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, January 31, 2013


In this lecture, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges examined how America has devolved, economically and politically, into a Third World country and the role that inverted totalitarianism plays in consolidating the control of rapacious elites over our political and economic systems.


Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson tells Al Jazeera's Stephen Cole that Europe should let banks that are ran "irresponsibly" go bankrupt.

Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Grimsson also held his country as a model of economic recovery after its near-collapse four years ago.

"We didn't follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies. And the end result four years later is that Iceland is enjoying progress and recovery."


  • The National Weather Service says Wednesday's high temperatures set records across Maine.  We had temps in the 50s all over the state.  Two days prior we had zero degrees weather.  A 50 degree shift in two days is unreal.  Tomorrow it will drop back down to 25 degrees.  The wind is blowing outside at 60 mph - power lines are down across the state.  The tarps on our wood piles are flapping like flags in the wind.  Our right-wing governor still denies that climate change is happening.  I bet though he won't step out onto the thin ice at any local ice fishing spot.
  • I've been watching the confirmation hearings for former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel who was nominated as Obama's next Secretary of War.  He's pledging that "all options are on the table" which is Washington code for keeping nuclear attack on the agenda.  He also pledges full support for Israel.  He supports expansion of Cyber warfare and he is worried about cuts in the Pentagon budget.  In other words Hagel is in the mainstream of US military empire decision making.  So what confuses me is the amount of emails I've seen from peaceniks who are urging people to support Hagel's nomination.  Why?  There has been some right-wing push back against Hagel (for being a too tough on Israel) but I think it is all a good cop-bad cop show. When the pro-Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance sends around the following message of support for Hagel you know to watch out:  "We endorse the confirmation of Senator Chuck Hagel for the position of United States Secretary of Defense for his support of our nation's missile defense and growth of it with our allies."   
  • Israel hit Syria today.   Peace Association of Turkey has issued the following statement.

    We strongly condemn Israeli assault against Syria. The air strike by Israel to Syria has no legal basis or excuse. The statement that Syria has been sending weapons to some forces in Lebanon and these are even chemical weapons is a totally unsubstantiated claim. The reality is; 2 were dead 5 were injured during the air strike!

    The reality is; Israel carried out this attack under the approval by USA!

    The reality is; Israel is trying to intervene in the Syria equation in its own way!

    The reality is; Syrian Islamist terrorist groups, Islamist AKP Government in Turkey, anti-Syria Islamist Arab regimes have taken position on the same side with Zionist Israel against the people of Syria!

    It is impossible to assume the fact that the strike is carried out at a time when for the first time the Syrian opposition has given the green light to the negotiation calls by Damascus is a coincidence. Israel is now coming to the stage once more as the main provocateur in a regional war.

    Peace Association condemns aggressive Israel in the strongest terms and conveys its solidarity feelings to the people of Syria, who have been exposed to the strike by the Israeli aircrafts, as if being under the threat of reactionist terror is not enough.


Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians mobilized for the Idle-No-More movement's Global Day of Action this week. Activists have vowed to continue protests until the Harper government repeals legislation which legal experts have called unconstitutional.

Activists accuse the Harper government of lacking concern for the environment.

A global protest against Canada's government is unprecedented in Canadian history.

Analysts say that the international outcry indicates that the Harper government is shredding up Canada's once good reputation in the world.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Tubbataha Reef off the southern Philippines is home to some of the richest marine life on the planet. It's much deserving of its world heritage site status. But it's now under serious threat since a US Navy minesweeper ran aground on a coral wall on January 17th. Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from Palawan.


“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”
– William Colby, former CIA director

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”
– William Casey, CIA Director (from first staff meeting, 1981)


At a time many are talking about cutting the size of the US military, the Department of Defence has signalled it will dramatically increase the size of its Cyber Command over the next few years.

The Pentagon is working overtime to ensure that cyber war becomes the next great fear in the minds of the American people - coming after the Red scare of the Cold War and the present "terrorism" freak-out with the Muslim world.

The US Cyber Command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland which also houses the NSA.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all have Cyber command structures that fall under the national.  US Cyber Command reports directly to US Strategic Command (StratCom) based at Offut AFB, Nebraska.


  • The Washington Post this morning reports: "President Obama is riding a wave of personal popularity into his second term, with his highest favorability ratings since his first year in office...Fully 60 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of Obama in the new poll, up slightly from October but a clear shift in opinion from an election year in which his ratings hovered in the mid-to-low 50s."
  • What would make those polled so favorable toward Obama?  The economy better?  Climate change taken care of?  Wars over and military spending reduced?  Our civil liberties restored?  Guantanamo closed?  Banksters jailed? It appears that people's standards for success have dramatically fallen.
  •  I occasionally correspond with a Catholic priest who lives and works in Brazil.  His recent letter included the following news:  "We are suffering the worst drought of the past 50 years here in the Northeast.  There were no crops of corn or beans.  Most of the dams are dry or very low on water.  There is very little in the way of forage for the livestock.  The cashew tree didn't even flower this year in this region.  A nearby municipality had a thriving industry of honey production.  Because there were so few flowering plants around, the hungry bees fled the hives for other regions.  We heard here that 60% of the USA, Canada, and Central America all suffered severe droughts too."
  •  Long-time Global Network board member Karl Grossman has written an important article entitled Will the Internet Remain Free?   Worth checking out.
  •  Increasingly we are hearing that the big Internet corporations want to make users pay for various levels of access to the world wide web.  That would mean that the wealthy could afford unlimited access to knowledge and communication while the poor would live inside a box. All Internet users should be able to access any web content they want, post their own content, and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or financial limitations imposed by their service providers. 
  • McClatchy newspapers report:  

    In a letter last month to Obama and congressional leaders, 11 Democratic and 11 Republican lawmakers asked that Defense Department spending be put squarely on the table in the coming clashes over debt reduction..... Who are these unlikely partners?  Democrats who want to preserve social programs, tea party-backed Republicans focused on slashing the debt and libertarians aligned with Rep. Ron Paul – the Texas Republican and 2012 presidential candidate – who generally oppose U.S. military ventures abroad.... Some independent studies have indicated that Pentagon funding of big weapons systems has diminishing returns when it comes to job creation. Total federal money to the five biggest defense contractors – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon – increased by 10 percent from 2006 to 2011. But their combined number of employees dropped by 3 percent during the same period, according to a report last year by the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group in Washington.  See the full story here

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Excellent documentary film about western efforts to put anti-communist dictator Suharto into Indonesia in 1965 and the resulting years of repression and chaos.

Throughout the film the narrative is supplemented by official government cables that arrogantly bragged about the western role in installing Suharto.

Media in the UK reported the coup d' etat by Suharto as "The Gentlemanly Affair" while in the US newspaper headlines declared "Gleam of Light in Asia".

Researchers estimate that from 1 to 3 million "suspected communists" were killed by the brutal Suharto regime with full backing from the west - particularly the US, UK, and Australia.

Each of the nine YouTube segments of the film are about 10 minutes long and once one of them is finished find the next one on the top right side of the screen.


The self-righteous, hypocritical bullshit is heating up on the US, Japanese, and South Korean side.  Even the United Nations is involved.  They are all once again lecturing and threatening North Korea about launching a rocket into space.  The message is - you are not allowed because you are bad!

Forget the fact that the US launches more military rockets than anyone else in the world.  What right does the US have to say who can - and who can't - launch rockets into space?  Are we king of the world?

How come the US can invade all kinds of countries, lead the world in arms exports, overthrow governments and install puppet regimes - and then is allowed to launch all the missiles it wants?  No one says a word about US rocket launches.

It's a double standard.....

The US has no right to tell other nations what they can launch.  As long as the Pentagon has nuclear weapons that can be fired at any moment, and is developing the world's most technologically advanced space warfare system, it has no legitimacy on the subject.

The progressive South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh reports today:

With North Korea declaring its intention to push ahead with a third nuclear test following the United Nations Security Council resolution on its launch of a long-range rocket, it seems hardly a coincidence that the US, China, and Japan have launched their own interceptor missiles and spy satellites. As the intensity of the North Korean nuclear crisis soars and the strategic competition between the US and China, and between China and Japan, heats up in the Asia-Pacific region, military tensions are on the rise in Northeast Asia.....

On Jan. 26 (local time), the US Defense Department announced that it had succeeded in a test of a missile defense system that can intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are aimed at the continental US while they are still outside the atmosphere..... 

On Jan. 27, Japan launched the Radar-4 information-gathering satellite, which functions as a spy satellite, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. Now that the satellite, delivered on an H-2A rocket, has entered its planned orbit, Japan’s surveillance network has expanded to five information-gathering satellites three optical satellites and two radar satellites that are capable of monitoring every spot on earth once each day.

North Korea is not going to attack anyone.  If they did they'd be buried in conventional and nuclear responses.  North Korea knows it's on the US list of nations to be taken down.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Syria and North Korea.  The North Koreans can see that the list is getting shorter and shorter.

To this very day the US has not agreed to a peace treaty with North Korea.  After 60 years of an "armistice" the war is officially still on.  (The definition of armistice: temporary suspension of hostilities by mutual agreement.)

North Korea has to wonder when "temporary" is over? 

The people in the US need to stop buying the mafioso bravado from their so-called government.  We are the global bully and nothing changes until the citizens here deal with the fact that our country is, as Martin Luther King so rightly said, "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

It's time to get real.


Timely and great news has hit the media on the 8th Anniversary of Jeju’s designation as ‘The Peace Island” and the same day as the new declaration of Jeju as the “Demilitarized Peace Island”.

Jeju filmmaker O Muel‘s based-on-a-true-story film, Jiseul, which takes place during the 4.3 Jeju Massacre has won the Grand Jury Prize in the “World Cinema Dramatic” section of the Sundance Film Festival.

Jeju was originally designated the “World Peace Island” on January 27, 2005 as a formal governmental apology for the terrible 4.3 massacre which took place from 1947-1954. Hopefully this Sundance award will help to bring 4.3 the attention of more people.

Jiseul will make its out-of-festival Korean premier on Jeju Island on March 1st. Previously Jiseul was chosen as Korea’s Best Indie Film of 2012 by the Association of Korean Independent Film and Video.

The film’s title “Jiseul” means potatoes in Jeju dialect. During the massacre it was the only food the villagers had while hiding together in the cave.
More details about the Sundance win can be found in this article.

An interview with the director about the film can be found here.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Bruce Cumings is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, and specializes in modern Korean history and East Asian-American relations.

He shares his views with Regis Tremblay about the Navy base now being built on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Bruce is arguably one of the leading experts on Korean History and the Korean War. His book, The Korean War, A History, is a must read for anyone interested in discovering the truth about Korea and the Korean War. He revealed the previously untold stories of the bloody insurgencies and rebellions, and exposes the appalling massacres and atrocities committed on all sides.


  • Years ago I read a book by former CIA agent Miles Copeland who had "retired" and gone to work for oil corporations as their Middle East operative.  He essentially carried on the same covert ops that he had done for the CIA but was working for private interests.  He described, with great pride, how often the local CIA offices in various oil rich nations were the last to know about his activities.  The privatization of foreign and military policy.  A very dangerous but real trend. How can we claim to be a democracy when corporations are running their own spy teams and increasingly corporate mercenaries are hired to carry out various military operations?  In the end the taxpayers are paying in more ways than one can imagine.
  • In his book The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA's original political operative, Miles Copeland shares many hair raising stories.  Here is one that stands out:  "Naturally, we had some trouble in getting clearance for projects involving the use of Nazis and ex-Nazi, but our difficulties disappeared when our friends in Israel's Mossad admitted that they, too, were using ex-Nazis for a number of nefarious purposes, and for the same reasons that they were attractive to us."
  • The Washington Post reported last December that, "Two of the Americans killed in Benghazi [Libya] were members of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, an innocuously named organization that has recruited hundreds of former U.S. Special Forces operatives to serve as armed guards for the agency’s spies....The security apparatus relies heavily on contractors who are drawn by relatively high pay and flexible schedules that give them several months off each year....who often earn $140,000 or more a year and typically serve 90- or 120-day assignments abroad." 
  • Active duty service members committed suicide during 2012 at a record pace: more than 349 took their own lives across the four branches, or one every 25 hours, a Department of Defense spokesperson recently confirmed.  One of the darkest undercurrents of the glaring statistics is that one suicide in a family boosts future suicide risks for everyone else inside the home. They can be contagious.


The award-winning documentary “Five Broken Cameras” tells the story of Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, who in 2005 picks up a camera to film the nonviolent movement that erupted in his village, Bil’in, to stop the confiscation of their lands. For the next 6 years, Emad documented the growing movement, which was joined by Israeli and international peace activists. He also filmed his private life, his family and especially his son Gibreel who was growing up in this violent reality. Emad partnered with Israeli filmmaker and activist Guy Davidi to create this inspiring and engaging film.

“Five Broken Cameras” achieved major worldwide success due to its sensitive tone and sincere storytelling. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Oscars; won 30 awards worldwide including Sundance Film Festival 2012 Directing Award, International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) Audience Award and Jury Mention and Best Documentary in Michael Moore’s Documentary Festival in Traverse City.

In Israel, the film won Best Documentary in Jerusalem Film Festival; was shown in one of the two Israeli documentary channel (Channel 8) and in cinemas across the country.  Despite international and local acclaim, Five Broken Cameras will not be screened as part of the educational cultural program in Israel.

 An effort is underway to raise funds to show this great film to Israeli youth.  To make a donation toward that end click here

This film is now available on Netflix 

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Searching for Occupy went to St. Louis to see what Veterans for Peace, Occupy St. Louis, RAMPS and Indigenous People from areas affected by Peabody Coal Mining had to say to the corporate energy giant that has raped the land and displaced people for generations. 

Veterans for Peace dropped the first banner. Two more were dropped during the demonstration. 10 protesters were arrested outside Peabody Corporate Headquarters.


This from the Ssangyong Motors workers:

South Korean auto company, Ssangyong Motor fabricated its accounting books to justify the mass layoff of 3000 workers in 2009. The labor union protested the layoffs with a 77 day long sit-in strike, but its desperate outcry was brutally crushed by riot police. Due to economic hardships, post-traumatic stress, and severe depression, 24 workers and family members have died since, 13 committing suicide.
 While campaigning for presidency in 2012, the ruling Saenuri Party had promised to carry out a parliamentary investigation to expose and correct the massive injustices, but ever since its election victory, the Saenuri Party has refused to keep its word.

We call on the ruling Saenuri Party to keep its promise and carry out a transparent parliamentary investigation.

We call on Mahindra(Indian conglomerate) to live up to its responsibility it has assumed by taking over Ssangyong Motor by :
- Engaging in dialogue with the Korean Metal Workers' Union,
- Apologizing to the bereaved families, and
- Reinstating all the Ssangyong Motor workers unjustly pushed out of the company in 2009.

Further, we call on the South Korean government to :
- Apologize for the state violence against the workers in the 77-day strike in 2009 and punish those responsible
- Apologize for the 24 deaths and reinstate all the dismissed Ssangyong Motor workers
- Stop labor repression such as the damage claim suits and provisional seizure of workers' assets.

Please spread this video to help reinstate the dismissed Ssangyong Motor workers.


Saturday, January 26, 2013


It was cold today in Portland for the No Tar Sands rally-march-rally.  The temperature was 20 degrees but the cold wind coming in off Casco Bay had to take it below freezing.  We gathered at Monument Square in downtown for a short rally and then marched to the waterfront for a final rally.

From the waterfront, just across the bay, you can see the big oil tanks that would collect the Tar Sands oil from western Canada.  It would be carried by the Enbridge/Portland-Montreal Pipeline, 76% owned by Exxon-Mobil.  At least 1,000 folks were at the rally which, considering the weather, was quite good with many coming from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Canada.

At the final rally they announced they had 15 speakers and the first one took at least 15 minutes as we stood shivering....not great rally planning considering the weather.  By the time they were half way through the speakers list more than half of the crowd took off.

The best speaker of the day was the Green Party's Jill Stein who was the only one I heard connect the dots....but she spoke in the pre-march warm up rally and had little time to speak.

On the good side many of the more cautious environmentalists from the Natural Resources Council and Sierra Club were at the event - they don't usually do street protests.  So it is positive to see them realizing that the corporate domination of our political system has gotten to the point that more public action is needed to protect the planet and the future generations.

In many of the speeches though there was still a tendency to see Obama and the Democrats as a key part of the strategy to stop the Tar Sands Pipeline.  My own reading of the tea leaves is that Obama won't stand up to big oil and block the pipeline and that ultimately more vigorous direct action will be needed.  Time will tell.

My sign drew some interest today as a good number of people asked me, "Is that true"...... that the Pentagon has the largest carbon boot print on the planet?  Yes indeed it is true.  It's all spelled out quite explicitly in the book called The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism by Barry Sanders.

Based primarily on research culled from documents released or leaked by the military itself, The Green Zone is the first book to provide a comprehensive examination of the relationship between militarism and ecological destruction.

Unless and until the Pentagon is included in the environmental articulation and organizing strategy we will ultimately be unable to get a handle of the major causes of climate change.

A secretive funding organisation in the US that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate "counter movement" to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has reported.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Michael Parenti, noted political scholar and author of The Face of Imperialism discusses the changing role of media in the political landscape, the lenses of the two party system, race, culture, and class on media reporting, and more.


  • I was in bed sick most of the day yesterday.  I watched Part 1 of a film called The Lenin Train and read.  Had little to no energy but it was so cold outside I didn't want to go anywhere anyway.  Today as been a different story as I took a cab to Topsham and hitchhiked back home after an appointment.  A man who owns a local antique shop picked me up and took me to Bath.  I asked him how business is going and he said "It's been bad for the past four years."  He told me that working people routinely bring him little items and say, "Can you give me $20 for this, it was my mom's....I need the money to buy some food."
  • Tomorrow is the big New England Regional No Tar Sands Pipeline march and rally in Portland.  Will be eager to see how strong folks turn out as we get a test of the impact climate change issue will have in helping to wake the public out of their numbed out sleep walk.  It will be awful cold (about 21 degrees) but Mainers are notoriously hardy folks.
  • There has been a spike in the love people are showing for Obama on Facebook since the inauguration.  That big event gave folks something "good" to crow about and the liberals on FB are cranking away.  Obama mentioned climate change in his hopes are up.  People still want to believe that Obama will pull a rabbit out of the hat at just the right moment.  But so far the rabbits all look like corporate welfare checks.  Obama dances nice, has a great smile, knows just when to say the right thing, keeps connected to the "little" people via popular mass media - he is indeed the magician.  Watch his other hand - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Tar Sands Pipeline, his support for "clean coal" (dirty), natural gas (fracking) and endless war on 'terrorists' in places where declining supplies of natural resources are found. Watch the acceleration of the militarization of local police departments in cooperation with the Pentagon. Watch the drone's an endless list of bad shit. But Obama keeps dancing - he's optimistic!  He knows who he really works for.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Uruguay's Jose Mujica - the poorest president in the world.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013


  Charles Hanley Interview from Regis Tremblay on Vimeo.

Regis Tremblay, who is making a documentary film about Jeju Island, writes:

On January 17, 2013, Paul Michaud and I spent the day with Pulitzer Prize winning author Charles Hanley. Hanley, Sang-Hun Choe and Martha Mendoza, all AP reporters, shared the prize for their book, The Bridge at No Gun Ri which relates the massacre of as many as 400 innocent men, women and children by the U.S. military in 1950.

Parts of the lengthy interview will be included in my feature-length documentary, Jeju: In the crosshairs of war...again. At some future date, I will post the entire interview.


State Senator Geoffrey Gratwick from Bangor talked about introducing a resolution calling on the state legislature to support a Constitutional amendment to ban big bucks in elections. His race last November drew $500,000 in outside money.  About 100 people attended the rally.
Before the Move to Amend rally began I went up into the Hall of Flags where the big heavy industrial developers and contractors were working the state legislators.  I stood with my sign for a half-hour and created a bit of a stir amongst the industry lobbyists.  When I make my protest signs I always try to connect as many dots as possible in just a few words.

I went to the state capital in Augusta, Maine yesterday to attend a news conference and rally for Move to Amend which is trying to ban corporate $$$$ that has been contaminating our elections since the Supreme Court gave Mr. Big "free speech" rights a couple of years ago.  Eleven states across the nation have either passed referendums or resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to ban corporations from stealing our elections with their dirty money.

The show got started a bit late because they were waiting on a bus load of folks from Bar Harbor so I drifted upstairs into the Capital Hall of Flags that sits in the middle of the building and is used for many big rallies and political functions.  On this particular day the huge development and construction corporations occupied the hall and were giving free food to the legislators and public.  They each had big displays of their corporate 'rip and snort' technologies that are tearing Maine to shreds.  Cianbro, behind me in the photo above, wants to build an enormous "East-West Corridor" across Maine for corporate trucking, pipelines and power lines to move "resources" from Maine's coast into Canada.  There is an underutilized rail line already covering that route but these corporations eye the huge construction contracts that such a corridor would provide.

Farms, forests, ponds, rivers and animals would be in grave danger from such a project.  People along the corridor pathway are now organizing in opposition and have already slowed the process down.

The news conference and rally finally got started when 11,000 signed postcards from Maine citizens (in a state of only 1.3 million) were presented to the media.  (Statewide radio covered the event, some TV, but nothing in the newspapers this morning.  I wonder why?)

Several people made excellent statements.  I was particularly impressed with newly elected Sen. Geoffrey Gratwick.  He is a medical doctor who in November beat the incumbent Republican state senator in Bangor.  About $500,000 from outside groups poured into that one race - highly unusual for Maine state legislative politics.

After winning his seat Gratwick pledged he would make campaign finance reform a priority when he arrived at the State Capital. “This election points out the terribly destructive role of outside money on local politics,” he said. “Money that has no traced source is going to destroy our democracy. I take this seriously and one of my goals will be to change this process.” The money spent on political advertising “could better be spent on many of the things our local communities need,” he said at the time.

Yesterday Gratwick made a very strong pledge to work hard to pass a resolution in the legislature. 

In my town of Bath we are organizing now to request that our city council pass a similar resolution in support of a constitutional amendment.  So far 36 towns in Maine have passed such resolutions.  On February 21 we will hold a public meeting at city hall in Bath to discuss this issue.


Yesterday peace activists in Turkey held protests in several cities against US-NATO deployment of Patriot (PAC-3) "missile defense" systems being deployed in their country along the Syrian border.  Ostensibly deployed to "protect" Turkey, these systems are being sprinkled around the globe in the ever expanding US-NATO encirclement of Russia, Iran, and China.

There was no debate in the Turkish parliament about allowing these missile deployments into their country. These kind of un-democratic decisions often lead to spiraling escalation which benefits the war makers.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was provoked by the Soviet construction of missile bases in Cuba but there were earlier actions by the US that helped create the nuclear conflict. In April 1962, the US deployed the Jupiter medium-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads in Italy and Turkey. Considering that the Cold War was characterized by conventional and nuclear arms races, the Soviet counter-missile measures in Cuba were a predictable response to the US missiles in Turkey.  Kennedy finally agreed to pull US missiles out of Turkey and the Soviets pulled out of Cuba.  Today the US is double-timing its encirclement of Russia-Iran-China.

We sent a solidarity statement to the Turkish activists from the Global Network. They shared it with the media.  Here it is:

We stand with you as you oppose deployment of NATO Patriot missile deployments in Turkey that are aimed at Syria.  These systems are provocative and key elements in first-strike attack planning.  So-called "missile defense" systems are actually the shield that is used following a first-strike attack.  Thus when they are deployed they only increase tensions and possibilities for wider war.
The US-NATO are now deploying these "missile defense" systems on land and on Navy Aegis destroyers around the world surrounding Russia-Iran-China.  As a result both Russia and China are increasing their offensive military capability in order to counter US-NATO moves.
It is crucial that the global peace movement stand in unity to oppose these mis-named "missile defense" systems - they should be called missile offense.
We send our greetings, our solidarity and our best wishes for peace.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Sign-On Statement Against Rising India-Pakistan Nuclear Tensions

Fear is being spread in the Kashmir region of India that nuclear war is imminent with Pakistan.  People are being told to dig air raid shelters.

Recent reports of some gruesome happenings on the borders between India and Pakistan have led to comments, magnified multi-fold in these highly networked times, of a nature designed to stoke further hostility rather than to calm heightened fury.

Not only has the border skirmish led to diplomatic tensions, military build-up and war hysteria in the sections of the media on both sides of the border, but the Jammu and Kashmir Police, on the Indian side, has reportedly issued advisories for its citizens on how to conduct themselves in the event of a nuclear exchange. This is nothing but pure insanity.

As revealed by saner sections of media and some public intellectuals, unfortunate violent skirmishes on Indo-Pak border have become routine, only to be overplayed occasionally by either side for their political convenience. Given that both India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed, it is highly imperative that saner counsels prevail.

We, the undersigned, call upon politicians, the civil society and the public at large in both countries, to exercise caution as regards jingoistic media reports and commentaries. We urge all concerned to re-engage instead in working for the common prosperity of people on the both sides.

For organizations to sign on to the above statement please send an email to Kumar Sundaram in India at or on Facebook at

You can also sign the statement directly on Kumar's web page here


A big "market" opportunity.......


  • Die-In at the Inaugural parade yesterday in Washington DC.  The protest highlighted Obama's "I have a drone" war.
  • At one of the Obama pre-Inauguration parties two nights ago rapper Lupe Fiasco was thrown off the Inaugural Concert stage for rapping about the grim future of our country under Washington's, and Obama's, policies. This is what he said:
I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets
How much money does it take to really make a full clip
9/11 building 7 did they really pull it
Uhh, And a bunch of other cover ups
Your childs future was the first to go with budget cuts
If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut
The school was garbage in the first place, that's on the up and up
Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the uppercrust
You get it then they move it so you never keeping up enough
If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the fucks”
Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
And that ain't Jersey Shore, homie that's the news
And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit
That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either
I’m a part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
And I believe in the people.

~Lupe Fiasco~

  • I am heading back to the state capital in Augusta this morning for another protest.  This one will be organized by Move to Amend - the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban corporate $$$ in our elections.  Organizers are bringing a resolution to the state legislature calling for their support in the effort to keep corporate Mr. Big from stealing elections.  Already 36 Maine towns and cities have passed similar resolutions.

Monday, January 21, 2013


More at The Real News
Glen Ford is a distinguished radio-show host and commentator. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted America's Black Forum, the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. In 1987, Ford launched Rap It Up, the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music show, broadcast on 65 radio stations. Ford co-founded the Black Commentator in 2002 and in 2006 he launched the Black Agenda Report. Ford is also the author of The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion.


Martin Luther King Jr.: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" 

Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967.
MLK was killed, I believe, because he had crossed the line to speak out against U.S. imperial wars. He was also rumored to be considering at the time running for the White House with Dr. Benjamin Spock (a key leader of the peace movement) as his vice-presidential running mate.

A Spock-King team would have united the black and white activist movements that were so strong during the late 60's. It was then that the decision was made to take King out.

I highly recommend the book called Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. by William Pepper. I read it some years ago and it was a life-changer for me.

See it here

I am convinced that in America the oligarchy lets you speak out (it helps maintain the illusion of democracy) until you become a real threat to their power. In the case of MLK, the decision was made that he was going to seriously challenge the power of those who run the show.

Sadly today we have a president who cowardly hides behind the name and memory of MLK to justify his wars and his attacks on civil liberties and social progress.

Sunday, January 20, 2013



The_Target_Village by LemmyCautionTK

Very moving film about US bases on Okinawa and the growing resistance of the people.

This is just one more example that the US-NATO "pivot" into the Asia-Pacific is harming people and the environment.

The film reveals that during the 1960's Okinawan villagers (including children) were forced to perform as Vietnamese targets as the US soldiers practiced guerrilla warfare in their forest.


Saturday, January 19, 2013


Gotta laugh sometimes.....


Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about everything from his theological development and gradualism to the White South's guilt complex and the use of boycotts in the Civil Rights Movement.

The journalist conducting the interview was quite stuffy.


As I typed the headline above
Homer groaned.  I swear he did.
I looked down at him on his bed,
weary knees creaking
and sad eyes,
and I thought I heard him say
"Ok, you can post my picture
but don't abuse me."

I'll try not to Homer.

We just went on a walk to, and through, the woods.
He was anxious to get out
and once moving, his wobbly knees can still
carry us on his pulling romp
from one smell to the next.

Homer likes the snow
especially the yellow marks
cocaine I guess
citrus flavor.

He sniffs cars too
like a police dog
from one end to the other,
identifying the occupants
and potential dog scents?

He does not lick
first dog I've ever seen that does not lick
He sniffs
What is he looking for?

The book "American Indian Myths & Legends"
has a story I love.
"The Dogs Hold an Election"
It's a Brule Sioux tale.
They say the reason dogs are always sniffing each other
is because they are looking for a leader.
They hold a convention each year
where they nominate dogs for the post
but the debate over which is the best
seems endless and is never resolved.

I asked Homer what he thought....
He looked away, sort of raising his eyebrows.
I thought I heard him say we don't need one.
We just need each other.
Join the pack.


This brillant young journalist really connects the dots between growing rape culture and the larger issues.  Rape women, children, the Mother Earth - it all speaks to our spiritual disconnection.  And I believe that spiritual "deficit" is directly connected to how the consumerist culture has indoctrinated us to turn off our feeling button - because in order to create the endless consumer culture the Earth must be raped of every "needed resource".  It's a blindness to ever grinding economic growth and the obvious consequences.

Our souls have been hollowed out in this whole process and we've forgotten what it means to be human.  Humans are just commodities now too, so our embedded minds have been filled with a basic hatred of each other.  Thus we are able to rob, occupy, kill, and extract with virtually no conscience.

What is the way out?  In the midst of the political action that is necessitated in all of this is the equally important need to rediscover our humanity - and a humility about our place on this planet.  We are just one damn strand in this web of life and have no right to be so arrogant.  Our impacts on the rest of the living world are so devastating.  Native voices remind us that we must live in harmony with all other living beings.  Rape culture breaks that bond.


Sodastream's factory is in an illegal Israeli settlement built on land stolen from Palestinians. Each and every package they sell contains human rights abuses and violations of international law.

Boycott Sodastream.

Friday, January 18, 2013


My 99th show as I enter the 10th year of doing This Issue public access TV program in Maine.

My guest is Bob Klotz of who discusses climate change activism.


  • An elementary school teacher in Maine had to go to the doctor one day recently so a substitute teacher was brought in to run the class.  The kids went wild.  One of the 3rd grade children was found holding a "Kill list" with several names on it.  The child was suspended from school.  Not sure if professional counseling is being offered for the boy and his reportedly dysfunctional family.  Sadly many such counseling programs in the state are being defunded.  Where did the child learn about kill lists?
  • Before he leaves office Obama's Secretary of War Leon Panetta is out pumping up the jam for NATO expansion into the Asia-Pacific. "In particular, I strongly believe that Europe should join the US in increasing and deepening our defense engagement with the Asia-Pacific region," Panetta said while recently in London. The U.S. "pivot" to Asia has caused concern in Europe, he acknowledged. "But today those concerns should be put to rest," Panetta said. "Global security is not a zero-sum game, but neither are the security commitments of the US. More importantly, Europe’s economic and security future is -- much like the United States' -- increasingly tied to Asia. Panetta said after spending the week in Southern Europe, and continuing to deal with budget uncertainty at home, "I am very clear-eyed about the fiscal pressures nations are facing." NATO nations are facing a crisis, Panetta said. "But we must never allow any crisis to undermine our collective resolve."
  • There will be a Rally, March, and Die-In Against Drone Wars in Washington, D.C., next Monday, on inauguration day.  The theme is "I have a drone" on a take-off of MLK's "I have a dream" speech.  The schedule includes: 9-10 a.m. Rally with prominent speakers and music at Meridian Hill Park (lower level) at Florida Avenue and 16th Street NW, Washington DC.  At 10 a.m. parade forms and marches down 16th Street NW to K Street NW. Contact 202-422-6275. See more here
  •  At our Maine VFP meeting the other night Tom Whitney passed around an action alert about Colombian political prisoner David Ravelo. Colombia's prison population has increased by 30% during the current presidency of Juan Manuel Santos. David Ravelo is one of 10,000 political prisoners and is a leading human rights activist. The internal state of siege within which Ravelo is a victim is largely directed at clearing rural areas for exploitation of natural resources and industrial-scale agriculture, projects funded by foreign investment. Tom invited us to add our names to a letter in support of Ravelo's release from prison. Contact Tom directly to add your name


Several thousand people have been protesting against the military in the Pakistani city of Peshawar after 15 local villagers were killed. The outcry comes as thousands of supporters of a fiery Muslim cleric continued their anti-government protest in Islamabad. Osama Bin Javaid reports.


Asparagus farming, which is highly water intensive, has grown so fast in parts of Peru that it is drying up some of the country's aquifers. According to the National Water Authority, the city of Ica uses 35 percent of all the underground water reserves in the country. Within three years, one particular region could have no more water left for agriculture. Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Ica.


Thursday, January 17, 2013


Watch this through the initial propaganda... It gets better as activists go the the board of directors at Cochise College in Arizona and challenge the corporatization of the campus and the teaching of students to become workers in the weapons industry building and operating drones.

Most of our college and university campuses across the nation, and around the world, are becoming militarized. As the schools face cutbacks they turn to the military for funding.  But there is a price to pay when you take money from the devil.  You lose your soul and these institutions of "higher learning" are facing this very fact - they are losing their missions to inspire and educate enquiring minds.  Instead they are turning our children into instruments in the Pentagon killing machine.

Congratulations to these brave activists in Arizona for taking their protest right into the center of authority at their local college.  More of us must do the same.


Malcolm X and MLK debate non-violent strategies......


  • A friend of mine who teaches college in California shared this picture yesterday and wrote, "my engineering students armed to the teeth."  Referring to my post yesterday about kids making violent videos this same friend also wrote, "they all want to be Tarantino!" (the famous violent filmmaker).
  • Tarantino is my grandmother's (on mother's side) family name.  I wonder.....
  • This morning I found on the Global Network Facebook page a comment from USN kids here in Maine who produced the violent films.  I had posted a link to my blog about the story on the GN page.  USN wrote: "hahahahahahahahaha".  I see they are taking the entire situation seriously - about as would be expected under the circumstances.
  • There is a raging debate on the No Drones list serve about a petition that has been posted by one of the Washington DC peace lobby groups calling on Congress to decide whether or not Obama should order drone flights over Mali as he assists the French attack.  The DC group staffer got angry when many grassroots folks declined to sign the petition because it did not stand in opposition to the use of drones - period.  (In other words if Congress says its OK, then what is your next move after your strategy was to rely on Congress to oppose drone use?  We all know that Congress has largely been bought and sold by corporations like Boeing who now are huge drone makers.)  The staffer wrote, "Why isn't the whiner dogmahead ideological purist ultra-left doing anything about Mali?"  You can imagine the push back that resulted from that comment and it still is going on.
  • I decided that something was missing in the Mali drone debate so I wrote a response and sent it to the No Drone list.  Here are my words:

    I think we have to be much more analytical about the reasons for divergent strategies....

    When one looks at the organizational infrastructure of Robert's group what you find is an inside the beltway group that likely gets funding to try to bring the grassroots energy into the lobbying scene in Washington.  Sometimes these groups are funded by foundations with close ties to the Democrats.

    Thus there is a tendency among many DC groups to try to work on issues that are "pragmatic" or even "acceptable" to those political institutions.  Thus the staffers in these DC oriented organizations often feel upset when the great unwashed (and far too independent) grassroots folks abandon the DC strategy.  Sometimes, as in this case with Robert, the grassroots gets called a bunch of do-nothings.  The thinking often becomes "if you are not playing ball in my ball park then you don't matter".

    So Robert is correct in saying that these divisions are real and they are important.

    Some of us out here in the hustings think the two-party game in DC enables the whole war making process.  Some of us have declined to use our limited energy and funds on the standard DC swirl - usually we have much less $$$ and paid staff than the DC groups have.

    So I think this debate should continue - but we need to be much more open about how some groups are closer to the power structure and are willing to occasionally accommodate with politicians.

    This question of "who speaks for the peace movement" will continue to rage on and it should.  It's just nice to know who and what we are dealing with when we do it.

    Bruce K. Gagnon
    Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space


France is in its fifth day of an offensive to oust rebels that have held much of Mali’s northern region since March, an area larger than Afghanistan. The strikes have reportedly killed 11 civilians, including three children fleeing the bombardment of a camp near the central town of Konna. The United Nations estimates as many as 30,000 may have been displaced since fighting began last week. The United States has backed the offensive by helping transport French troops and making plans to send drones or other surveillance aircraft. It is aiding a fight against Malian forces that it once helped train, only to see them defect and join the Islamist rebellion. We discuss the latest in Mali with Al Jazeera correspondent May Ying Welsh, who has reported from Mali’s north, and with freelance journalist Hannah Armstrong, a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, who joins Democracy Now from the Malian capital of Bamako.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This taken from a violent video game made by a group of kids in Brunswick, Maine calling themselves USN Films - USN refers to US Navy

There is a big dust up going on here in Maine over the discovery of a two-year spree of violent video making where local youth used public spaces to produce their "films".

A local Brunswick high school senior, who has been accepted next year at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, is the leader of the pack of about 20 kids involved in producing the videos.  Local newspapers report that the kids have made 26 videos, viewed 8.3 million times on YouTube, and have used the public library and the former US Navy airfield in Brunswick (now called Brunswick Landing) as back drops for the videos.

In the videos youth go around killing people randomly and wantonly.

A local friend called me early this morning wanting advice on what to do about this situation.  I told her that violence and militarism is becoming "normalized" in our society because this is the role that has been determined for us in America by the oligarchy.  We aren't going to make things anymore - its cheaper to go overseas to produce "stuff" - our role under corporate globalization will be "security export".  Thus it is no coincidence that today the #1 industrial export of the US is weapons.  And when weapons are your #1 industrial export product - what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

So the upcoming generations are being taught that "this is your future".  Endless war overseas and growing violence at home.  The next generation has to be made to feel "good and excited" that despite the fact they have no jobs - they can get thrills, and still find self meaning, by going into the military to kill.  On whose behalf they kill is not to be discussed.

I suggested to my friend that unless folks like us push back hard against this growing violence the debate over what is "normal" will never happen.  We discussed some ideas she could take on.  I suggested we could do a future edition of my public access TV show on the subject.

After talking with her I knew I had to do something.  I noticed a quote in the newspaper article from Steve Levesque who directs the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority which now stands in charge of the former Navy base.  Once this story became public he acknowledged that he had recently had the kids evicted from the grounds of the former Navy base where they were "shooting" a video.  Levesque is the guy we've been running up against the last couple years as he is in charge of annually organizing air shows at the former Navy base.  So I sent him the following email (with a copy to two local newspapers):

Mr. Levesque,

I found it rather interesting to read your quote in the Times Record yesterday about the sad story of kids using Brunswick Landing (and other public places) to make their violent videos.

Your quote in the paper was good where you said, "We have to deal with this...Guns were one thing, but we have an issue in our society where we are desensitizing our youth to violence such as this.  That's a concern that I have personally."

Where my confusion comes in is that you don't seem able (or willing) to connect the dots.  Late last summer your authority had the Air Force Thunderbirds headline the air show at the former base.  Included in that air show was a "spectacular" simulated bombing with napalm on the runway that made the front page of the Forecaster.  My mind immediately flashed back to the Vietnam war and the little girl running down a road as her body was on fire from the napalm.

Have you ever stopped to wonder if your promotion of war and violence at these air shows does in fact directly contribute to this "desensitizing our youth to violence"? 

We all have to take responsibility for helping to normalize this growing culture of violence and militarism in America.  The fact that you are eagerly scheduling another air show for 2013 only makes my sadness more acute.

In peace,

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

Very soon after sending the email to Mr. Levesque he responded with the following:

Hi Bruce,

Thanks for your note on this issue.  I personally believe that there is a clear distinction between the promotion of youth gun violence for the sport of it and military activities to defend our country. 

For the record, Napalm was not used at the airshow.

Steve Levesque
Executive Director
Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority
The parents of the kids see no problem with the videos.  In fact the lead boy's father quite often participates.  (Why not go on a long tiring nature hike with the kids?)  But the most troubling was the news in the article that teachers at the school often play the videos for the students.  The reporter noted one kid saying:

"Sometimes in class, when we have study halls or free periods at the end of the day, some of my teachers have actually played the videos on projectors."

We have a huge problem here in the US.  We have become a killing culture and few are willing to see how all these little seemingly unrelated pieces add up directly to build this culture of violence.  Those of us deeply concerned about this need to find more creative ways to involve ourselves directly in these conversations.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


After announcing plans to drill in the Arctic last summer, Shell has proven — through a series of accidents and mishaps — just how impossible it is to function safely in the severe conditions of this remote region. Just this month, a Shell drilling rig ran aground, again demonstrating that Big Oil cannot be trusted to drill in one of the last pristine wild places left on the planet. Call on President Obama to suspend, re-evaluate and then end all oil and gas operations in the Arctic Ocean.


Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films went on the Ed Schultz Show to discuss America's inhumane drone program.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Beijing, China covered in pollution.  "Progress and growth" are killing us.

The Myth of Human Progress

By Chris Hedges

Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.

The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth—as well as killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury—as well as unrivaled military and economic power—for the industrial elites are the forces that now doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence. But even as our economic and environmental systems unravel, after the hottest year in the contiguous 48 states since record keeping began 107 years ago, we lack the emotional and intellectual creativity to shut down the engine of global capitalism. We have bound ourselves to a doomsday machine that grinds forward, as the draft report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee illustrates.

Complex civilizations have a bad habit of destroying themselves. Anthropologists including Joseph Tainter in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” Charles L. Redman in “Human Impact on Ancient Environments” and Ronald Wright in “A Short History of Progress” have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the Earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed and self-worship.

“There is a pattern in the past of civilization after civilization wearing out its welcome from nature, overexploiting its environment, overexpanding, overpopulating,” Wright said when I reached him by phone at his home in British Columbia, Canada. “They tend to collapse quite soon after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity. That pattern holds good for a lot of societies, among them the Romans, the ancient Maya and the Sumerians of what is now southern Iraq. There are many other examples, including smaller-scale societies such as Easter Island. The very things that cause societies to prosper in the short run, especially new ways to exploit the environment such as the invention of irrigation, lead to disaster in the long run because of unforeseen complications. This is what I called in ‘A Short History of Progress’ the ‘progress trap.’ We have set in motion an industrial machine of such complexity and such dependence on expansion that we do not know how to make do with less or move to a steady state in terms of our demands on nature. We have failed to control human numbers. They have tripled in my lifetime. And the problem is made much worse by the widening gap between rich and poor, the upward concentration of wealth, which ensures there can never be enough to go around. The number of people in dire poverty today—about 2 billion—is greater than the world’s entire population in the early 1900s. That’s not progress.”

“If we continue to refuse to deal with things in an orderly and rational way, we will head into some sort of major catastrophe, sooner or later,” he said. “If we are lucky it will be big enough to wake us up worldwide but not big enough to wipe us out. That is the best we can hope for. We must transcend our evolutionary history. We’re Ice Age hunters with a shave and a suit. We are not good long-term thinkers. We would much rather gorge ourselves on dead mammoths by driving a herd over a cliff than figure out how to conserve the herd so it can feed us and our children forever. That is the transition our civilization has to make. And we’re not doing that.”

Wright, who in his dystopian novel “A Scientific Romance” paints a picture of a future world devastated by human stupidity, cites “entrenched political and economic interests” and a failure of the human imagination as the two biggest impediments to radical change. And all of us who use fossil fuels, who sustain ourselves through the formal economy, he says, are at fault.

Modern capitalist societies, Wright argues in his book “What Is America?: A Short History of the New World Order,” derive from European invaders’ plundering of the indigenous cultures in the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries, coupled with the use of African slaves as a workforce to replace the natives. The numbers of those natives fell by more than 90 percent because of smallpox and other plagues they hadn’t had before. The Spaniards did not conquer any of the major societies until smallpox had crippled them; in fact the Aztecs beat them the first time around. If Europe had not been able to seize the gold of the Aztec and Inca civilizations, if it had not been able to occupy the land and adopt highly productive New World crops for use on European farms, the growth of industrial society in Europe would have been much slower. Karl Marx and Adam Smith both pointed to the influx of wealth from the Americas as having made possible the Industrial Revolution and the start of modern capitalism. It was the rape of the Americas, Wright points out, that triggered the orgy of European expansion. The Industrial Revolution also equipped the Europeans with technologically advanced weapons systems, making further subjugation, plundering and expansion possible.

“The experience of a relatively easy 500 years of expansion and colonization, the constant taking over of new lands, led to the modern capitalist myth that you can expand forever,” Wright said. “It is an absurd myth. We live on this planet. We can’t leave it and go somewhere else. We have to bring our economies and demands on nature within natural limits, but we have had a 500-year run where Europeans, Euro-Americans and other colonists have overrun the world and taken it over. This 500-year run made it not only seem easy but normal. We believe things will always get bigger and better. We have to understand that this long period of expansion and prosperity was an anomaly. It has rarely happened in history and will never happen again. We have to readjust our entire civilization to live in a finite world. But we are not doing it, because we are carrying far too much baggage, too many mythical versions of deliberately distorted history and a deeply ingrained feeling that what being modern is all about is having more. This is what anthropologists call an ideological pathology, a self-destructive belief that causes societies to crash and burn. These societies go on doing things that are really stupid because they can’t change their way of thinking. And that is where we are.”

And as the collapse becomes palpable, if human history is any guide, we like past societies in distress will retreat into what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” The powerlessness we will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist belief in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us.

“Societies in collapse often fall prey to the belief that if certain rituals are performed all the bad stuff will go away,” Wright said. “There are many examples of that throughout history. In the past these crisis cults took hold among people who had been colonized, attacked and slaughtered by outsiders, who had lost control of their lives. They see in these rituals the ability to bring back the past world, which they look at as a kind of paradise. They seek to return to the way things were. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the 19th century, when the buffalo and the Indians were being slaughtered by repeating rifles and finally machine guns. People came to believe, as happened in the Ghost Dance, that if they did the right things the modern world that was intolerable—the barbed wire, the railways, the white man, the machine gun—would disappear.”

“We all have the same, basic psychological hard wiring,” Wright said. “It makes us quite bad at long-range planning and leads us to cling to irrational delusions when faced with a serious threat. Look at the extreme right’s belief that if government got out of the way, the lost paradise of the 1950s would return. Look at the way we are letting oil and gas exploration rip when we know that expanding the carbon economy is suicidal for our children and grandchildren. The results can already be felt. When it gets to the point where large parts of the Earth experience crop failure at the same time then we will have mass starvation and a breakdown in order. That is what lies ahead if we do not deal with climate change.”

“If we fail in this great experiment, this experiment of apes becoming intelligent enough to take charge of their own destiny, nature will shrug and say it was fun for a while to let the apes run the laboratory, but in the end it was a bad idea,” Wright said.