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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Can We See the Links Between Militarism and Eco-Decay?

Handing out flyers to workers at Bath Iron Works with an activist from Jeju Island, South Korea a few years ago.  The warships being built here in Maine are helping lead to the destruction of a 500-year old fishing and farming community in Gangjeong village. 

  • I'm back to work and trying not to get stressed over the workload after having been away for the peace walk and then trip to NYC.  Lots of new emails to add to the lists - not my favorite thing to spend time on.  I'd rather read articles and write blog posts.  But that side of my work is important and makes it possible for the whole Global Network operation to fit together.  I can partly thank the Air Force for training me how to administer an organization but most of the credit should go to my mother.  She was highly organized (kept lists of things to do) and trained me how to plan and delegate.  We moved every 2-3 years and with six kids she knew how to make it happen.  She had the skills to run any organization and it is a shame that she lived in a time that did not reward women for their talents.  In many ways she was disillusioned by society and became bitter in her old age.  Having come from parents who both immigrated from Italy she also had to deal with the killing of her culture - at home taught to honor the old ways but at school and everywhere else the message was to fit into the melting pot and join the rat race.  She was torn from the start and had a hard time getting her feet to land in one safe cultural place.  Like often happens to immigrants Gaetana Amelia Ruth DiCapua was dazed and confused.

  • Having just come from the Techno-Utopianism conference in NYC I am particularly in tune with the massive global corporate plan to wreck the planet.  One current example is Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  The Korean government is talking about building two Ramada Hotels in the tiny farming and fishing village.  The Navy also wants more village land for military personnel housing.  The plan is to destroy the entire village.  The people are now in their 8th year of daily active non-violent resistance against the base.  As the word gets out more and more people from all over the world are going to Gangjeong in acts of solidarity.  When people go they learn more than just Navy base protesting - they are also transformed on a spiritual level as the resistance there is grounded in a deep love for nature and the overall web of life.  The Jeju struggle connects all the dots for me: save the environment, stop militarism, protect civil liberties, stop corporate power, and reestablish our spiritual nature to Mother Earth.

Ramada Hotels have their sights on Gangjeong village on Jeju Island.  Sailboats would replace fishing boats and hotels would replace fields for farming.  Where will we get our food if things keep going this way?

  • One disappointing aspect of the Techo-Utopianism conference was the fact that other than our one, last of the night, panel on high-tech militarism there was virtually no mention of war and the many Pentagon bootprints around the planet.  I heard only one passing reference to war during the other 20 hours of speakers.  It's hard to figure but appears to be evidence of the fact that people (even leading minds) get stuck in their silos and can't see beyond them.  The friggin war machine controls so much these days - most scientific research and development, Congressional funding priorities, and ultimately a growing segment of the national economy where people have jobs.  Too many environmental groups and leaders avoid the military story and there is a reason for it.  Much of the funding for these kinds of organizations comes from sources that at some level are often linked to the Democratic Party - either as members, donors, or ideological housemates.  The Democrats keep a tight lid on how much one is allowed to speak about our militarized society.  So while I am grateful for having been invited to bring that piece into the puzzle, I was also surprised that as global eco-leaders identify the 'problems' and look for solutions they rarely consider war and war preparations as key elements in any real organizing strategy or even discussion.  I think that is a big mistake.


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