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Quigley writes: "We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy. Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of people. Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence. This is unacceptable."

Revelers gather at the White House and chant 'USA! USA!' after the death of Osama bin Laden, 05/21/11. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Revelers gather at the White House and chant "USA! USA!" after the death of Osama bin Laden, 05/21/11. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

10 Steps Toward Radical Revolution in the USA

By Bill Quigley, CounterPunch

24 January 12


"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values."

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

ne. Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously. Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights. No application needed. No exclusions at all. This is our highest priority.

Two. We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy. Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of people. Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence. This is unacceptable. Direct democracy by the people is now technologically possible and should be the rule. Communities must be protected whenever they advocate for self-determination, self-development and human rights. Dissent is essential to democracy; we pledge to help it flourish.

Three. Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights. Amend the US Constitution so it is clear corporations do not have constitutional or human rights. We the people must cut them down to size and so democracy can regulate their size, scope and actions.

Four. Leave the rest of the world alone. Cut US military spending by 75 percent and bring all troops outside the US home now. Defense of the US is a human right. Global offense and global police force by US military are not. Eliminate all nuclear and chemical and biological weapons. Stop allowing scare tactics to build up the national security forces at home. Stop the myth that the US is somehow special or exceptional and is entitled to act differently than all other nations. The US must re-join the global family of nations as a respectful partner. USA is one of many nations in the world. We must start acting like it.

Five. Property rights, privilege, and money-making are not as important as human rights. When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights. Money-making can only be allowed when human rights are respected. Exploitation is unacceptable. There are national and global poverty lines. We must establish national and global excess lines so that people and businesses with extra houses, cars, luxuries, and incomes share much more to help everyone else be able to exercise their basic human rights to shelter, food, education and healthcare. If that disrupts current property, privilege and money-making, so be it.

Six. Defend our earth. Stop pollution, stop pipelines, stop new interstates, and stop destroying the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them. Rebuild what we have destroyed. If corporations will not stop voluntarily, people must stop them. The very existence of life is at stake.

Seven. Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatization of public services. Quality public education, health and safety for all must be provided by transparent accountable public systems. Starving the state is a recipe for destroying social and economic human rights for everyone but the rich.

Eight. Pull the criminal legal prison system up and out by its roots and start over. Cease the criminalization of drugs, immigrants, poor people and people of color. We are all entitled to be safe but the current system makes us less so and ruins millions of lives. Start over.

Nine. The US was created based on two original crimes that must be confessed and made right. Reparations are owed to Native Americans because their land was stolen and they were uprooted and slaughtered. Reparations are owed to African Americans because they were kidnapped, enslaved and abused. The US has profited widely from these injustices and must make amends.

Ten. Everyone who wants to work should have the right to work and earn a living wage. Any workers who want to organize and advocate for change in solidarity with others must be absolutely protected from recriminations from their employer and from their government.

Finally, if those in government and those in power do not help the people do what is right, people seeking change must together exercise our human rights and bring about these changes directly. Dr. King and millions of others lived and worked for a radical revolution of values. We will as well. We respect the human rights and human dignity of others and work for a world where love and wisdom and solidarity and respect prevail. We expect those for whom the current unjust system works just fine will object and oppose and accuse people seeking dramatic change of being divisive and worse. That is to be expected because that is what happens to all groups which work for serious social change. Despite that, people will continue to go forward with determination and purpose to bring about a radical revolution of values in the USA.

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach Bill at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . your social media marketing partner


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+18 # PGreen 2012-01-24 21:54
"Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously. Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights. No application needed. No exclusions at all. This is our highest priority."
I applaud the sentiment, but I must note that there is a tendency in people to judge others differently from ourselves. Declaring human rights for all is no radical thing; political regimes have paid lip service to this notion for decades (at least). How many times have brutal conquerors claimed to be "liberating" a newly subjugated people? How many times have governments endorsed free speech which amounts to "selective free speech?" Truly radical change will address tearing down the class and racial barriers across which we apply our ethical philosophies. We need to value all lives lost in warfare, be concerned with the prosperity of all people. This issue is no small thing, because it is more than personal bias which keeps our societal blindness in place. Some individual perceive class and racial bier, but ignore it. Some applaud it. But it is ingrained in the hierarchical structure of our institutions and the unequal distribution of our wealth. To eliminate the bias, we must also change the nature of these institutions. Without this, our declaration of human rights is sophistry.
+12 # John Locke 2012-01-25 09:48
PGreen: If you ever wondered why our people haven't reacted before, maybe look up 50 USC CHAPTER 32 - CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE Program Section 1512. This Federal law allows the US Government to test Biological weapons on US Citizens... WITHOUT OUR KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT...
+9 # PGreen 2012-01-25 14:47
Thanks JL-- I shall peruse it. I certainly think that the US record in foreign interventions demonstrates that our government is not above committing crimes against humanity in the international arena. Given this record, domestic atrocities are credible, and to be guarded against.
+2 # BellBuoy 2012-01-26 21:20
The radical change mentioned here is one that must take place within. It starts with making peace with ones self, and then extending that peace and compassion to all beings, especially those we disagree with. We might include exposing Christianity for the violent, repressive and bigoted Ideology it is, and look to more egalitarian spiritual practices for inspiration. It's gonna take a LOT of love to get out of this mess!
-6 # dloehr 2012-01-25 00:40
Since no one gives up power voluntarily, how would/could any of these idealistic dreams actually gain power? Those with money have a lot to offer. What, exactly, do the many without money have to offer? Our gratitude?

That said, it does seem possible that the Occupy movement, plus the Internet, could grow to gain the nomination of a 3rd party President/Vice President. Though mainstream media would treat them as it treats Ron Paul, perhaps a lot of social networking could generate the determination to get the majority to vote. It would be interesting to see if the Congress or Supreme Court would or could find a way to disqualify it.

And on warfare.... As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I'm grateful for the experiences (easier to say since I wasn't shot). They're a coming-of-age for men, and -- at best -- character building. I keep thinking of William James, a pacifist, who nevertheless noted that war can develop character, and a deep sense of right and wrong, etc. And, much as he hated it, he couldn't imagine getting rid of war until we had found, as he put it, "the moral equivalent to war." We still haven't -- though again, the Occupy movements could grow into it.
+21 # tclose 2012-01-25 08:55
R.e. your comment on character building, it seems to me that this can be done without the warfare you seem to feel is necessary - most other nations do not have huge military machines that are so destructive, yet have national service that engages at least some young people in disciplined life. There are other things that can "develop character and provide a deep sense of right and wrong" other than warfare.
+15 # Glen 2012-01-25 12:53
Coming of age, dloehr? Surely you jest. War kills off more young men and women, both civilian and military than is required for bragging rights of the victor, who certainly does brag. U.S. military of today has certainly proven that character is lacking, fer sher. Other than that, the rest will never know character fulfillment: they are dead.
+4 # GravityWave 2012-01-25 19:44
War is not the only thing that can build character. Good Education can also. At lot of the arguments we have been hearing and reading for quite a few years now, frame things in these either/or ways.

You may have forgotten what good character and good discourse looks like. But not all of has.

And the either/or argument about launching a 3rd party candidate is false logic also.

We have a President who is beginning to do the things we have wanted him to do. But even if he weren't, we would be smartest not to split our vote at this point.

Do you get on and talk to him directly? That would be the best, most logical, place to start.
+1 # barbaratodish 2012-01-28 00:27
Maybe the moral equivalant to war is that we need to all be "at war" with ourself! Instead of countries, maybe we need to see each of us as a kind of morally evolving "country" and government to ourself. We need to each work on our own "gardens" as Voltaire said. I know I am finally spending the time required to "work" on me. There is so much PERFORMANCE, namely ego and drama, to get through in order to arrive at the real, the authentic, the emotionally valid me. What I formerly took for human agency and intention, motivation, etc., was drama and ego performance, and what I formerly took for love and intimacy, well IT TOOK me! Now I can begin to emerge to myself, my "country" of self and I have self love instead of SETTLING for the drama and ego of the PERFORMANCE of the external APPEARANCES of love, and the future illusion of "security". Of course I need and deserve my most basic needs, as do all others but that is what is over and beyond what is needed for basic, relatively comfortable survival, IS EGO AND DRAMA! All the money, fame and power in the world is worthless if you are missing emotional self intimacy and cconsciousness confidence, namely limitless self love,
-2 # nickyus 2012-01-25 03:12
Don't see how these are the steps *toward* a revolution; seems more like the results. What would be the point of a revolution if all the above was already attained?
+2 # Glen 2012-01-25 12:59
I see your point, nickyus. The list is of almost utopian proportions. Seems to be symbolic only, though. A country this size cannot be handled as it was when founded, especially considering who actually runs it. (A true revolution would be to eliminate those who are destroying it.) It is a soothing thought, though.
+12 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-01-25 03:45
Bill Quigley is a brilliant and heart filled prophet (a.k.a. truthteller), and should be read and heard far and wide.

Kudos, Quigley, Kudos!!!
+2 # davidiste 2012-01-25 07:25
I've heard of pie in the sky and it looks some thing like this. This is unrealistic and there's no point waiting for this wish list to be fulfilled to create something better. We can improve things dramatically without creating a path through destruction. Sure, great ideas, but it would be more worthwhile coming up with a simpler list with worthwhile goals that CAN be reached, though any of them are pushing a big rock up hill. To get this list established as a new reality would require not just a revolution but an incredible struggle which would have to include wrenching internal violence and the destruction of many things and people you would hope to enhance, not destroy.
+2 # GravityWave 2012-01-25 19:49
davidiste-- You're off base. We have to make this happen or live in slavery.

Our heritage includes such actions. Others have gone thew these things, and not it is our turn.

Cover your nakedness and get busy.
-1 # rhgreen 2012-01-25 10:11
I am having trouble with this. Some of these 10 things are brilliant, some are more results to seek than steps to get there, and taken together they are something of a qualitative jumble - for example #6 is really a different order issue than the rest. No more interstate highways? Stop extracting resources from land, sea and air? Please, this is much too vague and the specifics are open to debate. These are hardly on the level of fundamental things like some of the others. Some are brilliant and well-stated, including #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9. The rest (5, 7 & 10) I don't disagree with, but they are more in the "it would be a good thing" category.
+3 # GravityWave 2012-01-25 19:53
I disagree rhgreen--In all these ways we are being exploited. And in order to have a functioning, livable earth and freedom, all these things we have to work for simultaneously. We are at a place from which there is no return. We have to fight the whole fight or live in slavery.
-5 # GravityWave 2012-01-25 20:31
People died for our right to be free. We have a wonderful Constitution and a good President who, as soon as we started standing up with him, began to push back on the crooks who were allowed to run wild since Reagan. No one but us can take back our Country.

Did you watch the President's speech yesterday? He even said he is starting an investigation of the banksters, a thing some have been lobbing for for some time. He has already prosecuted some and judges and Attorneys General have backed him up disallowing sentences that were too lenient. It has started.

Dr. Quigley’s ideas are right in the groove and need to be seen by all Americans. I am naive about how all this works, but these points are going to get around in my home town one way or another. And I will be looking for a way to help us all walk with feet and purses to boycott these corporations so diversified that we can hardly tell where all their products are being sold.

We should burn *all the money*, if that’s what it takes to keep from living as slaves.

Start a victory garden. Stay informed and get on and talk to Obama. He has made it easy for us.

Read, write, think, march, and boycott.
+7 # Capn Canard 2012-01-25 10:23
I agree that it would be a tremendous benefit to implement all of the ten steps, but there is that big obstacle: the perverting influence of money! If it were possible to get rid of money then you could easily mitigate all of these problems. Is it possible to eliminate money? Why or why not? I believe that what is needed is a truly NEW paradigm of belief/thought, our old beliefs about politics, and our regrettable faith based economic practice needs to be replaced.
+9 # futhark 2012-01-25 13:55
Some of these points can be found in the Declaration of Independence, especially the "Finally..." one. Recognition needs to be given to the ongoing nature of the American Revolution. It didn't end in 1783 when independence from Britain was achieved, but continued to progress decade by decade until about the time Reagan was elected to the presidency, at which time its foundation of sovereignty of the people was undermined by Reaganomics.

The Constitution was formulated with a provision for amendment because the Framers recognized the necessity of political institutions to adapt to changing conditions and wished that adaptive process to proceed without the waste and bloodshed of civil war. We could still insist that this evolutionary process be followed and save endless waste of lives and resources.

The most immediately necessary step is to reverse the Citizens United decision and return sovereignty to the people.
-1 # barbaratodish 2012-01-25 20:32
Bill Quigley/Counter Punch: Please consider adding a pre "step" to your 10 steps to radical revolution, namely an acknowledgement , etc., that human rights have taken us, that we have never HAD human rights, human rights have always HAD us!lol Human rights have always controlled us, because we have always, at best, had relative PERFORMANCES of humanity identity and relative performances of human rights identity, instead of experiencing the absolute freedom, the anxiety, ambiguity of the limiteless (random chaos of possibility, freedom) of all rights and duties we "owe" to self. We need to be aware that we merely "settle" for human and/or constructed rights and duties, because our birth rights are trancendence of all limited rights and duties! Rule of law and rules of ownership are communicated in limited, flawed ways( see Pierre Joseph Proudhon, "What is Property? An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government")Ori ginal principles, origin of value, validity , emotional self intimacy, etc., has, at best, been subliminally, if at all only been communicated by/through
our self and or other censored instinct and intuitions, namely, what is considered to be our most frightening"dar k side", etc. Unless and until we deal with these primal values, the truth about our "dark sides", that we struggle with and want to control with distraction amd denial, our identity will continue to HAVE us and likewise our rights our duties and our humanity.
0 # barbaratodish 2012-01-26 13:56
2 make the above comment more comprehensible, @ how 2 achieve a consciousness revolution instead of the APPEARANCE/PERF ORMANCE of one, such a revolution needs the prerequisite of absolute selves 2 emerge 1st instead of relative selves we r now. We seem 2 have ALMOST zero emotional intimacy with ourselves,& that's what we bring 2"revolutions". My point: we only exist 2 perform competitively, comparatively &/or in relationship 2 others, instead of living, TRULY, AUTHENTICALLY, RISKING 2 live 4,& with, ourself, whether it involves revolutions, etc. Perhaps if men realized that instead of having intention, (i.e., the intention 2 have sex), that their intention HAS them, they might do whatever it took 2 address the problem of HUMAN self agency. Women, though,r so far from dealing with human self agency, that they 1st need a relationship in order 2 deal with even the concept of intention! Intention & whether we have it or it has us, has been an issue I have been dealing with because I want 2 free myself from all defensiveness (except, of course from the instinctual & intuitive defensiveness involved in "fight or flight" reactions). Men only "exist" 2 PERFORM, they "exist" as a performance ego. Men want 2 b competitive, comparative. Women want 2 dramatize their relationships because they hardly are allowed, or allow themselves, 2 have a self 2 perform with. Women are only allowed, or only allow themselves, 2 make IMPRESSIONS on others, they hardly make an IMPRESSION on themselves.
+1 # BellBuoy 2012-01-26 21:29
Uh, Barbara, you kind of lost me there. Are we back to "it's all the mans fault" reductionism? Or is this just a "performance piece"?
-1 # barbaratodish 2012-01-27 02:16
I am just trying 2 arrive at a theory of intent. I am thinking that men are closer to acting with intent than women are, because men PERFORM for what may be a close-to-the- real-self-image , but what they perform for and with is far from an intimate self, it is more like a shadow self or what I call a PERFORMANCE SELF. Thus there is a lack of satisfaction, a need for a pornification of dominating forceful sex instead of erotic sex that is emotionally intimate. I am thinking that even this "shawdow self" is closer, though,to real intimacy than what women achieve because women seem to need a relationship with another before they can even "register" any kind of impression performance, etc.
0 # CandH 2012-01-25 20:50
I just had a conversation with someone about what behavior constitutes "evil." It went something like this:

Scenario 1: Commodities speculation--th e point of the participant is to monopolize the commodity to enhance your po$ition (essentially.) In the process, that means commodity supply demand = x quantity die. I said evil. He said "indifference not evil."

I said he'd make a good warmonger (but that's for another day.) He said unless the acts were for entertainment purposes, it is not evil. But he did agree that both participants were psychopaths (of course, only after I said he'd make a good warmonger...)

Why mention this? The MLK quote mentions "values." My friend and I couldn't agree on what behavior is evil, he instead calling it indifference. Humans are complex, and rife with a myriad of contradictions on seemingly simple subject matter. And as straight-forwar d, cogent and simple as this list is, it's still too complicated. Humans live on another plane of consciousness outside this list, and so cannot comprehend and apply it to their lives. Very sad indeed...
+1 # CandH 2012-01-25 22:08
Okay, I apparently used a symbol that RSN doesn't allow (the "greater than" and "less than." I have to re-edit.

Paragraph 2 should read: ...In the process, that means commodity supply IS LESS THAN demand = people starve and die. I said evil. He said "indifference not evil."

Missing Paragraph Afterward:

Scenario 2: Weapons development--th e point of the participant is to monopolize the populations to enhance your po$ition (essentially.) In the process, that means populations supply IS GREATER THAN demand = x quantity populations die. I said evil. He said "indifference not evil."
+2 # Cptn 2012-01-26 15:55
Everything up to 5 was good then I stopped reading. I believe humanity should come before making a dollar. But how do you measure self worth? You cant say I have 3 cars and only 2 people can drive them so I have to sell or give the 1 away to someone who has negated themselves their entire lives, refuses to become financially responsible, and get them to stop frivolous spending so they can buy that car? Human Rights has nothing to do with being able to spend more than you can earn.
+1 # Cptn 2012-01-26 15:57
Suggesting no one can have property rights is like saying I dont own the air I breath in the location I choose to use it in. Wherever I stand I own that piece of property until I am moved from it or choose to move from it, which means every step I take on this earth less I am stepping on others, that part of the earth for that moment as I occupy it belongs to me.
+3 # Cptn 2012-01-26 15:58
Common sense must still dictate reality. It is a human right to eat and choose what one wants to eat, it is not a human right to ask everyone else who is responsible in their choices to be responsible to my choices.
+1 # Cptn 2012-01-26 16:00
If the answers have to be moderated then you must simply move on. There is no idea of liberty here only communism.
0 # MountainHome 2012-01-27 06:05
Grea.t article, Bill. I am sure we'll be seeing more of these type of articles as the weather improves and people start getting into the streets and protesting this spring
0 # DaveM 2012-01-27 23:22
Property rights are ultimately the basis of all human rights. You own your life, therefore it is your right to do with it as you wish, and your responsibility to allow those you come into contact with to do the same. If you are not your own are a slave, obviously intolerable if human rights are to be respected and protected.

Pollution of any sort violates the right to private property. If someone dumped garbage in your yard without your permission, you would have multiple legal avenues that would prevent further occurrences and force the offender to clean up the mess. You SHOULD have the same right when the "garbage" is being dumped into the water you drink, the air you breathe, and the food you eat.
0 # sagesignal 2012-01-29 15:54
I like everything I hear as it is very progressive. The only other issue I can suggest is to recognize the Indigenous Ideology. Western Ideology is new and the Indigenous Ideology existed prior to this time and is a universal concept. This ideology is the basis and foundation for every thought, word and deed. This ideology has been twisted and changed from time to time but it can only change in a positive direction as it is an ideology coming from the earth which is spiritual. The last continents that practiced this perspective was from North and South America. Spirituality is not religious dogma from Europe which was written to change the Matriarch to the patriarch.

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