The Alliance is a new Populist movement -- not a political party -- setting forth to end the large corporations' illegitimate domination of our economy, our government, and our culture.
What do Alliance members believe?
We come from all across the political spectrum, so our beliefs vary, but most of us feel that no task is more important than taking back our democracy from the unelected corporations that, step by stealthy step, have stolen it from us.
We understand the size of this task. But we are serious in our demand for systemic change. All the changes we need and want we cannot have unless We, the People, take back our power, this time for all of us.
What is the situation now?
Major corporations dominate our lives, our government, our work, our health care and our food supply. Media conglomerates control the course of public discussion and set limits on it, manipulating mainstream public opinion while commercializing and debasing our national consciousness.
Everywhere the natural world is threatened. Yet people worldwide are exhorted to consume more and buy more in the name of "progress" so big corporations can get bigger.
- Some corporations are wealthier than entire countries. Of the world's 100 largest economies, 50 are now global corporations.
- The richest 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of U.S. assets.
- The combined assets of 358 billionaires equal the combined assets of almost half the world's population.
- U.S. courts have given corporations the same constitutional rights as individuals, but individuals lose rights when they enter the workplace.
- The corporate share of taxes paid has declined from 33 percent in the 1940s to 15 percent today. Individuals' share of taxes has risen from 44 to 73 percent.
- The new World Trade Organization effectively gives corporations veto power over U.S. (or any country's) environmental and labor laws, weakening the people's right to protect themselves and the land.
Why another organization?
Piecemeal reform isn't enough anymore. The corporate system will not permit us to win anything fundamental by politics as usual. We see our unique role as seeking the deep systemic change we'll need to win our independence from corporate rule and replace it with true democracy.
How did the Alliance begin?
In August 1995 The Nation published Ronnie Dugger's "A Call to Citizens: Real Populists Please Stand Up." Nearly 6,000 people responded, and in 1996 delegates from 30 states convened in the Texas hill country to form the Alliance for Democracy. The Alliance now has more than 1,800 members and 50 local chapters nationwide. (Our Birmingham chapter is the first to form in the Deep South.)
The Populists of the 1880s arose in those same Texas hills to challenge banks and corporate trusts for control of the national wealth and spirit. Uniting farm and factory workers for the first time, they set up cooperatives, educated each other, published newspapers and books, and fielded 20,000 speakers to show the way to cooperation, self-respect, and hope.
Yeah, but those first Populists . . .
They combatted racism and anti-Semitism more effectively than any social movement before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, as demonstrated by historian C. Vann Woodward. Even so, a number of Populists shared the racial prejudices of that time. We 21st century Populists are committed to the equal importance of every person, no matter the person's race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, politics, or nation of origin.
The Birmingham Sierra Club office is on Birmingham's Southside. The address is 1330 21st Way South. Highland Avenue intersects 21st Way at the corner with the police precinct, a synagogue (Temple Beth-El), a convenience store, and Arlington Avenue. 21st Way goes uphill beside the synagogue. The 1330 building is on the second block. Park on the street, go in the front door, and turn right for the Sierra Club office.
Draw a map
In our town:
- "Citizen's arrest" of tobacco corporations: Robert Wynn, a Jefferson County judge, has called on the state to revoke the charters of five corporations that have contributed to the use of tobacco products by children and teenagers. Wynn, who is acting as a private citizen in this case, compared his action to a citizen's arrest.
Wynn wants the state to use its power to effectively shut down corporations that violate state law, by revoking their charters. Wynn cited the five largest tobacco corporations -- Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, The Liggett Group, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard.
Page edited by Rob Collins
Last updated on: 25 July 2000