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A weakness of the left is that we don’t have a list, that everyone is familiar with, of target “must change” structures that we seek to eliminate or radically transform to serve very different interests from “the overlords.”

In your post, you first speak of the ISDS “legal” system. If it is having the effects that you suggest, it surely should be a target. Good, so far.

I don’t really follow where you go from there. You seem to wander off into musing about whether anarchy might, by some mechanism you don’t specify, be the necessary response to corporate power. Unconvincing, to me, at this point.

Suggestion: Better to fill out the list of target changes, then figure out what is needed to transform them. Some of the targets (once achieved) will make possible other changes. Those get priority. A path including the logic of its steps will emerge from knowing the details of the terrain which must be transversed.

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Nov 6, 2023Liked by Rachel Donald

Yep, I agree, let’s get specific about what we want in the interim, but also learn from indigenous folks like Tyson Yunkaporta (The Other Others podcast) for long-term cultural shifts. For example that ‘mechanism’ you refer to might be how land enacts ‘law’ via our interaction with food systems and placed-based governance. I firmly believe the apparatus and instrumentalization of large-scale industrialized systems is the main problem. It creates hierarchies arbitrarily which alienates those at the bottom en masse and in particular. Having this foresight will help guide us toward more localized economies and less weapons of mass destruction.

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I was thinking along the same lines and wondering if we could use the legal system against them. If young people can take a case against 36 countries for their failure to tackle climate change...it should be possible for example, to take the world bank to court for systemic abuse of human rights?

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Charles, many of us believe that its not possible to reform governments from within the mode of political engagement which is the politics of the state -- its mode of politics. In my own case, I see it this way largely through a cultural evolutionary lens, and a narrative which posits that the state and corporations have co-evolved as a sort of Siamese twin entity. That entity has a powerful immune system with which to protect itself against the meddling of "the left".

Whether we are for "anarchy" or anarchism is less important than whether we are willing to try and enact a politics not already captured and decided by a state system -- which simply is a corporate system. It's the imaginative act of stepping outside of the confinement of the mode of politics which the state offers us as a monopoly on politics which is at stake here. We have to understand what we're up against, so to speak.

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Thanks James for the reply. Very interesting and helpful.

Seems like this independent left politics needs much further development. In my life it has largely been “organizing” and “protest.” The connection of those two modes of action to policy making and governance was rarely theorized... leaving an appearance that organized protest could force state authorities to do right. And, of course, if they are confident in their power, they can simply ignore protest however well organized.

Of possible interest to you. A couple of years ago, largely for personal interest in understanding the history of where I live, I read about colonial administration and governance in New England. At some point I realized that the King of England was running a corporate enterprise. From London plans were made to settle former native territories with not just random settlers, but packages of settlers each of whom were allotted tracks land (or the means of the key trades such as clerics, barrel makers, masons, etc) in return for contractual obligations to work the land or trade for a certain number of years and to pay remittances (profits) that ultimately made there way to the King back in London. So the corporate nature of the Anglo state has been there since the 18th C.

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Nov 6, 2023·edited Nov 6, 2023Liked by Rachel Donald

Thanks Charles.

I'm trying my best to re-imagine political praxis (and theory). The following three articles share some of my key ideas about how to begin to deeply re-imagine political theory and practice.

On Commoning

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2022-10-24/on-commoning/

More on Public & Private

https://rword.substack.com/p/more-on-public-and-private

Nonviolent Revolutionary Prefigurative Direct Action — a school of praxis

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2023-08-08/nonviolent-revolutionary-prefigurative-direct-action-a-school-of-praxis/

One key to my thinking on such matters is the observation that while "the state" is largely defined as an entity with numerous claims to monopoly ... e.g., the monopoly on the 'legitimate' use of force / violence, the monopoly on law-making, the monopoly on taxation and on and on..., those monopolies aren't as solidly held as we have tended to imagine them to be. We can actually engage in politics well outside of the confines of many of these monopolies, provided we can connect with others to enact the sort of world we actually wish to live within.

Many of the walls which appear before us are rather illusory. If you and your friends see that it is possible to walk right through these walls, we actually can. They are constructed of imaginary stuff and are rather vaporous much of the time.

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Nov 6, 2023Liked by Rachel Donald

Agreed. The ISDS is something concrete, if enormously powerful. "The state" is so broad and open-ended, across the whole of the world, as to be, well, un-targetable.

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The nation state in its “modern” form is only 200-300 years old. It is a big problem and the left needs to develop a vision of transcending it to something else. But for now it is predominant and we must have a strategy that works both within and beyond it.

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Criminals!

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Nov 6, 2023Liked by Rachel Donald

I guess this is ‘old news’, albeit one we never heard about, that everyone needs to see on headlines from now until it changes. I would encourage hammering home the fact of the ISDS everywhere anyone can, it’s such chilling confirmation of collusion that often seems so amorphous and hidden and out of reach and understanding.

Great interview Rachel 👍 I learned a lot and shared this one far and wide indeed- very accessible and of interest to many diverse people

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Nov 6, 2023Liked by Rachel Donald

Rachel, You nailed it with this piece. I will keep this one as reference and guiding light. One aspect of this problem is how business/ corporations externalize their impacts on the environment. Whether it is air, water, biodiversity, or ecosystem function; these can all be defined as public trusts. They are owned by the people to serve everyone. But business and corporations, if they can’t make money from them will externalize any costs related to them and put those costs on the people. The resources are then continually degraded, the corporations pay small amounts to mitigate impacts that are always greater than the mitigation and the public is betrayed by a “ tragedy of the commons”. So coming at the proble you outline here through these public trust values might offer another way of level the advantage of our corporatocracies. ESG, B corps, etc are a start as well.

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Great article!

May I re-publish this, along with the interview, at The R-Word? https://rword.substack.com/

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Nov 6, 2023·edited Nov 6, 2023Author

Hi James,

I'm thrilled you enjoyed it but no, please don't copy and paste onto your own website. You're always welcome to share links etc but appropriating my work for your own site is unhelpful due to SEO etc etc.

I see you shared the youtube video embedded in your substack. Please delete the youtube video and instead put a link to the piece on planetcritical.com: https://www.planetcritical.com/p/how-corporations-overthrew-democracy#details

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For what it is worth, Rachel, lots of writers have been happy to have their writing shared in a re-publishing way. I have had dozens of talented, skillful and successful writers be pleased to allow me to republish at the R-Word (upon explicit request). We don't consider it "appropriating" when permission is granted. And as for my sharing your YouTube videos. As per your request, I won't any longer. And, by the way, all I did share was a link to the YouTube. It just happens that Substack converts the link into a visual image for folks to click on. And you have actually encouraged folks to share links.

I've been trying to support your work by bringing it to the attention of those who may not be familiar with it. I've certainly not been attempting to steal it from you! I don't even charge anyone a fee for subscribing, and never will.

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Hi James,

I'm surprised at this comment given I hadn't granted you permission.

I always encourage people to share links, and am grateful to all my subscribers, free and paid alike. In future, thanks for sharing links that direct back to PlanetCritical.com

Best,

Rachel

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Well said.

Similar to a point you made, I definitely agree that the system purposefully highlights and stirs up cultural and religious controversy and debate (culture wars), as a way to deliberately draw the public's attention away from what the government and the elite class are actually doing, and also away from much more impactful, important issues, i.e daily bread and butter/socioeconomic issues. Thus, the people don't see the actual, systemic problems in society and don't hold those in power who're responsible for those problems, accountable.

It's high time the majority of society realize this and shift their attention towards such important issues and hold the government and the elite class accountable.

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I guess this is ‘old news’, albeit one we never heard about, that everyone needs to see on headlines from now until it changes. I would encourage hammering home the fact of the ISDS everywhere anyone can, it’s such chilling confirmation of collusion that often seems so amorphous and hidden and out of reach and understanding.

Great interview Rachel 👍 I learned a lot and shared this one far and wide indeed- very accessible and of interest to many diverse people

Expand full comment