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Occupy the Constitution

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If the above were true, Occupy Wall Street would be one step away from victory. Unfortunately, modern politics is not that clear-cut. (Nor is attribution: That quote, usually credited to Mahatma Gandhi, was actually uttered in 1918 by a trade union organizer with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.) The mainstream media managed to ignore the Tahrir Square-inspired occupation of Zuccotti Park until one over-zealous cop pepper-sprayed some young, nonviolent, Constitution-abiding women. But even when Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC finally began to cover the uprising in Manhattan, the Occupation still had to hop through media hurdles that neither Gandhi nor those early trade unionists could have imagined.

Attempts to ridicule the dissidents as a “mob” or people “flying their freak flag” didn’t address the obvious clarity of their anger over political corruption, corporate greed, and income inequality – perfectly captured in the slogan: “We are the 99%.” The GOP official who first hurled the charge of “class warfare” was closer to the mark. But, as one protester quickly – and correctly – responded: “So what? You started it!”

One of the biggest cudgels waved at the Occupiers was the demand that the “inchoate” demonstrators settle on “one understandable message, one clear demand.” The Occupation draws strength from its diversity and the multiplicity of its concerns – economic, social, and planetary. The insistence on a single set of demands would give Wall Street just what it would love to see: a unified, collective opposition split into bickering factions.

But there may be an answer to the cynical challenge to submit “one clear message” – an Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment (ESRA) to the US Constitution. The ESRA is the work of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and it has been endorsed by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), among others. Of course, passing a constitutional amendment is no small feat. At the very least, though, the ESRA offers a vision of how we can protect the planet from environmentally destructive economic behavior and increase democratic control over economic and political institutions.

Article One of the proposed amendment is the pro-democracy clause. It says that the Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments “shall apply only to human beings, not to corporations or other artificial entities.” Currency shall not be considered a form of “Constitutionally protected” speech. Toward this end, Congress would regulate the flow of money used to shape public opinion in any federal election “to assure that all major points of view … receive equal exposure.”

Article Two would mandate that corporations uphold standards of environmental and social responsibility in their operations. It says that any domestic organization, corporation, or foreign firm doing business in the United States would need to secure a charter acknowledging the company’s “responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth” and accept the need to “demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities.”

Article Three seeks to enhance human community and environmental stewardship. It would mandate that Congress “develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth,” including plans to address global warming, pollution, the ecological balance of the oceans, and “the well-being of all forests and animal life.”

Article Four lays out procedures for implementation. If the ESRA were approved, corporations with more than $100 million in annual gross receipts would need to obtain a new charter every five years. A grand jury of ordinary citizens would determine whether to renew a charter based on “the degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and … to future generations.” If the grand jury were not convinced that a company was upholding those standards, the corporation would be placed on probation for three years. If the firm failed to shape up, under the ESRA, “the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders.”

I’m sure all of this might seem audacious. But then it’s no more audacious – or any more brazen – than the daily environmental and human exploitation by banking firms like, say, Goldman Sachs. So heads up, Wall Street. The 99 percent are getting ready to re-occupy the US Constitution.

Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal. To read the full text of the ESRA, visit:


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A new effort has been started to Occupy The Constitution. This effort launches a new Direct Democracy tool called the National Opinion Collection System ( NOCS ). This tool creates a process to capture ALL the comments of EVERY citizen about major social issues, elections and bills before congress. This effort is described at

By Bruce Nappi on Fri, December 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for this article Gar. I had no idea Kucinich was doing that.. but he is spot on with this legislation.  It is unfortunate that we need anything even remotely like it, but given the current state of consciousness in the world and particularly within this country’s corporations it is highly necessary.

I do see that as changing however as Robert also stated so eloquently in his comment. I have had several personal experiences of being in “Heaven On Earth”, or Oneness as I call it. It is indeed within and all around us, just as Jesus said.

And as Robert also mentioned, there is indeed a revolution underway. I would call more spiritual than religious however as it crosses all religious boundaries, nationalities, creeds and colors. 

I am also only one of what I firmly believe is a growing multitude.  I know several other people who have experienced both spontaneous and gradual awakenings, and they know others as well. And as Eckhart Tolle once said to Oprah, I also believe there are probably millions of people planet wide who are now having these experiences.

If you feel so inclined you can read about my experiences in my free ebook ‘Living In The Body Of God’ available on my websites or
Best regards,
Dr. John Michael Christian

By John on Fri, December 09, 2011 at 2:32 am

“Spiritual progressive’ is a nice comfy term but ‘progress’ none the less an oxymoron. For any progress by ‘spiritual’ means is fraught with historical contradictions. But now the most potent, political and spiritual NVDA is published on the web.

As a humanity, we have all been conditioned or indoctrinated, for all of history by ‘theological’ exegesis, particularly by those with their own ‘religious’  claims and agendas, to accept that a literal proof of God is not possible for faith. And thus all discussion and apologists ‘theodicy’  is contained within this self limiting intellectual paradigm and bubble of presumption, especially evident in the frictions between science and religion. It would now appear that all sides squabbling over the God question, religious, atheist and history itself have it wrong!  That bubble could now burst at any time!

The first wholly new interpretation for two thousand years of the moral teachings of Christ is published on the web. Radically different from anything else we know of from history, this new teaching is predicated upon a precise and predefined experience, a direct individual intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power to confirm divine will, command and covenant,  “correcting human nature by a change in natural law, altering biology, consciousness and human ethical perception beyond all natural evolutionary boundaries.” So like it or no, a new religious claim testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation now exists. Nothing short of a religious revolution is getting under way. More info at

By Robert Landbeck on Sun, December 04, 2011 at 9:44 am

Nice article, Gar! I like the idea a lot. I was up in NYC last week and attended some meetings. I work for Earth Charter International, the small NGO that promotes the Earth Charter, which I’m sure you know. I’d love to see the USA officially adopt some regulations and enact some legislation that were based on a strong ethical foundation. There’s so much “values” talk in the USA, but it’s euphemistic for anti-gay and anti-abortion politics and has nothing to do with the much more socially and globally important values that can be found in the Earth Charter. I hope to see your idea grow and hope that it integrates some Earth Charter values.

Thanks and keep up the good work.


By Douglas F. Williamson on Wed, November 30, 2011 at 9:42 am

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