Ensuring a livable world requires “cutting off corporate power at its source”

A massive “March to End Fossil Fuels” is this Sunday in New York City. More than 700 organizations, including Move to Amend, have endorsed the event, prior to the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit. Mobilizations will occur around the world, part of a growing global escalation to end fossil fuels. 

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Today marks the 29th anniversary of the September 15, 1994 publication of a letter signed by 173 citizens from diverse backgrounds in response to an unprecedented July, 1994 joint letter from the leaders of the 15 major environmental groups to all of their members. The letter stated,

“…we have never faced such a serious threat to our environmental laws in Congress.  Polluters have blocked virtually all of our efforts to strengthen environmental laws. But still they are not satisfied.  Now, they are mounting an all-out effort to WEAKEN our most important environmental laws.”

The citizen letter in response to the “Big 15” asserted:

“What prompts us to send this letter to you is our conviction that you have not identified those subverting Congress as our real adversaries in the struggle to save our communities and the natural world: the leaders of today’s giant corporations, and the powerful corporations they direct….

“We believe the Earth has never before faced such large-scale devastation as is being inflicted by handfuls of executives running the largest 1000 or so industrial, financial, health, information, agricultural and other corporations.  And not since slavery was legal have the laws of the land been used so shamelessly to violate the democratic principles we hold dear… 

‘We believe that it is too late to counter corporate power by working environmental law by environmental law, or regulatory struggle by regulatory struggle.  We don’t have sufficient time or resources to organize chemical by chemical, forest by forest, river by river, permit by permit, technology by technology, product by product, corporate disaster by corporate disaster…

 “But if we curb or cut off corporate power at its source, all our work will become easier…”

Environmental conditions are far worse in 2023 than in 1994 because corporate power – specifically corporate constitutional rights (i.e. “corporate personhood”) – has expanded.

This isn’t a call for those involved with environmental organizations or causes to stop responding, reacting and opposing individual environmental assaults. People lack the power and authority to prevent corporate plunder of the air, land, water – affecting all life forms.

It’s a call, rather, for acknowledging, proposing and creating fundamentally life-affirming, just and democratic rules, laws and ways to live.  HJR54, the We the People Amendment, is one part of the solution that’s proportionate in scale to the magnitude of the extent of the problem. 

Symbolic actions like marches, rallies, vigils and other forms of protest; political actions like lobbying and elections; and resistance actions like nonviolent civil disobedience are important strategies to oppose individual corporate harms, but they’re not enough. They must also be applied to “cut off corporate power at its source” – to abolish the constitutional rights via HJR54 that corporate entities have used to legally exploit nature to maximize profits and as a shield from public accountability. 

Together for a more just future,

Greg, Jessica, Jason, Tara, Ambrosia, Shelly, George, Katie, Cole, Daniel, Jennie, Keyan, Michael, Margaret, Saleem, & Alfonso.

- Move to Amend National Team

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