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Passing: Richard Grossman

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Sad News: Richard Grossman Has Died (1943-2011)
by Paul Cienfuegos
A giant in the movement to dismantle corporate constitutional so-called "rights" has died of cancer yesterday, Tuesday 22 November 2011.
He was one of my primary teachers and mentors from 1995 to 2000.
I could not have founded Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (DUHC) without his core support and critical thinking.
Here are some words about his life, written by my colleague Dave Henson, a founding member of Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), which Richard co-founded in 1994.

...I have sad news: Richard Grossman died last night of cancer. He is survived by his wife, Mary MacArthur, and their daughter and grand daughter. Richard was born August 10, 1943.

For those of us who knew Richard less well –  Richard was a direct and profound inspiration for thousands of activists and people of conscience. Through his writings and the organizations he founded and co-founded, including in the mid-1980’s the Highlander Center’s STP Program (“Stop the Pollution, Save the Planet”), in 1994 the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD), and in 2007 the “Democracy Schools” [co-created with], Richard has helped lead tens of thousands more people to a clearer historical, cultural and legal analysis of the structural causes of – and potential remedies to – persistent social and economic disparity in power and wealth between We The People and the political and economic institutions the People are meant to govern.

Richard was one of the true mentors of my life: a close friend for many years, and advisor, and a sparring partner over ideas and methods. In the movement, Richard was an intentional provocateur, an agitator, a relentless critic of everyone’s politic and political strategies, and a serious grump. He was also an incredibly soft, sensitive, caring and passionate man. His humor was as quick and sharp as his critique. He deeply loved life and nature. I don’t think I’ve known so well any other more intellectually stimulating and challenging a person.

.....This past couple months I have been thinking a lot of Richard. I hear the direct and indirect influence of Richard Grossman every day in the “Occupy Movement”. I’m sure he had quite a critique of everything “occupy”, but I know he must have relished in the increasingly widespread conscious dissent he has helped instigate.


From a 1997 interview with “The Corporate Crime Reporter”:

“If we take seriously the constitutional theory of this country, citizens are supposed to decide what corporations are and what they do. We are the people. We are supposed to be sovereign. We create corporations -- whether they are business, or government, or charitable, or educational -- to help us do our work. We are supposed to define those institutions. We have to be responsible and accountable to one another and to the future.

If we are going to create institutions, we have to define them in ways that keep them subordinate. We don't talk the language of corporate accountability and corporate responsibility. We don't talk about voluntary codes of conduct, or about asking corporate leaders to cause a little less harm. We are trying to instigate a very different kind discussion.

We (POCLAD) started off looking at the corporation. And increasingly, we keep coming back to ourselves -- who we are as people, as human beings? We ask: what does it mean to act like sovereign people?”


Also from that 1997 interview, Richard reads to the interviewer the Mission of POCLAD, as decided by our 11 person collective:

“POCLAD is a group of persons instigating democratic conversations and actions that contest the authority of corporations to define our cultures, govern our nations and plunder the Earth. We work in the tradition of people's struggles to replace illegitimate and tyrannical institutions with democratic ones that disperse rather than concentrate wealth and power.”

Long Live the Love, Passion and Ideas of Richard Grossman!

Dave Henson

Executive Director

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center


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