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

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ICE HOTEL

Agneta Norberg and I take the train in the morning from Stockholm to Oslo, Norway on the final leg of my trip. This morning we flew back to Stockholm from Kiruna.

Last night I spoke to 60 students from the "space high school" and about 15 members of the community at large in Kiruna. Can I say blown away? I was due to the amazing response the students had to my talk. They were wide-eyed and listening as closely as anyone ever has. It was one of the most important talks I've given in my 25 years of working on space issues. Their questions were excellent. The school is a special institution that brings top students from across the country to Kiruna to learn about space and then work in the field. Some good things will come out of this talk for sure.

Today we went for a tour of the Esrange space center outside of Kiruna. They maintain that it is all civilian - the same way NASA does - but we have learned over the years to dig below the surface and we are digging.

Before leaving Kiruna today we stopped at the world famous ice hotel for lunch. Each November they build the hotel from huge chunks of ice taken from the nearby river and tourists come from all over the world to stay in the ornate hotel. People sleep on reindeer furs and inside of artic sleeping bags and pay about $200 a night for the chilling experience. Each year new artists are brought in to create the ornate interior of ice. In the spring the hotel melts.


Agneta took me to a Turkish family's house in Stockholm for dinner this evening where we were treated to a wonderful meal and then I heard the horrible story of the military coups in Turkey during the 1970-80's that forced many progressive activists there to flee the country as thousands were killed by their government with the full support of the U.S. military.

Our host described how the Turkish Social Democrats sat back and watched as their hope for real democracy was crushed by the para-military Grey Wolf dead squads used by the dictatorship to do much of the killing of those from the left who were protesting in the streets.

There are quite a number of Turkish refugees in Sweden and Agneta, who is 70 years old, has befriended many of them and has gone to Turkey several times and witnessed entire towns that were wiped out just for having stood against the military government.

When I asked our host to reflect on what more they could have done at the time he said the people did not fight back hard enough. It's advice we could use today as we see democracy slip away from us in the U.S.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HEADING NORTH

I spoke in Stockholm last night and this morning head north to Kiruna which is the home of Sweden's Esrange space center. There is a small peace group there that is hosting me for a talk and a tour of the center.

Esrange maintains that everything they do there is only for civilian space but reports are that U.S. military personnel are often seen visiting the place and they are now testing military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) at the large test center.

Even though Sweden is not a member of NATO they do have separate military agreements with the U.S. and I am quite certain that the line between civilian and military space is being rubbed out. Dual use it is called.

My trip is helping to shine some light on the growing role of the Nordic countries in space. Agneta Norberg has done a fine job of getting me around the region and the word is spreading. All the new space videos I brought with me, that the Global Network has just produced, are gone and I have two stops left. One person in Denmark, the international president of WILPF, already has said she is going to translate the video into Danish for wide distribution in her country.

Bit by bit.

Monday, September 22, 2008

REVOLUTION FOR THE RICH

Yes it is socialism at last. America, the great free enterprise, every man for himself, empire has at last gone and dumped capitalism. Socialism has now taken hold in the USA!

At least for the rich it has. Yes we now have socialism for the rich in America - and capitalism for everyone else.

The old saw that business has to make it on its own is now history. Start a bank and if it is nearing collapse, no problem. The government will bail you out.

Lost your job because the corporation is closing the plant and moving overseas where cheaper labor can be found? Tough luck Jack - you are on your own.

It's called a revolution! You wanted revolution, well you got it. Revolution for the rich.

Aye, it's a return of feudalism. Back to the days of the lords and masters. And the serfs in their crumbling villages at the bottom of the hill.

Feudalism, the 21st century variety. But this time every peasant gets a car and a TV. That's if you can afford to put the gas in it or pay the cable bill.

So just keep your mouth shut and get in line.

Remember, if we don't treat the rich with respect they won't invest their money and create jobs for us.

All hail the lords of Wall Street.

Bow to the masters of disaster.

On your knees you!!!!!

THE WIRE IS GETTING SHORT

The photo is from the Oceana Air Show Sept. 20 in Norfolk, Virginia. Demonstrators arrested: Susan Crane (Jonah House - Baltimore, MD, ), Steve Baggarly and Kristin Sadler (Norfolk Catholic Worker, Norfolk, VA) and Beth Brockman (Durham, NC).

Four people got atop the B-52 on display. They were detained as were 8 observers. Eleven people received letters banning them from all Naval installations from Virginia to Maine. Steve Baggarly violated a previously received letter and will go to US District Court in Norfolk on November 3rd on a trespass charge which carries up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Speak out now while you still can. We must rally the public before it is too late.

Take bold steps each day. The wire is getting short.

Don't be one of those who might say - I just wished I had acted when I still could.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM: IT'S ALL ABOUT NATO

I arrived in Copenhagen today after spending the last couple of days in Malmo, Sweden for the European Social Forum. Yesterday afternoon a march was held where 10,000 people walked for 3 and 1/2 hours through the city streets in a beautiful spirited procession. Thousands of people watched us from their home windows or on the street as we passed through the city. The weather was perfect. Just before the march took off I was the final speaker at the rally (for two minutes). I was lucky I got to speak at all as we got to the rally late after a large group of us stopped for some lunch at a local fallafel joint. I'm glad we ate first.

Before the march yesterday I participated in a forum on space issues along with GN chair Dave Webb from England who is also the Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarament in the UK. Jan Tamas, our good friend and a leader of the resistance against deployment of the U.S. Star Wars radar in the Czech Republic, was there too. GN board member Agenta Norberg, a long-time activist from Sweden, made the arrangements to get us all there to talk. It was a well attended event and we felt excited to have reached many new people.

In the morning I have a couple of meetings here in Copenhagen, which will include an interview with a local progressive newspaper, and then a talk in the evening. On Tuesday I head back to Sweden where I will spend a couple days in Stockholm.

The mood is very serious here. Sweden, Denmark and Norway are all facing cutbacks in social programs though they are still far ahead of where the U.S. is today. But conservative governments are slicing away at the social fabric bit by bit and moving more in the direction of militarization like so many other countries around the world.

I'd say the biggest theme I heard coming out of the social forum in Malmo was NATO. Activists throughout Europe are very worried and angry about NATO expansion and are saying that NATO is militarizing international relations and is subordinating European interests to those of the U.S. They are saying that if we want to stop wars in Afghanistan, Georgia, and even a U.S. war with Russia, then we must stop shut down NATO.

2009 will be the 60th year of the "alliance" and major protests are now being planned in France and Germany to coincide with official government "celebrations that will be held there next April. This weekend in France and Germany demos were held as a prelude to next year.

Peace groups around the world are being urged to begin educating the public about the dangerous expansion of NATO into an "offensive" alliance that is being used to surround Russia and ultimately China in order to control them by controling access to and distribution of oil and natural gas.

Bush and NATO have just announced the intention to create a rapid-deployment force to be used against Russia as the U.S. and its allies will increasingly probe and pressure Russia with NATO enlargement on their immediate borders.

There can be no doubt that the neo-cons now in power intend to push Russia to either submit to U.S. corporate control or face the combined wrath of a heavily provocative NATO. The people of Europe don't want to see this confrontation but the increasing right-wing corporate dominated governments in Europe are doing the bidding of the western interests.

People need to start paying serious attention to what is going on with NATO and their deep and highly dangerous desire for military confronation with Russia. Imagine if Russia was building military bases today in Cuba, Canada, and Mexico. That would be the equivalent to what the U.S. is now doing with NATO expansion around Russia.

It's a Cuban Missile Crisis in reverse.