WILPF Stands with Occupy Together: Why We Support the People and the Protests

Rise. Resist. Reclaim. This is not a protest. This is a process.

Every day in cities across this land, WILPF members are joining those who are occupying Wall Street, Freedom Plaza, and 1500 other sites where non-violent, “leaderless” groups are emerging as part of a movement that seeks to reclaim a government established by the people and for the people. We join our sisters and brothers—of all ages, colors, ethnic origins, gender, sexual orientations, and social and political statuses—in a "democratic awakening" that reverberates with the voices of individuals who collectively call out for a fundamental shift in power and resources—where the needs of human beings are valued over corporate profits and military might. Together with others of the enlightened commons, WILPF protests the systems and institutions that support endless war and unrestrained corporate greed. 

 

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has a long history of protest based on a fundamental belief in true democracy—a system of government where all people have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. From its beginning in 1915, when 1300 women from Europe and North America gathered in the Hague to protest the killing and destruction of war, WILPF has stood up to call attention to inequality and injustice, and to demand a world in which all people’s economic, social, and political needs are met through sustainable and peaceful means. Since then, WILPF has protested for women's rights, against nuclear bombs, for racial equality, and against war in Vietnam. Today, WILPF joins the Occupy Together movements to protest the corrupt path our country has taken, where public tax dollars are siphoned off from the education of our children, health care for our sick, and social safety nets for our poor and elderly, to bail out banks, shield corporate wealth and fund never-ending wars.

For the 99% of us who do not hold most of the country's wealth and power, the root of the Occupy Together movements is clear: Corporations are not people, money does not equal speech, and war is NOT the answer.

 

WILPF is already a leader in drawing the public’s attention to the many ways the expansion of corporate rights has undermined our democracy, given corporations undue influence in government by blurring the line between money and speech, allowed those with power and connections to profit from war and bloated military budgets, and created a disparity of wealth that grows wider every year. 

While corporations have existed for hundreds of years, in the last century their impact on people’s lives has increased exponentially. Today, corporations in the U.S. are in a position to dictate the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the news we see, the people we elect, and the jobs we have. As companies pursue ever-increasing profits for shareholders, they begin to overwhelm the political institutions that keep them in check, eroding key limitations on their destructive capacities and subjecting the public to a multitude of social and environmental damages. 

Furthermore, the latest phase in the evolution of the military-industrial complex has been a profitable one for many companies. The ten-plus years of ongoing U.S. military operations have allowed private corporations to benefit from government contracts while causing pervasive economic, social, and environmental destruction both at home and around the world. Excessive military spending and bloated defense budgets further exacerbate the great divide between the top 1% of the population and the rest of us, as social services, safety nets, and human needs expenditures are whittled away to direct more and more tax money to our country’s wars.

The 99% have long been blocked from challenging the growing power of corporations and financial interests, but when we join together in a collective movement, we possess a strength that can overcome all opposition. Together with our allies of heart and purpose, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom demands a new path forward—a path that reflects the dignity and worth of all individuals and a society that values life over profit and power. As our fearless founder Jane Addams once asked, “What, after all, has maintained the human race on this globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and the courage to advocate them?” 

For additional information and resources on WILPF’s work on Corporation v. Democracy, see, http://www.wilpf.org/CvDCmte or contact Tanya Henderson, National Director, WILPF-U.S. Section at thenderson@wilpf.org.


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