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

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


We can't let this go away.  Ferguson, Missouri or the many other places blacks are gunned down by cops.  We can't let Gaza go nor Ukraine nor Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa - its all about the rape of resources and the elimination of unneeded people.  It's global genocide by the corporate elite.

Obama is so quiet - he makes more noise after a white reporter is killed by ISIS.  Obama promises revenge and sends bombers to Iraq.  In the case of Ferguson Obama sheepishly utters a few words of defense of media rights to report on protests but admonishes protesters for stepping out of line.  More than a week after the killing of Mike Brown Obama finally sends his attorney general to promise a federal investigation.  Got to keep our eyes on that ball.  Might just roll off into obscurity.

Obama has shown long ago that he has walked away from the black community and poor people in general.  The 'poor' word is never heard from his mouth as he maintains he is busy defending the 'middle class' while bowing to the dictates of corporate power.

I was reading a great book last night called 1968: A History in Verse by Edward Sanders who was a member of the band called The Fugs.  Things haven't changed much since then - except that more younger people were on the case in those days.  Student and minority movements were strong and being tracked and undermined by the FBI and CIA.  Today many young people are chained by college debt and in despair about what can be done.  Many still cling to the mythology of 'success' and are stuck on the treadmill.

Sanders recalls getting FBI files that contained agent memos from May 10-23, 1968 reminding all FBI offices:

"of the necessity of taking immediate action to expose, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize the activities of the New Left.  As a part of this program, you were instructed to remain alert for and to seek specific data depicting the depraved nature and moral looseness of the New Left.  You were further instructed to consider ways to use this material in a vigorous and enthusiastic approach to neutralizing them."

Local cops, federal 'law enforcement' agencies, religion, courts, media, unions, and politicians were largely lined up against the 'New Left'.  Activists and their organizations were undermined and ridiculed in the media.  But what they had to say about equality, peace, justice, environment and more were right on the mark.

It's the same way today.  Same struggle - same issues - same oligarchy in power that still uses largely the same methods to keep control. 

Sanders recalls the story about protest singer Phil Ochs running from the head-bashing cops in Chicago in '68 at the time of the Democratic Party convention when Mayor Daley went for blood.  As Ochs ran for cover the words of the poet Yates kept running through his head.  Sanders imagined it was these words: A terrible beauty is born.

One could ask that about Ferguson today?  Or Gaza? Has a terrible beauty been born when people around the planet stand together demanding justice before there can ever truly be peace.


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