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, April 14, 2016

Where Should Your Taxes Be Spent? - Korean Style

Fellow Mainer Jason Rawn (on right in photo) writes from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea the following:

This is the English text (below) I wrote for a handout on War Tax Resistance we made here in Gangjeong for our two days of Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) demonstrations. We timed them to coincide with national Election Day here, which everyone I know is very happy about because the ruling right-wing party, Saenuri, is no longer in control. People were very worried that if Saenuri did well in this election, it would lead to more crackdowns on free speech, among other things.

I hope you can use some of this information in your work. I will also forward a link to the Korean-language website, which has some photos of people participating in a modified Penny Poll with some very pretty heart stickers.

I've been told this is the first time this kind of activity has been done here. People seem interested, and I look forward to following up in my last few weeks here, as well as during future visits. 

Due to human-caused climate change, we must make huge changes in how we live very soon. The US military and its allies use the most fossil fuels and have the largest Carbon bootprint on the planet. Most of these fossil fuels are used in pursuit of more fossil fuels. There are also nuclear, biological, space, and conventional weapons, torture, surveillance, and many other harmful aspects of militarism to consider.

Activists around the world are organizing the GDAMS from April 5-18. In 2015, 127 actions were held in 20 different countries. GDAMS is part of the International Peace Bureau's Global Campaign on Military Spending. The central question is, "Money for War...Or Human Need?" 

Here in Gangjeong, our action is to speak out and picket during our daily blockade of the navy base here. We will also conduct a poll to discover how local people would like to invest their hard-earned tax money. We ask people to examine their priorities and the long-term well-being of the planet and then use stickers to indicate  what types of projects and programs they value and want to fund. This is an adaptation of the "Penny Poll," a fun activity used by peace activists in the US to start conversations on the subject of divesting from war. 

These are the categories of projects and programs: 

  • Peace: disarmament, conflict prevention and resolution, human security

  • Sustainable development and anti-poverty programs

  • Climate change and biodiversity loss - for mitigation, adaptation, bioremediation

  • Public services/social justice, human rights, gender equality, and green job creation

  • Humanitarian programs to support the most vulnerable groups


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