“The earth is the common property of the human race”
- Thomas Paine
The community rights movement challenges, on the local level, the ease with which corporations exploit natural resources. It is a non-partisan challenge which draws it’s lessons from non-violent and anti-war movements and traditions. According to community rights organizer, Paul Cienfuegos, this movement is a “creative strategy” aligned with other great non-violent social movements in history.
The community rights movement uses the rule of law on the local level to challenge the ubiquitous automatic ‘green lighting’ of corporate projects in local communities. Local hearings, intended to provide a platform for local communities to air their misgivings and to question and challenge proposals are, for the most part, merely a formality.
The question the community rights movement asks is, “Who gets to define what happens in our communities?” Do we want fracking, do we want chemical plants, do we want war munitions producers in our town? 150 communities in seven states so far have passed ordinances in local communities that challenge the right of corporations and the disenfranchisement of community input.
Self-government is a right granted to us within the U.S. Bill of Rights. We have neglected to exercise our right to self-governance. Who do our elected officials really serve: is it “we the people” or is it corporate entities? Clarifying the allegiance of our elected officials is the first step in reclaiming our right to authentic representational government.
Direct democracy is really a restoration of rights we need only reclaim – to assert our right to self governance and to really ask ourselves, what is government for, who should it serve and what is it really about?
To be continued.