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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


  • I drove south to Biddeford last night for an hour long interview on a public access TV show called Out in Left Field.  Today I do another interview with Regis Tremblay who is becoming a prolific public access TV producer here in Maine.  Next Monday I do a radio interview on WERU which is north of here.  On each of these interviews I am promoting our Veterans for Peace protest on Saturday, August 25 of the Air Force Thunderbird airshow at the former Navy airfield in Brunswick.
  • Growing up in an Air Force family I saw alot of these airshows.  I witnessed a couple plane crashes over the years and also understand how these events serve as recruiting tools to bring young kids into the military.  They also pump up the drumbeat for endless war.
  • As a kid I learned to idolize these "Gods of Metal".  My dad worked in the base photo lab and brought me home a large framed picture of about 20 Air Force bombers, transport planes and fighters all nicely lined up on the flight line.  That picture was one of the few things I kept as our family moved to Florida-Germany-England-South Dakota-Germany-Florida-California while I was growing up.  It was on the wall right near my crucifix.  God and war.  Like apple pie, baseball and Chevrolet.
  • It wasn't until I joined the Air Force myself during the Vietnam War that I finally put all the pieces together.  With the help of GI war resisters in the barracks at Travis AFB in California (an airlift base for the war) I was able to finally see that those planes were about killing innocent people so U.S. corporations could take their land and resources.  Finally reading the Pentagon Papers while in the Air Force helped me see how our government lies its way into war over and over again.
  • So I've come full circle from being a recipient of the war propaganda, mindless entertainment, and military psychological operations aimed at the youth to becoming an active war resister.  My guess is that a some of the kids that see our Veterans for Peace protest on August 25 will themselves some day see the light as well.
  • Last night Richard Rhames asked me about the connection between the recent Batman movie massacre in Colorado and our nation's endless wars.  I said that the fabric of our nation - the soul of our nation - was woven together by violence from the genocide of the Native Americans, slavery, Civil War, and then from imperial attacks on the Philippines to the present.  We are a killing culture.  War is what we do.  We make enormous profit from selling violence.  It's no coincidence that ultimately it turns inward and we start killing each other.  It is what we know.
  • The only way out is to recognize the addiction.  Raise your hand and repeat after me, "Hello, my name is America and I am addicted to war and violence."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I agree with your sentiments in many ways, I think (no offense intended) that they may be a bit myopic. Yes, there is a motive beneath these displays to help enable the recruitment of young people into the military. Yes, this country spends entirely too much on our military. Yes, we are entrenched in a militaristic paradigm and have been for many years. But these displays are not purely for the benefit of the miltary. (Please note: I am a very left-leaning 30 year old.) I wanted more than anything in the world to be a pilot from the time I was old enough to understand what a plane was. I drew planes, I wrote about planes, I read every book about planes I could get my hands on. I was as convinced as person could be that I would be a pilot when I got older. But then I got older and I thought about it. Just like anyone should do before they make any big decision. THINK. FOR YOURSELF. I didn't want to kill people. The military exists to kill people. The end. No pilot for me. As much credit as I give to the big faceless powers hiding behind every ad and waiting in all our hopes indreams, I do, in fact, give more credit to the power of people to think for themselves. We don't need sheltering. We need transparency. We need accountability to stand behind our thoughts and actions and not constantly defer our behaviors to the government and society. I don't believe that the general public is so weak of mind that will fall entranced at the feet of a government that is bent on hypnotizing its masses to enact its will(which I agree that it is.) It's an unfortunate fact that a great number of technological advancements come about because or (or are hijacked by) militaristic endeavors. But these are still incredible technologies. They are technologies that have the power to do far more than drop bombs. This is the same class of technology that allows a person to see family that lives half a world away or send a picture of a new baby to a new grandmother thousands of miles away. What about the heritage of flight? I believe that this fascination is in all of us and this should not be shameful. Like most things in this world, this is not black and white. I wish, like you, that these wars would cease and we would direct the criminal amount of funds that go to support them into helping starbing people eat, finding care for the sick who cannot get care: providing help to those who cannot acheive it on their on. But that's not how it is. If this government were to make changes in its spending habits, I would hope that it would start with something other than a spectacle that has the power to instill awe in thousands of people at a time. There are countless avenues of cost-cutting in realms that provide no such benefit to the public. If this herd is really as bewildered as many think, than I think taking aim at the more insidious progandas makes far more sense. Awareness is everything. These things exist. And because of that, I want to see them ...

8/16/12, 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Indian Jones said...

Thank you, Bruce.

The comrade above wishes for a redirection of governance once the American people all think for themselves. As Bruce implies above, there is a cultural bias against this. My generation was biased to be wary of group-thinking in reaction to Fascism and Communism. However, behind a facade of individualism, the group-think of America must be forcefully promoted.

What is surprising is the rarity of people who regret the charade of individual liberty, who see that their misrepresentation of decisions forced upon them is promotion of the killing cognitive dissonance of American ideology.

8/17/12, 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, thank you for allowing this conversation to take place. It is discussion that provides us with the tools for belief ...

With all due respect to Mr Jones, I feel he may have misrepresented my take. I am not of the mind that the government's tack should be redirect at a distant point in the future when all American people can think for themselves. This would be an unquantifiable event, and an unreaistic one. There is in fact a cultural bias against such thinking, but these kinds of biases are defeated, or at the very least are able to be weakened, everyday by grassroots movements all over the world. Surely we can all agree on the power of a minority? If not, why encourage a group of a relative few to rally against tens of thousands of people next weekend?
People are inspired by people - by thoughts and actions taken with pride and conviction that produce realities that may have beforehand seemed impossible. I'm not talking about individualism - facade or not - I'm talking about empowerment that is lying in wait in anyone with a voice. It is atricky position to occupy when one says that thinking for oneself is not realistic, but yet is taking part in actions and discussion that rely on this very thing. This infers a superiority over the rest of the population that I don't believe is fair. It is that kind of divisive thinking that cause rifts and stands in the way of unification.
I agree that there are great many forces that stand as obstacles to free thought. The world is awash with manipulations of thought that affect all of us to varying degrees. But the defeat of these influences can form a contagion as well, which is what any minority driven activism is seeking to do. Any many do with great success.
Perhaps a call to those attending this airshow to adopt, for at least a fleeting moment, a new perspective would allow more to be gained that pure opposition. After the display several years ago, friends and I discussed at length the intensity that someone must feel when seeing these planes in the midst of war. The fear that must be created seeing one of these machines laden with munitions speeding towards your city, your family. Our experience as free-thinking, aware adults was tempered and sobered by that perspective. This does not need, however, to be mutually exclusive in regards to one's appreciation of the technology, the hard work on the part of the pilots, and the general fascination with flight. We as humans are far more capable of a gradient of belief than simple 'for' or 'against' positions. People will attend this display, love it or hate it. Make enemies by way fear, and they will not listen to the words you have say, even if they are true; even if they are obvious. Perhaps demanding opposition would not be as effective as asking for understanding. Your position is correct, as I have said, but as with any issue involving masses of people and government smokescreens, an assault on those foundation must be highly nuanced. Not everyone is out for a forced cerebral dissection of their beliefs before attending such an event, but I would bet that far more are in a position to, even by accident, allow another perspective to make a cameo in their experience. So long, however, as those asking for it don't inadvertantly shut the only door to this possibility with hostility ....

8/17/12, 12:46 PM  
Blogger Bruce K. Gagnon said...

If our position is correct as you state then why should we be concerned with trying to fudge it so that some others might accept it better?

Our role is to say what we think - something that is necessary in a true democratic society. Today we have far too many in the public eye who fudge words in order to "manage" perceptions.

We are just trying to call it like we see it. It is up to the audience to chew on what they will.

8/17/12, 2:41 PM  

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