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.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Closing Words from Richmond UNAC Confab


Today was the final day of the excellent UNAC national peace conference in Richmond, Virginia.  I thought I'd share some of the words from those who spoke during the last plenary session and from some of the audience who spoke during the final open mic session.

  • Believe in our ability to revive the anti-war movement in this country.  There is war exhaustion amongst the people.  The state is vulnerable and is more dependent on using force domestically and internationally.  (Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace)
  • We have to have the discipline and humbleness to tell no lies and claim no easy victories.  Without disciplined search for truth we'll never know what time it is.  The constituency for US imperialism is alot softer than we have thought.  The black political class [elected officials] is now almost universally servile to the war machine.  (Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report)
  • The biggest destroyer of the environment is war.  War divides humanity at the very time we need to unite the world to deal with our serious problems [economic disparity and climate change].  (David Swanson, World Beyond War)
  • US wars are unpredictable.  Is a coup in Venezuela next? Is there going to be an attack on Iran? Sharper and sharper demonization of Russia and China.  The role of demonization in the media is to push war beyond debate. Politicians say these are the lines of discussion and you'd better not step over them. UNAC is made up of several left parties, and other independent groups and activists, who have learned to cooperate.  We need to listen to each other more.  (Sara Flounders, International Action Center)
  • The average person in America carries $7,500 in debt.  The anti-war movement needs to ground its struggles on working class and oppressed communities.  A national general strike would have economic consequences on the ruling elite.  A day of no work or no school could have real economic impact.  (Phil Wilayto, Virginia Defenders)
  • The peace movement will not rise to the level it needs to rise unless it is connected to the black liberation movement.  And the black liberation movement will not rise unless it is connected to the peace movement and other movements for liberation.  Just this week the officer who killed Philando Castile was found not guilty.  Tomorrow in Newark, New Jersey we will have our 73rd consecutive week of protest at the Federal Building against police killings.  2,500 people have been killed by police since Ferguson, Missouri.  This is not police brutality but police terror and murder. If you are a revolutionary you have to fight on all fronts.  We don't just have to run to Washington DC to protest.  We should be having protests in every community across America.  A black liberation movement by itself will not bring down the capitalist and imperialist system.  We need a united people's movement. (Larry Hamm, People's Organization for Progress)
  • Our job is to pull the more moderate forces to the left.  (Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance)
  • I've been told I have a big mouth.  I take that as a compliment.  If I was quiet just think how much worse everything would be.  (Black elder Queen Nzinga, Richmond, Va)
  • Students are workers.  We need to work to go to school.  We need to divest colleges from war.  (Texas A & M student)
  • Hillary and Bill Clinton worked to keep the wages down in Haiti and interfered in elections there.  (Marty Goodman, Retired transit worker, New York City)
  • The ideas here have invigorated me.  It's really isolating to have to always listen to white academics who don't give a shit about anything.  I'm gonna take what I've learned here back to my school and share it.  (Patrick Anderson, Grad student, Texas A & M)


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