Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Friday, September 08, 2006

HEADING TO CAMP DEMOCRACY

  Posted by PicasaI am going kayaking with my friend Bob Lezer this morning. We've been talking lately about going but our lives always seem too busy. It should be beautiful to be out in the bay this morning, a bit foggy, which will only make it more appealing.

I head to Washington DC late this afternoon so I can speak at Camp Democracy at mid-day on Saturday. I will be talking about the necessity of converting the military industrial complex.

The idea of Camp Democracy is a very exciting one as we now see legions of American people figuring out that the war in Iraq is a disaster. Average people have now become certain that the $8.5 billion a month is a huge waste of our diminishing national treasury. They understand that health care, childcare, mass transit, education, and more could be funded with the money being wasted on this war. Yes it is true that the war is very profitable for oil corporations, weapons corporations, and certain politicians who get nice donations from these big industries. But for the rest of us it is nothing but a losing proposition.

And for the people of Iraq it is nothing but endless chaos. The Washington Post reports today that, "Baghdad's morgue almost tripled its count for violent deaths in Iraq's capital during August from 550 to 1,536, authorities said Thursday, appearing to erase most of what U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders had touted as evidence of progress in a major security operation to restore order in the capital."

Bush is out running around the country trying to scare up votes for the November elections but even rank-and-file Repubs are turning on him. I saw an interview with a retired Marine officer last night on TV who lives in North Carolina and voted twice for Bush. He says now that he can't watch him on TV - he has to turn it off. (I can relate to the feeling.) So the Bush story is wearing thin.

Great opportunity you say for the Dems!!!!!

Well, also last night on TV, I watched John Kerry interviewed on Hardball and this is what he said. I'm paraphrasing here - We are not going to cut and run. We are going to redeploy into safer territory (Kuwait and highly defended permanent bases inside Iraq). The U.S. would use "over the horizon forces" (Air Force and Special Forces) to maintain control of Iraq working in conjunction with the Iraq government (our puppets).

Bottom line this is the Murtha plan. It does not mean an end to the war in Iraq. It does not mean an end to the violence. It does not mean defund the Iraq war. It is just a Democratic party shell game to create the illusion that we are pulling out while in fact it means we are just "pulling back", reducing the numbers of troops on the street getting hit with IED's, but the war goes on otherwise.

It is my hope that events like Camp Democracy and other anti-war actions will help to clarify this shell game for those who are now entering the peace movement. It would be a shame if folks fell for this pull back - thinking it was an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

IF WE WANT BUSH GONE

  Posted by PicasaIf we want Bush gone
we’re going to have to build a movement.
A movement not just opposed to one man
but to a whole way of thinking
and acting
around this world.
A way of thinking and acting that says America
is the chosen nation.
That we are an exceptional people who cherish life more
than those people do.
That we are better than the rest of the world.
Can we change?

If we want Bush gone then we have to cleanse our souls,
wash away the violence of our arrogance
and our militarism that says we can have nukes
and planes
and tanks
and Star Wars
and murderous Special Forces.
But you can’t, unless you agree to do as we say,
unless you become our client state
like Israel, Japan, and Saudia Arabia have become.

If we want Bush gone then we can’t just replace him with
more of the same.
Hacks like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden
or Wesley Clark or John Kerry or Al Gore
or some other compromised Democrat
who will say “I’ll do a better job of killing terrorists than
George Bush will” or
who will say “If you elect me then I’ll spend $100 billion
more on the military than Bush will” as John Kerry said
in the last presidential debates where the timber was not tall.

If we really want Bush gone we have to build an independent
political movement that can be critical of all parties,
and all corporate dominated politicians,
and all the corporate dominated media,
and all the court jesters – not just the Repubs.
We’ll need an independent movement that can stand with the people,
through thick and thin.
Through good times and bad.

If we really want Bush gone then we have to be able to sustain
our movement over multiple generations because this corporate
dominated government that we have today is not going to go down easy.
This is going to be a long, hard fight.

How bad do you really want Bush gone?

Can we get real?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

WAITING FOR GODOT

  Posted by PicasaI hear a lot of talk about the economy slowing and people worrying about the future. And they should be worried. You can't outsource all your good jobs and have a functioning society based on hamburger flippers.

Now do you imagine that politicians in Washington DC, in their heart-of-hearts, know that we are in for a rough ride? Of course they know it. And what are they telling us? Not much.

For instance, how can so-called progressive politicians keep voting to fund the war and then tell us they want to make sure we have social programs in this country? How can we spend over $300 billion for the war and occupation of Iraq and still afford money for education, mass transit, roads and bridges repair, health care, cleaning up the environment and all the rest. It's a flat impossibility. But I hear these "leaders" say we can do it.

The amazing thing is that people still believe this nonsense. I see people, who generally are well read and know what is going on, fall for this line that you can keep funding a war and still have social progress. The reason they fall for the lie is simple. Only one word is necessary to explain this phenomenon. Democrats. There is a breed of people out there who want Democrats back in power so badly that they will suspend all common sense just to see them return to power. Then, these people think, life will return to normal, they can go back to playing tennis again, and leave the worries to a newly elected Congress, controlled by the Democrats. The Dems will then end all the wars, bring the jobs back home, and rebuild our nation to its glorious days of old. It goes something like that anyway.

The problem is that this is an illusion. The Democrats will not end the occupation of Iraq. They will keep our permanent bases there because they are building empire; most of these politicians are working for the corporations these days.

They are not going to bring our jobs back home because these same corporations are maximizing their profits by moving jobs overseas. The only jobs that we are going to see in our communities are the ones in the military industrial complex. And when it comes to those kinds of jobs Dems and Repubs are working together to bring that pork home.

As much as the American voters talks about being fed up with things, with being disillusioned with politics as usual, the fact is that most voters still hang onto a thread of believing the system is going to change. This shell game is fed to the public by the corporate dominated media. I was at a party the other day and someone, right on cue, asks who is going to be the Democratic Party presidential nominee in 2008? The question was really one more sign of this "hanging onto hope" mentality that the right Democrat is going to come into office and save us. Ain't gonna happen!

People want to believe in the Democrats because they can't bear the alternative possibility. If it is true that the Dems aren't gonna save us, then who will? And that is what folks don't want to think about. The middle class dream has folks locked up in a self-imposed prison that keeps them from acting. They don't want to publicly get branded as an activist. It might look bad as one searches for a job in this declining job market. Better to keep our mouths shut and rely on the Democrats to save us. If we just keep believing strongly enough, maybe it will happen.

It is like waiting for Godot. He ain’t coming. Godot does not exist.

Wake up before it is all gone. Look into your children's eyes and repeat after me. Godot does not exist. Godot does not exist.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

LIVING IN A KILLER CULTURE

  Posted by PicasaSometimes I get really frightened when I think about how deeply ingrained violence is in our culture in this country. I know all about it. I grew up on military bases as a kid and went to the air shows. I had a big-framed photo on my wall of all the planes on our base - my step-dad worked in the base photo lab. I carried that photo from base to base as I grew up. It was on the wall right next to the crucifix. When Nixon in 1968 ran for president I worked on his campaign. I was true blue for sure. And I believed in the war machine. Never thought twice about it. My time in the military during the Vietnam war changed all that for me. My world got turned up-side down.

But today I fear it is getting worse. The militarists know that because of corporate globalization we are not going to have many jobs in the U.S. anymore. Our chief export product will be "security" the Pentagon says. That translates to endless war.

Last Friday we were vigiling on the street here in Brunswick as we do each week. A young man drove up and stopped and showed me his military cap and said I love the war. I asked him why. He said, "I have a job."

That was a profound moment for me. In his sincere words I heard him say that he had a purpose in life. He had a job. He had something that was meaningful to him. He is saving the world for democracy and all that other good stuff. He was right next to Superman.

A friend just sent me an article about a new "Christian" inspired video game for kids. It goes like this: "Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is ‘to conduct physical and spiritual warfare’; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice." (Click on the link in headline above for more of this madness.)

I fear to say out loud what I think is going on. I fear that the militarists are now moving to create chaos and "civil war", Iraqi style, right here in the good old USA. I fear that as our economy now collapses, and during the next 20 years we turn into a Third World country, that those in power don't want the public turning toward the real enemy. They don't want the public to figure out that the rich and the corporations have screwed us all royally. So they are preparing the younger generation to see the enemy as non-Christians, immigrants, people of color, political activists, and the like.

As our economy declines because of corporate globalization our education system will continue to falter. Pressure to "privatize" the public school system will grow as people become frustrated with declining funding for our schools. As the local tax base dries up, due to jobs moving overseas, education will only be for the rich. Thus young working class/poor kids will while away their time playing more and more violent video games and increasingly become disconnected from society and all that is good. They become perfect candidates for the rage mongers, haters, and military recruiters. And they become easy targets of the "Christian right-wing thugs", the new brown shirt fascists of our day whose job it will be to create chaos in our land.

So what is the solution to all this darkness? First, I think we must see the signs. Or as the Indians always said, put your ear to the tracks and hear the train coming. The white man has a killer culture.

Then we have to openly talk about and expose these mad men who are literally poisoning the minds of our children and grandchildren.

We need to speak out publicly against this. We must complain when our local newspapers do feature stories about the new "exciting" violent video games like this one linked above.

Lastly, we need to recognize that the Christian fundamentalist community is becoming a perverse version of the "radical Islamist fundamentalist fascists" that Bush keeps talking about. Look in the mirror America; we are becoming what we say we fear the most.