Sunday, Feb 19, 2006, 10:10 am
Movements vs. campaigns
At the center of any Movement is a principle that is popularly understood. For the Movement for Democratic Development, that principle must be: No project can be called "development" unless it benefits the existing population of the city. Not new populations, but the existing population. Otherwise, it is destruction - not development.
We are now speaking of the context in which Wal-Marts should be evaluated, here in Chicago and anywhere else. Yes, we know that Wal-Mart is a Death Star that destroys jobs and all economic activity but its own within a wide radius of the store. But what about all the other corporate players? Why just Wal-Mart? What is the best Grand Plan for the city, one that serves the existing population? And how are the people's aspirations - their dreams for their neighborhoods - made central to the larger scheme?
If the focus is Wal-Mart, then we are engaged in a campaign. If the goal is to empower the people to fight Wal-Mart and any other corporate predator - to democratize planning and development - then we are talking about building a Mass Movement, one that can regenerate itself. Because the people never run out of dreams.
To create a Movement for Democratic Development we need more than general loathing, disgust and anger over Wal-Mart, although that's a good start.
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Jessica Clark is a writer, editor and researcher, with more than 15 years of experience spanning commercial, educational, independent and public media production. Currently she is the Research Director for American University’s Center for Social Media. She also writes a monthly column for PBS’ MediaShift on new directions in public media. She is the author, with Tracy Van Slyke, of Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media (2010, New Press).