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, ME, 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. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Thursday, June 28, 2007


The U.S. Social Forum began with a wonderful two-hour march through downtown Atlanta (hot-lanta) and had to have more than 5,000 in it. The local newspaper reported 1,000 and in the first sentence of the article used the words "left-wing" to describe the event. Just checked the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site to get the picture above and they already have their article for Friday mornings paper posted. The first words of the new article are "Karl Marx". So you can see how Atlanta "officialdom" is taking to the event.

We marched past the Grady hospital yesterday and a large delegation of hospital workers were outside with banners calling on the county not to shut down the hospital. I was told it is the only public hospital that serves poor people. Now it is in danger of closing. Losing money we were told.

The march was quite wonderful, led by a large indigenous delegation of native people and was full of black, Latino, disabled, and other groups as well. Our friends from Atlanta said that few people in the local community came to the march. So obviously the local newspaper has likely been red-baiting the event in advance making local "liberals" afraid to turn out. But in spite of that things are off to a good start.

I went to two workshops today and MB and I do our space and military economy workshops on Friday. Unfortunately the workshops are spread out all over town in different venues which makes it hard to choose which one and where you will go. Otherwise it is a great event.

And yes it is hot as hell here.

On the way back to the Buddhist temple tonight MB and I ran into former Rep. Cynthia McKinney at the subway station. We said hello, reminded her that we had organized a speaking event for her in Gainesville, Florida five years ago. I asked her if it was true that she was thinking of running for president as a Green. She did not deny the rumor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We head out very early in the morning for Atlanta and the U.S. Social Forum (see below for more details.) Will be gone for five days. Not sure how often I will get to the blog but will try to do what I can.

The Washington Post has an article today about Dick Cheney and the growing GOP problem of what to do with him. They report, "The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising."

"As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic, and as the administration's leading proponent of an attack on Iran, he is seen as dangerous. As long as he remains vice president, according to this thinking, he has the potential to drag down every member of the party -- including the presidential nominee -- in next year's elections."

It is pretty obvious that the Dems are just sitting back and watching the wound fester. Instead of moving forward to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their crimes the Dems are feeling fine about letting the whole thing dribble out.

The Post article says the Repubs just might move Cheney out soon, bring in someone "fresh", and then have the new guy be the top contender for the GOP presidential candidate in 2008. All the more reason the Dems need to bring the impeachment charges to the House floor on Cheney before he slips out the back door.

I saw during Ronald Reagan's tenure how the Iran-Contra Scandal was allowed to go away without anyone seriously facing any real penalties for their crimes against the Constitution. It's amazing how the powerful seem to get away with their big crimes but the average Joe out there has to pay the price with years of hard time when they make a mistake.

I heard yesterday that the U.S. Postal Service was trying to privatize some postal carrier routes in the Tampa-St Pete area in Florida. If any of you reading this hear of anything like that please let me know. My friends who work in the post office are interested.

Our Maine Senate race in 2008 is going to be very interesting. Incumbant Republican Susan Collins will be facing Democrat Tom Allen. Allen has been the member of the House of Representatives for the southern half of the state - including my community. He has voted 7 out of 8 times to fund the Iraq occupation, he refuses to support impeachment, and he does not support single-payer universal health care. He recently told a friend that Dems might appear to be "vengeful" if they pursued impeachment. There is a possibility that an Independent progressive candidate will be running in that race as well. Should turn out to be very interesting. The Dems are going to pour big money into the race as they see it as a possible pick-up. So far the Dems strategy has been to start running media ads critical of Sen. Collins for voting to fund Bush's war. It's amazing how the Dems seem to lack a sense of shame.

I have a cable access TV show that now runs in eight Maine communities. Today I taped my 56th show interviewing Kathleen McGee, a well-known social justice activist here in the state who has worked for years to ensure that social progress be supported at the state level. She said today that the Dems in Maine are wanting to cut the budget which means education and health care will be further cut. They are also wanting to give more tax breaks to corporations. You can watch some of my recent shows just by clicking on the TV icon on the left side of the blog home page. I call the show This Issue in memory of a dear artist friend who started a newspaper with me by the same name in the early 1980's in Orlando, Florida. He died unexpectedly in the mid-80's and was a wonderful soul. John Beardsley was his name.

Talk with you all again soon. Stay at it.

Monday, June 25, 2007


George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin will be meeting in Maine on July 1-2. A New England regional protest will be held on July 1 in Kennebunkport and the planned march will take folks right up to the Bush family compound.

The protesters will be calling for impeachment of Bush for the many obvious reasons that most of us are familiar with. They should do so. They will call for an end of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. And they should.

Sadly I won't be able to be there as Mary Beth and I will be down in Atlanta for the U.S. Social Forum during that same time. We will be doing presentations about Star Wars and economic conversion of the military industrial complex in two different workshops being organized by WILPF. While in Atlanta we will be staying at a Buddhist temple run by a monk and nun who we have been friends with for many years. Mary Beth walked with them from El Salvador to Washington on a peace walk in the 90's and I organized many peace walks in Florida years ago that they always led - chanting and drumming at the front of the walk. Their order, called Nipponzan Myohoji, is best known for organizing peace walks all over the world. It will be good to spend time with our dear friends again.

If I was at the July 1 Kennebunkport protest I'd be carrying signs and banners about Bush's plan to deploy so-called "missile defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of the U.S. plan to "control and dominate" the Earth and space. This topic is likely to be the chief point of contention at the Bush-Putin meeting here in Maine. Unfortunately, not enough people in the peace movement are aware of the issue and do not see how the Bush deployments are a key trigger to the start of a new and severe arms race between the U.S. and Russia.

Friday, June 22, 2007


We often hear people talk about our Founding Fathers. Many say things like, "If our Founding Fathers could see the way things are today, they'd roll over in their graves."


Gore Vidal wrote in his book Inventing A Nation, that at the time of the revolutionary war with England that George Washington's "wartime temper was an awesome volcanic affair in serial eruption when dealing with a crooked Congress that was allowing food and supplies to be sold to the British army while embezzling for themselves money appropriated for the 'naked and distressed soldiers,' as Washington referred to his troops."

After the Revolutionary war was over New England merchants were eager to reestablish trade with Great Britain. By importing large amounts of goods into postwar New England, merchants glutted the market. Export markets had yet to be fully developed thus a trade imbalance existed that led to a nationwide debt crisis and a chain of debt collections. [Sounds just a bit like the U.S. today with our enormous trade/debt problems.]

David Szatmary writes in Shay's Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, that "To satisfy British creditors, New England wholesalers tried to collect their outstanding loans" from their customers who tended to be inland shop keepers and small farmers. "Having difficulty with debt collections, merchants increasingly chose legal action that contributed to a great increase in debt suits," Szatmary concludes.

Soon the local shopkeepers and farmers faced creditors who took their land and state governments helped in the confiscation process as the local working class could not afford to pay their property taxes. Many found themselves in prison because of their debts. Szatmary writes that, "Yeomen, husbandmen, day laborers, and rural craftsmen comprised 91% of these debtors while no prominent retailer were behind bars [in one Worcester County, MA. jail]."

It soon came down to the coastal traders, in the big cities like Boston, were of one class and the inland workers another. A rebellion, ultimately to be called Shays' Rebellion, ensued as those who were oppressed went to their town meetings and county conventions seeking legal remedy to their plight. The working class began to elect their own representatives who tried to reform the harsh laws through nonviolent means. According to one leader of the revolt they "advocated reforms that would ease the payment of debts, reduce taxes, publicize the expenditure of state funds, and pare down the powers of the court of common pleas."

During this time poor economic conditions even forced revolutionary war veterans to sell their Continental and state certificates. Large speculators, many of them coastal merchants, bought this paper for a fraction of its stated value. Szatmary quotes one farmer, "A very few men in each state have monopolized these obligations to such an immense amount, and originally on so easy terms, that there are now some fortunes among us which would tolerably well support the expenses of an Earldom."

The divide between rich and poor was established early on in the new America. Remember too, that under the new Constitution only white men who held land could vote. Thus legions of small farmers and land owners who lost all they had no longer were able to participate in the new "revolutionary" government. Their attempts to use existing government reform measures to hang onto what little they had largely failed.

In 1786 New England small farmers gave up on peaceful protest and took up arms. A rebellion leader urged others to join the fight against "all the machinations of those who are aiming to enslave and oppress us" and to strike down "that aristocratical principle too generally prevalent among the wealthy men of the state." Szatmary reports that "By the end of the year, an uprising that involved almost 9,000 militants or about one-quarter of the 'fighting men' in rural areas had surfaced in every New England state except Rhode Island."

Rich merchants and the "professional class" feared the insurgency, if successful, would spread and redistribute property throughout the nation. Thus the new Colonial government turned to George Washington to form the first national army to suppress the rebellion. But first they made sure that the new Constitution gave the federal government the powers to control the "internal insurrection."

According to one man of property, "the new Constitution is received with great joy by all the commercial part of the community. The people of Boston are in raptures with it as it is...and all men of considerable property, the clergy, the lawyers, including the judges of the court, and all the officers of the late army advocated the most vigorous government."

The reaction of the "insurgents" naturally was quite different to the news that a national army was being created to put down the unrest. One farmer argued that "With national military power lawyers and men of learning, and monied men expected to get all the power and all the money into their own hands, and then they will swallow up all us little folks, like the great Leviathan" turning independent farmers into tenants or wage laborers.

In his book The Creation of America: Through Revolution to Empire author Francis Jennings states, "The farmers of Shay's rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were not so much intent on tearing down as simply bettering their own conditions. Resentment against the perceived ruling class deflected into aggression against Indians. Instead of conflict with the ruling class, seizure of Indian lands could be effected with its complicity. Thus perpetual conquest diverted rebellious sentiment into the satisfaction of demands for personal advancement at the expense of Indians instead of the wealthy. "

Empire was born. And today it remains as we see those in Washington continually making decisions that perpetuate the privilege of wealth and power. Words like freedom, patriotism and liberty have become the tools of the elite to control the rest of us and to spread empire.

Frances Moore Lappe writes in Time for Progressives to Grow Up that "We've lived so long under the spell of hierarchy..... that only recently have we awakened to see not only that 'regular' citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crisis cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high."

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Lately I have been getting quite a few emails asking me who I think should be president. "Which of the Democrats do I support?" people ask.

My answer is quite simple. Listen closely to them and tell me which of them are talking about the permanent war economy.

No, I'm not saying which of them want to bring the troops home from Iraq. I'm saying which of them are mentioning that we've been taken over by the military industrial complex.

Which of the Democratic Party presidential candidates are calling for substantial cuts in military spending (say maybe 50%)? Which of them is offering a plan for the conversion of the military industrial complex to environmentally sustainable production?

Which of the candidates is putting the pieces together and telling the public about Pentagon plans to permanently occupy the Middle East, invade Iran, fight in Africa to control their oil, and militarily surround China?

Which of the candidates is laying out the weapons industry's plan to move the arms race into space - what the Pentagon says will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth? Which of the candidates for president has been critical of Bush's deployments of "missile defense" systems in Poland and the Czech Republic that will be used to help create a U.S. encirclement of Russia and will likely lead to a new arms race?

Which of the candidates is mentioning that military satellites in space are used to spy on the people of the U.S. and around the world?

Which of the candidates for president has said anything critical about the Navy's new plan to convert their ships to nuclear propulsion due to the rising cost and increasing scarcity of fossil fuels? Which of the candidates is telling us that this plan will cost more than $800 million to convert one ship to nuclear power?

Which of the candidates is talking about the fact that the U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world?

Michael Klare, professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, recently wrote, "The American military has been transformed into a “global oil-protection service” for the benefit of U.S. corporations and consumers, fighting overseas battles and establishing its bases to ensure that we get our daily fuel fix."

Which of the candidates is talking about that?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


It's been awhile since I had to write anything for the blog. I have never had such a response to anything I've written before as I got to the last piece, So What Do We Do Now? It is obvious that it touched a strong chord in people. I didn't post all the comments I got but tried to put up most of the ones that offered ideas, critiques, etc.

My own observation of what I learned from the whole thing is that people are extremely frustrated, and in spite of the fact that most activists are still working hard, many of them have a sense of loss as it feels like the country is slipping from between our fingers.

Bush is likely to attack Iran and the Democrats aimlessly talk but do little to challenge him on anything. Once again in my local paper yesterday is another article quoting another U.S. general in Iraq saying we will need to be there for 10 years.

Also is my local paper yesterday is a big photo of high school students protesting in a nearby small town that just voted at annual town meeting to cut the school budget by $400,000. This will likely mean teacher lay-offs. Sadly the town, and the students, are not connecting this to the occupation of Iraq which is now costing U.S. taxpayers $8.5 billion a month. Maine's share of this war cost is now over $1.2 billion. According to the National Priorities Project we could pay 21,676 music and art teachers in Maine with our share of the Iraq war cost. (Music and art programs are the most likely candidates to be cut by the local schools.)

I am convinced that the cost of the Iraq occupation is the Achilles heel of the whole war/empire issue. Activists need to be talking more about that.

One small town in Maine, Arrowsic, just did and voted 71-17 at their annual town meeting last week on a resolution calling on Bush and Congress to "act swiftly and decisively to immediately stop all funding for the war in Iraq, end the occupation of Iraq, and bring all U.S. troops safely home." They got quite a bit of media coverage across the state.

Another big story in my local paper last week is that the Navy wants to turn to nuclear power propulsion for its entire ship fleet due to the fact that oil is becoming scarce and expensive. That means that the "Aegis destroyers," made here where I live in Bath, could cost up to $800 million more each. You think the military budget is high now? You think cutbacks in social programs are bad now? Just wait til the Navy wants all our money so they can convert their ships to nuclear.

See what I mean by Achilles heel?

This whole Pentagon budget crisis will be coming to a head soon. It is an organizers dream. The contradictions are perfect. The trade-offs are so obvious. Let's see here - should we have health care, food, jobs, public transit, housing and education for the people? Or should they live in the streets while we project power around the world with our newly revamped nuclear Navy? Which would you pick? Hummm.......

Why aren't the Democrats talking about this? It's because they are in the bag of the bankers, the oil corporations, and the weapons corporations that are making big money off this endless war cycle.

Wake up America and smell the coffee......not that you will long be able to afford to buy a cup!

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Still people are sending in responses and as promised I will keep sharing them. There is much wisdom out there if we just stop for a moment and really listen to each other. For just a moment, set aside our own agendas, and really hear one another. I am grateful to all who are sending their comments and also to you who are reading them.


  • Thank you. I am not US citizen but I love America. We have suffered a lot from the way successive US administrations have been doing to us and to our children many of whom have been maimed or orphaned by US soldiers. By we, I mean we Muslims and Arabs who suffer from USA crimes and occupation of our countries . But we will still love America. We still believe in the nice American.

    (Mr) Zuhair Mustafa, Khartoum, Sudan

  • I just wanted to say how much I liked your 10-step plan article. I agree with all you say and wish you the very best in your anti-war work in the US and with the GN. I am a PhD student based in Bellingen, NSW, Australia; my thesis concerns the impact on the linked processes of the War on Terror and economic globalisation on the defence and promotion of human rights.
    I am a firm believer that spiritual principles of transcendence can offer resources to help us overcome our current predicament. Given that the US is the key country where mass attitude shifts have to take place, and bearing in mind its religiosity, it seems to me that progressive Christian responses and alternatives should be supported as much as possible.

Nick Rose, Bellingen, Australia

  • It's time for those who want the war to end to stop fueling the war. It would be nice to see some bumper stickers impressing that. It's not my forte, but to give you an idea:
    "First one to the red light claims the next troops death", "Fuel the war, break the speed limit", "My car is fueled by Troops blood".
    Oh I pull over and watch the "Impeach Bush" and "Support the troops" bumper stickers fly past like bats out of hell.
    In addition, my car, I've only owned one in my whole life and it's in very good condition being over 20 years old (I didn't drive until I was 30), is getting 30 mpg and I'm getting an additional 90 miles per tank of gas. My stress level while driving has reduced considerably.
    I think it would be wonderful if all those folks who claim to be antiwar and peace activists simply drove the speed limit.

Jeanette Doney, Ft Bragg, CA

  • Well written, I'll send it out.
    I think there are more things we can do:
    1. Get involved at a local level in government (perhaps run for office too)
    2. Take your money out of the multi national banks and put it in local banks or credit unions.
    3. Don't shop franchises, most of that money leaves your neighborhood and the country
    (the major vote we have is with our MONEY)
    4. Downsize
    5. Buy less, only necessities
    6. Plant a garden, grow some of your own food. If apartment dweller, get together with your neighbors and do a community garden on open space.
    7. Buy local and organic
    8. Drive less, boycott the big boys gas stations
    9. Get involved in a movement or cause of some kind, it gives you peace of mind, and your power back.
    10. Turn off the tv for good
    11. Cancel your subscriptions to the media - newspapers, cable tv,, etc -why support those who are part of the cover up of the truth?
    12. Support groups that are doing the right thing either with action or money
    13. Listen to my show of course for real news

Meria Heller, Arizona

  • Great piece on what has to be done to save us from Oligarchy. My only criticism is that you blame corporations. To me the blame is better focused on the stockholders that own these companies. The employees - the CEO's on down - are only carrying out the wishes of the millions with Mutual Funds, 401k's and all the rest of the vehicles by which the money flows to them. Translation: not corporations to blame but US - the oblivious consumer who is ultimately funding his own demise - even if he protests the problems with "corporate America" with all his might. I have a relative, a tenured professor at USC, who talks incessantly about all the problems we face. But divest his pension from USC- most of which is aimed at profit-making, short-sighted conglomerates you allude to? Forget it! Conclusion: all his talk and speeches at the dinner table add up to ZERO. He, and thousands of other's will not or cannot make the connection with money and their politics. Until that's done, forget the rest. Your thoughts?

Mark Gery, Santa Ana, Ca.

  • Thank you so much for this 10 step plan. I have recently come to the same conclusions on most everything you say.
    I will forward this to many of my peace friends.

Donna Mummery, Rochester, NY

  • I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but there are lots of us who would love to work for peace and justice full time, but there is no money to be had. So those who are retired, those who have spouses to support them, can do just that. The rest of us (which is most) must work. We have jobs such as in the schools, the government, some in corporate jobs. It is easy to tell people what they should do without knowing their circumstances - families to feed, etc.
    I do agree we could all do with a lot less things....we are a consumer and image driven society, thanks to rugged individualism (which you mentioned) and the media, which tells us the lifestyle and the clothes and the vacations we must have. It mentions nothing about cooperation, peace, coexistence, etc. Personally, I would love to be in the streets all the time, or doing something active to end the war. So would many others I know. We need our health insurance (no comments on the awful health care system we have here), and I as I said, we need to pay the rent/mortgage, provide for our families, etc. If you know of a way around this, let us know! It is not simply materialism that prevents people from being full time activists.
    Also, it's more than the fact that people are tied to money and's that people don't really feel affected by the war.
    The Vietnam war lead to people in the streets every day...millions of people (like me) on college campuses who were directly affected by the draft and/or had family and friends affected by the draft. Students had time. They could cut classes (At UW they even closed down the school so we could protest and gave pass fails for one semester due to all the protests!)
    College students are not feeling any direct affect, just like most of the rest of Americans, accept for those of us with families/friends in the military. Everyone is OK with sitting back and waiting for Congress to resume debates in September. Yes, Sen. Reid says some proposals will be made this summer, while admitting at the same they have no chance at succeeding but are just being made to appease liberal Democrats who were elected to bring about a change in our policy (but who have failed cause the rest of Congress has no guts).
    I think the idea that we must change the way we as a country think...our values....about war, peace, global absolutely correct if we are not going to continue the cycles we have been in for a few hundred years. But meanwhile, personally, I want a way to let Congress know they can't just sit back and do nothing. And until people pick up the phone, write letters, take a few hours a week to protest and to encourage their friends to do the same, our elected leaders will do nothing. Until it's their re-election that is at stake. That is too personal for them not to take seriously.
    I would love to see a project where a new media could be created that would have a different emphasis. If someone has funds to support this, wow, that would be incredible!

Lisa, Reno, NV

  • WOW!
    A really nice job Bruce!
    I will post this to shortly. I have been thinking much of the same as you, so it is nice to see others on the same path. I have a couple of quick comments, but if I find the time, I will write something to help further this.
    RE: "Read more history. All the answers and lessons can be found there." -- This is good advice, but I am highly skeptical about the "all" part. We can see where we've gone wrong, but we won't necessarily find the answers.
    Which brings me to my second point, which is that much of the problems we face now relate to the unworkable superstructure that all this madness of empire has created. It's not something that can be merely undone by engineers, and thinkers with the right political will. What I fear now is that technocracy will eventually replace democracy, with technology as the saviour to most of our problems. I believe this will happen even as people become reluctant and critical of technological solutions, because of the intensity of the mounting crisis.
    That's a big pickle that we may never get out of the jar, but your 10 points are a very good start. Nicely done!

Chris Davenport, Toronto, Canada

  • Fantastic summary for action in So What Do We Do Now? I think you might just want to add a point about preventing burnout from frustration, despair and hopelessness--take time for renewal and affirming positive gains.....

Starr Gilmartin, Trenton, ME

  • Thank you for your clarity, your commitment and your outline. I have just had 7 garage sales over the last few months. I am lightening my load. I have not watched TV since 1989 much. Never wanted to pay the cost of cable when clearly it was ALL ads for prescription medication, food, glamour, anorexia inducing images. I am house sitting this summer and they have cable. I have to mute it for most of a program's ads IF I can find anything worth watching. Anyway. Where do you live? I am thinking about moving out of the country. What part of the world has the US empire not been able to touch? That's where I want to move.

Logynn Berley

  • Good morning Bruce 10 very good points. I will send it our to our progressive list. Now the next 10 points.
    Understanding AIPAC and its role in ............ Iraq Iran etc
    ONLY Public money for campaigns. Campaign "finance reform" will get us more of the same. Getting candidates who will pledge to small sums from ONLY their constituents Showing how AIPAC and MIC, Military Industrial Complex, etal control our reality.
    Understanding 9-11 is key for a number of reasons. First it is TREASON and most people know or suspect the truth but are in DENIAL. Exposing the treason brings it all down and allows us to get Public money for campaigns.... etc etc etc.
    Will gladly discuss 9-11 and the rest of this 414-403-1341.

Tom Spellman, Lake Geneva, WI

  • You really nailed it. Your article hits the clear observations, the values and the actions we must hold and implement to reclaim our world: our nation, and Mother Earth. You lay out how we are all in this together, and we can only get out together. We can only extract ourselves by working together, supporting each other to be come more alive to what is really precious within us and outside us. Thank you for this rallying cry. I will share it with my Circles - the ancient form of community, of collaborative decision-making, of mutual support, and of honoring the sacred mystery - that I am working to promote. I personally need my circle: my friends to keep me honest; to build the trust and new ways to work together; to co-create the new solutions and the resources to act local while we think global; to share out loud the acknowledgement and praise we have for one another; to support each other to leave our addictions behind; to encourage each other to find our true worth and our true work. The energy of the Circle grows exponentially and overflows, spilling more wisdom and compassion into our communities, like a gorgeous waterfall. Taking your thoughtful, heartfelt words in deep, and wishing you a joyful circle.

Lauren Oliver

  • I saw your article at Counterpunch. I agree with your points. I would have added two more. You made no mention of holding our leaders accountable. (Or did I miss something?) In a week or so I will post a detailed article "America's Use of Radiological Weapons" in which I will argue for an International War Crimes Tribunal -- since the Democratic majority in Congress seems incapable of getting it done. I hope you'll keep an eye peeled for it. Finally, you made no mention of 9-11. Of course, if you had done so the purblind editors of Counterpunch would have scotched your piece. Please check out the article below, which very soon will be posted at the Scholars for 9-11 Truth On Line Journal. Keep up the good work!

Mark H. Gaffney

  • Economic reform will disempower the New World Order (nwo) scourge because economics drives the nwo. contains the economic reform that will change the world for the better while creating more freedom, prosperity, opportunity, respect and peace for the good of all our relations while all but eliminating war, crime, disease, injustice and poverty. If you would I would appreciate you forwarding planetization/solutions far and wide to your contacts and readership. The best thing we can do for ourselves and our individual/collective well-being is to boycott our capitalist economic system that considers us as mere commodities and slaves to be bought and sold in the so-called global free markets that carry only the illusion of freedom. In prayer for a better world based on peace and freedom for the good of all.

David Roblee

  • Just got your 10 things to do message. you are, as always, right on about everything. i just have one suggestion (and i have been saying this to the occupation project folks for a while now, altho i am not a member): occupying congressional offices is one thing, but it no longer garners the attention you would like, so i suggest the occupation of recruiting offices and other input centers for the military machine. specifically i think an occupation of the jrotc office at bangor high school [Maine] would get alot of attention. this could be done at schools across the state. i just think of bangor high as particularly egregious example because it takes up so much room and is so ostentatious. any how just an idea. one that i would be willing to get arrested for.

Betsy Garrold, Maine

  • I am a painter. I have given away over 41,000 of my paintings to hundreds of people in the US and fifty people around the World. It has been my contribution to discussion of our recent political history. If you have a moment, please take a look at the five paintings. If you like, I would be pleased to send you some at no cost. No tricks, no strings attached.

Mike Woolard

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Ok so it continues. Here are some more of your comments. Lots of thoughts from the great unwashed.


  • To truly bring about an intelligent, more lasting change to the u.s., individuals must clear themselves of all the brains-washings, all of them, not simply the political and economic crap. There needs to be a psychological revolution. We are human beings who innately want to co-exist more harmoniously and understand real cooperation, not simply how cooperation is defined by authorities.

Joe Ciarrocca, Brunswick, ME

  • March of the People
    June 21 – September 11, 2007
    800 miles
    Chicago, IL to Washington, DC

    We have lost our nation
    And it’s time to reclaim it!
    We march:
    to call for an end to the illegal occupation of Iraq
    to call for impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney
    to bring truth and justice back to our nation
    On June 21st, refuse complacency.
    On June 21st, refuse the lies and bloodshed.
    On June 21st, BE the solution that takes back the nation.
    Rally with us in Chicago and send us on our way!
    Walk with us at the beginning, join us along the way, or meet us in DC and help us bring it home!
    We need your help!
    Do Something!
    It’s up to you!
    Get involved now:

Ymani Simmons

  • The US must examine how it is creating global insecurity [often aided and abetted by other states, and transnational corporations]. In response to George Bush's pack of 52 cards of targeted terrorists, I devised a pack of 52 cards outlining the ways that the US has contributed to global insecurity. Only when the US is prepared to eliminate these practices will the world begin to move towards true security - Common security peace, environment human rights and social justice. True security- is not "collective security", or "human security" which has been extended to "humanitarian intervention" and used along with the "responsibility to protect" notion to justify increased military spending and increased military intervention in other states.

Joan Russow, Canada

  • Even though these are not history books as you suggest in step #9, I think many could be included on a suggested reading list for anyone developing or expanding a world view that would be a reflection of where we have come from and where we are headed.




"A PRETEXT FOR WAR" - James Bamford


"CRIMES AGAINST NATURE" - Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

"BLACKWATER: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" - Jeremy Scahill

Jim & Carla Christianson, Ormond Beach, FL

  • You truly make sense about Oligarchy. Bush lacks the intelligence to forsee the mess his administration has gotten us into and is bullheaded enough to continue down the primrose path. He must not have any other source of information other than the spoon fed pablum his close advisers give him. I believe he really thinks he is saving America.
    With the media as it is, I see no way for rank and file citizens to ever get a true picture as to what has transpired and what the future will bring. Most folks are too far in debt to worry about LITTLE THINGS happening around the world.
    Among others, the real power I believe is the AIPAC. They own congress and who is left to lead?


  • I take exception with step #2 in your article. It may be true that "we" in the US use a disproportionate amount of resources compared to other nations, but to claim that "we" benefit from the US's military and economic policies is just plain wrong. As long as "we" spend $500 billion a year on the military then "we"will never have the money for jobs, health care, education, housing and other key issues. "We" don't benefit from NAFTA, CAFTA or the WTO. "We" don't benefit from a declining dollar that is the result of government policy. The problem is that a tiny minority at the top benefits from all these policies. It is they, the capitalists, who make all the decisions. It's in their interest that the US government acts and shapes its policies. If "we" benefited from the US government's policies then explain why50 million lack health insurance, why the minimum wage is at it slowest level since the 60's (adjusted for inflation), or why an entire city was abandoned to death and destruction after Katrina (and why survivors and refugees are still struggling after over a year). No, step #2 should be to realize that *we* live in a class society. Most of us are forced to sell our labor power in order to secure a living and a tiny class of parasites, the capitalists, exploits and profits from our labor. It is they who own and operate the US government. they own both major political parties. They own the media. They select which candidates are "electable." They bankroll their campaigns. They dole out cushy jobs in the private sector after elected officials leave office. And they hold the ultimate power over the government with their control over the economy and their massive fortunes. If ever we were to elect 535 Greens to Congress and 2 to the White House, then the wealthy would sabotage our economy, move their capital overseas and blackmail the government into doing their wishes.We need to realize that we live in a class society and that the state is an instrument of the ruling class, used to keep all other classes in their place. Our supposed democracy is an illusion--a placebo for the toiling masses. The state operates at the behest of the capitalists and we need to dispel our illusions that we can control what it does through mere voting (particularly voting for corporate candidates).We don't need guilt trips for policies over which we have no control. We need information that will help us realize our subservient role in society and the need to organize and struggle to win real change.

Nicholas Hart

  • Thanks for your article. It was both clear and heart felt. I agree with your analysis of our addiction to war and power. Ever since the sixties when I lived for about a decade in Brazil and understood what our government was doing in Latin America, where my friends were being tortured by people trained at the School of the Americas, I have also carried this weight of guilt and shame. Those feelings are motivators, and I have tried to keep playing them out in actions.
    Our WILPF group in Santa Cruz keeps working, but we have less faith in its effectiveness, since the press is so bought into the empire. Even as I write this, I'm thinking I won't tell you what our next action is, because I am sure our email correspondence is being monitored. I think that your audience is well aware of our culpability. I've recommended Kinser's latest book, Overthrown, to give others a historical perspective on regime change. But I'm not sure how effective guilt and shame work right now to urge us on. We feel discouraged, and for me, not as pure of heart as when I was younger. Some stories of specific strategies or actions that actually move us toward positive change do more to keep us moving. I've been interviewing local WILPF women to write up their actions and protest successes. If you would like to read any of these, let me know.
    Keep it up, and tell Mary Beth that I like her articles very much too.

Ruth Mota, Santa Cruz, CA

  • Fabulous article. Thank you for a really positive, motivating read.

BlueBerryPick'n, Canada

  • Thanks for your article. It brings the anti-war, anti-imperialism, issue down to human scale, answering what some people think of as nightmare (probably correctly) with common sense.
    I am a big believer in local action as not only the easiest place to start, but maybe the only arena we can be effective in, and the only truly democratic one.

Bob Wrubel, Sausalito, CA

  • You ask for ideas, so of course I have to reply. I'll keep it short. 1) We must start to consider peaceful secession as an option to end the empire. If enough states broke away, the revenue to do this kind of damage would stop. In order to protect the values of the Declaration, it may be necessary to break down the gross mutation that has taken place in their names, i.e, freedom and democracy. 2) We will never have sufficient clout without a political party that honestly reflects the enormous white hot rage at the state of affairs that exist. If not Greens, who? Greens now are small and weak, but they are small and weak, not because people don't agree, but because millions have held back from switching and building it into a formidable force to protect the environment, civil liberties, and end warfare. 3) Read the new Chris Hedges book American Fascism!

Jon Olsen, Jefferson, ME

  • Thank you for the 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists. I am always struggling to find ways to be more activist, having exhausted my welcome with most friends and family, or at least the ones who refuse to "buy" my conspiracy theories that 9/11 was an inside that simply served to create the ruling platform into our indefinite futures (and with Presidential directive 51, we are now more a fascist empire state than EVER!). So, I have learned to read again, discovering the TRUTH of what has and IS happening and tried informing as many as possible, but with limited success. Now, I am mostly isolated from loved ones and have been "forced" into a sense of communal living with the chicanery occurring in the stock markets, where I had hoped to become a source of financing to wage my battle against the disinformation and misinformation. I have to say I prefer living alone, but mostly b/c the two dopes I live with are totally convinced Bush is doing the right thing. Jeez. But, I now realize that Rugged Individualist is not the right's never going to solve any problems, unless you simply want to perform a Ghandi-like self-burning ceremony to get the message across. No, the only way we have a chance is as you say...forming bonds with like-minded individuals and charging ahead in order to improve the world as much as possible and hopefully having some fun along the way. (I have also forgotten that last part too, after losing most of my savings to unfair practices occurring in the markets). Thanks for the ray of hope.

Brent Brewer, Austin, TX/Corona, CA

  • Get drive through and walk-through impeachment tables set up in every major city.
    Sponsor these and teach other ordinary people to stake out territory and get signatures
    At public places: In front of art museums, In front of libraries, In front of cultural/entertainment complexes, Large city parks, Maybe sports facilities.
    In Denver, we have the 16th street mall with lots of workers traveling on foot or by bus every weekday.

Nancy Griffith, Denver, CO

  • Good ideas in "So what do we do now?" Here is one thing I am doing: impeachment teach-ins in our region, and giving out Impeachment house party kits that include fact sheets, instructions on how to give a party, a petition to impeach Bush and Cheney to send to their member of Congress with copies to Conyers and Pelosi, and a DVD of John Nichols' talk The Genius of Impeachment. I am about to deliver a pile of signed petitions to our Congress member here in NE Pa. The group called "Waynepeace" that a friend and I founded in 2002 (, gives educational programs once a month at our local library, as well as other special events to tell the other side of the "news." We sponsor non-violent communication workshops. We march in the local Memorial Day parade as a presence for peace and justice. What better way to honor those who have died by trying to prevent new wars?
    We read the names of the fallen each month and include names of some of the thousands of Iraqi children killed. We have held special events on Veterans' Day with family members of troops killed speaking out about their feelings.
    We work on sustainability and equity issues. (See our platform on our website.)
    We partner with other groups to sponsor events such as 3 recent showings of Gore's Inconvenient Truth.
    One thing I tell people who feel so overwhelmed: focus on what you feel passionate about. Don't try to tackle it all, or you will burn out or go crazy. The other thing I tell them is that my way of coping with bad stuff is to get involved and accomplish something that makes me feel good about myself.
    Letters to the Editor in our local papers almost always get printed. A great way to get your thoughts and feelings out there.

Katharine Dodge, Wayne County, PA

  • This was forwarded to me by a friend.
    I agree with the overall premise – the problems are much deeper than Bush, and go to the heart of who we are as a country.
    But I also know, from my reading of history, that this is not a completely nonpartisan or bi-partisan problem. There really is a party that in the last 100 years, more often than the other party, has stood up for the little guy, resisted wars rather than provoked them, signed global treaties and even honored them, and has a generally better record on human rights than the other one.
    To pretend the blame is shared equally is not entirely accurate, and I’ve just got this thing for accuracy.
    But I commend you certainly for seeing beyond the mainstream mishmash of hogwash and realizing that the true story of America is much more unpleasant than many are willing to admit. So that’s a big step forward.

Lisa Pease

  • I enjoyed this article. It says a lot of what I try to help facilitate with other people in various groups I belong to.
    Would you mind if I was to add your article to a "Second Life" web-blog? (Second life is a forum that uses 3d graphics to bring people together from all over the world).
    We have created a group within Second Life Left Unity which is working to bring together activists from all over the world and help empower people who have become disempowered. Also - would it be possible to edit your article and use Blair and the British Government/History rather than Bush and the US Govt/history for a personal blog?

Neil Scott, Glasgow, Scotland

  • I just read your article titled 'A 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists'. It is a great sincere advice. I appreciate it and thank you for writing it. I am a Muslim and have lived in the US since 1980.
    I very strongly agree with you on many points in your article. There is no doubt that general population here has NO clue what is happening in their own country, let alone in the rest of the World. The prime reasons for this state are apathy and high rate of 'political illiteracy'. It is easy to write volumes about consequences of such illiteracy, but engaging public is the real challenge.
    I hope your article and future writings reach a large number of people and things improve.

Ali Naqvi, Orange County, CA

  • I enjoyed your 10 points. I have been contacting people like you concerning the depleted uranium issue. I can see your in a position to get the word out to more people then I can. I have been following this problem since the 1991 Gulf War. I don't expect you to take my word on this issue. I recommend you start your research at ( and ( Netcenter has this problem very well documented and proven. Another site you maybe interested in would be ( which covers the war better than any other site I have found. Please check this depleted uranium issue out. Its not only a threat to the troops but to mankind also.

Norman S. Davis, (Vietnam vet)

Friday, June 15, 2007



I'm having a great time reading all of these comments. There are plenty more in the stack so looks like this will continue for awhile. Hope you enjoy them too. (If you are wondering about the inconsistent spacing between letters I can't get this damn program to react right!)


- A wonderful article with one big exception. Your last point has it all backwards. Instead of people coming to meet “activists" and becoming "friends with them," activists should be trying to meet people and become friends with them. The onus is on us, as activists, to engage others, to become friends with them, and in the process "radicalize” them.
Most everyday folks have never met an activist. By that I mean someone, like you, who has dedicated his life to ending the evil "system" that dominates us. It is your responsibility to bring your life, and the truths that you feel so deeply, to others. True "missionaries" don't wait for people to come to them. Instead, they integrate their lives with those they are trying to "convert," and in the process teach, and hopefully reach, them.
I'm a long-time activist, who has done everything from licking envelopes to short stays in institutions of incarceration during my "activist" life. And I say strongly to you (and anyone who will listen) that the biggest failure on the part of activists I've known is that they did not aggressively "go to the people." Instead, they've waited for the people to come to them. There has never been a revolutionary movement in history, from Christianity to the Bolsheviks, where it happened that way.

David Victor

- Thanks for your succinct and insightful post. It's so good to read someone in the peace movement actually connecting U.S. militarism to its origins in expropriating the continent from its indigenous inhabitants. However, you lost me at Step 4:"When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back." I hear some version of this, the call to "take back democracy," in everything I read, from radical anarchists to the right wing of the Democratic Party. It's a cult like mantra. What democracy was there ever to take BACK? You tell me when democracy prevailed and oligarchy was not in control in this country. Even for the majority of whites, much less people of color, democracy has never been a part of the US political economy, unless you reduce "democracy" to voting. I think it must be said that our historical project is to CREATE democracy in the United States.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, California

- This is very thought out and helpful - Thanks! It is hard to act these days because the weight of it all is just so overwhelming. Some days I want to do something and some days it just seems insurmountable. You are right it is no longer the Bush administration, it is our whole government. I read and am fairly knowledgeable (compared to the general public). Yet I have become stuck on how to move forward. I have stood with signs off and on since the 60's. I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world standing shoulder to shoulder and expressing ourselves and it has enriched my life so much. But, I don't think standing with signs is going to move this government or change it. So, I would be helped by you and others who have ideas about what we can actually do . . .

Steffie Belcher, Maine

- Thanks Bruce, one of the best-written pieces I've read in a while - about to put to the front of Peace Action Maine's site.

Danny Muller, Portland, ME

- Think you forgot the big way to stop the war: unhook yourself from the daydream that the Democratic Party will do something. Build a movement, not something that begs the Dems to listen. Every year. Year after year.

Vicky Myers, Doylestown, Pa.

- The primary reason the anti-war movement in America is fairly impotent is because the folks who head the anti-war organizations are reticent to criticize the true power behind this particular war: the Zionists. This war is primarily for Israel, and the Zionists who pushed for it.
Dr. James Petras’ extraordinary new book The Power of Israel in the United States documents all this.

Drew Hunkins, Madison, WI

- All large nation states were created through militarism and are held together by the threat of military force. Giving up militaries means dissolution of large nation states. So why not just start talking about dissolving them as the solution to militarism.See on nonviolence and decentralization, woman v. nation state and other great insights, plus how radically decentralized governance could work.

Carol Moore, Washington DC

- I am the author of EXODUS FROM EMPIRE: THE FALL OF AMERICA'S EMPIRE AND THE RISE OF THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY (Pluto Press, 2007) and have contributed a number of suggestions and proposals as to what we do now. In the initial chapters, I offer an historical critique of the American Empire from WWII to the present. In a following chapter I demolish Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilizations thesis" and offer an alternative vision of the "convergence and healing of civilizations"---premised upon the normative teachings of the world's great religions as well as the evolving norms of customary international law. Writing from the perspective of those who live and struggle in the Global South (Africa, Asia, Latin America), I propose a "counter-hegemonic alliance" to the US Empire. We see this trend already evolving in the alliances that are currently being forged by leading left wing Latin American nations such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia. We see the development of economic regional alliances emerging not only in Latin America, but also in Southeast Asia and East Asia---with China acting as a driving force for peace and regional economic cooperation. In the final chapters of the book, I expose the "hidden politics of empire" that have led to imperial wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I stress the importance of a human-rights-based development strategy that leaves out the World Bank and the IMF as the primary vehicles for funding such a program of national and regional development. I conclude EXODUS FROM EMPIRE by noting that Americans must work to build a "Post-Imperial America" or have their nation crushed under the burn of empire and all that is entailed in resurgent militarism and imperial adventures.

Terrence E. Paupp, San Diego, CA

- Thank you for a brilliant survey - most helpful. But there is one scenario that you leave out - perhaps too dreadful to think about? What if Bush and Cheney push the US past the limit by attacking Iran? Or into a financial collapse - whichever is the sooner? We are just beginning to ask these questions in Britain. For if the US goes down, this country goes down with it. So we have a shared problem.Trauma is at least 50% probable. What to do about it - I haven't a clue. I just think it is time, trans-Atlantically, to ask the question.

Peter Cadogan, Britain

- Find like-minded people we can promote to local office - and beyond. Find the Peace we wish to see for the world within ourselves, i.e.: BE the change we want to see. In my humble opinion, the peace movement suffers from too many, too angry people - which is perhaps the source of the excessive EGO. Yes, we need to know what's happening, and feel the outrage - but channel that outrage into constructive, RESPECTFUL action. COMMIT time, energy, and money? Once a day, once a month, once a year, once an event? Recognize that others cannot do it for us....And don't fear involvement in peace issues: we'll be in good company.

Val Bryant, Winter Springs, FL

- This email is in response to your "A 10-Step Plan for Antiwar Activists". I'm sure you are aware of the Military-Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned the American people about. My thoughts can be found at where I discuss the Military-Industrial-Media-Educational-Financial-Entertainment-Congressional-Executive-$ complex. Unfortunately, Americans can't/won't recognize it as being the problem. How many people show up with 'Close This Base" signs when the Pentagon announces a base closing somewhere in the US? Your Step # 9 might help.
I hope you do the Google searches I suggest at the end of the free press email to discover how many American Blue Chip companies helped the Third Reich of WW II. If you are not aware of the Bush family history I suggest the link involving Prescott Bush's role in supporting Hitler.

Ron Brown

- I appreciate and resonate with the piece of your writing that was sent to me this morning.
I am a high-energy retiree with time and passion but, in order to work effectively and joyfully for a healthy and happy world, I want and need to be working with others. Strangely enough, in this liberal state and community, I have not been able to find a local group to work with. The Vermont impeachment effort is doing wonderful work, but they are far away and pretty overextended, so I haven't yet been able to find a way to connect with them except at a few large events.
I am guessing that a structure of local groups, networking with each other and informed by those who are interested and effective at that kind of work, would help move things forward -- in other words, I might not be alone with this need. I could be doing much more. I want to be doing much more. But I can't figure out how.

Judy Zemel, Vermont

- I became an activist in 1958 with the birth of my first child. We were still testing bombs in the atmosphere and I realized that if I didn't do something we would all be dead without there ever being a war. Our local progressive alliance is holding seminars on global warming on Thursday nights during the month of June. Last night we showed "An Inconvenient Truth". After viewing the film for a second time, I felt while Al Gore has gotten the message about what we're doing to the earth but I had the feeling that if we just focus on global warming we are missing the boat. While meditating this morning I was thinking about the 60's, Martin Luther King and non-violence. During my breakfast I turned on the computer and found your article. As you can imagine, it felt like an answer to a prayer. I will be 79 next October 9 (John Lennon was born on my birthday) and I have been an activist since 1958. I know you are right and I hope we can make it happen.

Dori Dangerfield (Dorothy Shays -yes my lineage goes back to the Shays Rebellion - Dangerfield)

- This was forwarded to me by a friend.
I agree with the overall premise – the problems are much deeper than Bush, and go to the heart of who we are as a country.
But I also know, from my reading of history, that this is not a completely nonpartisan or bi-partisan problem. There really is a party that in the last 100 years, more often than the other party, has stood up for the little guy, resisted wars rather than provoked them, signed global treaties and even honored them, and has a generally better record on human rights than the other one.
To pretend the blame is shared equally is not entirely accurate, and I’ve just got this thing for accuracy.
But I commend you certainly for seeing beyond the mainstream mishmash of hogwash and realizing that the true story of America is much more unpleasant than many are willing to admit. So that’s a big step forward.

Lisa Pease

- We have a lot to do. Many of us are supporting Dennis Kucinick. He may be an also ran to the pundits but he is the only one that believes peace is possible. The big three Clinton, Obama and Roberts are business as usual candidates. The July 1st Rally at Kennebunkport will be a good start to see a Chaney-Bush impeachment with a Nationwide Citizen demand for justice. Dennis will be there. Years ago I learned to repeat this statement, Whether skies are sunny or gray and what ever life sends my way I'm going to be happy today. It has helped me fight my way out of anger, depression and worry. I am with you Bruce but my limited retirement income keeps me from donating to the many good causes.

Wilbur Rhodes, Kittery, ME

- I dont see a single proactive ACTION on your list. just more passive, comfortably american "realizations" about "our problem'. the strongest thing you advocate is "turning off the TV".
..don't offend anyone, don't demand sacrifice, "begin to think" - but don't DO anything, just more rumination.... "learn to trust and have fun"?! that's why we have endless paris hilton.
May i reiterate? we are weeks away from a catastrophic attack on iran and 7 yrs into this terror-coup mess. the time to "begin to think" and meditate for peace are LONG OVER.
Your Plan sounds like the prescription we get from the Bush folks and it all amounts to the same: no ACTION- nothing is done to stop the collapse. and bitchin' & bloggin' is not an action.
Fantasy without action is hallucination! Please write a plan of what to DO, not what to think or to feel.

TTP Wilson, New York City

- Thank you for your piece: "What Do We Do Now: A Ten Step Plan For Antiwar Activists".
I'm sure you think it beyond the scope of the piece, or implied in step # 1 (you made an excellent point by the way), but I noticed no SPECIFIC mention of voting in direct competition with the Democrat/Republicans in the general election via an independent or third party candidate. Also missing was any mention of the denial of ballot access and exclusion from debates. From these issues spring arguably ALL of our troubles. That they are not front and center in the minds of antiwar activists (and every other kind of activist) is the scandal of our time.
How's this for step #11? We should be mature enough to admit that Ralph Nader was right all along. Vote for war and you get war. Vote for peace and you get peace (and NO, you don't have to win to leverage power!). Only then will we be on step #1.
Thank You and Good Luck.

Eric Peters

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I am getting an incredible response to my request in the last blog entry for your suggestions about what we can do. So many in fact that I can see I will be posting them for days - which is fine. Some have sent in whole papers and books they have written so obviously I won't be able to post everything. But here is the first batch:

  • You asked for people to share what we can do. I am currently working with a group of election reformers to try to bring honesty and integrity to the vote counting process in my county – Pima County, Arizona. We are finding this small task to be quite large and quite complicated. There are so many ways to subvert an election that plugging the holes is like repairing a dam made of chicken wire. But we have some hope that we will succeed in our county. As long as elections are not honest, I think that taking back our democracy will be difficult, so this is something we can do – locally. If a dozen people in each county worked hard on making sure that their county’s vote is counted properly and that people are not excluded from the process, I think we would have a start on taking back the country.
    And the people I have met and am meeting are, as you said, fun people to be with, so there is an immediate reward.

    Mickey Duniho, Arizona

  • Thank you for your thoughtful 10-point plan. My response below are thoughts that immediately come to mind based on 81 years of experience in this struggle. All ten of your ideas ring true; demand immediate action in my view part of a persons life. Some of the thoughts below dovetail with your own recommendations.

    More considered points will follow.

    1. As an independent thinker associate yourself with a first class University, but beware too of being caught up in that bureaucracy.
    2. We here in Maine are at the end of the food chain, so consider growing as much of your own food as circumstances make possible.
    3. Avoid as much as possible buying processed food.
    4. Work toward financial independence; become your own boss/manager and depend on your own resources as much as possible.
    5. Don't be afraid to confront power and oligarchies. Many will back down when the power of independent thought confronts the irrational.
    6. Many issues in today's world have long histories that include many missteps. Become well informed on a few which you see as most important to future generations, not to just Americans but to all people.
    7. Become a public advocate for your own thoughts.

    Arthur Whitman, Auburn ME

  • Have you heard of the work that Thomas Linzey is doing in Pa? Barnstead, NH, where I live, is one of the towns in America that has passed an ordinance that strips corporations of their claims to person hood through the misuse of those constitutional amendments intended to give denied people equal protection under the law. Check out: to see the approach which gives nature rights. There is a dialogue going on about inalienable rights, democracy and freedom everywhere.

Gail Darrell, N.H.

  • I'm sure there is much more that you could add to this list, but one that is near to my own heart is cutting down on travel, using public transportation, or better yet learning to ride a bike, perhaps the most beautiful human transportation machine ever invented.
    It seems to me that nearly every able bodied human being can ride a bike for at least 10 to 15 miles, at a minimum, at a speed of 10 to 15 miles per hour, at a minimum. Though perhaps seeming monumental to the uninitiated, after a few weeks of practice, this is no more than a walk in the park. And without breaking a sweat. Up to an age of say 75.

    Geoff Bickford

  • Trust in young people. They are eager to learn the truth from us. They shouldn’t be blamed for their uneducated perspectives nor their acquiescence to the corporations that control their lives. It is our responsibility to help them become informed, to give them back their independence.

Doug Rawlings, Farmington, ME

  • Excellent e-mail bruce. i really like how you lined things out. makes me feel better cuz i work on all these things but sometimes get so myopic, and isolated in my own world i think that i'm doing nothing and can't effect any real change. even if it's just my colleagues and students seeing me ride a bike or carpool to work everyday, or being the only one at my work willing to openly discuss our war machine government and it's policies. GN helps me keep connected and grounded and feel part of a movement, that's just as important out here on the edge of colonialism, in northwest alaska, as it is anywhere.thank you.i probably need to renew my GN membership, i kinda forget about these things. i'll get to that this week.

Lynn DeFilippo, Alaska

  • I would like to add a suggestion. Due to the vastness of the military industrial complex--far more vast than Eisenhower could have imagined--that we don't, as individuals, take it all on and carry it as a Promethean burden, but rather, that we understand the analysis, or diagnosis, then act and listen with heightened awareness, put one foot in front of another, and keep it simple. Yes, just like "the program" teaches! Recognize that which contributes to the machine and stop doing it or supporting it; recognize what contributes to the vision of sustainable community and do it or support it. Lao Tsu said, "The Way is so simple that complicated minds cannot see it."

    Ellen Murphy, Bellingham, WA

  • Thank you for that inspiring piece to start my day – a good antidote to reading about the latest bomb in Beirut – where my daughter is working. It is indeed very hard to take time away from earning money. Once the whole of life is defined in economic terms, it begins to seem more and more crazy to do ‘unproductive’ work but I guess we just have to find the occasions and remember that life does not go in a straight line of obvious cause and effect. The contacts you make through this kind of work often turn out to lead you or someone amongst your family and friends onto different paths in your work life as well.
    I thought you made a really good point about drug addicts needing the strength of a group. I think that everything we do consciously in groups is working for the common sum of good.
    Here in Goathland we are working to try to save our post office now that the Government has privatised so many of the services it used to offer and I am working with others to try to set up a bail circle to help asylum seekers when they have no one to stand surety for them.
    Another way in which groups are important is that it stops you from feeling you are the only one doing anything. Once you know others are doing what they feel inspired by, it is easier to feel that all the little bits can add up – meaning in theory that you don’t get burned out!
    I hope we might be seeing you here in September. Am trying to organise something. Good wishes.

Jackie Fearnley, Gaothland, England

  • Do not know if there is anything we can do to bring down the U.S. Empire. Of course, it will collapse eventually, but that will be the doing of the elite in their madcap scramble to accumulate more wealth.
    Nevertheless, I advocate protesting against the empire. It is fun, can be exciting and it is an opportunity to tilt at windmills. It is also healthy and a cure-all for a boring lifestyle. Protesting is a community event and a way of interacting with average citizens. I cannot imagine a life without protest, as our society is filled with ills demanding our attention.


    Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD

  • I love your writings, your mind, your spirit, your work. Have just read your So What do we Do Now? You asked for ideas. I want to talk with you about tax policy sometime soon. And I recently wrote a paper on Economics of War and Peace. Much to share with you.

    Alanna Hartzok, Pennsylvannia

  • Thank you for taking the time to articulate so profoundly your great wisdom and commons sense. I think I’ll print this off and put it on my wall at home and at the office.
    As much as Bush has helped to make radicals out of many previously indifferent citizens, he also has provided an invaluable service, now and for decades to come, to politicians of both parties who want to be judged in comparison to him while they pursue pro-corporate, anti-labor, empire-building policies. And, of course, Bush has changed the meaning of the term radical in a rightward ideological direction. The concept that the President is not above the law, and that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, is increasingly a radical concept.

John Branson, Portland, ME

  • My favorite US historian is William Appleman Williams (1921-1990). He actually was a US Naval Academy graduate and briefly served as a Naval officer at the end of WWII when he was injured. His writings and scholarship have helped me more than any other, along with Charles Beard (1874-1948), the latter who wrote, among many books, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (1913), and Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy, (1915). But Williams, who was writing and teaching at the university (Wisconsin, Oregon) during the so-called Cold War (the "Third World War" as John Stockwell describes) and Viet Nam War periods, was very astute in grasping the foundations of the US American civilization. If you haven't already looked at his material I would at least suggest their value in developing or deepening a broader perspective (and I am not implying that you don't already have one now. We have been phenomenal believers. We have a tough time accepting the incredible destruction our system and way of life has wreaked on us and the world. Our social and personal ill health has been ignored as we have become drunk on materialism. Our love for death machines destined to kill us all, have even distracted our focus from examining our very way of life which is killing everything. This is why there has been no storming of the Bastille, no revolutionary process of significance since the 1960s, after which we have been witnessing the successful efforts of the system, so far, to repress any possible outbreak of real people power from below. The Zapatistas could teach us much, about withdrawal of our support from the nation-state and its political economy, while building anew decentralized communities in federation with each other from below. They call it changing their world without taking power. In the process they have empowered themselves to seek autonomy, or radical democracy. Really this was Gandhi's prescription for India, as it was in Tolstoy's treatise, The Kingdom Of God Is Within You.

Brian Willson, California

  • I would suggest you start locally. I have created a petition to bring the National Guard home. People were very willing to sign. They are disgusted at the direction the country is headed. Frankly, I'm through. After the sell out in Congress I said enough is enough. I did my petition and have sent it to the appropriate parties. Let's not forget, I'm 67 years old - where are the young kids? It seem like the only people paying attention are seniors. I've done everything I can. (You have to take the issue to the street - the Internet is a waste of time).

Rosalind Ellis Heid, Baltimore, MD

  • I have a suggestion, if you'd like one. How about sending out a "reading list" of your favorite - say, top 5 or something - books? Or, even in different categories. Ones you consider essential for which issues. And maybe put one in for "fun"? At first, I really thought I could make a big difference, (I haven't been able to figure out really what's the most effective action to do. Some things haven't worked at all. You must know how this is) as it looks to me like we're headed for (the upshot)- a major economic downturn on the world scale. This is not going to be good. I've been following the oil news pretty closely, and the statistics seem to support that the world actually peaked in Dec 2005, but we haven't quite yet seen the effects in the US, anyway. This means everyone will be strapped more. Anyway, if you hadn't seen much on this issue, I wanted to both bring it to your attention, and let you know what I think good sources are. There are definitely connections (of course) between the oil issue and the nuclear weapons issue. What many people, including Greg Palast, seem not to understand, is that it's not a matter of "big oil" - it's a matter of geology, and, as you point out - all of our consumption.

Phyllis Sladek, Santa Barbara, CA

  • Thank you for your relentless work in the peace movement. My idea is to find a few well known individuals (celebrities/musicians - a widespread coalition of groups and activists) who are willing to donate funds to advertise in a clever and compelling manner the issues of our day. A series of commercials with educational messages about what our country is doing to the environment using powerful visuals. A message about endless war, etc. But most important, advertise solutions that are readily avail. if the will of the people is there. I liked what John Lennon did in the 70's with his War is over if you want it! billboards in New York. Create a campaign on a large scale in every major city of the U.S. The national presence is critical so that people begin to realize that this is a movement and that they are not alone.This is not about Republicans or Democrats. This is about the people rising up and demanding change. The problem with Move on and One is that they are tied to the two-party system. This has to be an independent effort. I realize that the corporations are the problem and are running the system. Thanks again for your major contributions in the good fight!

Lynda Hernandez, Huntington Beach, CA

  • Thank you for a very inspiring and thought provoking piece--So What Do We Do Now?. For sure we cannot continue the way we are and expect that things will change.
    I am retired and near 70. I have time, but not so much energy. But what I have I want to put to good use, and you are helping me think it through.

    Rosemary Yaecker, Bradford, Vermont

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I often hear from people asking me, "What should we do about all this? How can we stop Bush?"

I would first say that we must move beyond blaming Bush. The fact of U.S. empire is bigger than Bush. Hopefully by now, all of us are more clear how the Democrats have been, and are now, involved in enabling the whole U.S. military empire building plan. It is about corporate domination. Bush is just the front man for the big money. So to me that is step #1.

Step #2 is to openly acknowledge that as a nation, and as citizens, we benefit from this U.S. military and economic empire. By keeping our collective military boot on the necks of the people of the world we get control of a higher percentage of the world's resources. We, 5% of the global population in the U.S., use 25% of the global resource base. This reality creates serious moral questions that cannot be ignored.

Step #3 is to recognize that we are addicted to war and to violence. The very weaving together of our nation was predicated on violence when we began the extermination of the Native populations and introduced the institution of slavery. A veteran of George Washington's Army, in 1779, said, "I really felt guilty as I applied the torch to huts that were homes of content until we ravagers came spreading desolation everywhere....Our mission here is ostensibly to destroy but may it not transpire, that we pillagers are carelessly sowing the seed of Empire." The soldier wrote this as Washington's Army set out to remove the Iroquois civilization from New York state so that the U.S. government could expand its borders westward toward the Mississippi River. The creation of the American empire was underway.

Our history since then has been endless war. Two-Time Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, told the story in his book War is a Racket. Butler recalls in his book, "I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service....And during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested."

Step # 4 We have to begin to change how we think about our country. We have to learn to understand what oligarchy means. I'll save you the trouble of having to look up the definition - A government in which power is in the hands of a few. When you have lost your democracy then what do the citizens do? They must fight (non-violently) to take it back. This of course means direct action and sometimes civil disobedience. Virtually everything good in our nation (abolition of slavery movement, women's suffrage, civil rights movement, anti-war movements, etc) have come from people stepping up when they were needed. Calling for impeachment by the Congress becomes imperative today. Are you in or out?

Step #5 Forget the "every man for himself" mythology. We are all brainwashed in this country to believe in the rugged individualism story. But movement for change can only happen in community - working with others. So forget the ego centric notion that "one great man" is going to come save us. It's going to take a village - in fact all the villages. Just like an addict goes to a group to seek help for addiction, knowing they can't do it themselves, so we must form community to work for the needed change if we are to protect our children's future.

Step # 6 What about my job? Another smothering myth in America is success. Keep your nose clean and don't rock the boat. Don't get involved in politics, especially calling for a revolution of values (like Martin Luther King Jr. did) or you will get labeled and then you can forget about owning that castle on the hill you've always dreamed of. In a way we become controlled by our own subservience to the success mythology. We keep ourselves in line because success and upward mobility become more important than protecting free speech, clean water, clean air, and ending an out of control government bent on world domination. Free our minds, free our bodies and we free the nation.

Step #7 Learn to work well with others. Sure we all want to be stars. But in the end we have to learn to set aside our egos if we want to be able to work with others to bring about the needed changes. Cindy Sheehan should not be hammered just for telling the truth about the Democrats playing footsie with Bush on the war.

Step # 8 It's the money. How can I do this peace work when I have to work full-time just to pay the mortgage? I'd like to help but I've got bills to pay! Maybe we can begin to look at the consumerist life we lead and see that our addiction to the rat race keeps us from being fully engaged in the most important issue of our time - which is protecting the future generations. How can we begin to explore cooperative living arrangements, by building community, that free us up economically to be able to get more involved?

Step # 9 Learn to read again. Many of us don't read enough. We spend our time in front of the TV, which is a primary tool that the power structure uses to brainwash us. We've got to become independent thinkers again and teach our kids to think for themselves. Reading and talking to others is a key. Read more history. All the answers and lessons can be found there.

Step #10 Learn to trust again and have fun. Some of the nicest people in the world are doing political work. Meet them and become friends with them and your life will change for the better.

These are just a few of my ideas. I'd like to ask you if you could send me your ideas about what we should do to get out from behind the eight-ball. Send me your ideas and I will post some of them on my blog. By sharing our thoughts with one another just maybe we can speed up the needed changes. Write me at