A Bansky Image after the Gulf Oil Disaster – Do we make Molotovs or stop buying BP gasoline? ~dbr
Occupy Wall Street is an amazing show of civil disobedience whose origins date back to lunch counter sit-ins at Woolworth’s that helped shift the tide in the struggle for Civil Rights. But how far can civil disobedience take us without corporate disobedience, a term defined by one of my former colleagues from the Post Carbon Institute:
The money you’ve already given great corporations is in their coffers, and it’s right up in the sky and you can’t get at it. But what you haven’t given them tomorrow is still yours, and that’s where the corporate disobedience
comes in. I don’t think you would be very wise to try and get back what you’ve already given them – they will fight very hard to stop you. But what you’ve got in your pocket now, and what your community has in its pockets, you don’t have to give absolutely all of it to them tomorrow.
They elaborate relating corporate disobedienc
e to civil disobedience:
I agree strongly with the idea of non-violent, coordinated civic action to try to halt and even significantly change the direction our so-called leaders are taking us in, particularly in the matter of the use of mechanized violence. However, stopping military carnage at its source will take more than the usual civil disobedience: it will take corporate disobedience, because it is corporations who control so much of how life is lived, and death is done. And we are surely all feeding the corporations just as fast as we can.We need coordinated action to stop giving the corporations our money – most especially this means cars, mortgages, energy, and industrial food, but it also includes industrial entertainment, clothes, furniture, tools – in fact, the list is almost endless, and encompasses almost everything we use and are told we need. Disconnecting from corporations is going to be ferociously difficult, but will involve far more than protests, and much more even than just boycotting their products, which would be hard enough on its own. To make disconnecting from corporations work, the public must start making things again, effectively taking back the means of production. Local production can (once again) be done through a lively, wide and varied mixture of traditional and newer operating forms – publicly owned, privately owned, family owned, co-operative, for profit, non-profit, direct and indirect democratic control, and perhaps new institutional forms yet to be created. Furthermore, taking back the means of production, especially of energy production (harvesting is a better term), is, I believe, the only way that villages, towns, cities, and regions will be able to fund their public spending and begin to escape the totalitarianism of the corporate stranglehold.Without some significant measures to start changing the filthy, brutal, selfish, destructive, militaristic, greedy system which produces the national and global pyramid schemes (e.g., the former British empire, now transferred to and metamorphosed into the American empire) which are destroying people and planet before our eyes, then civil disobedience on its own will be doomed to failure. Linked with corporate disobedience (which is by definition never illegal, and thus less intimidating in some ways), a wide range of civil protests may have a significant and lasting effect. Otherwise I fear that such actions will be empty gestures waiting to turn up as manicured images in the next cynical Nike or Coca Cola commercial or in some new toxic, violent video game.
We need to shift our spending from the entities that are exacerbating our social and environmental issues to entities that supporting healthy relationships with one another and nature.