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.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Our new home in Brunswick


We are making good progress getting things set up in our apartment on McKeen Street in Brunswick. 

The apartment is in an old converted farm house that in classic Maine style was added onto over the years as the families in it grew.

We are living upstairs.  MB and I are quite happy with the place and the two-week wait to get in here due to renovations turned out to be worth it.  I spent yesterday hanging things in my office (below) which comes with a big closet and shelves.  Perfect.

Everyone is talking about the coming snow storm which is expected to dump up to 18 inches here along the Midcoast.  Our very thoughtful and kind landlady (who lives in another place) asked me to shovel out the doorway and path to the car of an older woman in the apartments.  I love the snow and gladly accepted the assignment.  In Bath we had five doorways to clear plus paths to the shed and woodpile.  I am happy to have an excuse to play in the snow.  I told the landlady (who has already asked me about Putin) that having lived in hot and humid Florida for 30 years I still have lots of snow energy stored up in my body.

From here it takes at most five minutes to walk downtown.  Bowdoin College men and women basketball is in season which I love to watch.  There is much to do around town.

Every Friday at 5:00 pm a peace vigil is held along the town green.  (Last night we had six folks there.) It has been going on since 9-11, every week.

When MB and I first came to Maine in 2003 we lived here in Brunswick four years before moving to the big intentional community house in Bath that we called the Addams-Melman House.  We had a sign on the front of that house with the AMH name painted on it.  An artist friend is adding the word 'annex' to the sign which we will display here at the new apartment.  The heart of the AMH lives in all of those who graced that wonderful community for 12 years.  We will miss that great gathering place.


All during this transition time of moving I've been working on the Russia Study Tour the Global Network is sponsoring for next spring.  The key tasks currently are keeping the 25 folks going with us informed about Visa and airline options.  I've been regularly communicating with Russia Veterans For Peace about our joint meeting in St. Petersburg.  Arranging hotels in the three places we will visit (Moscow, Crimea and St. Petersburg) is nearly complete.  It's alot of dots to connect to pull off a trip like this which in the end will be a life changing experience for all of us.

Bruce

Friday, January 18, 2019

History lesson: Haitian revolution



PBS Documentary Titled - Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture & The Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution (French: Révolution haïtienne [ʁevɔlysjɔ̃ ajisjɛ̃n]), was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection that took place in the former French colony of Saint-Domingue that lasted from 1791 until 1804. It affected the institution of slavery throughout the Americas. Self-liberated slaves destroyed slavery at home, fought to preserve their freedom, and with the collaboration of mulattoes, founded the sovereign state of Haiti. It led to the greatest slave uprising since Spartacus's unsuccessful revolt against the Roman Republic nearly 1,900 years prior.

The Haitian Revolution was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state free from slavery and ruled by non-whites and former captives. With the increasing number of Haitian Revolutionary Studies in the last few decades, it has become clear that the event was a defining moment in the racial histories of the Atlantic World. The legacy of the Revolution was that it challenged long-held beliefs about black inferiority and of the enslaved person's capacity to achieve and maintain freedom. The rebels' organizational capacity and tenacity under pressure became the source of stories that shocked and frightened slave owners.

 François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (French: [fʁɑ̃swa dɔminik tusɛ̃ luvɛʁtyʁ] 20 May 1743 – 7 April 1803), also known as Toussaint L'Ouverture or Toussaint Bréda, was the best-known leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military and political acumen saved the gains of the first Black insurrection in November 1791. He first fought for the Spanish against the French; then for France against Spain and Britain; and finally, for Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti)'s colonial sovereignty against Napoleonic France. He then helped transform the insurgency into a revolutionary movement, which by 1800 had turned Saint-Domingue, the most prosperous slave colony of the time, into the first free colonial society to have explicitly rejected race as the basis of social ranking.

Though Toussaint did not sever ties with France, his actions in 1800 constituted a de facto autonomous colony. The colony's constitution proclaimed him governor for life even against Napoleon Bonaparte's wishes. He died betrayed before the final and most violent stage of the armed conflict. However, his achievements set the grounds for the Black army's absolute victory and for Jean-Jacques Dessalines to declare the sovereign state of Haiti in January 1804. Toussaint's prominent role in the Haitian success over colonialism and slavery had earned him the admiration of friends and detractors alike.

Toussaint Louverture began his military career as a leader of the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint-Domingue; he was by then a free black man and a Jacobin. Initially allied with the Spaniards of neighboring Santo Domingo (modern Dominican Republic), Toussaint switched allegiance to the French when they abolished slavery. He gradually established control over the whole island and used political and military tactics to gain dominance over his rivals. Throughout his years in power, he worked to improve the economy and security of Saint-Domingue. He restored the plantation system using paid labour, negotiated trade treaties with Britain and the United States, and maintained a large and well-disciplined army.

 In 1801, he promulgated an autonomist constitution for the colony, with himself as Governor-General for Life. In 1802 he was forced to resign by forces sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to restore French authority in the former colony. He was deported to France, where he died in 1803. The Haitian Revolution continued under his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared independence on January 1, 1804. The French had lost two-thirds of forces sent to the island in an attempt to suppress the revolution; most died of yellow fever.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Trump on NATO



By Will Griffin

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Our priorities are screwed up!


In addition, cut the military budget dramatically and tax the super rich and corporations at a 70% rate (during the Eisenhower administration the top marginal tax rate was 91%). Use the otherwise wasted $$$$ for the following which will ensure that we have full employment and a truly fair and sustainable society.  Call it Socialism, Communism, economic democracy or a Christian-based economy.  I don't care what it is called.  Just do it.  Share the loaves and fishes.

  • End homelessness
  • Full free health care for everyone
  • Free education for all
  • Fix the crumbling American infrastructure - roads, bridges, sidewalks, water & sewer systems, repair schools and more
  • Train and hire nurses, doctors, and other medical technicians
  • Train and hire legions of home care workers to help take care of the growing numbers of aging citizens
  • Retro-fit all buildings across the nation with solar power
  • Convert the military production system to build offshore wind turbines, commuter rail systems, solar and tidal power systems
  • Weatherize every house and business across the nation
  • Transform run down urban centers into parks and organic gardens.  Hire unemployed people to do the work.  Plant a ga-zillion trees across America
  • Change the Pentagon into the 'Natural Guard' and have them help communities that are hit by big storms which are more frequent and more severe due to global warming
  • Train and hire more teachers, counselors and teacher aides
  • Make mental health care free for anyone who needs it.  Train and hire more mental health and addiction services workers
  • Free day care for all - train and hire more day care workers
  • Train and hire a new generation of skilled carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, engineers, etc
  • Create a world-class national public mass transit system
  • Build affordable housing for everyone
  • De-militarize the police and have them retrained to be true peace keepers
  • Transform the prison system from punishment to restorative justice
  • Pay reparations for slavery and land confiscation from Native Americans
  • Pay every worker a living wage and empower unions to represent all workers in making decisions at their workplaces
  • Create more cooperatives
  • Dump the Federal Reserve Bank and create state banks (like in North Dakota) that are owned by the public
  • Make all public spaces accessible to the handicapped
  • Build and staff more museums and art spaces for everyone - not just for the rich
  • Create more and wider bicycle lanes throughout the nation
  • Revoke corporate personhood by amending our Constitution to make clear that corporations are not persons and money is not speech
  • Give every citizen the right to vote without any impediments
  • Repeal the Patriot Act and shut down the surveillance state
  • Free popcorn at all movie theaters 

Bruce

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Troops really coming home?



In Part II of the series Trump Expanding the Empire, Abby Martin addresses the surprise order from Trump that he was 'ending the war' in Syria.

On another foreign policy front (NATO) the New York Times today reports:

NATO had planned to hold a leaders meeting in Washington to mark its 70th anniversary in April, akin to the 50-year celebration that was hosted by President Bill Clinton in 1999. But this year’s meeting has been downgraded to a foreign ministers gathering, as some diplomats feared that Mr. Trump could use a Washington summit meeting to renew his attacks on the alliance.

Leaders are now scheduled to meet at the end of 2019, but not in Washington.
The mainstream media, the Democrats, and the military industrial complex are in full internal battle mode as they clamor about Trump 'maybe or possibly' pulling the US out of NATO.

The NATO alliance has been looking for a purpose to exist ever since the former Soviet Union fell apart in 1991.  Now that Russia has been identified by the national security state as enemy #1 it appears that NATO has a future.  The alliance, violating promises by President George H. W. Bush's administration to Russia in 1991 that NATO would not expand 'one centimeter' eastward, now sits on Moscow's doorstep and is going global with 'partnerships' that allow the alliance to also encircle China.

NATO has become the military arm of corporate capital.

The fact that Trump, has at times, expressed that NATO is a waste of money is a good thing because it is true.  And NATO is provocative and destabilizing though no one in Washington would dare utter those words.

The really crazy thing is how 'liberal Democrats' are currently the biggest cheerleaders around for NATO, the CIA, the FBI and the rest of the national security state.  In order to trash Trump, and retake control of government, the liberals have linked arms with the worst warlike, repressive, surveillance state elements in the world.



I am not a Trump fan but you know what they say about a broken clock - it still shows the correct time twice a day.  For whatever reason Trump now and then stumbles onto a decent idea and should be encouraged - no matter how convoluted his thinking can be.

Things are such a mess in Washington, London, Brussels, Bonn and Paris (The Axis of Medieval) it is hard for most people to get a handle on any truth.  But most disappointing is to see many so-called 'progressives' becoming champions of the war machine out of their hatred for The Donald.

Bruce

Monday, January 14, 2019

Once confused - now just outraged....


I was once one of those confused by the rhetoric coming out of Washington DC.  In 1968 I was Vice-President of the Okaloosa County, Florida Young Republican Club working on the Nixon for President campaign.

Then in January 1971 I tried to join the US Air Force like my step-dad and failed my induction physical because of an old high school football injury.  I had to get a waiver to get into the military when most guys my age were trying to get waivers to avoid the war in Vietnam.

Having grown up on military bases around the world I had swallowed the patriotic pills handed out in the military-run schools on the bases and all the other indoctrination that comes along with such a sheltered life.

It wasn't until I had my own experiences running up against the many glaring contradictions surrounding the Vietnam war that my eyes began to open to the lies and manipulations of our government and media that sold and perpetuated that war and all the rest of them since.

Lucky for me my first roommate in the barracks at Travis AFB in California (my first permanent base assignment after my training was over) was an organizer in the GI Resistance movement.  Meetings were often held in our room at night with me at first sitting in the corner and after a few months moving my chair into the circle.  See a great documentary on this GI anti-war movement here

Travis was an airlift base for the war - GI's would come to our base to fly to Vietnam.  When the planes returned they carried body bags of the dead soldiers and were lined up on the runway just across the street from my office.  Protests were frequently held outside the base on weekends and we'd talk about these events in the barracks, the chow hall and on the job.  My life was changed by these remarkable experiences - it is at Travis that I became a peacenik.

Some nights GI's who were Black Panthers from the big cities came to our room and talked about racism in the military and across the nation.  There was a race riot in the barracks courtyard one night and the black GI leaders came to our room before it began to give a warning to my roommate and me so we'd not get caught up in the melee.  Many black GI's on our base were unfairly treated and had been arrested and thrown into the brig.  The riot was in response to the racism inter-woven into the military.

All throughout my adult life I've been on the streets to protest one US war or 'military action' after the other.  Each time the media portrayed these events as great patriotic battles to liberate a certain people (Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Libya, Syria, Yemen and more) and bring them freedom and democracy.  Most of the public would fall for these moves on the Grand Chessboard but thanks to my awakening experiences during Vietnam I was able to cut through the bullshit and get to the core of the corporate manipulation.

Sadly, far too many American people still fall for the waving flag, the national anthem and the media lies that accompany the US military empire and endless war.

Since late 1971 I've been trying to do my own thinking in order to take back control of my heart and mind.  I am grateful to the legions of peace people who came before me and helped pull the cover off the deception coming from our war hungry nation.

Bruce

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday song