Saturday, March 24, 2012

Voice Collective: Louisiana Students target ALEC

Originally posted to, August 8, 2011

by the Voice Collective

On Friday, August 5th, the shadowy non-profit membership organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its national conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. ALEC is a far-right organization that brings together private sector policy advocates and state legislators. The group acts as a networking medium, while performing other functions like helping members develop model laws for state legislators with the interests of capital in command.
The penetration of the organization into the U.S. political system is great, with legislative members coming from all 50 states, along with scores of former and current gubernatorial members. ALEC’s motto is

“Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism.”

Jase Short has written:
“…the enormous influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has come to the attention of some courageous activists. Thousands of pages of documents from ALEC have been leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy, unveiling some of the true machinations behind the kind of draconian anti-labor, anti-environment, etc. laws that have descended upon states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee. The website has been set up by the Center for Media and Democracy in order to provide updates on the intelligence gathered about this shadowy organization’s activities, and The Nation magazine ran an entire issue almost solely dedicated to exposing ALEC and its power.”
Louisiana activists and revolutionaries are taking a stand, however. (It’s perhaps worth mentioning that the current national chair of ALEC is Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington). Members of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge have taken the lead in organizing a protest march in attempt to draw the public’s attention to this organization and the work that it is doing with political and business elites to unleash new waves of authoritarian and austerity measures.

The demonstrators convened in New Orleans and marched to the Mariott Hotel, where the ALEC conference took place.

We in the Voice Collective commend the work of LSU SLAP and the other organizations and individuals in this coalition. The members of SLAP, especially, have done a commendable job in the months since they formed early this spring in spreading a proletarian class stand amongst the people of Louisiana, all the while advocating a break with the Democratic Party and stressing the need to form organizations independent of either of the ruling national parties. We of course believe that we need new, specifically revolutionary organizations in the U.S. today, but at any rate we think that it is significant that SLAP has worked so energetically to open this conversation up amongst all the people they work with.

Secondly, we uphold the spirit of this protest precisely because it helps reveal the thoroughly rotten and fundamentally undemocratic nature of the U.S. political system. Now is a good time to attack illusions, and batter down the widespread (but wavering) ideological pretensions that the U.S. government somehow represents the broad masses of the people, and that it is not the instrument of a powerful and tiny capitalist elite.

ALEC is just one mechanism by through which real decision-making occurs in this country, without the participation (or even the knowledge, oftentimes) of the mass of the population. In this regard, the role of ALEC as an anti-popular and anti-democratic force is like the Tea Party, in that it’s a sham “independent” entity, apparently comprised of concerned citizens who have just as much democratic right to make their voices heard as anyone else. In capitalist America, we are taught that class, gender, race, sexuality etc. do not matter, and that all voices are ultimately equal. We even allow corporations to make unlimited donations to political campaigns because, after all, they have a right to “free speech,” too.

In reality, concentrated power does matter; those who control   vast amounts of wealth, for example, dominate (or exercise hegemony) in the political sphere. ALEC is a tool of the elite to control the rest of society. There is nothing democratic about it. Similarly, the Tea Party is not a spontaneous, grassroots movement, but is rather funded by titanic corporate and financial actors. This is not unlike the way that the quick rise of the Fascists in Italy came about in part because of members of the capitalist class poured huge amounts of money into the Fascist organizations, because they were afraid of the increasing working class militancy in the country.

Thirdly, we applaud the work that SLAP and this coalition is doing because it increases the consolidation of progressive and radical forces in the south of the U.S., which we believe is strategically important. By bringing people together concretely, and spreading information, they are assisting in the radicalization of the struggling people of this region. They are demonstrating not only against ALEC, but are spreading the idea that resistance is necessary and good. The old Maoist slogan was, “It is right to rebel against reactionaries.” We need that sentiment now more than ever.

Our hope is that news of this march travels far and wide—that it inspires people throughout Louisiana, the U.S. South, the United States and beyond to fight back and develop a vision of how to move beyond the framework of existing society.

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