Moral Mondays

by Grant A. Mincy

There has been a lot going on in the North Carolina legislature lately. The veto proof Republican majority has indeed been a busy group of politicians and the governments corporate friends are in on the party as well. Starting with Duke-Progress Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, NC, (the largest power utility in the United States) which holds a monopoly on the energy market in many sates recently released a long-term Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). This long-term plan proposed by the utility giant will dictate to consumers how they get their energy. The IRP’s reveal a commitment to high-cost energy from coal, natural gas and nuclear, while backing away from energy conservation, efficiency and investment in renewable energy sources. Under the plans, the utilities would burden consumers with an additional 14% rate hike. The hike would hit residential and small business consumers the hardest, as hikes for industry are at a minimum. This, of course, raises a number of environmental, economic and social justice issues.

Aqua America, the nations largest private water company, has a chapter active in North Carolina. Privatization of local municipalities is becoming a big issue in the state, as the legislature is moving to strip local municipalities of the right to manage their own water. The Republican “old guard” is rather upset about this, and some are even vowing to leave the party.

Also in water news, government officials are trying to bring fracking to the Tar Heel state. The bills promoting our nations latest energy boom classically use state power to uphold industry. The latest “fast track frack bill” seeks to allow eminent domain, compulsory pooling, controversial waste water injection and a number of other pro-industry “regulations”. As some North Carolina communities began to protest, yet another bill was proposed that would keep local ordinances from banning the practice.

The halls of power in Raleigh are also working to expand the regressive sales tax, cut spending on education, cut public safety nets and reduce unemployment benefits. One must not forget the right-wing push of reforming the states criminal justice system and voting rights as well. It seems the bureaucrats at Duke-Progress Energy, influential groups such as Americans for Prosperity and State Policy Network, vulgar libertarians at the American Legislative Exchange Council and other front groups with their big government buddies are bringing a new era of Corporatism to another southern state.

Not so fast!

In April, a small group of people began to organize what has come to be Moral Mondays. Organized by the NAACP, weekly protests have been held every Monday since mid April to raise awareness about the newest democratic assault occurring in the south. At the first Moral Monday there were 17 arrests while tens of supporters showed solidarity. Every single week this protest has grown, and now, as Reverend William Barber of the NAACP puts it, Moral Mondays “are a movement, … not a moment”. This past moral Monday hosted a crowd of over 1600 people with over 180 arrests. As the movement gains momentum many Social, Environmental and Economic justice groups along with active, engaged and empowered citizens are standing with the NAACP.

This is a fight that needs to happen everywhere. All across North Carolina, across the south, across the states, across the globe. Moral Mondays are organized people standing up to state power, neo-liberal economics, actually existing capitalism (corporatism), fossil fuel energy, corporate privilege, captured markets, controlled education, state sanctioned voting privileges, the states tariff monopoly and the money monopoly – it is organized people from across the political spectrum seeking liberation.

This is what democracy looks like. This is a peaceful gathering, full of fellowship, free association among individuals and voluntary co-operation. People sing songs, join in chants, speak to one another, laugh and practice the libertarian principle of non-violent, dignified, civil disobedience. Those who do not risk arrest show solidarity. All challenge the prevailing state-capitalist system.

We libertarians challenge this state-corporate apparatus everyday. We wish to see our institutions and power structures decentralized. We believe in the resilience of local communities. We believe in sustainability, both in the energy sector and in ecological systems. We believe in a democratic approach to education. We believe that legitimate private property rights co-exist peacefully with the collective commons. We trust in consensus building and free, liberated markets.

So, the status quo, or peace love and liberty – which side are you on?