Corporations vs Democracy Issue Committee Update
The Corporations v. Democracy Issue Committee is dedicated to education and action that will challenge the power of corporations over our lives. We seek to understand how corporations use their power and their dubious constitutional “rights” to define our law, politics, jurisprudence, work, technology and even our food and our communities--all for the good of the corporations. We seek to learn and teach others how we got into this mess, through the discovery and study of hidden histories. We seek to encourage a particular form of WILPF activism by placing our study of corporate power in the context of the people’s right to self governance and the meaning of real or radical democracy in actual practice.
Our major tools are our study curriculum and our strategy/action materials. These provide opportunities for WILPF members and others to establish branch or community study groups to reframe local campaigns against corporate harms in the language and strategy of citizen sovereignty and radical democracy--and practice democracy in the process.
These materials will guide, and have already influenced, local campaigns for ordinances to restore self governance--for example, to keep water in the public realm, abolish corporate personhood, and limit corporate power in county elections. We continue to connect with people and organizations concerned with various aspects of this work. Study groups have thrived in Des Moines, Tucson, Phoenix, Santa Cruz, Bloomington, Indiana and elsewhere. Many of us have appeared on local access radio, or conducted public showings of materials on film.
The film, "The Corporation", is now available on DVD and being promoted as a means to engage communities in discussion/learning.
We began in 1999 as a national WILPF campaign called “Challenge Corporate Power, Asserting the People’s Rights.” In 2005 the campaign morphed into the “Corporations v. Democracy Issue Committee” but continued with the original mission: education by means of study groups and encouraging people to assert their rights of self-governance through local law. Participants include both WILPF members and others.
The study groups are structured into ten sessions. Participants receive materials to read on their own, then come together as a group to discuss their reactions and ideas. The introductory session requires no advance preparation. The focus is on process as much as content, as groups are encouraged to practice democracy in their interactions and explore just what that means. At the end of the ten sessions groups can decide whether they wish to continue to meet, take action, or disband.
With the help of feedback from the initial participants, the study group materials have been refined, expanded and revised, and are now available on this web site.
More information about the Campaign
Challenge Corporate Power, Asserting the People's Rights is one of US-WILPF's three national campaigns. Phase I of the campaign has been education using the technique of study groups, which have been convening all over the country since October 1999. Participants include WILPF members as well as non-members.
The study groups are structured into ten sessions. Participants receive materials to read on their own, and then they come together as a group to discuss their reactions and ideas. (There's no advance preparation required for the introduction session.) The focus is on process as much as content, as groups are encouraged to pratice democracy in their interactions and explore just what that means. At the end of the ten sessions, groups can decide if they'd like to continue meeting, take action, or disband.
With feedback from the initial participants, the study group materials have been cleaned up, expanded, and revised and are now available on this website.
- If you're already familiar with the study or discussion group concept and want to know more details about the content of the material, the syllabus will provide more detailed information.
- If you're interested in a study group but aren't sure how to begin, check out the Getting Started page for ideas.
- If you already participate in some sort of discussion or study group and are looking for topics, these materials work very well.
You may download all of the materials for the ten sessions, plus Getting Started, in the formatted, downloadable Acrobat® PDF files. If you prefer to order the printed study materials, please send a check for $15 payable to WILPF with a note requesting the complete packet to:
11 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
If you have ideas or any questions about the program, or if you would like more information of any kind, please contact the issue committee members.
WILPF launched its Campaign to Abolish Corporate Personhood in September 2001. An organizing packet is available for $10 from WILPF (see address above) or the materials can be downloaded by clicking here.
The Syracuse Cultural Workers, in partnership with WILPF and POCLAD, has produced a poster-sized "Call to Defy Corporate Domination" that is now available for sale, pictured at right. To purchase posters, please send a check payable to WILPF at the address above. Prices are listed below and include tax:
1-9 posters -- $8 each + a one-time $3 postage & handling fee
10-24 posters -- $4 each + a one-time $4 postage & handling fee
25 or more -- $2 each + a one-time $6 postage & handling fee
WILPF would like to know who is using the study materials from the website so we can (a) let you know about updates to the materials and (b) let you know about other people geographically near you who are interested in the same ideas. The information provided to us will be used for no other purposes. This is completely optional, but we hope you will let us know who you are:
Organization (if any)
Street Address, City, State, Zip Code
Please send the information to WILPF Operations Director Laurie Belton.
Extra-special thanks go to the following people, without whom this project would not have been possible:
- all of the pathbreaking, first-year study groups, who test-drove the first version of the reading materials and provided invaluable feedback
- Ellen Schwartz, WILPF webmistress extraordinaire
- Rick Beach, document and technology wizard