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.

Friday, October 19, 2012


  • On Saturday evening I've been invited to speak in Portland to 140 students from throughout New England at a regional meeting of college chapters of Alpha Phi Omega (the community service fraternity).  The theme is Team Work.  Should be an interesting experience. I'll talk about a few different teams I've been on over the years and some of the glaring differences between them.
  • On Sunday evening in Newton, Massachusetts I will speak at the First Unitarian Church, 1326 Washington Street at 7:00 pmTopic is "How space technology coordinates all warfare on Earth."   MB will come with me and we can stay at the home of her brother who lives in the area.   
  • Then come Monday I get on a plane in Boston and fly to South Dakota where I will go on a personal retreat until November 5.  I will mostly spend time in the Black Hills, what the native people call the Paha Sapa - the heart of the Earth.  I lived in this place for three years growing up when my dad was stationed at Ellsworth AFB outside of Rapid City.  It was there I was first touched by native culture, history, and spirituality.  My family moved many times in that nomadic military world but I always felt that this was my favorite place - the one that was hardest for me to leave.  I've tried to go back there throughout my adult life as often as possible (not often enough) and each time I feel a sense of peace that I've found in few other places.
  • I need to recharge my soul - it takes a toll on you doing this work day in and day out.  I plan on doing alot of walking in the woods, reading, writing, and just a bit of thinking.  As an organizer I am always thinking about strategy - how do we best reach the people and help move things in a better direction?  These are hard times for us and in many ways the lens in which I view our present moment is colored by the way I see American history.  The genocide of the Native Americans is essential to my world view.  Our government determined that the Indians stood in the way of "progress" and had to be destroyed and their lands taken from them.  Nature was a commodity. Today we see a corporate system that determines that because of job outsourcing for cheaper labor, robotics, mechanization, and computerization that loads of people are not needed - they are superfluous.  I believe that in the U.S. the poor and the middle class are being brought onto the reservation.
  • This 21st century reservation is a bit different.  This time you get a credit card (indentured servitude), a color TV and a car.  As long as you can keep making the minimum monthly payments you are OK.  But when your job gets downsized or exported and you can't pay the bills you are going to be out on the street fending for yourself.  Statistical evidence shows when this happens to people there is a direct correlation to diminished life span.  Some might even call it a form of genocide - corporate style.
  • One of my favorite stories is one about Sitting Bull, Sioux Leader and Medicine Man, who was forced to bring his band onto the reservation in 1881 because they were starving.  (Just a few years before gold had been discovered in the Black Hills and the Army was sent in to clear a highway so miners and settlers could come.) The Army had systematically reduced the buffalo herds down to near nothing after they had invented new high-powered rifles that were used from trains to kill the buffalo - leaving them to rot on the plains.  In 1884 Sitting Bull joined the Wild West Show for several months and visited many of the big cities along the East coast.  While in the cities he would sit on a door stoop and homeless street kids and beggars came to ask him for money so they could eat.  He gave many of his earnings from the Wild West Show to these people.  When he returned to the Standing Rock reservation Sitting Bull told the people, "We are in big trouble.  You should see how the white people treat their children."
  • These are the threads that run through me - they create much emotion, outrage, a sense of solidarity, and love for the Earth.  They also create an understanding of what this system of corporate capital is willing to do to the people.  Like the Indians said, put your ear to the railroad tracks and hear the train coming.
  • I am going to the Black Hills to reconnect with the good spirit world.  I need it badly.


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