Strength in Numbers?
Corpocracy Yes: E Pluribus Unum
Democracy No: E Pluribus Pluribus
E Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one,” was the motto adopted by Congress in 1782 to symbolize (figuratively) the unity between the states and the federal government. It now symbolizes literally the unified diversity of the many different corporations and their industries and their union with “our” government to form the corpocracy.
Over the years, with the corpocracy’s tyrannical power affecting every facet of life, opposition to that power has sprouted hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), less organized groups, and social movements, the least organized and most leaderless of these types of opposition.
Unlike the corpocracy, the nature of its opposition as we shall see in this second article in the trilogy, is E Pluribus Pluribus, “out of many, many,” which is true even in the case where you might think it would be unified and strong; namely, the opposition to the killing and maiming of people and the exploitation and devastation of countries, a business as usual of the deadly monster, the military-national security, industrial and political triumvirate.
The first article 1 was long, probably too long, but the triumvirate is huge and an adequate overview of it could not be short. This second article in the trilogy is short simply because the triumvirate’s opposition, such as it is, does not require a long overview. There just isn’t much widespread and successful opposition to overview. The triumvirate is as powerful, as destructive, and as deadly as ever. The U.S. is becoming even less peaceful and more violent both internationally and domestically.
Antiwar, peace and nonviolence groups: Pursuing their own narrow agendas
There are upwards of 100 if not more of these groups. They have at least five characteristics in common. They all say they are against war and violence and for peace. There is little teamwork or collaboration among them as they are mostly pursuing independently of one another their own agendas. Their agendas are usually of narrow, issue-specific issues. With a few exceptions they have limited resources. And it is plainly evident that even with some small tactical victories here and there, these groups are making little progress, if any, in ending war and violence.
Let’s briefly look at three of them; the oldest, the largest and a war veterans’ group. They probably represent in their current status the outer limits of what has been and can be accomplished by fragmented groups with limited resources in their opposition to the monster. But they could also represent the nucleus for an organized, unified and systemic approach to achieving the reforms necessary to topple the monster. Neither this triumvirate nor the rest of the corpocracy is going to be toppled by a “thousand cuts.” To think so is fanciful.
The War Resisters League was started in 1923 (just imagine the number of wars and lesser wars the League has been resisting since then). It has a small, paid staff and volunteers in the national office and numerous committees and task forces. It has chapters in almost half of the states. It also has an international affiliate. It apparently eschews grants or money from big foundations and the government and depends instead on donations from individuals and from corporate matching gift programs.
Some of the activities mentioned on its website are storytelling, witnessing, protesting, challenging military recruitment, organizing and training for nonviolent direct action, and offering “on-the-ground” education.
Peace Action, according to its website, is “the nation’s largest grassroots peace network with chapters and affiliates in states across the country [and] nearly 100,000 activists and experienced organizers—.” Its 2010 annual report lists 15 board directors, a staff of 10, and revenue of over $330,000 with $50,000 from foundations. Its activities include grassroots organizing, developing policy and strategic proposals, petition campaigns, citizen lobbying, lobbying visits to Congressional members and their staffs, and capacity building. Two-thirds of its long range plan addresses capacity building (e.g., growth, fundraising, governance and organizational design) rather than outcome-oriented reform initiatives. It lists over 15 “friends and allies,” but how they actually interact with Peace Action is unclear.
Veterans for Peace was founded in 1985 by 10 U.S. veterans in response to the global nuclear arms race and U.S. military interventions in Central America. It now has approximately 5,000 members (down from more than 8,000 members in the buildup to the U.S. invasion of Iraq) in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization by the United Nations, and, its website says, is the only national veterans’ organization calling for the abolishment of war. VfP has six staff members and 13 board members. Its annual revenue, totaling nearly one half million dollars comes primarily from members’ dues and gifts and the rest from grants, earned income (e.g. the VfP store) and non-member gifts.
VfP has some 150 chapters and more than a dozen working groups. According to its website, VfP has collaborated with dozens of organizations and sponsored thousands of activities promoting peace. They include educational and ceremonial projects (e.g., “exposing the true costs of war” and tree planting memorials); holding peace poetry contests; “healing the wounds of war” (e.g., supporting the lawsuit filed against the U.S. chemical companies by survivors of the toxic “agent orange” used in Vietnam); and helping to rebuild Iraqi’s potable water system devastated by US military and economic interventions and sanctions.
The Peace and Security Funders Group: Too little funding, too little collaboration
The Peace and Security Funders Group, is “dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of philanthropy working to promote international peace and security.” There are 60 very wealthy foundations in the group.
With its collective assets amounting to billions of dollars one would think that this group would be a mother lode for advancing peace and curbing violence in a unified and strategic manner, but that does not seem to be the case in light of the PSFG’s objectives to increase both the foundations’ collaborative funding and its level.
The group is much more a nominal than a functional one. E Pluribus Pluribus applies equally well to it. These foundations need to be persuaded; a) to pool some of their massive assets and establish a new institutional grant program to entice the fragmented antiwar, peace, and nonviolence groups to team up and apply for a large grant that would provide start up and operating funds for pursuing a strategic plan of reforms and; b) to support the mobilizing of public support for reforms.
Social movements: None yet
There are no antiwar, peace and nonviolence movements of any note at the moment. The last notable movement was against the Vietnam War. The movement helped end the war, primarily because of the war draft that affected more people personally. It is possible that the recent shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school may fuel a massive gun control movement, but even if it did, that is no assurance the movement would expand to target the triumvirate’s guns and bombs.
Organized labor is unlikely to launch a massive campaign or movement against the triumvirate. Union power is not what it was decades ago. Moreover, it has its hands busy fighting right to work laws, substandard wages, and outsourced jobs.
There are hundreds of Occupy groups around the country but there is no discernible sign that they will coalesce into a movement against the triumvirate without some leadership prodding the groups to turn their collective attention to it.
The military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate and its allies can — and do — easily tolerate the fragmented opposition, undoubtedly treating it as a safety valve to lessen pressure that could build up to a more threatening challenge. The only way to successfully challenge the monster is to create a powerful and determined counter-force, the subject of the third and final article to come in this trilogy.
- A Deadly Monster. Part 1: An overview of the military-national security, industrial, political triumvirate, Dissident Voice, December 11th, 2012 [↩]