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.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Lisa Savage (left) and Mary Beth Sullivan out in front of Bath Iron Works today to kick off Keep Space for Peace Week

Twenty-three of us from around Maine gathered in the rain today at Bath Iron Works during the Saturday shift change at the shipyard where Navy Aegis destroyers are built.

We arrived at 11:30 am and at noon, as the workers came pouring out of the yard on foot and in cars, we walked single file down the sidewalk toward the gate where many of those on foot were leaving work. We had a face-t0-face meeting with the workers and I wondered if they would shout at us or show any aggressive behavior toward our protest.

Surprisingly though none of the workers said anything as they walked across the street and onto the same sidewalk we were on. Few of them would make eye contact with us and it turned out to be a very powerful moment for all of us involved in the protest. Normally we just stand in one place as they drive past us on their way home from work. But today one of our folks had the idea that we should walk toward the gate where they exit the shipyard.

Several of our signs had images of rail systems painted on them saying "Built in Bath" as our way of signaling to the workers and the community at large our preference for the conversion of the shipyard from military production to building something that is needed in our society today.

Studies at the UMASS-Amherst Economics Department show that $1 billion in military production creates 8,555 jobs while investing the same amount of money in building rail systems would create 19,795 jobs. That's a huge difference and you'd think that every politician in the country would be grabbing onto that fact and calling for conversion in order to create more jobs. But sadly their silence on this important subject indicates the power the military industrial complex has over these political figures.

We had a good response from the general public, even in Bath, which indicates that people are fed up with endless war spending and they are beginning to see how conversion of the military industries would enable us to deal with some of the severe problems we have today - like climate change. We are quickly running out of time to deal with the coming ravages of climate change so reordering the way we live and function is priority #1.

As we are seeing with the protest on Wall Street in NYC, the real leadership these days is coming from disaffected citizens. The politicians have become less relevant to us as leaders and problem solvers because the vast majority of them are dominated by the corrupt corporate forces that now control our political system. Most elected officials have no vision nor enough courage to speak out if they had any.

There was a special feeling in our group today at Bath Iron Works. I was proud to stand with these remarkable activists.


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