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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

VERTICAL OUT - HORIZONTAL IN


I finished reading S. Brian Willson's book last night. It's an inspiring and informative read called Blood on the Tracks.

Brian begins his life as a conservative Christian, Boy Scout, Young Republican and goes to Vietnam as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. Things begin to change dramatically during his war tour.

Brian is best known for losing both his legs when ran over by a train carrying weapons during a protest in 1987. He was lucky to survive the accident, having blocked the tracks with a group of activists, after the train sped up and ran him over. Evidence after the accident revealed that the government ordered the train to accelerate rather than their normal procedure which would be to stop and clear the tracks of protesters before proceeding.

Brian has spent his entire adult life in the peace and justice movement and did a good job of sharing his remarkable experiences with the reader.

I want to share some of his thoughts near the end of the book where he illustrates the need for a transformation of our society from the current unsustainable hierarchical oligarchic system to a new way of living. I think his words speak for themselves.

"In Ecuador, the Indigenous people were intent on creating a horizontal society. Some of the seeds of such a movement had been planted also in Argentina, and, a decade after our trip there, they began to sprout. After nearly twenty years of brutal IMF neoliberal policies being imposed on the people of Argentina, the country's economy collapsed in December 2001, and virtually everyone but the super rich were thrust into poverty. Massive capital flight, devaluation of currency, freezing of bank accounts, and bankruptcy of the government sent millions of people into the streets.

"What emerged was amazing. With no formal leadership or hierarchical structures, without political parties, the people created a new, organic horizontalidad street democracy. Hundreds of neighborhood assemblies met every week to practice direct democracy, factories were occupied by workers who capably managed them without any owners or bosses. The same was true of bakeries, health clinics, child-care centers, etc. - all were self-organized within the respective neighborhoods. I believe this is another example of an archetypal human characteristic - autonomy - that thrives in locally organized society. Similar to Cuba's discovery of self-reliance out of necessity, Argentinians were forced to consciously break from dependence upon authority structures, whether in the form of ward bosses or elected representatives, and found they could be productive working in cooperation with their neighbors, without bosses. Vertical was out, horizontal was in."

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