Court’s ruling could help us rebuild communities

By Jane Livingston, Special to the BDN
Posted Feb. 02, 2010, at 7:08 p.m.

In one fell swoop, the Supreme Court just sacked pretty much all the victories won in the past few decades by advocates for clean and sustainable air, water and food, safe workplaces, fair trade and equal access for all to the good American life, including good health, education, housing and, in essence, all of the freedoms guar-anteed us in our Constitution.

Now all are put at grave risk, because the court saw fit to roll back a 20-year old law that banned corporations from directly giving money to candidates running for public office, turning our political system into a livestock auction.

What to do? Don’t wait for your fellow Americans to reach the point of “madder ’n hell and not gonna take it anymore.” Violence just won’t get the job done (tempting as it may be).

For sure don’t wait for some red or blue politician, or the U.S. military-corporate complex, to solve this problem: They’re the ones getting fat off the Supreme Court’s sellout.

But if you really don’t want to be ruled by the transnational corporations — and make no mistake, many of these guys were born in the USA but their only loyalty is to the winners’ circle — there’s only one thing to do.

Regardless of its horrifying size, like any parasite, the corporate megamonster depends for its very life on sucking the lifeblood of others. That’s why they spend so many advertising dollars (passed on to you) to convince you that they love you.

The solution is to stop shopping. Stop buying their stuff. Encourage your family, friends and co-workers to do the same. Walk away from anything sold by the corporations you dislike the most — and find out what those are, by doing some research on the Internet. Buy local, buy second-hand, buy socially responsible or eco-green, or don’t buy at all.

A boycott on “buying global” may put some local people out of work. But in place of those dead-end retail sales slots, we can create jobs. Many talents and interests are needed to produce and distribute local food, energy, housing, education, entertainment, clothing, household goods, furniture, farm inputs and implements and so on. We can even import goods such as coffee, tea, rice and cocoa that do not exploit producers or the land.

Centralized megamarketplaces — dependent on global exploitation and profit maximizing for the few (malls, strips, chains, big-box stores) — will shrink. I vote we use some of them for indoor play spaces, teen centers, fitness centers, adult education classrooms, and art studio, gallery-rehearsal-performance venues. Get those quality of life indicators up; it may encourage more of our kids to stay in Maine.

All of this activity means that ever more interdependent webs of community will grow stronger, based on robust local-regional economies of barter, hour exchanges, local currencies, cooperatives, collectives, buying clubs, community supported producers, microenterprise and sweat equity.

There will be neighbors simply helping one another out, by taking part in community gardens, gleaning projects, winter caches, canning centers, neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens, farm-to-school projects, town compost and recycling centers, work parties to winterize town buildings, shovel town sidewalks, trim roadside weeds — use more muscle, less fuel taking care of our neighborhoods.

Some of it will be messy and dirty and some of it will be hard work. The weather report will become more important. Some of it will be great fun. Some of it will require us to stretch our minds and hearts.

Because true community is about getting along, honestly but respectfully, and making sure everyone’s basic needs are covered. It’s about real homeland security. It’s not about being best pals or winning a popularity contest, or getting our own way.

At the end of the day, we can thank the Supreme Court for breaking the back of that heavy camel called capitalism that we’d been trying to carry around all those years, mistaking it for democracy. I hear it’s convalescing in Dubai.

Jane Livingston of Veazie is an editor and publicist for cooperatives in the U.S. and abroad.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/02/02/opinion/courtrsquos-ruling-could-help-us-rebuild-communities/ printed on November 26, 2014