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Strategy for the Monetary Reform Movement

Presented on October 1, 2010 by Carol Brouillet
at the 6th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference [Video posted here.]
Organized by the American Monetary Institute

(This is a mixture of text and images, but was designed to be a powerpoint presentation, the video should be posted online soon. I did run out of time during my talk, probably because I made some spontaneous remarks which I'm not going to include here. I did draw from an earlier Chicago presentation/analysis for the Truth Movement in 2006).

I'd like to offer some insights, mainly gleaned from the life and work of Bill Moyer, a strategist for Martin Luther King, Jr.


Bill authored Doing Democracy- The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements, an excellent resource. We need to recognize that there is a monetary reform movement, with a long history.

Debt based monetary systems plus military force are the building blocks of empires, when empires concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a tiny percentage of the population, they destroy their ecological base and collapse. Today the empire is global and the entire planet is threatened.

The last century saw the rise of successful organized social movements, the rise of unprecedented corporate and military power, and the rise of media monopolies to hobble social movements’ threat to corporate power.

Social movements sometimes take decades to succeed- the abolitionist movement in Britain took 50 years to stop the slave trade and then prohibit the institution of slavery.

Our country was born, in part, over the question of who would issue and control the currency. There has been a struggle over the monetary powers since day one, even the Constitution isn’t completely specific on banking. The idea of a central or national bank and a national debt has been fought by many presidents.

The monetary question was raised most visibly when the Populists rose up.

What is a Social Movement?

Collective actions which alert, educate, mobilize the public, sometimes over years and decades, to challenge power-holders and the whole society to redress social problems or grievances to align with deeply held social values.

Charles Postel, author of The Populist Vision, describes parallels between the Populist’s struggle and the struggles now taking place against corporate rule. In the early 1890s, a coalition of farmers’ alliances, labor organizations, and middle class activists put together the People’s Party or the Populist Party. They scored electoral successes unmatched by any third party since the 1850s. They represented a powerful social movement that rocked the corporate establishment.

At the time, Americans experienced wrenching changes wrought by globalization, technological innovation, and the growth of corporations. The advent of telecommunications made the world a much smaller place, facilitating economic centralization. The rich amassed enormous fortunes while most everyone else had a hard time making ends meet. The economy lurched from speculative boom to spectacular bust, including a terrible depression of the 1890s.

The Populists tried to make sense of their world. They believed that if citizens understood the mechanisms of modern government, finance, and economics, they could retool those mechanisms to create a more just and prosperous society. At its root, Populism was a movement of rural education. From Texas to the Dakotas, from North Carolina to California, men and women went to meetings and lectures to learn about politics, history, and science. The Populists were known as a “reading party” and a “talking party.” More than anything else, they read and talked about ways to lift themselves and the country out of their financial straits.

The railroads dominated the country aided by Federal and state governments which provided them with millions of acres of land grants and other subsidies to build rail systems. Financial wizards conjured up vast wealth speculating on those systems. They cooked up toxic financial instruments known as “watered stock,” the direct ancestors of today’s mortgage “derivatives.” And when over-extended railroads went belly-up, financiers sought shelter in federal receivership. Like today’s corporate bailouts, laissez-faire it wasn’t.

The Populists believed that the corporate plunder of the public could only be broken with government ownership of the railroads. They studied the state-owned systems in Europe and liked what they saw in terms of low cost and improved transport. For the Populists, the US mail served as a model of inexpensive and equitable service. If the business of government was the peoples’ business, why shouldn’t the government run the railroads, the telegraph, and other essential services on the same model?

The Populist Party’s Platform, adopted July 4, 1892

“The national power to create money is appropriated to enrich bondholders; a vast public debt payable in legal tender currency has been funded into gold-bearing bonds, thereby adding millions to the burdens of the people…

FINANCE.—We demand a national currency, safe, sound, and flexible, issued by the general government only, a full legal tender for all debts, public and private, and that without the use of banking corporations, a just, equitable, and efficient means of distribution direct to the people…
1. We demand free and unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the present legal ratio of l6 to 1.
2. We demand that the amount of circulating medium be speedily increased to not less than $50 per capita.
3. We demand a graduated income tax.
4. We believe that the money of the country should be kept as much as possible in the hands of the people, and hence we demand that all State and national revenues shall be limited to the necessary expenses of the government, economically and honestly administered.
5. We demand that postal savings banks be established by the government for the safe deposit of the earnings of the people and to facilitate exchange.

Ignatius Donnelly wrote in the preamble:

    “we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages, a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down… The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of those, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.”

The techniques used to rob us of our votes, our voices, our rights have changed, but the struggles remain, except that most of the farmers have been eliminated and replaced by corporate industrial farms.

The Populist Movement had some successes - the graduated income tax (under the 16th Amendment), direct election of Senators (under the 17th amendment), civil service reform, an 8 hour day, government regulation of railroads, telegraphs, and phone service. They achieved those goals, though mainly not under the Populist banner, only 40% under their own name. They also had failures, which is why stage 8 is labeled “Continue the Struggle” because when social movements succeed, they rarely achieve all their goals, there are always attempts to co-opt them, make cosmetic reforms, or the more overt objectionable policies are outlawed, and continue as covert policies.

Social Movements Further Participatory Democracy

They raise expectations that people should participate in the decision making processes in all aspects of public life. They raise issues and put them on the political agenda.They provide a role for everyone to participate, and engage in the process of solving a problem. They are at the center of society; they need to gain the support of the majority of the public, and advance society along the path of human development, moving towards justice, democracy, human rights, security, and freedom. They need to be totally nonviolent.

Social Movements are an evolutionary force which pushes people to live up to their ideals and values. They enable people to exercise their collective power.

In the Power Elite Model power flows downward from those at the top through institutions towards the helpless, people at the bottom of the pyramid. Most people believe in this model where change can be achieved only by appealing to the elites, using persuasion. If one believes in this model, voting, letter writing, demonstrations, petitions are the means by which the people persuade the power holders to change their position on various issues.

In the People Power Model, the upside down pyramid places people at the top, and power flows from them through institutions, to powerholders, public servants, at the bottom. This is the “of, by and for the people ideal” that helped birth the United States.

The Founding Fathers knew that their winning slogan wouldn’t work so well if they said, “A government of, by, and for “the rich, the white, the male, the propertied few.” The idea/ideal of a government of, by, for the people was a radical idea at the time, and inspired more than one revolution to replace unelected royalty with representative governments that were to “serve the people.” Here those who serve the people are legitimate public servants.

The Powerholder Strategy

The Powerholder Strategy isn’t to broadcast to the public the truth about their beliefs, actions, policies, and programs. They recognize that conditions are generally ripe for social change. They know very well who benefits from the unfair distribution of benefits and costs within the existing system. They consciously must keep their actual policies hidden from the public, because they fear a majority would rebel, if they knew the truth.

     The System Relies on Societal Myths and is Threatened by the Exposure of Societal Secrets.

     Powerholders use myths, slogans, and rhetoric to sell their policies and programs to the public.

     The Societal Secret is that powerholders are generally doing the opposite of the publicly acclaimed myths.

Leaked documents which reveal the plans, intentions, proposed institutions which serve corporate or elite interests and threaten the vast majority are often denied, ridiculed, suppressed, censored by the media, and have the capacity to mobilize large numbers of people to oppose them. Camouflaging legislation to defuse opposition is another technique.

The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 probably couldn’t have passed had it not been supported by William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson, and publicly denounced by bankers who pretended that they opposed it.

The Money Myth

Until the recent financial crisis, most people assumed that money was created by the Federal Reserve, which they believed to be part of the government.

The GDP Myth

More is not always better.
Unlimited growth doesn’t work on a limited planet.
We’re big enough, but we could mature…
We have to challenge the daily myths which perpetuate a dysfunctional system.

The Grand Strategy of all Movements is to-

    1st- Convince the public that a problem exists.

    2nd- Convince the public that policies must be changed.

    3rd- Mobilize people into a force that brings about an acceptable solution.

The Grand Strategy of all social movements is for the hearts, minds, support of the majority of people, and to get them to exercise the people power that resides within themselves.

The Dark Grand Strategy the Global Financial Crisis

• to terrify people into a more centralized system – a global currency issued by the IMF or World Bank,
• to distance the centers of control from the geographical areas hit hardest by policy decisions,
• to make every country dependent upon cashflow and military support to survive politically,
• to codify a global police state where everything is subservient to the money/military power.

Fear shuts down rational thinking. Manufactured crisis can panic people into doing things that are stupid or against their interests. One can look at the current global financial crisis as a mistake/incompetence on the part of those most involved with managing the economic system or as a controlled demolition of the economy for the benefit of a few and at great expense to the many, to perpetuate a long running Ponzi scheme which moves us towards even worse concentrations of wealth and power and the expansion of the National Security State into a global police state. Congress was threatened and terrified into going along with the bailouts in 2008, despite the opposition of 95% of the public. The G-7 have longterm plans for a global currency and are expecting to encounter resistance along the way.

Expose the Deception in a Debt- Based Monetary System

• Help people see that the deeply held values, symbols, beliefs, sensibilities and traditions that are important to them are being violated by the power elite.
• prove that the monetary reform movement upholds these values and principles, to motivate and inspire the public to challenge the powerholders and their policies.

Alert, educate, inspire, involve the public…
The Grand Strategy consists of four steps which are repeated until social justice is achieved. As this cycle repeats, movements grow more creative, democratic, and powerful.

Bill Moyer learned from experience that movement goals change over time. As the movement realizes the depth and magnitude of the problems that they want to solve, sub movements evolve- to challenge the media or get someone elected.

When I started working on monetary reform, few people knew that anything was wrong with the global economy, let alone the monetary system. The more I studied, the more I began to appreciate societies which thrived without money, the gift economy. I advocated local currencies to raise consciousness about money, how it was created, how it flows through society, how we need to change that. A transparent, honest system which recognized money as a public utility like water, electricity, would be an improvement over what we have now, but I personally would like to transform the war economy into a peace economy, redirect human energy, resources, from killing and controlling, towards healing and nurturing. I believe exchange promotes hierarchy and empire, and gifting promotes caring, generosity, community. I see monetary reform as a step towards a higher goal.

To win over the public, we need to reframe our issue…

1) Expose societal secrets and challenge actual policies and programs. (Congress has poured a tremendous amount of money into keeping the financial system alive, but the public is aware that the money is not going to them, but enriching the financiers, legislators most responsible for the crisis.)
A.) Develop critical analyses, presentations, publications, use all normal public channels, including demonstrations, rallies, marches, when necessary- civil disobedience. This is happening, has happened, but the media has not been reporting on the rallies, demonstrations, and resistance. Filmmakers are making more and more documentaries on our issue.
2) Alert, educate, win over, involve, inspire the public to become involved.
3) Mobilize the public, put pressure on powerholders & institutions to change policies & create a new peaceful culture & democratic political conditions.
4) Attract more people to become social activists and to join existing movements or create their own.

Assumptions of the People Power Model

#1- A cause of social problems is the concentration of political and economic power in the hands of the few and in institutions that serve them at the expense of the majority of people and planet.

  #2- Participatory democracy is the key means to resolving today’s awesome problems, and for establishing a just, peaceful, sustainable world for all. To solve problems requires an informed, empowered, and politicized population that assertively participates in the political/economical process to demand democracy, justice, security, equality, human welfare, peace, environmental sustainability. 

#3- Political & economic power ultimately rests with the majority population; the rulers can only rule with the consent/acquiescence of the people.

  #4- The most important issue is the struggle between the majority of people and the individual and institutional powerholders to determine whether society will be based on the “power elite” or “people power” model. 

#5- This struggle between a belief in “superiority” and a belief in “equality” is going on at all levels of life in the political, economic, and social spheres, and in interpersonal relationships at work, in the community, at home, and within social activism itself. 

#6- If non-violent social movements are to successfully address critical issues and create social change, they must be solidly based on participatory democracy, with a clear understanding of power, and how to create people power, that can withstand the onslaught of powerholder attack and counterattack. 

This model respects human beings; it does not assume that they are stupid or evil or that humans are innately greedy, selfish. The dominant paradigm relies on a very negative view of human nature and reality to justify the coercive use of force, fear into controlling the “inferior” masses.

What do people most value? Relationships with other people, Love, Health, and then the material means necessary for them to maintain those relationships, experience love, enjoy good health. What makes people happy? Their ability to connect with other people or other lifeforms, being active – participating in their environment/world, the attention that they place on whatever interests them, learning, keeping themselves open to new experiences, insights, when they give whatever gifts that they have to others/the world… The false view of human nature equates money or power with happiness and does not recognize or measure what makes life worthwhile, meaningful, precious.

Aung San Suu Kyi said-

    “It is not power that corrupts, but fear- fear of losing power, and fear of the scourge of those who wield it...”

    In an ideal world wisdom, love, compassion would prevail over ignorance, fear, stupidity, greed. Military empires built upon force, maintained through lies, deceptions, still dominate and threaten the world’s remaining indigenous people, as well as the majority of the world’s people who simply want to live healthy, loving, productive lives in peace with their families, communities, the natural world. As indigenous people are eliminated and their resources stolen, more and more people, including the American middle class, are becoming victims of a system dependent upon the transference of material wealth from the many to the few.

    We Need a Leaderful Movement

    All Activists are Leaders. The best leaders are often invisible.

    5 Wise Leadership Principles include-

      1. Challenge the system
      2. Inspire a Vision
      3. Enable Others to Act
      4. Model the Way
      5. Encourage the Heart

    These principles actually come from The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner and have been used to train leaders in all sectors of society.

    We can’t condemn people because of the hat that they wear- there are radicals working for truth and justice within many organizations and institutes that we oppose. Our hope is to awaken and transform most people into allies.

    At a time of tremendous change, we have greater needs for leadership than ever before. It is unlikely to come from the top. The failure of the large institutions and organizations means that ordinary people, citizens, need to play a more important role, take on new responsibilities, exercise greater vision, articulate important truths, offer solutions, and help midwife society through whatever transitions that we are going to have to face. We need to become more adaptable, resilient, open to learning, sharing processes which facilitate drawing out group wisdom, cooperation, models which can be replicated, or improved upon by others for the benefit of all.

    Ineffective / Effective

    Ineffective Activists harm and hinder social movements-These are Behaviors/ Pitfalls to consciously avoid -

      Acting disempowered, hopeless
      Displaying negative attitude/energy
      Acting as an Elitist: Self Identified Vanguard/superior to others
      Tactics in isolation from strategy
      Pushing “any means necessary”
      Being Unrealistic, Utopian, or for merely minor reforms
      Acting Passive or Overly Aggressive/Competitive
      Adopting Patriarchal/absolute truth/rigid ideology
      Putting the “masses” down
      Internalizing Dominator Paradigm

    Effective Activists nurture and grow social movements, here are some of the characteristics to consciously try to practice- 

      Behaving Empowered and Hopeful
      Displaying a positive attitude and energy
      Encouraging People power, participatory processes
      Coordinated strategies/tactics
      Promoting a realistic vision & social change
      Assertive/cooperative win/win
      Feminist/relative truths/nurturer/adaptive
      Faith in people
      Internalizing Peaceful paradigm

    The Eight Stages of Social Movement Success:

      Stage One- is Alerting the public that a Critical Social Problem Exists. (The financial crisis did this for us!)
      Stage Two- is Proving the Failure of Official Institutions. This stage is also when activists need to “become the experts.” This means reading books/papers/doing your homework, seeing through the economic jargon designed to mystify and obscure how the system really works, so that you can actually explain it, and help others to understand it and find the best solutions available to us.
      Stage Three- is Ripening Conditions- where we are now.
      Stage Three occurs when recognition of the problem and victims grows and 20 to 30% oppose policies.
      Stage Four- Trigger Event
      Stage Five- Perception of Failure
      Stage Five happens when people see their immediate goals and hopes shattered, see fewer people at demonstrations, feel despair, fear, hopelessness, and drop-out.
      Stage Six- Majority Public Opinion
      Movements can splinter, but when they continue to grow they reach Majority Public Opinion. The action generally moves off the streets into schools, churches, civic groups, theater, music. Sometimes massive demonstrations are called and huge numbers come together under umbrella issues.
      Stage 7- Success
      Stage 8- Continuation

      Stage Three Ripening Conditions

      Assembling: This is a time of gathering together of people in communities. Strong bonds must be maintained by adherence to appropriate moral principles. Only collective moral force can unite the world. (From the I Ching, “Book of Changes”)

      There are organizations popping up all over the country and the world who are not yet, networked or working in coordinated coalition fashion. They have a lot to learn from one another and can support one another’s efforts.

      Local currencies have diversified and grown in number since the early 90s, they all raise the issue about “What is money? Who creates it? What is wrong with the dominant system?

      While there are many critics of the existing system, there is no strong consensus on the path forward. While the AMI’s American Monetary Act holds the greatest promise to solving the monetary problem; it cannot address all the other issues which surround it- the false indicators, the corruption of the government, the consolidation of media ownership, the difficulties of communicating the most important information to the public when information is censored/taboo or grossly misrepresented by media which serves corporate/government interests.

      In spite of the obstacles, people are drawn together by shared purposes, networks, coalitions, alliances grow over time, as new relationships, trust, common ground is found between large numbers of people who share deeply held values and seek similar goals.

      Ripening Conditions- Goals

      • to help create and recognize the emergence of a variety of ripening conditions that set the stage for the movement to take off;
      • to create, inspire, and prepare the new wave of individuals and groups by forming new networks, offering leadership training, and providing expertise;
      • to prepare pre-existing networks and groups that will be concerned about the issue and involved in the upcoming movement;
      • To personalize the problem by putting faces on the statistics about the victims; and
      • To create small, nonviolent demonstrations and campaigns that can serve as prototype models and a training ground for the take-off stages.

      Public must be Convinced Three Times

      • 1. That there is a problem (Stage Four)
      • 2. To oppose current conditions and policies (Stages Four, Six, Seven)
      • 3. To want, no longer fear, alternatives (Stages Six, Seven)

      Powerholders at this stage
      - • Though irritated, they remain unconcerned, believing they can contain the opposition through the strong management of mainstream social, political, economic, and media institutions. The official policies remain unchallenged in the public arena, and the majority continue to believe in them, leaving the actual policies hidden from the general populace.

      Public at this Stage

      • The public consensus supports the powerholders’ policies, as the problem remains off society’s agenda. Yet, primarily at the local level, there is a growing public awareness of the problem, a new wave of opposition, and a discontent regarding the powerholders. Consequently, public opinion opposing the current powerholder policies and practices quietly rises to 30%.

      Powerholders criticize the movement, describe it as radical, dangerous, communist inspired, violent, led by outsiders, irresponsible. Most politicians continue to support existing policies.

      Public is alerted and educated. Until now the public has only heard the powerholders point of view. The contradictions between powerholders actual policies and society’s principles soon pushes public opinion to 40% and over 50 % against them.

      • Becoming discouraged, and losing new activists, because the ripening conditions for a new social movement were not recognized;
      • Allowing the bureaucracy, legalism, and centralized power of the leading Professional Opposition Organizations to squash the creativity, independence, and spontaneity of the new grassroots groups.

      • The number of activists grow, groups get larger, people become more frustrated- by the problem that they are confronting, and the mainstream obstacles that confront them.
      • The stage is set for the take-off of a new social movement. The critical problem appears to be worsening, proven violations by the powerholders become obvious, many victims, spreading discontent, supportive historical conditions, pre-existing networks, and an emerging wave of grassroots opposition. Yet no one- not the public, the powerholders, or even the new wave of activists – suspect the giant new social movement that is about to erupt onto the scene.

      Last, but not least…

      Wars have been fought in the name of religion. At the heart of most religions, is the most valuable lesson that I have learned in my lifetime- “ to forgive, to accept, to love” myself, people and the world. 

      In activism, when we are working on life and death issues, there is a lot of stress, some danger, and risk. People are doing the work because they care deeply. Most are volunteers; it is important to remember not to be too hard on ourselves and others. It is our genuine love of people and life which gives us our strength, power, and connects us all. Banish fear, laugh, let the journey we are on be our reward, enjoy the wonderful companions that we meet along the way. Together we can do what we cannot do alone. Be prepared for the long haul.

      Here is my report from the 5th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference- Life or Debt? AMI – Monetary Reform and Liberation - G-20 - Debt Slavery

      Here is my report from the 6th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference- Money of, by and for Corporations OR Money of, by, and for People?

      Stephen Zarlenga's opening remarks, and videos of the presentations of Professor Michael Hudson, Professor Yamaguchi, and Professor Steve Keen are posted online, along with a report by Keen at his www.debtdeflation.com website.

      Greg Coleridge's talk -The Rigor of Research and Fundamental Monetary Change is posted on his Create Real Democracy Blog)

      Dick Distlehhorst's action suggestions are posted here.

      Here is Professor Yamaguchi in a video interview by Joe Bongiovanni and Peter Young.

      Dick Distlehorst and Robert Poteat spoke on Monetary Reform on the October 7, 2010 Community Currency Radio Show

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