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Stirring Up 2nd Revolution

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to be controlled by big curporations (which the left has been saying all along). "I think we can learn a lot from going back to our roots, especially now because the conditions in 1975 are so uncannily parallel to 1775. In 1775, there was a total loss of faith in the government, the people were angry about the wealthy and hierarchical aristocrats, inflation, riots. skyrocketing prices," said Rifkin. "George Washington said they should hang the worst monopolizers in each state by gibbets ten times as high as Hamman's." In America 's Birthday, written by members of the PBC, an outline is set up to give direction to people trying tö organize around the Bicentennial. Using e.xamples from the first American revolution, the book is filled with suggestions for organizing around issues like taxes or the basic freedoms of the Bill of Rights. People can organize in schools, businesses, churches or communities using the proiects in BirthdayJ hile talking about the American revolutionary tradition, the book also deals with the perversión of that tradition which corpora te America is planning to perpétrate on the public over the next few years. Official plans for the Bicentennial will try to sell the American public on plastic red, white and blue Liberty Bells. This 2OOth birthday will be used as a golden opportunity to pass tons of junk off on the consumer in the name of the Revolution. In fact, ads are already appearing, like one with four patriots sitting around a table with the caption, "!f the Declaration of Independence had been written with a Facit typewriter, we might have become a country in 1 775 instead of 1776." America 's Birthday is a guide for getting away from the corporate take-over of the American heritage. In one section of the book, it compares the official celebration of the Boston Tea Party last year in which thousands of dollars were spent to recréate the original scène, with the alternative PBC-sponsored Boston OU Party. Instead of simply replaying the past, the PBC took an issue with current implications. They put together a rally to talk about oil company monopolies and profïts. As the original Boston Tea Party was a protest against corporate prices and practices, so was the PBC celebration of it. Many of the strategies set up in day are familiar to people already active in the Ann Arbor community. Some of the plans are already in use, but most have not got a mass-based backing. The book can be useful even to experienced organizers by helping to reevaluate priorities, and also inspire new or alternative methods. For example. the book deals with organizing in schools. Among the suggestions are using the basics of the Declaration of fndependence for fighting the school administration. It proposes tbrcing a confrontation over the Bill of Rights provisions for freedom of press, speech and assembly. Most students are not even aware that various Supreme Court rulings based on the Bill of Rights have given privileges to students which most schools are still denying. America 's Birthday does not seem like a revolutionary proposal on the face of it. Most of its plans are only first steps in overthrowing existing institutions. What the book does effectively is remind people who feel powerless that means exist for taking control over institutions affecting them. While avoiding the rhetoric of the "new left." Birthday is full of the same ideas most radicáis are promoting, but in simple, straightforward language that non-radicals can understand. Instead of using Mao or Marx to urge change, the whole tradition of the PBC is to take America's own past. so gloried by the "patriotic.' and present it as a revolutionary ideal to be continued. "Revolutionary movements develop when people begin to raise their own expectations of what the promise of their society should be. It is time to expect the fuifillment of the promise set forth two hundred years ago in our own Declaration of Independence. It is time to assert our rights against those Tories, like Nixon, who would commercialize, trivialize and vandalize that promise. In 1976. we, the American people. will celébrate the twohundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It must be our goal in the next years of struggle to recapture our promise and to build a new society worthy of our legacy." Amerka's Birthday deserves a look. Between the colonial graphics and the spicy, revolutionary anecdotes are some ideas of valué to any organizer. Through it all is a reminder of our right to control our own society.