Note: For legions of agriculture activists throughout the world, AL KREBS was the guru for understanding and providing the history of the exploitive anti-democratic behavior of monopoly capital and its devastating impact on communities throughout the world. His analysis applied not only to corporate agribusiness but what he offered was applied, by him, to corporate behavior generally.
Al presented the inspiring “A Progressive Populist Declaration of Independence” before the Rural Strategy Summit in Kansas City, Missouri on November 8-9, 1990. He also included it as an Appendix in his book “The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness” (1992).
In September 2007, the final draft of the declaration was posted by “The Progressive Populist”. A month later in October 2007 AL KREBS died. I wrote about his remarkable life in an article that appeared on Counterpunch, “ AL KREBS, a Fighter for Family Farmers”.
Given the devastating tragedy of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the obvious collusion of corporate and government power against the welfare of the people and the environment, it behooves us to once again look to AL KREBS. His “21st-Century Populist Declaration of Independence” below might offer some of the marching orders and inspiration we need to counter the abuse we have witnessed. Learn and organize as Krebs would say !!!
21st-Century Populist Declaration of Independence
“Patriots who believe in the rights, wisdom or virtues of the Common People”
WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS it becomes necessary for We the People to dissolve the political bonds which have connected us with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled us, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that the People should declare the causes which impel us to that separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights Governments — of the people, by the people and for the people — are instituted by the people, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Whenever that Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such form as the people shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Whenever a long train of abuses and usurpations are designed to reduce us to an absolute Oligarchy, it is Our right, it is Our duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for our future security.
Our nation is in a crisis. Our Constitution is being trashed, our infrastructure is crumbling, the education of our young neglected, the environment trashed, the lives of young men and women are being wasted in an illegal war, and the welfare of our veterans jettisoned. We are creating enemies all over the world while Our government is using fear to stay in power, enriching itself at the expense of present and future generations.
We live in a society where our government seeks to impose upon its people an economic, social, political and ecological order designed, not to serve the People, but rather one that is self-serving and monopolistic in character, and which has created a gigantic Military-Industrial-Congressional complex that permeates our entire social, economic and ecological environment.
Such has been the patient sufferance of the farming, working and producing classes in our nation’s rural and urban communities, and such is now the necessity which compels us to declare that we will use every moral and democratic means, save a resort to violence, to overthrow our fascist despotism and to insure that the common good is served by adherence to the ideal of “equal justice under law.”
THE HISTORY OF THE MODERN CORPORATE STATE has become a history of repeated injuries and oppressions, all directed to establishing the impersonal as the dominant institution within our society. The corporate state has carefully schemed to protect and insure its privileges and powers. It has successfully managed to protect its interests by cloaking itself as a “person” within the language of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, while at the same time manipulating that Document and its Bill of Rights to its own selfish ends.
By establishing “economic growth by means of corporate priorities, corporate elites and banking elites, not simply having a disproportionate amount of power and influence,” have acquired at the same time “such power and influence rarely being part of public discussion” such that the public “can question it and interrogate in a concrete way.”
By successfully coercing politicians, in the name of corporate socialism, it has established a huge corporate welfare system composed of billions of dollars in tax abatements, tax preferences, grants, inflated contracts, bailouts and a never-ending number of subsidies to industries and corporate agribusiness.
By promoting its own selfish financial interests it has pitted workers against workers, race against race, national-born citizens against immigrants, cultures against cultures, men against women, young against old, class against class.
By using such empty promises such as “greater productivity,” “cost management” and “efficiency,” it has endangered the health, safety, and economic livelihood of thousands of our workers and family farmers while its executive’s have remunerated themselves well beyond reason and equitable standards.
By creating an extravagant and wasteful Military-Industrial-Congressional complex, of dubious value in protecting the people from terrorism, and endangering our national security, it has deprived Our nation of the necessary funding for important domestic programs and infrastructural needs — such as universal health care and a challenging public education system, essential to our survival as a nation.
By misleading its own people into believing that we have not only the right but the obligation to be an imperial nation in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world, it has enabled thousands of parasites, “the gamblers in the necessities of Life”, to use such wars and the threat of threat of such wars for the purpose of exacting exorbitant profits working not to beat an enemy, but to create more billionaires.
By using bribery, “political action campaign” money and honoraria, primarily designed to unduly influence and favor our law makers, it repeatedly has betrayed the true interests of the People to the degree that we now have one ruling political party beholden to the same corporate paymasters.
WE THE PEOPLE, therefore, aspiring to live in a truly democratic republic, assembled and conscious of our Populist tradition appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do solemnly declare that we will use not only all lawful and peaceable means to free ourselves from the tyranny of the corporatist state and its monopolistic ideology, but will create a Populist movement designed to humanize Democracy.
Reflecting on recent history one can justifiably measure the success of the late 19th-century “Populist Revolt” by the manner in which corporate America subsequently reacted so viscerally in the century that followed, for the hallmark of that “revolt” was that both family farmers and industrial workers defiantly proclaimed that one cannot have political democracy without economic democracy.
While economic democracy was a stated goal, as members of the Farm Alliance stated in their Omaha Platform of 1892, it also represented a rebellion against the American political party system of that day. In order to restructure the nation’s financial and political structure, the Populist revolt came to reject both major political parties, which it accused of being in “harmony with monopoly.”
If populists in alliance are to replace today’s corporatist culture, we must adopt an ideological framework built on aggressive advocacy and create a “movement culture.” Such a populism must be characterized by an evolving democratic culture in which people can see themselves working together and aspiring to a society conducive to mass human dignity.
We must also recognize clearly the imminent dangers of the “corporatist” culture and educate and work together to bring that corporate state under democratic control.
Thus, rather than isolate and concentrate on a myriad of issues, modern populism must focus on the system, for the system has become the issue. In proceeding to build the “sequential process of democratic movement-building” we can learn valuable lessons from our Populist ancestors.
We must develop horizontal communication between groups of Populist-oriented people and individuals both within our own communities and nations and then advance an effort to build an international populism. By teaching each other what each of us learns and knows and what mistakes we have made — we can develop what can be described as “movement forming.” In developing such a system of communication we also create a forum and environment whereby we can continue to attract masses of people — “the movement recruiting.”
Keeping in mind a commitment to the creative nonviolence and the democratic process, and remembering that Populism seeks to replace corporate power with democratic power, We can begin a culturally unsanctioned level of social analysis — “the movement education.”
Finally, 21st-century populists, in alliance, can create an institutional means — not by forming another political party — where new ideas, shared now by the rank-and-file of a mass political, social and cultural movement, can be expressed in an autonomous political way — “the movement politicized.”
WE THE PEOPLE MUST ACT NOW. We may not achieve all our objectives but we must constantly strive toward doing so. We owe it to our children and to their children. We must join forces and arouse the heretofore silent majority. If we stand together on mutually accepted moral and democratic principles, we can change the world into a better place for all life.
THAT TO THIS END WE HEREBY DECLARE ourselves absolutely free and independent of all past political connections. We will give our suffrage only to such men and women for office as we have good reason will use their best endeavors to the promotion of these ends, and for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
[This Declaration is derived from the works of Thomas Jefferson, Cornel West, A.C. Townley, Lawrence Goodwyn, J. Glenn Evans and all those populists who have believed and sought to promote the democratic ideal. Final draft composed and written by A.V. Krebs, publisher of the online newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner. He is author of The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness.]
From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2007
Heather Gray produces “Just Peace” on WRFG-Atlanta 89.3 FM covering local, regional, national and international news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org