Just when I start feeling a little discouraged about the apparent apathy of the public in the face of rampant corporate and government corruption and exploitation, something I read tonight about an effort to unite Walmart employees in different countries to take coordinated action against this corrupt and brutal company, re-energized me and gave me hope.
Yes, I have to admit that for years I've been obsessively harping on the need for social justice activists to be more strategic in their approach; to come up with short-, mid-, and long-term strategies; to be innovative.
When it comes to union actions, I've felt that the rallies and walk-outs by themselves weren't enough. I've come to the same conclusion regarding street protests and marches.
Is not that those things need to be done, but that they're not enough, nor that effective.
I've wanted to start seeing activists putting their heads together and think about these global monsters (corporations) as what they are: corrupt systems designed to extract the maximum amount of wealth from the population.
Once that's understood, then they need to be looked at a systemic level, piece by piece, trying to understand exactly how it works, and especially trying to understand their weaknesses.
Then come up with coordinated strategies to exploit those weaknesses in a very deliberate manner.
In fact, I've been wanting see the entire social justice and anti-corruption movement take that strategic and collaborative approach, across not only state boundaries, but internationally: worker of the world unite, type of thing.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which sprung up world wide almost at once, gave me great hope. But after the brutal repression by police forces turned-corporate-goons, the whole movement seemed to sputter, to fizzle away...
But recently I've started to learn about many developments within the movement which I see as very hopeful. Yes, I know that given the brutality that results from the collusion of supra-national corporations and the criminal international financial cartel (of which Wall Street is a member), and their puppet politicians in government, millions of people in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, U.K., United States, and many other countries, should have rising up to stop the machine. But hey, I'm not going to be too picky. Any sign that the movement is getting smarter is a good sign.
From the moment I started reading the article I became increasingly hopeful after every paragraph, recognizing many of my personal wish list of what I've been wanting to see in social justice activism. Activists coordinating strategies across different countries; trying out different tactics, from the hard-nosed tactic of blocking entrances (in Brazil), to Black Friday protests at over 1,000 Walmart stores in the U.S., to carefully-drafted public relations (to educate the public) campaigns, media campaigns.
This monster, this corrupt behemoth is under siege, as it should:
A recent investigative report by The New York Times, for instance, alleges that Walmart used millions of dollars in bribes to sidestep legal and zoning procedures in Mexico. Revelations like this increase the likelihood that it will face legal action and fines for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The resulting scandal could cost billions as investors withdraw their capital. As Walmart executives know well, mere publicity stunts, when paired with the company’s very real dirty laundry, pose a serious threat. Additionally, the Danish pension fund PFA Pension has promised to withdraw almost $8.8 million in investments from Walmart due to the retailer’s low standards for workers’ rights. And on January 10, a federal judge added Walmart as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by California warehouse workers that alleges millions of dollars in wage theft.
But what really warmed my heart; what really brought a big smile to my face was reading about the concept of bottom-up unionism, and seeing the phrase "open source" used in this context was icing on the cake, since I've bee thinking and wishing to see this approach being used for years:
David Moberg, reporting for In These Times, notes how the kind of “open source” collective action that emerges from worker-leaders rather than paid organizers is a return to the community-based “alternative unionism” of the 1930s. In the United States, there is no single top-down national organization orchestrating the Walmart actions. Much like the Occupy movement’s encampments last year, the Walmart protests rely principally on local networks — stores, community groups, unions, student activists. An alliance between workers and tech-savvy Occupy veterans has made a formidable public relations force on social media. But the kind of activist-generated media that typifies low-wage workers’ struggles is also receiving a significant boost from media professionals.I really encourage people to read the entire article. I especially recommend that those who are engaged in social justice and anti-corruption activism read it to get ideas. This is definitely the direction "the movement" needs to go, IMHO.
Now, I'll head over to twitter and try to contact the group who's planning a protest in San Francisco on February 22nd. I read something about the possibility of some of the them engaging in civil disobedience, risking arrest. I want to submit to the organizers this idea I've been working on, which I call, "Murmurations" which if follows, I think could achieve the goals of the protest without anybody getting arrested.
Or maybe a sub-group may like to try it... You see, I can't help but thinking about these things constantly. It really bothers me to my core that a few tiny group of corporatists are doing everything they can, including buying off our entire government, to enslave us...