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Rights! The Newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution
June 2004

Welcome to Rights!, the newsletter of the Center for Democracy and the Constitution ("CDC"), published monthly, with at most three short updates between issues.

We're working to end the constitutional rights of corporations and to create a vital, living democracy in the U.S.A. (including strong businesses run for the public good), starting at home in Massachusetts. So please join us! We hope you'll find Rights! informative, engaging, useful, infuriating, energizing, inspiring.
  In this issue:
Danger: Democracy!!

Danger: Democracy!!
On December 18, 2000, George W. Bush "joked" that "If this was a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier; just so long as I was the dictator." But in fact, he was just describing the essence of U.S. foreign policy for decades, during which our government was instrumental in the overthrow of numerous democratically elected governments all over the world (for details, see Killing Hope by William Blum). Wherever passion for democracy is aflame, the U.S. does its best to douse it. But why?

Simply put, democracy threatens the accumulation of great power and wealth - - and those who have them don't want to give them up. That was the underlying dynamic of our much lauded Constitution -- drawn up by propertied white males who left 80% of Americans out of the definition of "people." It was a document that enshrined slave-owner rights but not voting rights, rights of a centralized state but not rights of local communities, rights of property but not rights of living human beings. The Constitution is the matrix that 200 years ago set the foundation for the kinds of cruelty and horror that we have seen today in Iraq.

Nonetheless, the seeds of democracy are there too. We are guaranteed a republican form of government, which requires the consent of us, the governed. Amendments were driven into the Constitution, beginning with the Bill of Rights (without which the Constitution would not have been ratified by the states) and including the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments (which freed slaves, provided for equal rights for Blacks, guaranteed them the right to vote, and gave women the right to vote, respectively). Unfortunately, our fledgling democracy has been commandeered by powerful interests which have molded it for their purposes to planetary detriment.

But the hope and the promise are still there, among millions of people everywhere who believe in democracy -- not the buzz word that George W. Bush casually banters about, but the word that means that we decide on issues of war and peace, health and the environment, and sustainable local economies.

And that's what CDC is all about -- taking back the democracy that is our inalienable right. We approach it with a tool that can unite many single issue groups on one front: abolishing illegitimate corporate constitutional rights, rights which belong to the people. It's an enormous task, but together we can do it -- we *must* do it -- to usher in a new just, healthy and peaceful world.
Constitutional Garden Party and Fun(d)raiser
Rain or shine -- Join us one and all!

With special guest Frances Moore Lappé

Saturday, June 19, 2004
2:30 - 5:00 p.m.

At the Cambridge home of:
Michael Kanter and Elizabeth Stagl
34 Clay Street

Short walk from Alewife T stop, ample on-street parking. For directions, please contact Michael, or contact us at info411 {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org or (781) 674-2339.   Minimum $25 donation requested.

For further information, please go to our website.

Democracy School
Next Democracy School in Boston: July 9-11, 2004

Thomas Linzey, the founder of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and the attorney at the forefront of legal battles on corporate constitutional rights, along with Richard Grossman, Co-Founder of the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), will teach our July Democracy School at Boston College.

Democracy School covers the history and development of corporations in the U.S., the movements for people's rights, exciting current developments in fighting corporate harms in Pennsylvania, and strategizing on how to apply all of these lessons for the benefit of Massachusetts communities dealing with toxics, sprawl, pollution, noise, and corruption of government. Democracy School is highly recommended to anyone interested in changing our democracy's collision course with corporate rule!

To find out more about Democracy School, click here . Our March session was oversubscribed and we are limited to 20 attendees -- so sign up today!
Introducing Greg Eugene, a Member of CDC's Board of Directors
Greg Eugene Greg Eugene is an activist in the Black community and a performance artist. Among many of the tasks he undertakes in our striving towards democracy, Greg is Chair of CDC's Grants Committee.

Short Takes
A couple of new links:

Persons, Inc. is a San Francisco-based national citizens action coalition campaigning for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating clearly that constitutional rights are only for individual human beings.

The Western Massachusetts Committee on Corporations & Democracy is a group calling on its rich heritage of Shays Rebellion to organize against corporate rule.

. . . and a new book . . .

CDC Advisory Board member Charles Derber's new book is out: Regime Change Begins at Home: Freeing America from Corporate Rule. Charlie is a prolific writer on the corporate assaults on our rights and humanity, and a strong advocate for CDC's work. For a limited time only, Regime Change is available for half-price on ($9.97). Search on "Derber."
Join Us!
In a recent speech at a BALLE conference (pronounced "bah-lee" - Business Alliance for Living Economies), David Korten spoke of our current transition to a new Era:
The old Era — the 5,000 year Era of Empire is dying. A new era — an Era of Planetary Community — is birthing . . . The most powerful expression of the birthing is found in global civil society — a social phenomenon new to the human experience and rarely mentioned by the corporate press. All over the world people are waking up to the reality of the need for deep change and embracing the challenge of what theologian Thomas Berry calls the Great Work . . .

[The events of February 15, 2003] involved the self organization of more than ten million people of every race, religion, language, and nationality on the planet — with no central organization, central budget, or charismatic leader calling his or her followers to action. Even less visible in the corporate media than the street demonstrations are the millions of people engaged in the work of birthing the new Era by living it into being.

We are all an important part of the Great Work. Join CDC in "living it into being." Work with us to educate the public and develop a legal team that will help communities reclaim basic rights when confronted with corporate harms. And engage in the dialogue about who governs as we move towards a ballot question to abolish corporate rule.

Sign up to volunteer in areas such as research or organizing. Hold a house party or fundraiser in your neighborhood (we'll provide a speaker). Attend Democracy School to learn more about the history of corporations and the Constitution, and what's being done today -- as you read this -- to turn it around.

And please consider contributing to CDC to eliminate the corporate power that creates war and inequity and poverty in its own interest at the expense of the rest of us. We're not going to get corporate funding, nor should we -- but we do need money to continue our work. This is the beginning of an independent people's movement, and it will be built by you, by me, by all of us.

To volunteer, send an e-mail to adam {a-t} constitution411 [d-o-t] org.

And to contribute online, click here. Or make out a check to "CDC" and mail it to:

   Center for Democracy and the Constitution
   12 Locust Avenue
   Lexington, MA 02421

Contributions are tax deductible. Many thanks for your interest and support!

Adam D. Sacks
Executive Director
(781) 674-2339

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