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 23, 2005

FOOLS NO MORE

I am helping to organize a parade in Portland on April 1 that will be called Fools No More. It is a parade about conversion and transformation of the military industrial complex to peaceful production. The parade is the official kick-off of Peace Action Maine's new sustainable Maine economy campaign that will be a multi-year effort to bring the idea of economic conversion to the people of the state.

The parade will march through the heart of downtown Portland at 5:30 pm on Friday, April 1 and it is looking like it is going to be a good one. Activists, artists, church people, mothers, educators, children are all getting involved. At our planning committee meeting tonight we had people come from towns north and south of Portland to help with planning. We've put out a call for people to create images of what the conversion process would look like. One church group is organizing kids to wear flowers all over their bodies and they intend to carry images of what conversion could bring us. Show us what it would look like to turn swords into ploughshares! Show us the health care images, the images of education, housing, food, windmills, trains, and solar systems. The premise behind the parade is that we have to begin to show the public the transformative images of the conversion process so that they begin to internalize the issue.

Without economic conversion of the military industrial complex I don't think we will ever be able to stop war. We'll hop from this present war in Iraq to another one soon after. When your number one industrial export is weapons, as it is today in the U.S., you must have one war after the other to keep the production lines moving.

It's really all about jobs. The peace movement must become deeply involved in the jobs debate. And when we call for conversion of the military industrial complex we are indeed talking about jobs. The money now wasted on Pentagon spending could be used to fix roads and bridges, build schools and hospitals, hire teachers and nurses, and provide health care for all Americans. Research has long shown that we will get more jobs with our tax dollars when we create these alternative jobs in our societies that we do when we spend our hard earned money on war.

So then how does the peace movement take this issue about conversion to the public? It can't be done effectively if it is a bunch of university professors talking about economic models and activists sitting around with executives from the weapons corporations pleading with them to diversify.

What we must do is take the issue out to the public and create ways for them to actually "see" what conversion looks like, what it feels like, and how it would relate to their lives. When we do that the public becomes invested in the issue and the conversion idea becomes part of the culture. When that happens the possibility to divert the money from weapons to alternative job creation becomes a real possibility because you have created a base of support for the issue. And when you create a base of support you begin to make change. So in Maine we will be using parades, art showings in schools and libraries across the state, and community meetings to discuss the idea. Op-eds and articles are now being written to introduce the concept. A full grassroots campaign.

Come join our Fools No More parade in Portland on April 1 (Congress & High Streets.) And if you can't come help us create this conversion movement by raising the issue in your community. Military spending is a global issue and requires a global response from a hungry public.

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