By fighting against the doomed system, the 99 per cent have nothing to lose but their disposability and dispensability.
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2011
On May 15, 2011, young people occupied the squares of the cities in Spain. They called themselves Los Indignados - "the indignant". I met them in Madrid where I was attending the meeting of the scientific committee that advises the Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Their declaration states: "Who are we? We are the people; we have come here freely as volunteers. Why are we here? We are here because we want a new society that gives more priority to life than to economic interest."
In the US, the ongoing "Occupy movement" commonly cries: "We are the 99 per cent". This people's protest, inspired by the Arab Spring, is directed against the unequal distribution of wealth; the "99 per cent" here refers to "the difference in wealth between the top one per cent and all the remaining citizens".
The organising style of the people's movements worldwide is based on the deepest and the most direct democracy. This is self-organisation. This is how life and democracy work. This is what Mahatma Gandhi called swaraj.
Those from the dominant system, used to hierarchy and domination do not understand the horizontal organising and call these movements "leaderless".
Gandhi had said:
Today, worldwide, representative democracy has reached its democratic limits. From being "by the people, for the people, of the people", it has become "by the corporations, of the corporations, for the corporations". Money drives elections, and money runs government.
Gandhi identified "modern civilisation" as the real cause for loss of freedom:
Gandhi also refers to the fact that the sole objective of "civilisation" is bodily welfare and it fails miserably even in this objective and it fails in its own measure.
The new movements of the future generations are movements of the excluded who have been deprived of every right - political, economic and social. They have nothing to lose but their disposability and dispensability.
Freedom in our times has been sold as "free market democracy". "Free markets" mean freedom for corporations to exploit whom and what they want, where they want, how they want. It means the end of freedom for people and nature everywhere. "Free market democracy" is in fact an oxymoron which has deluded us into believing that deregulation of corporations means freedom for us.
Just as the illusion of growth and the fiction of finance has made the economy volatile and unpredictable, the fiction of the corporation as a legal person has replaced citizens and made society unstable and non-sustainable. Humans as earth citizens, with duties and rights, have been replaced by corporations, with no duties to either the earth or society, only limitless rights to exploit both the earth and people. Corporations have been assigned legal personhood, and corporate rights, premised on maximisation of profits, are now extinguishing the rights of the earth, and the rights of people to the earth's gifts and resources.
The new movements understand this. And that is why they are indignant and are occupying the political and economic spaces to create a living democracy with people and the earth at the centre instead of corporations and greed.
Dr Vandana Shiva is a physicist, ecofeminist, philosopher, activist, and author of more than 20 books and 500 papers. She is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and has campaigned for biodiversity, conservation and farmers' rights - winning the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993.
"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything"