• Nelson Guedes

We Need a Community Empowerment Movement

Two privately owned banks stand in contrast with City Hall

Our communities have become increasingly affected by remote economic forces and decisions through their dependence on supranational corporations and centralized federal governments.

We rely on undemocratic corporations to "create jobs" and supply goods and services that we need, and we rely on centralized governments to maintain social-economic systems that we need to survive. Because of our reliance on corporations, most of the money that we spend in them, through the purchase of their products, is drained from our communities and go into the pockets of a few powerful shareholders. Our reliance on centralized governments creates a situation where a lot of our money, through taxes, goes into the provincial and federal governments while we see very little of that money back into our communities in the form of services. We also rely on large banks to finance mortgages and credit cards, and a centralized monetary system based on a fiat currency, both of which are owned and controlled by the plutocrats. This creates a scenario where a large portion of the wealth that we create in our communities goes to a handful of powerful individuals who own and control all the social-economic systems, either through corporations or governments. We are essentially being milked and getting little more than survival in return.

In addition to that, increasingly, we see supranational corporations, with more power than governments and no democratic process of decision-making, pushing for more power through the use of trade agreements such as the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Those "trade agreements" are designed to empower those corporations to sue local governments that, through their democratic will, decide that certain corporate projects are not for the benefit of their communities. As such, their goal is for the rights of the corporations to supersede the rights of human beings. This is creating a very dangerous scenario where our communities become increasingly vulnerable to outside forces beyond their control, and with no means to ensure their proper functioning. Too many of our social-economic systems are owned and controlled by centralized institutions far removed from our reality and with no interest other than the maximization of profit at the expense of our lives and livelihoods.

We must regain our power to make decisions and co-ordinate our actions locally so that we can prevent the decay of our communities and the continuous decay of life on Earth perpetrated by and for the benefit of a few powerful individuals through their centralized institutions. In order to accomplish this, we must build our own alternative decentralized institutions, which must be designed to retain power and control of resources and means of production at the local level, thus preventing concentrations of power and capital. Such decentralized institutions must also be grounded on science, logic and evidence, thus allowing for the proper management and evolution of those institutions.

In The Common Good, Noam Chomsky argues that “the smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum”. We must develop a community empowerment movement to defy the spectrum of acceptable opinion and push for real solutions that tend to be far removed from that spectrum. The solutions beyond the advertised conflict-prone dichotomy of the left and right political battlefields already exist. What we need to do is to raise public awareness of those solutions and develop alternative social-economic systems that are owned and controlled directly by the people who depend on them for their survival and prosperity.

#communityempowerment #collaborativedemocracy #economicdemocracy #systems

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