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'll be taking an 'unpaid leave of absence' from my job at the Global Network from December 15-March 15, 2020 in order to help my friend Lisa Savage on her campaign for the US Senate in Maine. She's running as a Maine Green Independent Party member and needs to gather 2,000 petition signatures of registered Greens during that period. I'll be back to GN after March 15.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Remembering the Aztecs: Live by the sword, die by the sword

Bob Dale, 95 years old and member of Veterans For Peace, and me standing together before one of our weekly Friday vigils in Brunswick on the town green.  The vigils have been happening each week since just after 9-11 in 2001.


On Friday I was back at the PeaceWorks vigil in Brunswick after being gone for the past month.  Bob Dale, his wife Jean Parker, Rosie Paul and others keep it going - rain, snow, sleet, sunshine - what ever the weather might be.

It is dark now as we gather at 5:00 pm on the busiest corner in Brunswick (population about 20,000).

As we were standing with our signs my first thought was how glad I was to be here again with our good peeps - sucking exhaust fumes.  (I often wonder what almost 40 years of regularly doing this has done to my lungs?)

We got some honks which is normal for these parts - but rarely does anyone stop and chat nor hardly ever is anyone so inspired that they come stand with us.

I started thinking about the collapse of the Aztec civilization in the early to mid-1500's.  There were many reasons for that empire's fall (including disease brought by conquering European invaders and their superior weapons technology) but an additional one was that violent nature of the Aztecs.

Aztec-history.com reports:

There's little doubt that the ritual Aztec sacrifice contributed to the fall of the Aztec Empire, and in more ways than one. First, killing thousands of people, whether you or your neighbors, simply can't be good for a society. The loss of people is a loss that can't be calculated. Who knows how it would have been different if these people and their children had swelled the ranks that fought the Spanish, not to mention the other contributions they would have made.

And although the Aztecs certainly weren't the first people ever to sacrifice humans, the fact that they did and the incredible number they sacrificed led to the hatred of some of the surrounding peoples. The powerful city-state of Tlaxcala was one of these. Many of their own had been sacrificed, and in the end they joined the Spaniards to fight the Aztecs. It may be that the Spanish simply were an excuse to start what was already an inevitable civil war.

While admittedly this is not an exact comparison - as I stood there on the corner I saw myself standing with a sign in Aztec land calling for the renunciation of violence and empire.  Few were impressed (in my imagination) and it was a bit dangerous to take such a political and culture position during that time.

Fast forward to 2019 and we stand in a nation that is addicted to violence - domestic and international.  Killing on a grand scale making the Aztecs look like amateurs in a sense.  Each week another school or mall shooting occurs here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Seven wars are going on today where the US uses extreme violence to steal resources and topple governments.

No one was ever held responsible for the 2003 'shock and awe' criminality that George W. Bush and Tony Blair unleashed in Iraq.  Those were pure mass killings - war crimes to be certain.

The vicious invading Spaniards put the final touch on the close of the Aztec civilization with their own brand of 'regime change' wars.  The last Aztec emperor, CuauhtĂ©moc, surrendered to Spanish commander Hernando Cortes in 1521.  It's been non-stop mass violence ever since with the US now the most 'efficient killer' on the planet.  
 

Our economy in America is dedicated to what the Pentagon calls 'security export'.  I call it addiction to war and violence - like a drug needle in the arm.  We 'gotta have' more war - it keeps the production lines humming in virtually every state in America.

What is the cure?  How about a 12-step program where we all stand up and put our hands on our hearts and repeat:  "Hello, my name is America, and I am addicted to war and violence"?

So I continue to join my other dedicated friends holding our signs, sometimes getting arrested for stepping over some 'property line' or blocking traffic - just to interrupt 'business as usual'.  Hoping to trigger some thought, some reflection by this American culture that drips in blood.

Am I optimistic?  No.  Do I think the US imperial project is in collapse mode?  Absolutely.

What comes next?  Who knows?


Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Bruce

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