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

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I went north yesterday to Farmington, Maine to attend an event called "Sustainable Maine Conference: Turning Toward Peace Through Jobs and a Clean Environment." It was organized by Peace Action Maine and the Global Network was a co-sponsor. I facilitated a workshop called "Corporate Takeover & Military Transformation."

It was held at the University of Maine at Farmington and my good friend Doug Rawlings, president of Maine Veterans for Peace, who teaches there was the host. He turned out a great number of students for the event...and peace and environmental activists came from all over the state.

The whole idea of the conference was to introduce the idea that we need to convert the military industrial complex to peaceful production. Why can't we build mass transit systems or windmills at Bath Iron Works here in Maine instead of Aegis destroyers that will be used to surround and provoke China?

I notice that when you ask that question, some folks who would otherwise agree, just roll their eyes. They say, "Well, the politicians will never agree to that." I tend to respond, "Well, if we don't make a political demand on them they never will." I thought that was our job as activists, to create an alternative vision and then go out and organize support for it. How else can we ever stop this endless war cycle unless we demand an alternative? Of course it is going to be hard - but what meaningful change has ever come easy? How long did it take to end slavery? Imagine when abolitionists started saying, "You know we should end slavery." And the response was, "Yeah sure, the entire country's economy is hostage to the institution to slavery and you want to change that. Can't we work on something easier?" But in the end the moral outrage won out and slavery was ended. It was a long bitter struggle though that ended with civil war.

So today our country’s economy is hostage to the institution called military production and endless war. The more wars we have the more weapons we need. The more weapons we need the more jobs we have in local communities producing them. And please, don't close our bases and military production facilities, our local leaders say!!!!!!

So our job today is to make a political demand. We want our tax dollars used for peaceful production of sustainable technologies that give our children a future on this Earth. We know that building solar, windmills, mass transit systems and the like will provide more jobs than military production does - because the military industrial complex is capital intensive. That means that per million dollars we get less jobs building weapons than we would by spending the same amount of money on any other kind of production.

Our job in the peace movement is to advance an alternative vision that unites the peace movement, the environmental movement and the labor movement. Think of the good jobs that could be created by converting the military industrial complex. Think what happens when weapons are no longer the number one industrial export of our nation. We could be proud of our country again. We can reduce the need for oil. We can slow global warming. Let's make this change, now, before it is too late.


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