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, November 02, 2019

The train from Moscow to the Donbass & back


Global Network Board of Advisers member Leonid Ilderkin escorted me from Moscow on the 24-hour night train to the Russian border with the Donbass and back.  Here are a few of my observations from the ride.

  • Each sleeper compartment has four beds – two on the bottom and two on top.  A small table sits between the beds by the window.
  • Each coach on the train has 1-2 staff who provide sheets, pillows, blankets, and towels.  They keep the toilets cleaned and vacuum the hallway and the compartments along the journey.
  • The staff provides tea cups and spoons at the start of the journey and each coach has a large hot water boiler.  Passengers bring their own tea, sugar and food along for the trip.  Russians drink more tea than coffee.
  • Most people in the compartment share food with one another and talk throughout the trip.  They stand in the hall way and look out the window and talk there as well.
  • From the window I could view miles of green fields as the fall season is in full color.  I asked what was growing and was told it is 'winter wheat'.
  • Also in each direction you see many coal mines - some still functioning and others not.  But everywhere around Lugansk there were big hills of coal mining residue from more than 150 years of mining - some of them appeared to be almost mountain like.  A few of the piles were so old that trees and other vegetation were growing on top of them.
  • Labor leader Andrey Kochetov told a story about one of the mines.  On the very top of a tower is a big Red Star light from the Soviet days.  When a particular mine met its annual quota the light would flash.  It meant the workers had done a great job.  After the coup in Kiev in 2014 the Nazis came to Lugansk with tanks.  They had a day long contest to see which tank operator could hit the Red Star light.  The tower was riddled with holes from tank shells but they missed the target.  They did hit the homes of miners who lived in the nearby community and some of the miners and their families were killed.  The Nazis thought it was all great fun.
  •  At home I take the Amtrak train to Boston, New York and Washington frequently from Maine and can testify that along America’s rail lines are huge amounts of garbage.  Not so along the Russian railway lines.  Like most other places I have seen in Russia there is little to no trash.  On our way to the Donbass one morning about 7:00 am we stopped at one station and I noticed women there sweeping up cigarette butts.
  • On that same initial journey to the Donbass our fellow passenger in our compartment was a woman doctor from Irkutsk in the far eastern part of the country.  She was on her way to southern Russia for a warm holiday.  She offered to take my blood pressure and happily told me it was normal.
  • We had a long talk about life in Irkutsk with Leonid translating.  She showed us photos of her home, grandchild and her garden on her phone.
  • At one stop a hoard of local women were selling cooked food to passengers.  We bought a beautiful artistically decorated small loaf of bread with potato inside and a chicken/potato/cucumber dish.  Dinner for Leonid and I cost $4.
  • On our return we left Lugansk on a bus at 5:00 pm which took us to the border control.  We were first in line to pass through Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) immigration but our two bus drivers disappeared for an hour.  I think they went for a vodka.  Once we passed through there, we then had to wait another hour to get into the Russian entry immigration process.  We got off the bus with our luggage and I was the first in line at the booth but the woman immigration officer could not find any proof in the computer that I had exited Russia just days before.  So, I was taken to an office, the same room where I had spent an hour previously on my way out of Russia going to Donbass where I had to fill out a long questionnaire.  The man in this office asked me a ton of questions about where I was going next in Russia (which is Crimea) and what I would be during there (speaking at a conference in Yalta.)  So, in all it took us three hours to get through both immigration services.
  • We spent the night in a hostel just over the border inside Russia.  For two rooms in the very nice hostel it cost us Leonid and I $10 each.
  • Then the next morning we took a cab to the train station for the return 24-hour ride back to Moscow. The cab cost just over $1.
Bruce

Friday, November 01, 2019

Ukraine is a failed state


Neo-Nazi Bandera followers march in western Ukraine

While in Lugansk in the Donbass we had the fortune to meet with famous writer Gleb Bobrov (Chief of the Writers Union and former Soviet soldier during their war in Afghanistan). In 2007 Bobrov wrote a popular novel called ‘Age of Death Born’ that foretold the coming wars by the Ukrainian government and the Russian speaking people living in the Donbass.  Here are some of his words.

    70% of the book came true – I had an understanding of the situation in the country.  The main ideology of Ukraine was nationalism.  They chose the most radical one.  Nationalism was integrated into all aspects of life.  No matter your ethnicity you had to be Ukrainian with only one language acceptable. 

    Bandera [the western Ukrainian nationalist who led his forces to join with Hitler’s Nazis when they swept through Ukraine during WW II and helped kill many Jews and Polish people] style fascism has taken over today with a full rewriting of history ignoring Soviet contributions and war heroes.

    1990’s ideology required all people to change their religion from Russian Orthodox to a western brand of the faith.

    Ukrainian diaspora, living in the west (particularly in the US and Canada), ran back to Ukraine following the collapse of the former Soviet Union along with George Soros money, grants from USAID and National Endowment for Democracy.  Their main objective was to begin the process to break ties with Russia.  This became the only ideology that matched the interests of the oligarchs.  Thus the ‘Color Revolution’ began many years before 2014.

    Prior the collapse of the Soviet Union in the Donbass nationality was not an issue.  In any country it seems strange to imagine asking people to change their religion, language, culture, etc.  The US-NATO understood they had to boil the frog slowly thus they created their color revolution plan.

    Bad economic conditions ensured people were just focused on survival and not paying attention to these behind the scenes plans.

    In the Donbass many factories were closed, including coal mines. By the time of the US directed coup d’ etat in 2014 there were no more military facilities open in the Donbass.  Army bases, barracks for soldiers, and military production facilities were all closed. [Thus, when the US installed puppet regime began attacking the Donbass in 2014, they had no existing military capability to utilize to protect themselves.]

    During WW I the nationalists based in western Ukraine cleaned out the Russian speaking people in their region.  During WW II they cleaned out the Jews.

    The US wants an unstable situation along the Russian border in order to divide and rule.  They want controlled chaos and to disrupt the independent sovereignty of the Russian speaking eastern part of Ukraine – the Donbass.

    Hong Kong today is another example of this strategy under way, this time to disrupt China.

    Ukraine will stop existing as a true nation.  It is becoming a failed state and will be further divided. The doctrine of Ukraine is self-destructive.  The core idea is to fight against Russia. Not able to be successful in their goal they will turn on each other inside the country.  Fascists are now fighting against themselves.

    The US pumped big money into Ukraine at the time of the Maidan (‘revolution’) in 2014.  [Hillary Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland bragged during a speech before an oil corporation conference that the US spent $5 billion on the Ukraine operation.]   

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Where can we find some truth?



It's a real shame that we have to rely on a 'jag-off comedian' (as Jimmy calls himself) for the truth about politics in America.

But that is the state of play in the US of A.

From the south side of Chicago meet Jimmy Dore.....


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Lynching of the Charismatic Geek



By Diana Johnstone

Once upon a time, there was a very bright little boy in Australia who grew up as stranger to conventional society. His mother went from husband to husband, from theater to cult, always on the eccentric margins, while the boy’s natural father was left behind.  As an adolescent he found his own world in cyberspace, which offered a field for his insatiable curiosity.  As he learned about that great world out there and its secrets, he developed his very own rigorous ethic: his vocation was to search for true facts and share them with the public.  Living outside the usual social codes, his moral compass was uninhibited by the usual niceties.  Truth was truth, deception was wrong, lies on the part of the powerful should be exposed.

The original sin of Julian Assange was the same as that of Galileo Galilei.  Galileo sinned by revealing to the people things the elite already knew or at least surmised, but wished to keep secret from the masses, in order not to shake the people’s faith in the official truth.  Assange did the same thing with the formation of Wikileaks.  The official version of reality was challenged.  All lies should be exposed. By far the most sensitive targets of his wide-ranging reality revelations were the lies, the hypocrisy, the inhuman brutality of the United States in its wars of global hegemony.  To Assange, these things were simply wrong.

At first, Wikileaks attracted a great deal of popular attention and even acclaim.  Julian Assange became famous.  He was a geek, but he didn’t look like a geek. Tall, handsome, striking with his nearly white hair, Julian was something strange: a charismatic geek.

He arrived in Sweden with near superstar status.  Swedish women contrived to get him into their beds.  They bragged about having sex with Julian: he was a trophy lover.  But the charismatic geek didn’t know the social codes of the peculiar Swedish forms of virtuous promiscuity. This lacuna was exploited by his enemies in extravagantly unpredictable ways.

Julian Assange tried to straighten out what seemed to be a serious misunderstanding before leaving Sweden.  But the Swedish side failed to make matters clear and he left for London.

In London, he was quickly taken up by the radical chic branch of the British upper class, the champagne and caviar humanitarians.  The naïve charismatic geek who didn’t know the social codes no doubt thought he was among friends. He didn’t belong to any political or social movement in the UK, he depended on the beautiful people who for a time found him an interesting outsider, one of their latest causes.

Julian Assange may have been socially naïve, but he very acutely perceived what the imperial powers were working up against him.  The totally unjustifiable demand for extradition to Sweden for questioning – unjustifiable because they had declined to question him while he was there and then declined to question him in the UK – appeared to Julian to be an obvious device to enable Sweden to extradite him to the United States, given the total obedience of post-Olof Palme Sweden to the wishes of Washington.  Others didn’t see this so clearly, except for the excellent President of Ecuador at the time, Rafael Correa.  Correa offered Assange asylum in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London.  Assange, unconventional, negligent of the codes, but with a clear view of the danger stalking him, jumped the bail set up for him and moved into the embassy. 

This was the beginning of his alienation from the caviar humanitarians.  At first the smart set defended him.  Such glamorous personalities as Jemima Khan and Amal Amamuddin (not yet Clooney) initially defended him and then lost interest.  He was not of their world.  He did not know how to compromise, he was a geek after all, less and less charismatic as he faded in the shadows of the embassy of Ecuador.  It’s all very well to denounce lies and tell the truth, but one mustn’t overdo it.  It’s delightful to have a cause when you have a solid social and financial background to fall back on, and when you know how to play the game so as to be in and out at the same time. Julian had none of those social graces.  He was honest, intent, stubborn. He was incapable of hypocrisy, even in his own interest.  He would not abjure, as Galileo did.

Such stubborn honesty on the part of someone who has nothing – no family, no fortune, no social status, no political party, nothing but his stubborn devotion to truth – is unbearable in a society based on lies.  The media who profited from his scoops became the most zealous in denouncing him.  No wonder: his honesty was a living reproach to the scribblers who had sold out all down the line, who get ahead by adding new touches to the mendacious “common narrative” required by the masters of their careers. 

Lies were spread.  Someone so honest must have hidden vices.  He must be as bad as we are, or worse.  The mob gathers.  This man who knows the truth but not the social codes is an insult to us all, a freak, a monster, who must be destroyed.

The lynch mob is enormous. The media, politicians, even the judicial authorities. There are no loud shouts for blood but silent cruelty as the Anglo-American ruling Establishment shamelessly contrives to halt the last breath of the outsider who dared expose them for what they are. 

Entering the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR)

Our host in the Donbass is labor leader Andrey Kochetov (center) from the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR). Fra Hughes from Ireland (right) is a human rights & peace activist and part of our small delegation.  Andrey took us to this destroyed bridge near the Donetsk airport.  Both the airport and the bridge were completely destroyed by the Ukrainian Army and Nazi's who have been armed, trained and directed by the US-NATO since the 2014 coup d' etat in Kiev.  This coup was coordinated by V-P Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton's Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland who bragged that the US had spent $5 billion on the operation. (Click on the photos for a better view.)

A shrine to remember the people who died trying to defend the bridge on behalf of the DPR when attacked by the Ukrainian fascist forces.

A long line of such apartments along the main entry road into Donetsk were shelled by the Ukrainian fascists during the 2014-2015 period of the war against the Russian speaking people of the Donbass region.  The fascists were pushed back and now operate from several kilometers away and continue to shell civilian homes throughout the Donbass.  None of these places ever were military targets.  I heard that as many as 40,000 people have been killed in this process.
 
Andrey took us for a walk through an amazing park inside the city yesterday after we arrived in Donetsk.  The park was loaded with art made from iron - some of them, including the piece behind me, were made from shell casing that had been fired at the city by the US backed fascist regime in Kiev.  The people in the Donbass refuse to be defeated.  In both Lugansk and Donetsk Andrey showed us theaters where operas in Ukrainian language were scheduled and he made the point that "We don't hate Ukraine.  We are Ukrainian.  We just hate the fascists."

One of my favorite pieces in the park was this rose growing out the top of a cracked rock.  It well symbolized the faith and spirit of the citizens in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) and the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR).  Andrey keeps saying to me, "Bruce, we live in a free country.  You can do what you want.  We are free."

Near our hotel is a huge sports park and also in the background of this picture is the WW II memorial to the defeat of the Nazis when the people of the former Soviet Union lost 27 million people in what they call the Great Patriotic War.  This particular art piece is a memorial to those who have died in the DPR since 2014.  Note the roses again growing out of a shell casing.

Alexander Zakharchenko was the popular leader of the Donetsk People's Republic in the Donass.  He was killed on August 31, 2018 by Ukrainian security forces who planted a bomb inside a cafe (behind me) that is now closed and turned into a memorial.  Zakharchenko worked in the coal mines and like so many others he came out of the mines to join the self-defense forces in 2014 after the US-orchestrated coup d'etat in Ukraine.  Immediately after the coup the new puppet government in Kiev banned the speaking of Russian in the country.  In the Donbass, along the Russia border, the people speak Russian and have family in Russia.  They began peacefully protesting and demanded a referendum to show their desire to live in a 'federated Ukraine' where they would have local autonomy.  They were quickly attacked by the Ukrainian Army and Nazi death squads.  It was then that people like Zakharchenko formed the self-defense forces to protect their families and homes. 

We came to Donetsk to attend the first ever International Investment Forum in the Donbass since the war began in 2014.  The economy here is slowly recovering but they have a long way to go.  Coal mining was traditionally their primary industrial product and they are now trying to diversify.  More than 500 people are attending the conference from countries like Russia, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Finland, Muslim and African nations and many more.  During a coffee break the media was particularly interested in interviewing Fra Hughes (Ireland) and me - asking us why we came and what we thought about the event.  I said I have been following the Donbass struggle on a daily basis since 2014 and was happy to be here but ashamed of my country's illegal and criminal war against the people of the LPR and DPR.

Bruce

Photos by Anya Ursova