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'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Grossman & Gagnon discuss colonizing Mars & Space Force

Listen to "Saying NO to the militarization of space" on Spreaker.

See Karl Grossman's latest article on Space Force in Common Dreams here

Best wishes in the New Year!


Friday, December 27, 2019

Do you really want to know how America operates?



This video gets most interesting at about the 2:00 minute mark.  We learn how the US imposed sanctions on a Swiss company laying underwater pipes that will transit Russian natural gas to Germany.

The US Congress wrote into the recently passed NDAA these sanctions which were put there by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.  The 'deal' as they say in Washington is that the Congress does not want Russians having a natural gas market in Europe (particularly in Germany).  Instead the US wants to ship Liquefied Natural Gas on big ships overseas to Europe at double the cost for European customers.

The Germans in particular are quite upset about these new sanctions and at the same time don't like US sanctions on Europeans doing business with Iran.  So the Texas-style hog tying is not going over well with the 'allies'.

Deals like this are why much of the world despises Washington.

Bruce

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Analysis: The Left's lesson in the UK


An ass against a good man...the ass wins.  Why?

If interested, read this 'top of the shelf' article by Jonathan Cook.  One of the best I've read in a long time.

What he describes happening in the UK is the same story in America - and many other places around the world where corporate feudalism has been ushered in.

Below are a few choice paragraphs from the article.

Corbyn’s Defeat Has Slain the Left’s Last Illusion

This was an election of two illusions.

The first helped persuade much of the British public to vote for the very epitome of an Eton toff, a man who not only has shown utter contempt for most of those who voted for him but has spent a lifetime barely bothering to conceal that contempt. For him, politics is an ego-trip, a game in which others always pay the price and suffer, a job he is entitled to through birth and superior breeding.

The extent to which such illusions now dominate our political life was highlighted two days ago with a jaw-dropping comment from a Grimsby fish market worker. He said he would vote Tory for the first time because “Boris seems like a normal working class guy.”

Johnson is precisely as working class, and “normal,” as the billionaire-owned Sunand the billionaire-owned Mail. The Sun isn’t produced by a bunch of working-class lads down the pub having a laugh, nor is the Mail produced by conscientious middle managers keen to uphold “British values” and a sense of fair play and decency. Like the rest of the British media, these outlets are machines, owned by globe-spanning corporations that sell us the illusions —carefully packaged and marketed to our sectoral interest — needed to make sure nothing impedes the corporate world’s ability to make enormous profits at our, and the planet’s, expense.

The media are there to support the candidate or candidates who agree to sell off more and more public services for short-term profit, allowing the corporate vultures to pick hungrily at their carcasses. The media’s job is to back the candidate who will prioritize the corporations’ interests over the public’s, quick profits over the future of the NHS, the self-destructive logic of capitalism over the idea – socialist or not – of a public realm, of the common good. The corporations behind the Sun or the Guardian can afford to make a loss as long as their other business interests are prospering.

It’s not the Sun wot won it, it’s the entire corporate media industry.

But the BBC always was the propaganda arm of the state, of the British establishment. Once, briefly, in the more politically divided times of my youth, the state’s interests were contested. There were intermittent Labour governments trying to represent workers’ interests and powerful trade unions that the British establishment dared not alienate too strongly. Then, countervailing popular interests could not be discounted entirely. The BBC did its best to look as if it was being even-handed, even if it wasn’t really. It played by the rules for fear of the backlash if it did not.

All that has changed, as this election exposed more starkly than ever before.

Hollowed-Out Society

The corporations used that unbroken rule to shore up their power. Public utilities were sold off, the building societies became corporate banks, the financial industries were deregulated to make profit the only measure of value, and the NHS was slowly cannibalized. The BBC too was affected. Successive governments more openly threatened its income from the license fee. Union representation, as elsewhere, was eroded and layoffs became much easier as new technology was introduced. The BBC’s managers were drawn ever more narrowly from the world of big business. And its news editors were increasingly interchangeable with the news editors of the billionaire-owned print media.

Shrunken Moral Horizons

The second illusion was held by the left. We clung to a dream, like a life-raft, that we still had a public space; that, however awful our electoral system was, however biased the red-tops were, we lived in a democracy where real, meaningful change was still possible; that the system wasn’t rigged to stop someone like Jeremy Corbyn from ever reaching power.

That illusion rested on a lot of false assumptions. That the BBC was still the institution of our youth, that it would play reasonably fair when it came to election time, giving Corbyn a level playing field with Johnson for the final few weeks of the campaign. That social media – despite the relentless efforts of these new media corporations to skew their algorithms to trap us in our own little echo chambers – would act as a counterweight to the traditional media.

But most importantly, we turned a blind eye to the social changes that 40 years of an unchallenged corporate-sponsored Thatcherism had wreaked on our imaginations, on our ideological lives, on our capacity for compassion.

As public institutions were broken apart and sold off, the public realm shrank dramatically, as did our moral horizons. We stopped caring about a society that Margaret Thatcher had told us didn’t exist anyway.

Rigged Political System

We on the left didn’t lose this election. We lost our last illusions. The system is rigged – as it always has been – to benefit those in power. It will never willingly allow a real socialist, or any politician deeply committed to the health of society and the planet, to take power away from the corporate class. That, after all, is the very definition of power. That is what the corporate media is there to uphold.

This is not about being a bad loser, or a case of sour grapes.

No, I’d have been warning that the real battle for power was only just beginning. That however bad the past four years had been, we had seen nothing yet. That those generals who threatened a mutiny as soon as Corbyn was elected Labour leader were still there in the shadows. That the media would not give up on their disinformation, they would intensify it. That the security services that have been trying to portray Corbyn as a Russian spy would move from insinuation into more explicit action.

Future on our Side

Nonetheless, we have the future on our side, dark as it may be. The planet isn’t going to heal itself with Johnson, Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro in charge. It’s going to get a lot sicker, a lot quicker. Our economy isn’t going to become more productive, or more stable, after Brexit. Britain’s economic fate is going to be tied even more tightly to the United States’, as resources run out and environmental and climate catastrophes (storms, rising seas levels, flooding, droughts, crop failures, energy shortages) mount. The contradictions between endless growth and a planet with finite resources will become even starker, the crashes of 2008 more familiar.

The corporate party Johnson’s victory has unleashed is going to lead, sooner or later, to a truly terrifying hangover.

The likelihood is that the Blairites will exploit this defeat to drag Labour back to being a party of neoliberal capital. We will once again be offered a “choice” between the blue and the red Tory parties. If they succeed, Labour’s mass membership will desert the party, and it will become once again an irrelevance, a hollow shell of a workers’ party, as empty ideologically and spiritually as it was until Corbyn sought to reinvent it.

It may be a good thing if this coup happens quickly rather than being dragged out over years, keeping us trapped longer in the illusion that we can fix the system using the tools the corporate class offers us.

We must head to the streets – as we have done before with Occupy, with Extinction Rebellion, with the schools strikes – to reclaim the public space, to reinvent and rediscover it. Society didn’t cease to exist. It wasn’t snuffed out by Thatcher. We just forgot what it looked like, that we are human, not machines. We forgot that we are all part of society, that we are precisely what it is.

Now is the time to put away childish things, and take the future back into our hands.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy holidays dear friends....


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Message from Santa (Pentagon version)



Video by Will Griffin

American internal collapse continues....



A freight train derailed on the bridge crossing the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on December 21.

No one was injured. Some cars went into the river, according to news reports.

The derailment damaged the bridge and a pedestrian walkway that is part of the Appalachian Trail.

America's roads, bridges, airports, water, sewer and transit systems are in bad shape, according to civil engineers. The report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives US infrastructure a D-plus grade.

The reason for this steady decay of course is disinvestment by the government.  Now ask yourself, why would a nation that claims it wishes to restore its economy allow its very expensive physical infrastructure to fall apart?

In addition mental health programs have seen disinvestment from our government at all levels.  Every town in America has daily front page stories about murders and other crimes by those who have been abandoned by the society and we wonder why they act out in destructive ways.  This frayed and neglected human infrastructure is unraveling the social fabric of the nation.

Could it be because the primary US role in the world in the coming period is to be for one thing only - security export?  In fact the worse the condition of the country, and economy, the more young people will be forced to join the military and fight to protect corporate resource extraction interests around the globe.


Thus it is viewed by the ruling elites that spending money to upgrade America's rotting human and physical infrastructure is unnecessary - so instead the money is pumped into the trillion dollar a year Pentagon budget and tax cuts for the very rich.  The oligarchies have decided to divert taxpayer funds into endless war rather than dealing with climate crisis and giving the public a safe, clean, and dependable environment to live in.  This is America today.

Right here in the midcoast Maine the local news recently reported that two local bridges over rivers are in desperate need of repair.  They are unsafe.  But the money is not available unless the state of Maine is willing to borrow even more money from Wall Street and have the interest payments saddled onto the backs of the next generation who are already shackled with enormous student debt. Yes, we could call it indentured servitude or slavery.

We are returning to feudalism - a 21st century version where you get credit card debt, big screen TV, expensive cell phones, mindless entertainment, decaying environment, corrupt politics, and spineless leadership which forces many to give up on political action because of depression and/or rejection of the status quo.

By dumbing down and alienating the public, the ruling oligarchs (spread out in regions across the nation like Boston, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, St Louis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle) have an open playing field to control the electoral process and ultimately politics in Washington DC.


All the while Washington's appointed representatives travel the world touting the glories of freedom (defined as 'the rich do what they want') and democracy ('make a good show of it on TV') and bludgeon any leader or nation abroad that might dare to question the US's 'exceptionalism' - fading as it is.

So for sure America is in collapse - internally and externally.  The vast US economic & military empire (more than 800 bases around the world) has a reckoning coming soon enough.

In the meantime hold your breath when your car or train passes over a bridge.  Hope that you get lucky.

Bruce
PS  Beware of the water you drink.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Grossman on 'Space Force' getting traction


Journalist Karl Grossman has had much success in the last week or so getting his articles published about the Global Network's opposition to Congress passing Trump's Space Force proposal.

There have been more than a handful of articles in leading alternative media outlets.  In addition Karl and I have been interviewed on several progressive radio and podcasts from coast to coast.

In the old days (late 1980's to late 1990's) mainstream media would routinely cover most of our 'No nukes or weapons in space' efforts.  But not anymore. 

I'll never forget riding in my car in Orlando during one of our three campaigns (1989, 1990,1997) to oppose the launch of deadly plutonium-238 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  I was listening to ABC radio news and an interview with me came on the air.  I used to do a couple of radio talk shows a night from all over the country for weeks on end during these campaigns.

But corporate consolidation of the media (to just a handful of big wig owners) has virtually wiped that 'free media' off the map.  That's why we now rely so much on alternative media (and making our own videos) these days.  I fear they will take down YouTube next.

Think about it - what if the corporate masters completely (or even near completely) shut down Fazebook, YouTube, etc.  Most organizations would be hurting.  Information flow would halt virtually overnight. (Many groups have already been kicked off Fazebook and Twitter.  I have been put in Fazebook jail for weeks at a time, not allowed to post for 'violating community standards' - what ever that means.)  Very few groups still have street mailing lists and don't print newsletters anymore.  That might be a big mistake.

Anyway many thanks for Karl for keeping the story out there on space issues.  He was one of the founders of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in 1992 along with Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado and the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice where I worked from 1983-1998.

In his latest article published on Portside, entitled The Very Bad Space Force Deal, Karl ends the piece with these words:

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is gearing up for a selling campaign for a Space Force. On, a website called “Space War Your World At War”, Barbara Barrett, Air Force secretary, is quoted as saying that the Air Force has come up with a “strategy to find support among not just U.S. lawmakers, but also among the public for Trump’s new branch of the country’s armed forces, the Space Force. She opined that this could clarify to the broader public what the U.S. is doing in this domain and why exactly it needs a separate force for operations in space, as well as funding.

Karl Grossman is professor of journalism at State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Karl is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Bruce

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday song