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"Get Up, Stand Up": Do Americans Have What It Takes to Stand Up to Corporate Power and Does Wisconsin Offer Hope?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page, and our Wisconsin News page.

In December 2009, Bruce Levine penned a provocative article on AlterNet entitled "Are Americans a Broken People?" The piece touched a nerve among those who identify themselves as progressive, libertarian, or populist and quickly went viral across the Web. Many respondents and media members who later interviewed Levine wondered why so many Americans have remained passive in the face of attacks on their liberties and their economic well-being. In his latest book, Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (Chelsea Green, 2011), Levine has delved deeper into the cultural forces that have created a politically passive U.S. population. He questions whether "learned helplessness" has taken hold, keeping many Americans locked into an abuse syndrome of sorts. And most importantly, he suggests what can be done to turn this demoralization around. We chatted about his book and some recent efforts by Americans to in fact "get up and stand up."

Susan Warner:  If the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are so unpopular, why aren't people protesting more?

Bruce Levine: Most Americans feel they have no power over whether or not the U.S. invades another nation or for how long it will be occupied. Many Americans know that their government is run by "corporate collaborators" who don't pay attention to their opinions on wars and other big-money issues that large corporations care about.  So although polls show the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become increasingly unpopular-a clear majority of Americans now oppose them-fewer people are protesting against them. 


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