens were laid-off, downsized, retired and tossed into a shrinking social safety net? Did you snarl at an immigrant, spit at an umpire, shout at a driver, shake your fist at the TV or long for good old days that were as much a product of a consciousness industry as is current reality? Don't despair. Most of us are in the same fix, lashing out at different scapegoats and finding justification in different mythologies. We're nicer than we seem, but it's difficult to find our commonality, what with all the questions for which we're offered few answers beyond the most mundane, or the most menacing.

Which brings us back to the last election, by turns mundane AND menacing. Is there hope for the future? Last year at this time, we offered suggestions for ending corporate dictatorship. This year, we can find more organizations forming around some of the ideas mentioned, not the least of them being the need for ordinary people to live in harmony with themselves and their natural environment. That would mean finally coming to grips with corporate capitalism and our two most deep-rooted problems.

Economics and race in America are equal, but NOT separate. They cannot be dealt with in isolation, as has been the case up to now. Mildly integrating a corporate class will not stop a production process based on expansion and waste, anymore than integrating an armed force will stop killing and war. Merely changing the color of the executive staff only prolongs the slaughter and sustains the racism served by the economics of corporate capital. The racial ghetto, the divided population and the diminished natural and social environment are the result of a profit motive operating for a bottom line, without regard for human life or other forms of nature. Corporate capital must be confronted in fact, or democracy will remain a fiction.

On the way to the Millennium, a number of groups have taken up that task. Two of them, the Alliance for Democracy and The New Party are worthy of note. "The mission of the Alliance for Democracy is to free all people from corporate domination of politics, economics, the environment, culture, and information in order to establish true democracy and to create a just society with a sustainable, equitable economy." That's from the Mission statement of The Alliance, which had its founding convention this past November, right after election day.

Then there's the New Party, which has been organizing for three years and is "building a multi-racial, lively and creative political organization working to break the stranglehold that corporate money and corporate media have over our political process." The Alliance already has dozens of chapters across the country, and the New Party has won 94 of its 139 local races. It wants to work both inside and outside the Democratic party and has a case before the Supreme Court to let voters select candidates on more than one ballot line.

These groups join a host of older and almost daily forming new associations of Americans who've become sickened by the nature of their diminishing society and its divided people. What's most significant is their focus on fighting corporate control as the way to bring about democracy and create racial justice.

Americans should be encouraged by other hopeful signs, like the victory of the people of Maine, who voted for Public Financing of statewide elections. They should also be pleased that many doctors, suffering under corporate Managed Care, are forming unions and expressing support for a single-payer

health care system. And now that Maxine Waters has taken leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus, progressives may have a stronger voice in government.

There is a long way to go before corporate reality can be transformed into democracy, but the American experience of animosity, isolation and despair may be near its end. A growing awareness that collective political action is both possible and necessary means that 1997 could bring us closer to the goal of a better world by the millennium. Happy New Year.