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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Monday, November 14, 2011

RESISTANCE IS FERTILE

I was invited to go to Hawaii as one of the many speakers at the conference called Peoples of the Asia-Pacific vs. APEC/TPP that was organized by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG). APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Victor Menotti, Executive Director of the IFG says, "APEC is a corporate agenda. It's about the industrial economy with policies that read as if they're straight out of the WTO rule book. This is trade liberalization and getting governments, which are supposed to express the people's will, out of the way of 'economic freedom' which is code for corporate rule. This is corporate rape and pillage."

The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a free trade agreement currently being negotiated between the U.S. and eight other APEC members. Last week Japan announced they will join the TPP despite strong opposition from farmers and other citizens in their country.

The three-day alternative conference that I attended began with a full day of meetings under the banner of "Strengthening Indigenous Practitioners' and Advocates' Relationships to Our Lands, Peoples, and Resources". Held at the Calvary Church by the Sea we were just feet from the warm ocean waters as indigenous leaders from across the Pacific discussed the fundamental meaning of life - to live as a human being in harmony with nature. They told stories about colonization and resource extraction and made clear that the goals of capitalism - endless and mindless growth - are in direct opposition to sustainable living.

On the second day the conference moved to another church closer to downtown Honolulu where a series of plenary panel discussions were held. I spoke on the panel called "Militarization & Resistance in the Pacific" and began with the story about the Global Network's support for the villagers on Jeju Island in South Korea. I also spoke extensively about current Obama administration moves to expand "missile defense" throughout the Asia-Pacific as a way to militarily surround China and Russia. I got a nice response from many of those in the audience after the panel was over.

On the third day of the conference the event moved again, this time to the University of Hawaii (Hawaiian Studies Department) theatre. This open-air venue was right next to a beautiful traditional Hawaiian cultural garden that was the perfect setting to ponder the important questions raised by the speakers who further outlined the issues surrounding globalization, resource extraction, and unrestrained trade agreements.

I'd like to highlight some key points that I noted during the conference (in no particular order of importance):

  • The Pacific Ocean is not what separates us, but is what binds us.

  • APEC - plantation owners negotiating among themselves.

  • Guam - New U.S. plan calls for military base expansion that will ensure that 40% of the island's land will be under Pentagon control.

  • An Afghanistan village has been built on Oahu, Hawaii and drones will be brought in and used for war games.

  • Building more military housing on the most fertile land on Oahu will make islanders even more dependent on corporate agriculture food imports. Hawaii imports 90% of its food today.

  • U.S. and China are forming competing trade mechanisms to control resources and markets.

  • Henry Kissinger on the removal of the residents of the Marshall Islands in 1969: “There are only 90,000 people out there. Who gives a damn?”

  • There are 748 Superfund (contaminated) sites in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Pentagon has 113 military installations across the Hawaiian islands.

  • European and U.S. hedge funds are buying up African lands in the name of "securing" Africa's food supply.

  • The Air Force flyover of Honolulu on 11-11-11, during the APEC conference, felt like the end of the world. The massive rumbling of power also sounded to me like the insecurity of a declining power.

  • China is currently using one-half of the world's coal. Indonesia is becoming China's coal colony.

  • APEC sees cultural evaluations, environmental impact statements, local sovereignty, etc as "barriers to investment".

  • Obama is unwinding the United Nations regime to reduce green house gases.

  • TPP objectives: Seamless process to remove all restrictions that interfere with profits from resource extraction, production, to markets. TPP wants "transparency" which means governments must be fully under corporate control. TPP would trump all government regulations.

  • U.S. has lost 5 million jobs, and 42,000 factories have left, since these "Free Trade Agreements" have been created.

  • China makes $6.50 for each $178.96 iPhone it builds while Apple gets the rest.

  • George Soros says that the crisis of capitalism creates an opportunity for "global restructuring" which means expansion of corporate control.

  • Gao Feng, China's head climate negotiator from 2000-2005, reports, "Years ago a now-retired senior German official became agitated when I remarked that if the Chinese wanted to combat climate change, his country's car manufacturers could go home and the Chinese could return to their bicycles. This would not do, he said, the Chinese should keep buying cars, but only drive them once a week."

That was just a tiny flavor of some of the things discussed during these remarkable three days in Honolulu.


We know that the only way humans, and most animal and plant life, can survive on our Mother Earth is for the hard-charging bulldozer of endless growth to be subordinated to a human scale and sustainable way of being. In order to have a livable planet we must all decolonize our minds, change the way we live, and we must reject this unforgiving system of capitalism that is leading to the decline of life on our spaceship Earth.


I am heartened to meet so many wonderful people who are working across the Asia-Pacific to bring sanity to our lost world. We must all become part of this change if we hope for our natural world to survive. There is no other way.


I was moved to tears at the concluding ceremony of the conference when Native Hawaiians sang traditional songs. In that moment I realized that during my 15 months living on Oahu in 1973-1974 I had come to love the ocean, the lands, and the people of this magical place more than I had ever thought. The familiarity of their ways touched me deeply and formed a circle of closure as I have long been on a journey to reconnect with all the places and people from my wandering life. In the end I've learned what a gift it has been for me to have moved so often during my days. I was given the gift to see that all the people of the world were the same in many ways - they all love their homelands, they love to eat, laugh, and to sing, and they love their children. We indeed are all one.


We each have a sacred responsibility to protect the "place" where we live. Resistance is fertile.

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