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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


We are preparing to occupy our Democratic congressman Tom Allen's office in Portland on Friday to read the names of American soldiers killed in Iraq. We will also read the names of an equal number of Iraqi civilians, many of them children, who have also been killed since Bush's illegal invasion/occupation began. Rep. Allen just today voted in favor of the $81.4 billion more for the war that Bush requested. And Allen is supposed to be a liberal. The truth is Allen, like so many Democrats these days, has no backbone. Who is he really working for? That is what is really driving me. Who does Tom Allen figure he is really working for in Washington?

The state of Maine is in fiscal crisis. We've had over 100 inches of snow this winter and local town budgets are bursting from the expenses of snow removal. The state has a health care crisis and we are facing cutbacks in virtually every social service system run by local and state governments. The roads in Maine are in a shambles. But our congressman voted to give Haliburton and Bechtel another $81.4 billion that they will conveniently not be able to account for a year from now. What in holy hell is going on here folks?

Bush wins on oil drilling in Alaska as three Democrats in the Senate vote with the Republicans. In a 51-49 vote those three Democratic votes were the margin of victory. Should I go on?

The Democrats in Congress have taken so many dives lately on key issues that I expect them to be soon showing up for work with scuba gear on. They might as well. Why don't they just admit it and officially merge the two parties into one big corporate entity and get it over with.

While they are at it they can also just pass a law that lets Wal-Mart run all the retail business in the country. It would make things a lot easier for us when we want to go protest. We'd only have one place to go. "Oh you want to protest X,Y, or Z? Just go over to Wal-Mart, they are in charge now. In fact the Democrats are the new cashiers in the store." Call it one stop protesting.

Maybe I've been fooling myself. When you form a political party you have a platform. "Our platform says we are not in favor of illegal and immoral wars, we want to protect the environment, we think people should have health care, education, and social services." Then the party goes out and fights like crazy for those things. What is it that the Democrats really stand for again? I've lost track.


Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

Back in the fall of 2003, when Dr. Dean was still riding high in the Presidential primary, I’d listened in on a conversation among undergraduate Deaniacs outside my office at Cooper Union in the East Village. "This just doesn’t feel like America any more," one of them said to a friend, who replied, "Fuck Bush," and pointed to a button on his jacket bearing the same slogan.

It’s an old professor’s habit, but I had to engage them. "What does that mean?" I asked the fellow with the button. "Bush is bullshit," he replied, "the most evil man in the world." When I said that wasn’t an argument and pressed him, he acknowledged that "Saddam isn’t a good guy," but "who are we"—he pointed both to me and his like-minded friend—to "judge Saddam Hussein?"

"Why not?" I asked. He replied with an answer right out of the postmodern playbook. Americans can’t judge another culture, he insisted, because there is no common morality. But if that’s the case, I asked, why then was George Bush "undoubtedly the most evil man in the world?" He seemed puzzled by the idea that his version of an emotional truth might seem incoherent to others...

...But even as academia’s batting average has declined, its claim to superior knowledge has expanded. The old ideal of disinterested scholarship, or at least the importance of attempting to be objective, has been displaced. In 2003, the University of California’s Academic Assembly did away with the distinction between "interested" and "disinterested" scholarship by a 45-3 vote. As Berkeley law professor Robert Post explained, "The old statement of principles was so outlandishly disconnected to what university teaching is now that it made no sense to think about it that way."

The reality, as Professor Post recognized, is that many professors now literally profess. Far from teaching the mechanics of knowledge, they are in fact preachers of sorts, spreading a gospel akin to that of Howard Dean. And if they are part of grievance-studies departments, like Ward Churchill or Joseph Massad, there never was any expectation of objectivity: They were knowingly hired as activists and are now puzzled as to why this has become a problem for some of their students and the larger public. After all, what they preach is built into the very orientation students are given when they arrive on campus. New students at many schools are quite literally given a new faith in which the world is divided into victims and victimizers, with little room for common ideals of citizenship or rationality, and no basis for debates that approximate the give-and-take of politics.

This appeal to tribalism was nearly summed in a popular T-shirt of the mid-1990’s. It read in large print: "If you’re not black, you wouldn’t understand."

3/17/05, 12:00 PM  

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