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

Saturday, June 16, 2007

THOUGHTS AND IDEAS

Ok so it continues. Here are some more of your comments. Lots of thoughts from the great unwashed.

Bruce



  • To truly bring about an intelligent, more lasting change to the u.s., individuals must clear themselves of all the brains-washings, all of them, not simply the political and economic crap. There needs to be a psychological revolution. We are human beings who innately want to co-exist more harmoniously and understand real cooperation, not simply how cooperation is defined by authorities.

Joe Ciarrocca, Brunswick, ME




  • March of the People
    June 21 – September 11, 2007
    800 miles
    Chicago, IL to Washington, DC

    We have lost our nation
    And it’s time to reclaim it!
    We march:
    to call for an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq
    to call for impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney
    to bring truth and justice back to our nation
    On June 21st, refuse complacency.
    On June 21st, refuse the lies and bloodshed.
    On June 21st, BE the solution that takes back the nation.
    Rally with us in Chicago and send us on our way!
    Walk with us at the beginning, join us along the way, or meet us in DC and help us bring it home!
    We need your help!
    Do Something!
    It’s up to you!
    Get involved now:
    http://www.marchofthepeople.org/

Ymani Simmons





  • The US must examine how it is creating global insecurity [often aided and abetted by other states, and transnational corporations]. In response to George Bush's pack of 52 cards of targeted terrorists, I devised a pack of 52 cards outlining the ways that the US has contributed to global insecurity. Only when the US is prepared to eliminate these practices will the world begin to move towards true security - Common security peace, environment human rights and social justice. True security- is not "collective security", or "human security" which has been extended to "humanitarian intervention" and used along with the "responsibility to protect" notion to justify increased military spending and increased military intervention in other states.

Joan Russow, Canada




  • Even though these are not history books as you suggest in step #9, I think many could be included on a suggested reading list for anyone developing or expanding a world view that would be a reflection of where we have come from and where we are headed.

"THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT: DISTORTIONS & OMISSIONS" - David Ray Griffin

"PALESTINE: PEACE, NOT APARTHEID" - Pres. Jimmy Carter

"AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH" - (book) Al Gore

"A PRETEXT FOR WAR" - James Bamford

"A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES" - Howard Zinn

"CRIMES AGAINST NATURE" - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

"BLACKWATER: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" - Jeremy Scahill


Jim & Carla Christianson, Ormond Beach, FL




  • You truly make sense about Oligarchy. Bush lacks the intelligence to forsee the mess his administration has gotten us into and is bullheaded enough to continue down the primrose path. He must not have any other source of information other than the spoon fed pablum his close advisers give him. I believe he really thinks he is saving America.
    With the media as it is, I see no way for rank and file citizens to ever get a true picture as to what has transpired and what the future will bring. Most folks are too far in debt to worry about LITTLE THINGS happening around the world.
    Among others, the real power I believe is the AIPAC. They own congress and who is left to lead?

Unsigned




  • I take exception with step #2 in your article. It may be true that "we" in the US use a disproportionate amount of resources compared to other nations, but to claim that "we" benefit from the US's military and economic policies is just plain wrong. As long as "we" spend $500 billion a year on the military then "we"will never have the money for jobs, health care, education, housing and other key issues. "We" don't benefit from NAFTA, CAFTA or the WTO. "We" don't benefit from a declining dollar that is the result of government policy. The problem is that a tiny minority at the top benefits from all these policies. It is they, the capitalists, who make all the decisions. It's in their interest that the US government acts and shapes its policies. If "we" benefited from the US government's policies then explain why50 million lack health insurance, why the minimum wage is at it slowest level since the 60's (adjusted for inflation), or why an entire city was abandoned to death and destruction after Katrina (and why survivors and refugees are still struggling after over a year). No, step #2 should be to realize that *we* live in a class society. Most of us are forced to sell our labor power in order to secure a living and a tiny class of parasites, the capitalists, exploits and profits from our labor. It is they who own and operate the US government. they own both major political parties. They own the media. They select which candidates are "electable." They bankroll their campaigns. They dole out cushy jobs in the private sector after elected officials leave office. And they hold the ultimate power over the government with their control over the economy and their massive fortunes. If ever we were to elect 535 Greens to Congress and 2 to the White House, then the wealthy would sabotage our economy, move their capital overseas and blackmail the government into doing their wishes.We need to realize that we live in a class society and that the state is an instrument of the ruling class, used to keep all other classes in their place. Our supposed democracy is an illusion--a placebo for the toiling masses. The state operates at the behest of the capitalists and we need to dispel our illusions that we can control what it does through mere voting (particularly voting for corporate candidates).We don't need guilt trips for policies over which we have no control. We need information that will help us realize our subservient role in society and the need to organize and struggle to win real change. http://nickhart.com/mie/

Nicholas Hart




  • Thanks for your article. It was both clear and heart felt. I agree with your analysis of our addiction to war and power. Ever since the sixties when I lived for about a decade in Brazil and understood what our government was doing in Latin America, where my friends were being tortured by people trained at the School of the Americas, I have also carried this weight of guilt and shame. Those feelings are motivators, and I have tried to keep playing them out in actions.
    Our WILPF group in Santa Cruz keeps working, but we have less faith in its effectiveness, since the press is so bought into the empire. Even as I write this, I'm thinking I won't tell you what our next action is, because I am sure our email correspondence is being monitored. I think that your audience is well aware of our culpability. I've recommended Kinser's latest book, Overthrown, to give others a historical perspective on regime change. But I'm not sure how effective guilt and shame work right now to urge us on. We feel discouraged, and for me, not as pure of heart as when I was younger. Some stories of specific strategies or actions that actually move us toward positive change do more to keep us moving. I've been interviewing local WILPF women to write up their actions and protest successes. If you would like to read any of these, let me know.
    Keep it up, and tell Mary Beth that I like her articles very much too.


Ruth Mota, Santa Cruz, CA




  • Fabulous article. Thank you for a really positive, motivating read.

BlueBerryPick'n, Canada




  • Thanks for your article. It brings the anti-war, anti-imperialism, issue down to human scale, answering what some people think of as nightmare (probably correctly) with common sense.
    I am a big believer in local action as not only the easiest place to start, but maybe the only arena we can be effective in, and the only truly democratic one.

Bob Wrubel, Sausalito, CA




  • You ask for ideas, so of course I have to reply. I'll keep it short. 1) We must start to consider peaceful secession as an option to end the empire. If enough states broke away, the revenue to do this kind of damage would stop. In order to protect the values of the Declaration, it may be necessary to break down the gross mutation that has taken place in their names, i.e, freedom and democracy. 2) We will never have sufficient clout without a political party that honestly reflects the enormous white hot rage at the state of affairs that exist. If not Greens, who? Greens now are small and weak, but they are small and weak, not because people don't agree, but because millions have held back from switching and building it into a formidable force to protect the environment, civil liberties, and end warfare. 3) Read the new Chris Hedges book American Fascism!

Jon Olsen, Jefferson, ME




  • Thank you for the 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists. I am always struggling to find ways to be more activist, having exhausted my welcome with most friends and family, or at least the ones who refuse to "buy" my conspiracy theories that 9/11 was an inside job...one that simply served to create the ruling platform into our indefinite futures (and with Presidential directive 51, we are now more a fascist empire state than EVER!). So, I have learned to read again, discovering the TRUTH of what has and IS happening and tried informing as many as possible, but with limited success. Now, I am mostly isolated from loved ones and have been "forced" into a sense of communal living with the chicanery occurring in the stock markets, where I had hoped to become a source of financing to wage my battle against the disinformation and misinformation. I have to say I prefer living alone, but mostly b/c the two dopes I live with are totally convinced Bush is doing the right thing. Jeez. But, I now realize that Rugged Individualist is not the right way...it's never going to solve any problems, unless you simply want to perform a Ghandi-like self-burning ceremony to get the message across. No, the only way we have a chance is as you say...forming bonds with like-minded individuals and charging ahead in order to improve the world as much as possible and hopefully having some fun along the way. (I have also forgotten that last part too, after losing most of my savings to unfair practices occurring in the markets). Thanks for the ray of hope.

Brent Brewer, Austin, TX/Corona, CA




  • Get drive through and walk-through impeachment tables set up in every major city.
    Sponsor these and teach other ordinary people to stake out territory and get signatures
    At public places: In front of art museums, In front of libraries, In front of cultural/entertainment complexes, Large city parks, Maybe sports facilities.
    In Denver, we have the 16th street mall with lots of workers traveling on foot or by bus every weekday.

Nancy Griffith, Denver, CO




  • Good ideas in "So what do we do now?" Here is one thing I am doing: impeachment teach-ins in our region, and giving out Impeachment house party kits that include fact sheets, instructions on how to give a party, a petition to impeach Bush and Cheney to send to their member of Congress with copies to Conyers and Pelosi, and a DVD of John Nichols' talk The Genius of Impeachment. I am about to deliver a pile of signed petitions to our Congress member here in NE Pa. The group called "Waynepeace" that a friend and I founded in 2002 (http://www.waynepeace.org/), gives educational programs once a month at our local library, as well as other special events to tell the other side of the "news." We sponsor non-violent communication workshops. We march in the local Memorial Day parade as a presence for peace and justice. What better way to honor those who have died by trying to prevent new wars?
    We read the names of the fallen each month and include names of some of the thousands of Iraqi children killed. We have held special events on Veterans' Day with family members of troops killed speaking out about their feelings.
    We work on sustainability and equity issues. (See our platform on our website.)
    We partner with other groups to sponsor events such as 3 recent showings of Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
    One thing I tell people who feel so overwhelmed: focus on what you feel passionate about. Don't try to tackle it all, or you will burn out or go crazy. The other thing I tell them is that my way of coping with bad stuff is to get involved and accomplish something that makes me feel good about myself.
    Letters to the Editor in our local papers almost always get printed. A great way to get your thoughts and feelings out there.

Katharine Dodge, Wayne County, PA




  • This was forwarded to me by a friend.
    I agree with the overall premise – the problems are much deeper than Bush, and go to the heart of who we are as a country.
    But I also know, from my reading of history, that this is not a completely nonpartisan or bi-partisan problem. There really is a party that in the last 100 years, more often than the other party, has stood up for the little guy, resisted wars rather than provoked them, signed global treaties and even honored them, and has a generally better record on human rights than the other one.
    To pretend the blame is shared equally is not entirely accurate, and I’ve just got this thing for accuracy.
    But I commend you certainly for seeing beyond the mainstream mishmash of hogwash and realizing that the true story of America is much more unpleasant than many are willing to admit. So that’s a big step forward. http://realhistoryarchives.blogspot.com/

Lisa Pease




  • I enjoyed this article. It says a lot of what I try to help facilitate with other people in various groups I belong to.
    Would you mind if I was to add your article to a "Second Life" web-blog? (Second life is a forum that uses 3d graphics to bring people together from all over the world).
    We have created a group within Second Life Left Unity which is working to bring together activists from all over the world and help empower people who have become disempowered. Also - would it be possible to edit your article and use Blair and the British Government/History rather than Bush and the US Govt/history for a personal blog?
    www.slleftunity.blogspot.com/


Neil Scott, Glasgow, Scotland




  • I just read your article titled 'A 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists'. It is a great sincere advice. I appreciate it and thank you for writing it. I am a Muslim and have lived in the US since 1980.
    I very strongly agree with you on many points in your article. There is no doubt that general population here has NO clue what is happening in their own country, let alone in the rest of the World. The prime reasons for this state are apathy and high rate of 'political illiteracy'. It is easy to write volumes about consequences of such illiteracy, but engaging public is the real challenge.
    I hope your article and future writings reach a large number of people and things improve.

Ali Naqvi, Orange County, CA




  • I enjoyed your 10 points. I have been contacting people like you concerning the depleted uranium issue. I can see your in a position to get the word out to more people then I can. I have been following this problem since the 1991 Gulf War. I don't expect you to take my word on this issue. I recommend you start your research at (http://www.netctr.com/) and (http://www.amnestyinternational.org/). Netcenter has this problem very well documented and proven. Another site you maybe interested in would be (www.iraq-war.ru/) which covers the war better than any other site I have found. Please check this depleted uranium issue out. Its not only a threat to the troops but to mankind also.

Norman S. Davis, (Vietnam vet)

Friday, June 15, 2007

MORE OF YOUR COMMENTS

Folks,

I'm having a great time reading all of these comments. There are plenty more in the stack so looks like this will continue for awhile. Hope you enjoy them too. (If you are wondering about the inconsistent spacing between letters I can't get this damn program to react right!)

Bruce

- A wonderful article with one big exception. Your last point has it all backwards. Instead of people coming to meet “activists" and becoming "friends with them," activists should be trying to meet people and become friends with them. The onus is on us, as activists, to engage others, to become friends with them, and in the process "radicalize” them.
Most everyday folks have never met an activist. By that I mean someone, like you, who has dedicated his life to ending the evil "system" that dominates us. It is your responsibility to bring your life, and the truths that you feel so deeply, to others. True "missionaries" don't wait for people to come to them. Instead, they integrate their lives with those they are trying to "convert," and in the process teach, and hopefully reach, them.
I'm a long-time activist, who has done everything from licking envelopes to short stays in institutions of incarceration during my "activist" life. And I say strongly to you (and anyone who will listen) that the biggest failure on the part of activists I've known is that they did not aggressively "go to the people." Instead, they've waited for the people to come to them. There has never been a revolutionary movement in history, from Christianity to the Bolsheviks, where it happened that way.

David Victor


- Thanks for your succinct and insightful post. It's so good to read someone in the peace movement actually connecting U.S. militarism to its origins in expropriating the continent from its indigenous inhabitants. However, you lost me at Step 4:"When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back." I hear some version of this, the call to "take back democracy," in everything I read, from radical anarchists to the right wing of the Democratic Party. It's a cult like mantra. What democracy was there ever to take BACK? You tell me when democracy prevailed and oligarchy was not in control in this country. Even for the majority of whites, much less people of color, democracy has never been a part of the US political economy, unless you reduce "democracy" to voting. I think it must be said that our historical project is to CREATE democracy in the United States. http://www.reddirtsite.com/

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, California

- This is very thought out and helpful - Thanks! It is hard to act these days because the weight of it all is just so overwhelming. Some days I want to do something and some days it just seems insurmountable. You are right it is no longer the Bush administration, it is our whole government. I read and am fairly knowledgeable (compared to the general public). Yet I have become stuck on how to move forward. I have stood with signs off and on since the 60's. I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world standing shoulder to shoulder and expressing ourselves and it has enriched my life so much. But, I don't think standing with signs is going to move this government or change it. So, I would be helped by you and others who have ideas about what we can actually do . . .

Steffie Belcher, Maine


- Thanks Bruce, one of the best-written pieces I've read in a while - about to put to the front of Peace Action Maine's site.

Danny Muller, Portland, ME


- Think you forgot the big way to stop the war: unhook yourself from the daydream that the Democratic Party will do something. Build a movement, not something that begs the Dems to listen. Every year. Year after year.

Vicky Myers, Doylestown, Pa.

- The primary reason the anti-war movement in America is fairly impotent is because the folks who head the anti-war organizations are reticent to criticize the true power behind this particular war: the Zionists. This war is primarily for Israel, and the Zionists who pushed for it.
Dr. James Petras’ extraordinary new book The Power of Israel in the United States documents all this.

Drew Hunkins, Madison, WI


- All large nation states were created through militarism and are held together by the threat of military force. Giving up militaries means dissolution of large nation states. So why not just start talking about dissolving them as the solution to militarism.See http://secession.net/ on nonviolence and decentralization, woman v. nation state and other great insights, plus how radically decentralized governance could work.

Carol Moore, Washington DC


- I am the author of EXODUS FROM EMPIRE: THE FALL OF AMERICA'S EMPIRE AND THE RISE OF THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY (Pluto Press, 2007) and have contributed a number of suggestions and proposals as to what we do now. In the initial chapters, I offer an historical critique of the American Empire from WWII to the present. In a following chapter I demolish Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations thesis" and offer an alternative vision of the "convergence and healing of civilizations"---premised upon the normative teachings of the world's great religions as well as the evolving norms of customary international law. Writing from the perspective of those who live and struggle in the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America), I propose a "counter-hegemonic alliance" to the US Empire. We see this trend already evolving in the alliances that are currently being forged by leading left wing Latin American nations such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia. We see the development of economic regional alliances emerging not only in Latin America, but also in Southeast Asia and East Asia---with China acting as a driving force for peace and regional economic cooperation. In the final chapters of the book, I expose the "hidden politics of empire" that have led to imperial wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I stress the importance of a human-rights-based development strategy that leaves out the World Bank and the IMF as the primary vehicles for funding such a program of national and regional development. I conclude EXODUS FROM EMPIRE by noting that Americans must work to build a "Post-Imperial America" or have their nation crushed under the burn of empire and all that is entailed in resurgent militarism and imperial adventures.

Terrence E. Paupp, San Diego, CA

- Thank you for a brilliant survey - most helpful. But there is one scenario that you leave out - perhaps too dreadful to think about? What if Bush and Cheney push the US past the limit by attacking Iran? Or into a financial collapse - whichever is the sooner? We are just beginning to ask these questions in Britain. For if the US goes down, this country goes down with it. So we have a shared problem.Trauma is at least 50% probable. What to do about it - I haven't a clue. I just think it is time, trans-Atlantically, to ask the question.

Peter Cadogan, Britain



- Find like-minded people we can promote to local office - and beyond. Find the Peace we wish to see for the world within ourselves, i.e.: BE the change we want to see. In my humble opinion, the peace movement suffers from too many, too angry people - which is perhaps the source of the excessive EGO. Yes, we need to know what's happening, and feel the outrage - but channel that outrage into constructive, RESPECTFUL action. COMMIT time, energy, and money? Once a day, once a month, once a year, once an event? Recognize that others cannot do it for us....And don't fear involvement in peace issues: we'll be in good company.

Val Bryant, Winter Springs, FL


- This email is in response to your "A 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists". I'm sure you are aware of the Military-Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned the American people about. My thoughts can be found at www.freepress.org/departments/display/10/2004/495 where I discuss the Military-Industrial-Media-Educational-Financial-Entertainment-Congressional-Executive-$ complex. Unfortunately, Americans can't/won't recognize it as being the problem. How many people show up with 'Close This Base" signs when the Pentagon announces a base closing somewhere in the US? Your Step # 9 might help.
I hope you do the Google searches I suggest at the end of the free press email to discover how many American Blue Chip companies helped the Third Reich of WW II. If you are not aware of the Bush family history I suggest the link involving Prescott Bush's role in supporting Hitler.

Ron Brown


- I appreciate and resonate with the piece of your writing that was sent to me this morning.
I am a high-energy retiree with time and passion but, in order to work effectively and joyfully for a healthy and happy world, I want and need to be working with others. Strangely enough, in this liberal state and community, I have not been able to find a local group to work with. The Vermont impeachment effort is doing wonderful work, but they are far away and pretty overextended, so I haven't yet been able to find a way to connect with them except at a few large events.
I am guessing that a structure of local groups, networking with each other and informed by those who are interested and effective at that kind of work, would help move things forward -- in other words, I might not be alone with this need. I could be doing much more. I want to be doing much more. But I can't figure out how.

Judy Zemel, Vermont





- I became an activist in 1958 with the birth of my first child. We were still testing bombs in the atmosphere and I realized that if I didn't do something we would all be dead without there ever being a war. Our local progressive alliance is holding seminars on global warming on Thursday nights during the month of June. Last night we showed "An Inconvenient Truth". After viewing the film for a second time, I felt while Al Gore has gotten the message about what we're doing to the earth but I had the feeling that if we just focus on global warming we are missing the boat. While meditating this morning I was thinking about the 60's, Martin Luther King and non-violence. During my breakfast I turned on the computer and found your article. As you can imagine, it felt like an answer to a prayer. I will be 79 next October 9 (John Lennon was born on my birthday) and I have been an activist since 1958. I know you are right and I hope we can make it happen.

Dori Dangerfield (Dorothy Shays -yes my lineage goes back to the Shays Rebellion - Dangerfield)





- This was forwarded to me by a friend.
I agree with the overall premise – the problems are much deeper than Bush, and go to the heart of who we are as a country.
But I also know, from my reading of history, that this is not a completely nonpartisan or bi-partisan problem. There really is a party that in the last 100 years, more often than the other party, has stood up for the little guy, resisted wars rather than provoked them, signed global treaties and even honored them, and has a generally better record on human rights than the other one.
To pretend the blame is shared equally is not entirely accurate, and I’ve just got this thing for accuracy.
But I commend you certainly for seeing beyond the mainstream mishmash of hogwash and realizing that the true story of America is much more unpleasant than many are willing to admit. So that’s a big step forward.

Lisa Pease

- We have a lot to do. Many of us are supporting Dennis Kucinick. He may be an also ran to the pundits but he is the only one that believes peace is possible. The big three Clinton, Obama and Roberts are business as usual candidates. The July 1st Rally at Kennebunkport will be a good start to see a Chaney-Bush impeachment with a Nationwide Citizen demand for justice. Dennis will be there. Years ago I learned to repeat this statement, Whether skies are sunny or gray and what ever life sends my way I'm going to be happy today. It has helped me fight my way out of anger, depression and worry. I am with you Bruce but my limited retirement income keeps me from donating to the many good causes.

Wilbur Rhodes, Kittery, ME

- I dont see a single proactive ACTION on your list. just more passive, comfortably american "realizations" about "our problem'. the strongest thing you advocate is "turning off the TV".
..don't offend anyone, don't demand sacrifice, "begin to think" - but don't DO anything, just more rumination.... "learn to trust and have fun"?! that's why we have endless paris hilton.
May i reiterate? we are weeks away from a catastrophic attack on iran and 7 yrs into this terror-coup mess. the time to "begin to think" and meditate for peace are LONG OVER.
Your Plan sounds like the prescription we get from the Bush folks and it all amounts to the same: no ACTION- nothing is done to stop the collapse. and bitchin' & bloggin' is not an action.
Fantasy without action is hallucination! Please write a plan of what to DO, not what to think or to feel.

TTP Wilson, New York City

- Thank you for your piece: "What Do We Do Now: A Ten Step Plan For Antiwar Activists".
I'm sure you think it beyond the scope of the piece, or implied in step # 1 (you made an excellent point by the way), but I noticed no SPECIFIC mention of voting in direct competition with the Democrat/Republicans in the general election via an independent or third party candidate. Also missing was any mention of the denial of ballot access and exclusion from debates. From these issues spring arguably ALL of our troubles. That they are not front and center in the minds of antiwar activists (and every other kind of activist) is the scandal of our time.
How's this for step #11? We should be mature enough to admit that Ralph Nader was right all along. Vote for war and you get war. Vote for peace and you get peace (and NO, you don't have to win to leverage power!). Only then will we be on step #1.
Thank You and Good Luck.

Eric Peters

Thursday, June 14, 2007

YOUR SUGGESTIONS ROLLING IN

I am getting an incredible response to my request in the last blog entry for your suggestions about what we can do. So many in fact that I can see I will be posting them for days - which is fine. Some have sent in whole papers and books they have written so obviously I won't be able to post everything. But here is the first batch:

  • You asked for people to share what we can do. I am currently working with a group of election reformers to try to bring honesty and integrity to the vote counting process in my county – Pima County, Arizona. We are finding this small task to be quite large and quite complicated. There are so many ways to subvert an election that plugging the holes is like repairing a dam made of chicken wire. But we have some hope that we will succeed in our county. As long as elections are not honest, I think that taking back our democracy will be difficult, so this is something we can do – locally. If a dozen people in each county worked hard on making sure that their county’s vote is counted properly and that people are not excluded from the process, I think we would have a start on taking back the country.
    And the people I have met and am meeting are, as you said, fun people to be with, so there is an immediate reward.

    Mickey Duniho, Arizona


  • Thank you for your thoughtful 10-point plan. My response below are thoughts that immediately come to mind based on 81 years of experience in this struggle. All ten of your ideas ring true; demand immediate action in my view part of a persons life. Some of the thoughts below dovetail with your own recommendations.

    More considered points will follow.

    1. As an independent thinker associate yourself with a first class University, but beware too of being caught up in that bureaucracy.
    2. We here in Maine are at the end of the food chain, so consider growing as much of your own food as circumstances make possible.
    3. Avoid as much as possible buying processed food.
    4. Work toward financial independence; become your own boss/manager and depend on your own resources as much as possible.
    5. Don't be afraid to confront power and oligarchies. Many will back down when the power of independent thought confronts the irrational.
    6. Many issues in today's world have long histories that include many missteps. Become well informed on a few which you see as most important to future generations, not to just Americans but to all people.
    7. Become a public advocate for your own thoughts.

    Arthur Whitman, Auburn ME


  • Have you heard of the work that Thomas Linzey is doing in Pa? Barnstead, NH, where I live, is one of the towns in America that has passed an ordinance that strips corporations of their claims to person hood through the misuse of those constitutional amendments intended to give denied people equal protection under the law. Check out: http://www.celdf.org/ to see the approach which gives nature rights. There is a dialogue going on about inalienable rights, democracy and freedom everywhere.

Gail Darrell, N.H.

  • I'm sure there is much more that you could add to this list, but one that is near to my own heart is cutting down on travel, using public transportation, or better yet learning to ride a bike, perhaps the most beautiful human transportation machine ever invented.
    It seems to me that nearly every able bodied human being can ride a bike for at least 10 to 15 miles, at a minimum, at a speed of 10 to 15 miles per hour, at a minimum. Though perhaps seeming monumental to the uninitiated, after a few weeks of practice, this is no more than a walk in the park. And without breaking a sweat. Up to an age of say 75.

    Geoff Bickford

  • Trust in young people. They are eager to learn the truth from us. They shouldn’t be blamed for their uneducated perspectives nor their acquiescence to the corporations that control their lives. It is our responsibility to help them become informed, to give them back their independence.

Doug Rawlings, Farmington, ME

  • Excellent e-mail bruce. i really like how you lined things out. makes me feel better cuz i work on all these things but sometimes get so myopic, and isolated in my own world i think that i'm doing nothing and can't effect any real change. even if it's just my colleagues and students seeing me ride a bike or carpool to work everyday, or being the only one at my work willing to openly discuss our war machine government and it's policies. GN helps me keep connected and grounded and feel part of a movement, that's just as important out here on the edge of colonialism, in northwest alaska, as it is anywhere.thank you.i probably need to renew my GN membership, i kinda forget about these things. i'll get to that this week.

Lynn DeFilippo, Alaska

  • I would like to add a suggestion. Due to the vastness of the military industrial complex--far more vast than Eisenhower could have imagined--that we don't, as individuals, take it all on and carry it as a Promethean burden, but rather, that we understand the analysis, or diagnosis, then act and listen with heightened awareness, put one foot in front of another, and keep it simple. Yes, just like "the program" teaches! Recognize that which contributes to the machine and stop doing it or supporting it; recognize what contributes to the vision of sustainable community and do it or support it. Lao Tsu said, "The Way is so simple that complicated minds cannot see it."

    Ellen Murphy, Bellingham, WA

  • Thank you for that inspiring piece to start my day – a good antidote to reading about the latest bomb in Beirut – where my daughter is working. It is indeed very hard to take time away from earning money. Once the whole of life is defined in economic terms, it begins to seem more and more crazy to do ‘unproductive’ work but I guess we just have to find the occasions and remember that life does not go in a straight line of obvious cause and effect. The contacts you make through this kind of work often turn out to lead you or someone amongst your family and friends onto different paths in your work life as well.
    I thought you made a really good point about drug addicts needing the strength of a group. I think that everything we do consciously in groups is working for the common sum of good.
    Here in Goathland we are working to try to save our post office now that the Government has privatised so many of the services it used to offer and I am working with others to try to set up a bail circle to help asylum seekers when they have no one to stand surety for them.
    Another way in which groups are important is that it stops you from feeling you are the only one doing anything. Once you know others are doing what they feel inspired by, it is easier to feel that all the little bits can add up – meaning in theory that you don’t get burned out!
    I hope we might be seeing you here in September. Am trying to organise something. Good wishes.

Jackie Fearnley, Gaothland, England

  • Do not know if there is anything we can do to bring down the U.S. Empire. Of course, it will collapse eventually, but that will be the doing of the elite in their madcap scramble to accumulate more wealth.
    Nevertheless, I advocate protesting against the empire. It is fun, can be exciting and it is an opportunity to tilt at windmills. It is also healthy and a cure-all for a boring lifestyle. Protesting is a community event and a way of interacting with average citizens. I cannot imagine a life without protest, as our society is filled with ills demanding our attention.

    Kagiso,

    Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD

  • I love your writings, your mind, your spirit, your work. Have just read your So What do we Do Now? You asked for ideas. I want to talk with you about tax policy sometime soon. And I recently wrote a paper on Economics of War and Peace. Much to share with you.

    Alanna Hartzok, Pennsylvannia

  • Thank you for taking the time to articulate so profoundly your great wisdom and commons sense. I think I’ll print this off and put it on my wall at home and at the office.
    As much as Bush has helped to make radicals out of many previously indifferent citizens, he also has provided an invaluable service, now and for decades to come, to politicians of both parties who want to be judged in comparison to him while they pursue pro-corporate, anti-labor, empire-building policies. And, of course, Bush has changed the meaning of the term radical in a rightward ideological direction. The concept that the President is not above the law, and that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, is increasingly a radical concept.

John Branson, Portland, ME

  • My favorite US historian is William Appleman Williams (1921-1990). He actually was a US Naval Academy graduate and briefly served as a Naval officer at the end of WWII when he was injured. His writings and scholarship have helped me more than any other, along with Charles Beard (1874-1948), the latter who wrote, among many books, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913), and Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy, (1915). But Williams, who was writing and teaching at the university (Wisconsin, Oregon) during the so-called Cold War (the "Third World War" as John Stockwell describes) and Viet Nam War periods, was very astute in grasping the foundations of the US American civilization. If you haven't already looked at his material I would at least suggest their value in developing or deepening a broader perspective (and I am not implying that you don't already have one now. We have been phenomenal believers. We have a tough time accepting the incredible destruction our system and way of life has wreaked on us and the world. Our social and personal ill health has been ignored as we have become drunk on materialism. Our love for death machines destined to kill us all, have even distracted our focus from examining our very way of life which is killing everything. This is why there has been no storming of the Bastille, no revolutionary process of significance since the 1960s, after which we have been witnessing the successful efforts of the system, so far, to repress any possible outbreak of real people power from below. The Zapatistas could teach us much, about withdrawal of our support from the nation-state and its political economy, while building anew decentralized communities in federation with each other from below. They call it changing their world without taking power. In the process they have empowered themselves to seek autonomy, or radical democracy. Really this was Gandhi's prescription for India, as it was in Tolstoy's treatise, The Kingdom Of God Is Within You.

Brian Willson, California

  • I would suggest you start locally. I have created a petition to bring the National Guard home. People were very willing to sign. They are disgusted at the direction the country is headed. Frankly, I'm through. After the sell out in Congress I said enough is enough. I did my petition and have sent it to the appropriate parties. Let's not forget, I'm 67 years old - where are the young kids? It seem like the only people paying attention are seniors. I've done everything I can. (You have to take the issue to the street - the Internet is a waste of time).

Rosalind Ellis Heid, Baltimore, MD

  • I have a suggestion, if you'd like one. How about sending out a "reading list" of your favorite - say, top 5 or something - books? Or, even in different categories. Ones you consider essential for which issues. And maybe put one in for "fun"? At first, I really thought I could make a big difference, (I haven't been able to figure out really what's the most effective action to do. Some things haven't worked at all. You must know how this is) as it looks to me like we're headed for (the upshot)- a major economic downturn on the world scale. This is not going to be good. I've been following the oil news pretty closely, and the statistics seem to support that the world actually peaked in Dec 2005, but we haven't quite yet seen the effects in the US, anyway. This means everyone will be strapped more. Anyway, if you hadn't seen much on this issue, I wanted to both bring it to your attention, and let you know what I think good sources are. There are definitely connections (of course) between the oil issue and the nuclear weapons issue. What many people, including Greg Palast, seem not to understand, is that it's not a matter of "big oil" - it's a matter of geology, and, as you point out - all of our consumption.

Phyllis Sladek, Santa Barbara, CA

  • Thank you for your relentless work in the peace movement. My idea is to find a few well known individuals (celebrities/musicians - a widespread coalition of groups and activists) who are willing to donate funds to advertise in a clever and compelling manner the issues of our day. A series of commercials with educational messages about what our country is doing to the environment using powerful visuals. A message about endless war, etc. But most important, advertise solutions that are readily avail. if the will of the people is there. I liked what John Lennon did in the 70's with his War is over if you want it! billboards in New York. Create a campaign on a large scale in every major city of the U.S. The national presence is critical so that people begin to realize that this is a movement and that they are not alone.This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about the people rising up and demanding change. The problem with Move on and One is that they are tied to the two-party system. This has to be an independent effort. I realize that the corporations are the problem and are running the system. Thanks again for your major contributions in the good fight!

Lynda Hernandez, Huntington Beach, CA

  • Thank you for a very inspiring and thought provoking piece--So What Do We Do Now?. For sure we cannot continue the way we are and expect that things will change.
    I am retired and near 70. I have time, but not so much energy. But what I have I want to put to good use, and you are helping me think it through.

    Rosemary Yaecker, Bradford, Vermont

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

I often hear from people asking me, "What should we do about all this? How can we stop Bush?"

I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush. The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush. Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire building plan. It is about corporate domination. Bush is just the front man for the big money. So to me that is step #1.

Step #2 is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and as citizens, we benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire. By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world's resources. We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base. This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

Step #3 is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence. The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery. A veteran of George Washington's Army, in 1779, said, "I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere....Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire." The soldier wrote this as Washington's Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River. The creation of the American empire was underway.

Our history since then has been endless war. Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket. Butler recalls in his book, "I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service....And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."

Step # 4 We have to begin to change how we think about our country. We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means. I'll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition - A government in which power is in the hands of a few. When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back. This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience. Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women's suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed. Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today. Are you in or out?

Step #5 Forget the "every man for himself" mythology. We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story. But movement for change can only happen in community - working with others. So forget the ego centric notion that "one great man" is going to come save us. It's going to take a village - in fact all the villages. Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can't do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children's future.

Step # 6 What about my job? Another smothering myth in America is success. Keep your nose clean and don't rock the boat. Don't get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you've always dreamed of. In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology. We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination. Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

Step #7 Learn to work well with others. Sure we all want to be stars. But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes. Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

Step # 8 It's the money. How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage? I'd like to help but I've got bills to pay! Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time - which is protecting the future generations. How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

Step # 9 Learn to read again. Many of us don't read enough. We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us. We've got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves. Reading and talking to others is a key. Read more history. All the answers and lessons can be found there.

Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun. Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work. Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

These are just a few of my ideas. I'd like to ask you if you could send me your ideas about what we should do to get out from behind the eight-ball. Send me your ideas and I will post some of them on my blog. By sharing our thoughts with one another just maybe we can speed up the needed changes. Write me at globalnet@mindspring.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

AIN'T COMING HOME

Hillary Clinton is sending clear signals to the power elite that she is in it for the duration.

In an NPR story Ted Koppel points out that in a recent debate Senator Hillary Clinton said that her first priority if elected would be to "bring our troops home." She did not say ALL our troops, Koppel points out, and she does not mean ALL our troops. She told the New York Times three months ago that some forces would have to remain. And Koppel adds that he spoke with someone from the Pentagon who briefs Clinton, and that she had told this person that if she is elected and reelected, she expects to have troops in Iraq at the end of her second term. Koppel notes that that's 10 years away. He adds that he thinks she's "right" and that the other Democratic candidates agree with her.

Like most Dems, Hillary is playing two cards at once.

We are now being publicly prepared for the bad news. Secretary of War Gates is saying the same thing - we'll be in Iraq for another ten years. The oligarchy is sending a message to the American people that it won't matter who you elect - Republican or Democrat - we are going to stay in Iraq either way. They are trying to release the air from our anti-war balloon.

Just to make sure things stay chaotic enough in Iraq to justify this 10-year (and more) plan the U.S. is now arming the Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

The New York Times reports, "But critics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop draw down increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves."

This is how it goes when you want to justify a permanent occupation. You need a permanent enemy in order to sell the enormous cost to the public. So if you have to, you arm the "enemy" and then sit back and watch the fireworks spread.

It's pretty damn cynical and sad but this is what the U.S. has become. An out of control purveyor of endless war.

Keep your eye on the ball - or should I say, keep your eye on the oil and weapons contracts? It's all about money in the end, isn't it?

Ask yourself this simple question. Which of your children or grandchildren do you want to "sacrifice" to this insanity 5 or 10 years from now?

The way things are going today with outsourcing of jobs in America, the only work 10 years down the road might be in the Army or making beds at Motel 6.

When do we start to get serious about all of this? If we don't, who do you think will put a stop to this madness?

Monday, June 11, 2007

NEW COLD WAR AND ARMS RACE UNDERWAY

The news in recent days has been full of the controversy about U.S. plans to deploy "missile defense" interceptors and radar facilities in Eastern Europe. Russia has responded by expressing fears that the U.S. military and NATO are attempting to surround and control her. Russia has made counter suggestions saying that if the U.S. really wanted to protect itself and Europe from future Iranian missiles, then placing such facilities would be more practical in Azerbaijan. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice quickly ruled that out as an option saying, "One does not choose sites for missile defense out of the blue."

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes the case that since 9-11 the U.S. has established military bases in Central Asia, Romania, and Bulgaria, and has been expanding NATO into Eastern Europe with bases in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and is now attempting to create more bases in the Ukraine and Georgia. Russia is starting to feel surrounded. This is something that could never have happened during the Cold War - in fact if the U.S. had tried it would have likely caused a nuclear exchange. When the former Soviet Union attempted to put nuclear missiles into Cuba in 1962 - the U.S.'s sphere of influence - nuclear war was barely averted.

Participants at the May 5 International Conference against the Militarization of Europe in Prague issued a declaration opposing U.S. missile defense deployments saying, "We voice our protest against the plans of the Bush administration to install a 'national missile defense system' for the U.S. on the territory of the Czech Republic and Poland. Most people in the Czech Republic and Poland, as well as in the rest of Europe, reject plans to host this system. We reject the official reasons given for the NMD project as mere pretexts. The realisation of the U.S. plan will not lead to enhanced security. On the contrary - it will lead to new dangers and insecurities.
Although it is described as 'defensive', in reality it will allow the United States to attack other countries without fear of retaliation. It will also put 'host' countries on the front line in future U.S. wars."

One of the first things the Bush administration did upon taking office was withdraw the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. This treaty banned the testing and deployment of so-called "missile defense" systems. Since that U.S. withdrawal, Bush has aggressively moved to fund and deploy the technologies that will give the U.S. first-strike capability of any other nuclear power. As we witnessed with the 2003 U.S. preemptive attack on Iraq, first-strike is now the official military doctrine of the U.S.

Putin recognizes this new twist when he recently said, "Once the missile defense system is put in place it will work automatically with the entire nuclear capability of the U.S. It will be an integral part of the U.S. nuclear capability....An arms race is unfolding. Was it we who withdrew from the ABM Treaty? We already told [Bush] two years ago, don't do this, you don't need to do this. What are you doing? You are destroying the system of international security....Of course, we have to respond to it."

Putin is obviously referring to current Bush plans to deploy "missile defense" interceptors in Poland and a high-tech Star Wars radar facility in the Czech Republic. The Bush team says these facilities are intended to protect against Iranian missiles but all one has to do is look at a map of the region and see that the real target is Russia.

Following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the economy of Russia fell apart and the standard of living dropped substantially. But in recent years, due in large part to oil exploration inside Russia which now surpasses the daily oil output of Saudi Arabia, Russia's economy is growing again and the standard of living improving. Russia has become the world's largest producer of natural gas.

Russia has announced that four of its largest oil fields will not be open to foreign development and its national treasury has begun to convert Russia's dollar reserves into gold and rubles. None of these steps has been well received in the banking centers of Washington or London.

As fossil fuels become scarce worldwide, the U.S. and British banking and oil corporation elites have developed an international strategy to take control of remaining supplies. This is manifest in the present U.S. and UK occupation of Iraq and U.S. permanent bases in Central Asia - a key region for pipelines to move Caspian Sea resources south for shipment in the Asian-Pacific region.

But Russia and China do not accept the notion of the U.S. becoming the "master" of the planet. Already the U.S. Space Command has declared that it will be the master of space and will develop the offensive space weapons technologies to "deny" other countries access to space. Pentagon operatives have said that international treaties will restrict the U.S. ability to take unilateral and preemptive military action globally.

The U.S. secret military budget, the "black budget", is now estimated to be about $60 billion per year and is mostly funding high-tech space weapons. Even Congress is not provided information on how the Pentagon is spending these funds. A reporter at the weapons industry publication, Jane's Defense Weekly, did a research project on the secret budget architecture and suggests it came to the U.S. by Nazi scientists brought to the U.S. after World War II under the classified "Operation Paperclip."

On May 31 U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the U.S. favors a protracted troop presence in Iraq similar to the one in South Korea. Gates told reporters that he is thinking of "a mutual agreement" with Iraq in which "some force of Americans . . . is present for a protracted period of time, but in ways that are protective of the sovereignty of the host government." Gates said such a long-term U.S. presence would assure allies in the Middle East that the U.S. will not withdraw from Iraq as it did from Vietnam, "lock, stock and barrel."

Highly respected former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted in April as saying that deployment of U.S. missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic is an attempt by the U.S. to control Europe. "It is all about influence and domination in Europe," Gorbachev said. Asked how Russia could respond to these plans, he only said: "Time will show."

One Russian political analyst puts it more directly. ''Hitler was striving for global domination, and the United States is striving for global domination now,'' Sergei Markov, head of the Moscow-based Institute for Political Research recently told The Associated Press.

''Hitler thought he was above the League of Nations, and the United States thinks it is above the United Nations. Their action is similar... only the United States now is claiming global exclusiveness,'' Markov said.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A WEEKEND AROUND HOME

I went digging up clams in a tidal marsh today near the ocean with some friends. I'd never done it before. After we got a bunch of them we heated up seaweed and salt water and steamed the clams. It was quite a lovely time and my back hurts from the digging.

Mary Beth went to Boston for much of the weekend to visit family and friends. I was going to go along but the recent drive to Nevada made me a bit shy about getting in a car for a long ride so soon.

Mary Beth has semi-adopted a local neighborhood girl that comes from a broken family. It is wonderful to see MB fuss around about the girl. She spent the whole day with us last Sunday and all week MB was saying, "When is she coming back over to see us?" The girl, who I have nicknamed peanut, stopped by and had some food with us late this afternoon. MB walked her home.

This evening MB, Karen, and I went to see a very talented young man dance here in town. He is from Iran but moved from there at a very young age at the time of the Iranian revolution when they chased the Shah out of the country. His family moved to Germany and then years later to the U.S. So he is a fascinating person who has these very different cultural influences weaved into his personality. He's not quite sure where he really fits in but his dance, which seemed to blend together these various cultures, really brought out his real soul and it was beautiful to watch. He has been coming around our house some to get to know us. He lives in a cabin in the woods with no electricity so he's washed his clothes here and helped us stack wood in return. It's a real gift meeting him and he reminds me of my son a lot. We look forward to developing our friendship with him.

A good weekend was had by all.