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. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, May 11, 2013


There have been various periods of capital accumulation during US history.  The Robber Barons of the industrial age wrung everything they could from the working class.  The tactics they used then are very similar to those used today by their descendants on Wall Street.

During the late 1800's to early 1900's in the US there was much movement building in response to the greedy capitalists than ran the nation.  Labor, women's suffrage, farmers, Socialist, Communist, and other movements created the national pressures that led to Social Security, unemployment insurance, the eight-hour day and 40-hour work week, and other great leaps forward in human and economic rights.

Today much of this social progress is being dismantled as we see global corporations squeeze working class and poor people around the world.  These greedy bastards care nothing about the people.

Anyone paying the slightest attention can see that the public is now rising up in response and fighting back.  Here in the US and around the world students are increasingly organizing as are service industry workers, peace activists, climate change organizations, anti-austerity movements, civil liberties groups, native people with Idle No More, anti-foreclosure groups, and more.

All of these movements are pointing directly at the growing power of corporations who control our governments and use the forces of the state to try to repress us.  As these movements continue to grow their power will become so deep and wide that the police and military forces of any state won't be able to control them. 

Here in the US we now see super-majorities in the polls that oppose endless war, cuts in social spending, and more give-a-ways to Wall Street banksters.  Things break down for us though at the congressional level and courts as the corporations, not the people, control those levers of power.

Our solution will not come from the gun, or the halls of Congress or any Parliament.  Our collective victory against this current period of capital accumulation will only come by an energized global commons that takes their outrage into the streets in a massive show of non-violent protest.  This protest must not be a one-shot deal but sustained over time and must link energies and demands across the planet.

We the people of the world are brothers and sisters.  The global corporate class remains in power because they pit us against one another - using religion, skin color, language, and ignorance as their tools.

When we recognize the humanity in one another, and learn to love each other, then we will be able to take back the power to determine our future on this tiny beautiful orb spinning through space.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Attorney and author Glenn Greenwald confessed Wednesday that he thinks America’s oligarchs appear to be mostly focused right now on consolidating surveillance and military might without regard for discontent across society, risking major civil unrest.

See more here


Catholic Father Moon is carried away from the tent area while playing accordion
Mayor Kang from Gangjeong village trying to defend the tents across from Navy base construction gate

Village protest chairman Go Gwon Il chained to top of tent
Village protest cook Uncle Jonghwan

Gangjeong villagers last night were removed while protecting tents they had long used just across the road from the Navy base construction gate on Jeju Island, South Korea.  The government appears to be continuing with its fierce crackdown since the election of the new president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the former brutal South Korean dictator who had once served as an officer in the Japanese imperial Army.  He was essentially a US puppet and his daughter appears to be serving the same purpose today.

The villager tents were used by construction gate protesters to rest, offer information to the public, and to display banners in opposition to the base.  In the current climate they are being removed again and again from various public spaces as the Navy tightens its grip on the village.  Navy plans reveal that they intend to take significant portions of the village for military personnel housing once the port facilities are complete.

This base will be a key port for the US Navy that is now moving 60% of its forces to the Asia-Pacific as part of Obama's dangerous and destabilizing military "pivot" into the region.  Gangjeong village sits just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland making the proposed Navy base there a strategic outpost for the Pentagon's goal of controling the shipping lanes which China uses to import 80% of its oil.

It is ironic that just last night I went to see the award-winning documentary film called Five Broken Cameras that was shown by Students for Justice in Palestine at nearby Bowdoin College.  The story of Palestinian lands being stolen by force in order to build Jewish settlements is sadly similar to the Jeju Island story.  At the very time we were watching that film the latest crackdown on Jeju was also happening.

In recent weeks the Jeju crackdown has included the deportation of several international activists who had been in the village offering solidarity for quite a long time.  We've got to get more internationals to go to Jeju so that the villagers are not isolated from the rest of the world.

As I write this three of the four who were arrested last night (including Mayor Kang) were still being detained. 

More video from this event is available here

In the meantime you can follow the story by visiting the Save Jeju Now website here

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee was buzzing Monday with some unusual sights, all in advance of a federal trial for three people charged with vandalizing [pouring blood and painting anti-nuclear slogans] the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Last July Michael Walli, 64, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun, cut through fences at Y-12 in a protest against nuclear weapons at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

Jury selection for their federal trial began Monday afternoon. Seventy five potential jurors were vetted extensively by a special judge who came in from Kentucky.

See the major Washington Post coverage of this trial here 

Update:  The three activists were found guilty and face up to 20 years in prison.  Sentencing will happen sometime in the near future.

MR. 109

The poor and working class, marginalized people of a profit driven culture, filled the room at the Dewitt Court just outside of Syracuse, New York.  There were 109 cases to be heard and the “night court” began at 6:00 pm. 

When one man appeared before the judge I heard the court say he was accused of grand larceny.  My mind immediately flashed back to Richard Connor, the former CEO of the Portland Press Herald (Maine) who took over the paper a few years ago and immediately reduced the news staff, sold off assets, changed the paper’s political orientation to a right-wing rag, and ran it into the ground.

Then after what seemed like a short period of time, Mr. Connor was gone and there was no public explanation.  It wasn’t until just last week that stories appeared in the paper that Connor had embezzled $530,000 from the newspaper.  He reportedly gave himself a couple of unauthorized pay raises, bought his son a new expensive car, treated himself to high-priced vacations in Maine resort towns, and more.

After all of that high-level thievery one would expect that Connor would be sitting behind bars in the slammer for a long time to come.  But it appears not likely to happen.  The current administration of the newspaper (recently bought by a Democratic Party hedge fund operator married to our Congresswoman Chellie Pingree) has been quoted in the paper saying that we just want to “move on” – focus on the future and not the past.  (Yes, the same kind of lingo that Obama used when asked if George W. Bush and company should be prosecuted for war crimes.)

Clearly, there are two standards of justice in this country.  The rich and well connected commit big expensive crimes (remember Wall Street) but don’t go to jail.

The poor and working class commit petty crimes in comparison and languish in jail – often for years. 

The fat cats take care of one another even if they are from different political parties or have different ideological orientations.  There is something that always bonds them – greed and their loyalty to the capitalist system and the global imperial project.

I wrote all of this while sitting in the Dewitt courtroom - waiting to be called before the judge for my pre-trial hearing – and watching the “fair and balanced scales of justice” in action.  Finally after five and one-half hours I got my chance to convince the judge that I was capable of representing myself during my trial for civil resistance at Hancock Air Field drone base.  The judge gave me an August 1 date to reappear in his court to hear any motions that I submit before my trial.  It took about 15 minutes in all. 

As it turns out I was the last of the 109 cases to be heard last night.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013


Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say it's an attempt to impose an American system on Japan and would threaten Japanese public healthcare system.

Monday, May 06, 2013


US government officials have claimed that Bashar al-Assad's government used chemical weapons against the citizens of Syria, but according to the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry that may not be the case. According to the findings of the commission, there is evidence that suggests the anti-government rebels in the country are guilty of these allegations. Israel has launched air strikes against the worn torn country in an attempt to stop the movement of weapons allegedly coming in from Iran, but what is really going on the ground?

See more on this story by Reuters here

Also statement by Green Shadow Cabinet on Syria here


  • I have to make the eight-hour return trip to Syracuse, New York for my second appearance before the Dewitt Court on May 7.  Mary Beth is taking a couple days off work and coming with me so we will leave this morning and drive half-way there and stay with a friend in Massachusetts and then make the second-half of the journey Tuesday morning. I don't really know what to expect from this trip but doubt that it will be much of anything.  Likely just a decision by the court that I don't qualify for a court appointed attorney because our combined income puts me over the poverty barrier (which I have been expecting) and means I will represent myself.  They will also probably give me another appearance date in the near future.  This is part of the punishment process - long travel to court.
  • Yesterday I made the trip two-hours north to Belfast for the Maine Green Party annual convention which was one of the better ones I've attended over the years.  Many of the key activists in Maine (representing various issues) were there and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein was also present.  She's doing a good job building the party by connecting the various movements.  Looks like her campaign is not really ending - she's already building for the next national election by integrating movement and electoral work.  The growing disappointment, outrage, and disillusionment with Obama and the Democratic Party is driving people to the Green Party in greater numbers.

Sunday, May 05, 2013