Standing Rock and the Priority of Public Good
Across the United States a large movement is growing to protect water as our most basic, precious and needed natural resource. Water is essential to maintaining human life. The struggle being led by the Standing Rock Sioux has become the latest international banner to highlight the growing water struggles of the people against the powers of the corporate State. All of these water struggles express the growing will of the people to protect public property rights in the interests of the people. These struggles are directly confronting the power of the corporate State to seize public property and impose the private property interests of the ruling class.
Thousands from all over the country and the world have travelled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation encampments in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to block further construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under Ohae Lake, a Missouri River reservoir. These Water Protectors have engaged in mass civil disobedience. They have been attacked and arrested by the police. Hundreds of thousands more from all over the U.S. and the world are supporting this Native American-led resistance, with donations of money and much needed supplies. More than 300 Indigenous nations from across the Americas have planted their flags at Standing Rock.
On November 25, 2016 the Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the president of the Standing Rock Sioux, declaring that it planned to close down the federal property, that included the protesters’ Oceti Sakowin Camp, on December 5. In response to this threat, during the first days of December, two thousand U.S. Army war veterans descended on the camp to form a human shield to protect the Water Protectors. On December 4, the Army Corps of Engineers called off its planned property closure, when it simultaneously denied permission for the pipeline construction to continue.
Water Protectors remain camped out at Standing Rock despite subzero, arctic weather, even though the Army Corps of Engineers has temporarily denied the easement for the 1,170 mile long pipeline to cross under the Missouri River. The protectors vow to stay until the pipeline issue is finally resolved. Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company owner of Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC, is appealing the easement denial, and has filed suit in federal court to force the Army Corps of Engineers to grant the easement. The pipeline corporation has announced its intention to move forward with construction as planned.
This battle is far from over. On January 20, Donald Trump will be inaugurated and become the 45th President of the United States. Trump announced last month that he supports completion of the pipeline as part of his overall energy program to expand fossil fuel energy development. His nominee for Secretary of the Energy Department is former Texas governor Rick Perry. Perry sits on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners.
The battle lines are being drawn between the working class-based movements to protect the public domain for water rights and public access to clean water, and the ruling class State apparatus that is hell bent on seizing the public domain to expand corporate private property rights.
The battle being waged by the Water Protectors of Standing Rock raises two fundamental questions. Ultimately, will the people take over the private property of the corporations to serve the working class interests of society as a whole? Or will the corporations continue to take over the public property of society to serve the private property interests of the capitalist class?
Water is life! To secure the future of humankind demands that we protect our public welfare. This requires us to take over the private property of the corporations and make it public property, to be used to benefit human society as a whole.
January/February 2017. Vol27.Ed1
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011