How Wealth Rules the World: Saving Our Communities and Freedoms from the Dictatorship of Property
by Ben Price, Preface by David Korten
AVAILABILITY: Readily available
Publication Date: May 2019
Description: Ben Price reveals that our Constitution and legal system were intentionally designed to give more rights to the wealthy propertied class than the rest of us and exposes how this hamstrings our ability to effectively address a host of pressing social and environmental problems—and what we can do about it.
Many of today's most serious issues—homelessness, gun violence, fracking, prison privatization, predatory lending, and many more—resist resolution because the "rights of property" undermine the rights of people. Issues that undeniably affect whole communities are determined by the courts to relate primarily to property, contracts, and corporations and are removed from the public sphere and immunized from public governance.
There's a reason for this. Ben Price tells the story of how the Federalists—the more conservative faction of the Founding Fathers—secretly drafted the Constitution as a counterrevolutionary document. It restored to the colonial 1 percent privileges overturned by the revolution, avoiding a popular backlash by bestowing rights on wealth itself, rather than creating a British-style personal aristocracy. These rights of property deprive the majority of their ability to self-govern and weaponize government in ways that let the "minority of the opulent" (in James Madison's phrase) use the Constitution to block local policies that compete with their interests.
Price details often shocking examples of how the supposedly unalienable rights of individuals and communities are blithely disregarded. But he also describes how over 200 communities have drafted their own bills of rights that push back against the primacy of property and how we all can join this struggle to return America to what the revolutionary generation intended.
Ben Price is the National Organizing Director at Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Since 2007, Ben has worked with CELDF to coordinate community rights organizing across the country, and has advised and organized in hundreds of communities, many of which adopted community bills of rights that codify the right of local community self-government, the rights of the natural environment, the right to clean air and water, and other rights, while prohibiting corporate activities that violate those rights. Ben served as adviser to Pittsburgh City Council members and assisted in drafting Pittsburgh's Protection from Natural Gas Drilling Ordinance. He currently works with colleagues in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and California to train, educate and organize local people to adopt community rights ordinances and charter amendments that subordinate corporate privileges to human and civil rights. Ben is also organizational liaison with the National Community Rights Network and assists strategic organizing across the country to support community rights movement-building. He is a first-chair Democracy School Lecturer, proponent and activist for the Rights of Nature and author of numerous articles and essays focused on the right of local community self-government.
Review(s): “This wonderful book makes clear some of the power mechanisms by which the rich steal from the poor and the powerful are killing the planet. Better, it makes clear means by which we can and must fight back.” — Derrick Jensen, author of “Endgame”, “The Myth of Human Supremacy”, and “The Culture of Make Believe"
"Powerfully and unflinchingly, Ben Price is telling the truth: the truth about the founding of our nation, our legal system, the mess we're in . . . and what we can do to change it. Well said, every word, and all true. It is staggering to realize that the architecture of this country was (and still is) designed to deliver injustice and inequality in perpetuity unless we do work for real change. I appreciated the in-depth historical and contemporary look at this. It's a bit overwhelming to realize the depth of revolution required if we are ever to see real democracy here in the US, but Price guides us through the challenges to the opportunities with depth, intensity, and dedication to getting to the vision that so many of us hold for people-powered democracy. An important read.” — Rivera Sun, author of "The Dandelion Insurrection”
“Revolutions face counter-revolutions, and the American Revolution of 1776 was immediately undermined by the framers of the Constitution, the wealthy ruling class Federalists, whose rule of law is really the rule of the richest and their institutions over the rights of the people and our democracy. Ben Price’s important new book, 'How Wealth Rules the World', is a revelatory page-turner, an urgent and timely guide to both explain the subversion of democracy by the rich, and to provide a way out of the meat grinder that is shredding and destroying families, communities, countries and our Planet’s very biosphere, its ability to sustain Nature and civilizations. We the people have the right to alter and abolish corrupt systems of government, such as the entrenched super-rich and their institutions and corporations that control both political parties. But our sacred revolutionary rights to determine our future, the birthrights that are taught in our text books, mean nothing to the courts, politicians and lobbyists who serve the wealthy whom the federalist counter-revolution placed over us like a new King George. Now in the 21st century a critical new movement to expose these realities and mobilize our citizenry, to rescue ourselves from the cold fate of corporate control, to reestablish the power of people over the ruling elite, has begun. Ben Price is in its forefront and he tells its story revealing how you and your community can reclaim control of our future for the common good. The true American Dream of radical democracy is being reborn, and its rebirth is the key to saving the Planet itself. This new democratic revolution will not be televised, nor promoted in corporate media from the Washington Post to Facebook. Those self-serving institutions are owned by billionaire oligarchs, the elite who get richer while we and our lives and environment are strangled by their courts and politicians. They hide these truths and they stand in our way. 'How Wealth Rules the World' guides us past their PR and propaganda, to understand how to apply today the vision and first principles of 1776, and to understand how we suffer from democracy’s demise in the hands of the Federalists and their counter-revolutionary progeny. The counter revolution of business and property over we the people, our rights and communities, has grown ever stronger for hundreds of years as American courts and politicians serving the elite have subverted our branches of government. Read 'How Wealth Rules the World', share it, discuss it, and organize around it as if your family’s and friends’ lives depended on it—because they do.” — John Stauber, author of best-sellers including "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You", "Trust Us We’re Experts" and "Weapons of Mass Deception"
"'How Wealth Rules the World' is an immensely important revelatory work that lifts the blanket off this still insufficiently discussed but absolutely most important issue. Ben Price offers a step-by-step explanation of the extent to which the wealthiest 1% of the population have managed to usurp control, and undermine the once democratic (sic!) processes in the U.S., distorting them to serve only the goals of the richest people on the planet. This information is mandatory for anyone interested in pursuing positive change, and Ben Price has done a magnificent, step-by-step presentation of the roots and details of the problem. Right now, this is probably the most important subject we all need to address. Thank you to Ben Price for moving the details forward.” — Jerry Mander, author of “In the Absence of the Sacred" and "The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System"
“In this book you can discover what intrepid communities across the country have learned, and why they’ve taken up the Community Rights strategy. The Federalists who wrote the U.S. Constitution were counter-revolutionaries bent on pushing the American Revolution off-course. No believers in the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, they vested greater rights in property than in people and put us on the disastrous route to environmental devastation and social chaos we are witnessing today. Modern day Federalists and the system of government they inherited keep us ever on that course, through judicial adherence to precedent. Correcting the counter-revolutionary agenda that allows wealth to govern our lives instead of democratically assembled communities of people will require a full-blown people’s movement. Ben Price has written your invitation to join that fight.” — Thom Hartmann, author of over 20 books including "Cracking the Code" and "Unequal Protection"
“Indigenous people have said for hundreds of years that a society based on conquest is not sustainable. Time to move past empire. The UN has just reaffirmed that for Mother Earth to be healthy, capitalism and corporate control cannot continue. The rights of corporations cannot supersede the rights of nature.” — Winona LaDuke, Executive Director, Honor the Earth
“'How Wealth Rules the World' should be prerequisite reading for all serious social science academicians and especially social change activists. It convincingly exposes how property came to become and remains the single most sacred and legally protected right in our culture and increasingly globally, which has routinely blocked peoples' right to protect the health, safety and environment in their communities. Price challenges people of conscience dedicated to human rights and protecting the planet in our life-threatening times to rethink their goals and reassess their strategies directed toward authentic life-affirming systemic change.” — Greg Coleridge, Outreach Director, Move to Amend