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: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ELECTIONS, PRISONS, AND COLONIALISM

It's election day here in Maine. A primary for an open Congressional seat is the big race as well as some local town elections. We will be sitting at the polls collecting signatures to repeal our state's decision to participate in Homeland Security's program called "Real ID". Real ID is part of the growing surveillance society to share every bit of electronic information about you with the military, police, and with the corporate business world. If we can collect 55,000 signatures in Maine during the next month or so we will force a statewide referendum on pulling Maine out of the national Real ID program.

There is little doubt that we are becoming a police state. We now have 2.3 million people in prison in the U.S. We lead the industrialized world in incarceration - 5-8 times more people in jail than other highly developed countries.

Black males in America are the largest percentage (35.4%) of the inmates now held in custody while 17.9% of Hispanic males are in jail.

The expense of maintaining this level of prison population is costing U.S. taxpayers more than $60 billion a year.

But why these high numbers?

Some years ago I arranged for Dr. Manning Marable (Professor of Public Affairs, Political Science, History and African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York City) to speak at a conference I organized in Florida. He talked about how black and Hispanic populations in the U.S. would become the majority in the U.S. in coming years. He stated that one strategy to maintain white minority control over the nation would be to increase the numbers of black and Hispanic's in jail thus helping to socially fragment their communities. Communities that become fragmented have a hard time participating in electoral politics. In some states today people who have been convicted of felonies (drug possession, etc) lose their right to vote for the rest of their lives. It's the old colonial strategy of divide and conquer.

Just this morning I learned that Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) has challenged the signatures of Herb Hoffman who has collected the required number of petitions to place himself on the ballot in November for the U.S. Senate race. Rep. Allen is also running for the same Senate seat now held by the Republican Susan Collins and it is expected to be a tight race.

Rep. Allen (who has had me arrested twice for sitting in his office opposing his previous votes to fund the Iraq occupation) thinks he owns the electoral arena. He thinks that the Democrats "own" the votes of people like me and thus he sees it quite "normal" for him to throw obstacles in the path of Independent candidates like Herb Hoffman.

Rep. Allen was a Rhodes scholar and went to graduate school in Oxford, England at the program that South African racist Cecil Rhodes founded as a vehicle to train the minds of outstanding young students from around the world in the ethic of British imperialism.

Rhodes was an ardent believer in colonialism and was the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him.

Rhodes famously declared: "To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far."

What Tom Allen (who we like to call Tom Collins) does not understand is that he has just sealed his fate with this dishonorable decision to attempt to block Herb Hoffman. Allen will get few votes from the anti-war community come November after this stunt.

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