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, June 13, 2015

G7 Protest in Germany

Friday, June 12, 2015

Keep your Eyes on the Magician's Hands

US President Barack Obama's ambitious trade agenda has been dealt a severe blow by the House of Representatives. The Lower House has blocked a workers aid programme - part of a package to strengthen trade ties with Asia-Pacific nations.President Obama went to Capitol Hill, but failed to convince fellow Democrats to back him. Al Jazeera's White House correspondent Patty Culhane reports.

The bottom line is this ain't over yet.  Obama, on behalf of corporate globalization, is pulling out all the stops on this one.   Keep the phone calls and emails going to Congress - the Democrats have a history of caving in on these corporate trade deals.  It ain't over til it is over.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

West Keeps Ukraine on a Short Leash

Are western Ukrainians to surrender the right to determine their economic policy and risk the loss of state-owned industries and assets in exchange for loans from the International Monetary Fund? In the first of three videos, Michael Hudson, Jeffrey Sommers, and James Carden explain why economic integration with the West won’t turn Ukraine into an economic success story.

The videos, produced by Endless Picnic, include interviews with Michael Hudson, a former balance-of-payments economist for Chase Manhattan Bank, distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and an author of a major study of the IMF; Jeffrey Sommers, associate professor of political economy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a visiting lecturer at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia; and James Carden, a former adviser on Russia to the State Department. 

June 12, 1982 - Opening My Eyes to Militarization of Space

On Friday morning MB and I take the train south to New York City.  I will be the speaker that evening at the Catholic Worker Maryhouse (55 East Third St) for the weekly Friday night 'clarification of thought' meeting.

The title of my talk is:  June 12, 1982 & The Birth of the Space for Peace Program.

I'll tell the story about how on June 12, 1982 I was living in Orlando, Florida watching C-SPAN coverage of the nearly one million person march in New York opposing nuclear weapons.  This event was part of the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament.

After C-SPAN coverage of the disarmament march concluded they switched to a right-wing conference where President Ronald Reagan's head of Star Wars (Strategic Defense Initiative) Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham was speaking.  During the question period after his talk he was asked by one participant, "Gen. Graham they say there were almost a million people marching in NYC today against nuclear weapons.  Aren't you worried?"  Graham responded, "No, I think it's great.  They are out there protesting against nuclear weapons and we are moving into space.  They don't have a clue.  Let them keep doing what they are doing."

I was stunned and my first thought was the cowboy movies I had watched as a kid.  The phrase "Head them off at the pass" flashed through my mind.  Here I was living in Central Florida, literally just minutes away from Cape Canaveral, and I indeed had no clue.  I decided in that moment to start learning about the militarization of space.

It was the next year in 1983 that I became the state coordinator for the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice.  In that job I repeatedly organized protest events at the space center against military satellite launches, launches of missiles, launches of nuclear powered space probes and more.  Out of those actions, along with the Colorado Springs-based group Citizens for Peace in Space, we created the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space in 1992.

So June 12, 1982 is a date I'll never forget.  It will be exciting to share this story at Maryhouse in New York City.

Gangjeong Grand March for Life & Peace

Let's Walk Together Again! 2015 Gangjeong Grand March for Life and Peace! A Cultural Event to commemorate 3,000 days of struggle against Jeju Naval Base!

The Grand March starts from Jeju City Hall on 27 July. The group will be divided into two groups, one marches towards east coast of Jeju Island, while the other group marches towards west coast of Jeju Island. Two groups will meet together at Gangjeong village on 1 August. On 1 August, villagers and participants will commemorate 3,000 days of struggle against the Jeju Naval Base. We will cheer each other up who tirelessly worked to maintain peace in the village. We will continue to work on maintaining peace in East Asia by opposing Jeju Naval Base!

Participation Info
- Participants fee: 10,000 KRW per person per day (Full participation will be 60,000 KRW). For foreing participants, it can be paid on the site. (Cash only)
- International participants' fee (cash only) can be paid on site
- Food, accommodation, souvenir will be provided. No participation fee for elementary school children and younger.
- T-shirt is 10,000 KRW and you can buy it on the site with cash.
- Please bring your own cup and toiletories.

Grand March Course
27 July 9am Meeting in front of Jeju City Hall, 10am Press Conference, 11am Start!
East coast: Hamduk beach - Gimnyung beach - Jongdal-ri - Pyosun beach - Haryeh primary school - Gangjeong Village (1 Aug)
West coast : Jeju province government building - Hypjae beach - Sanbang Mt. - Hwasun beach - Yakchun temple - Gangjeong Village (1 Aug)

More information available here

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Donbass Kids Speak As Kiev's Shells Rain Down

How Does ISIS Get Its Guns?

Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by "black market oil" or "hostage ransoms" but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey's borders via hundreds of trucks a day.

Every day, trucks laden with food, clothing, and other supplies cross the border from Turkey to Syria. It is unclear who is picking up the goods. The haulers believe most of the cargo is going to the "Islamic State" militia. Oil, weapons, and soldiers are also being smuggled over the border, and Kurdish volunteers are now patrolling the area in a bid to stem the supplies.

Tony Cartalucci writes:

ISIS' supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.

Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria - coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi - a terrorist hotbed for decades.

TV News Will Camouflage Adverts

Privatize, militarize, Americanize, hypnotize, rationalize, just don't criticize.......

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Kiev Shells Civilians to Intimidate Them

Colonel-General Vladimir Ruban explains Ukraine army's artillery strategy to intimidate civilians by shelling them - but admits it is not working.

It's called terrorism and the US-NATO are backing this strategy carried out by their Kiev puppet government.

Good luck finding this story in the western corporate media......

Should We Nuke Russia?

Has the level of public education gotten so bad in the US that people don't even know what it means to attack another country with nuclear weapons?

How Do We Get Out From Behind the Ecological Eight-Ball?

This is the logo for the Pando Populus web site.  Pando is the name of the largest and oldest organism on the planet - a giant quaking aspen tree, spread over more than a hundred acres, 80,000 years old, connected by a single root system

Here are my 14-pages of notes from the conference I just attended in Clermont, California.  While I agree with most of these thoughts from various presenters some of it I could quibble with but it’s all worth sharing.  A few of the thoughts are mine from the ‘Track’ I presented in.

  • Learn more about ‘Process Studies’
  • Ecological civilization is our goal
  • We are in trouble unless we change and allow the natural systems to teach us how to live
  • Mechanisms have no soul
  • When we think the world is a machine there is no incentive to save it
  • Universities have been shaped by the mechanism model
  • We know we are not machines, then why should we study like we are machines, presenting what we are programmed to present
  • We have to specialize, none of us can do everything, but if we can see the connections then we all make progress toward our goals.  This is the example of nature
  • Ecological economics
  • Free ourselves from this prison
  • Catastrophe means ‘down’
  • We should covert the Pentagon into the ‘Natural Guard’ which would do relief work as climate change begins to wreak havoc on our fragile Mother Earth
  • Weapons production facilities should be building rail, solar, wind turbines, and tidal power systems which would create more jobs than military production presently does
  • Some say Pope Francis should shut up about climate change – he is not a scientist.  But actually he has a Masters Degree in Chemistry
  • Check out the movie called ‘Snow Piercer’
  • The good news is that capitalism is dead
  • We currently have a Mafia-ocracy at the national and global levels
  • Financial markets act like a super global government
  • We need a peace academy to counter military academies
  • 67% of Baltimore’s black men under 18 are in the criminal justice system
  • Need to expand national youth service to do needed things across our country.  But to pay for that, and other good programs that are needed, we must first cut the Pentagon budget and tax the rich
  • If everybody only considers his or her own point of view then we compete.  If we stay open to others we learn to cooperate
  • Old economic models depend on scarcity
  • We now have an abundance of information thus we can have more cooperation
  • Makerism – Robots will do the work and we will have 3-D printers to make things (this came from our MIT friends). We won’t need much trade because we will make what we need.  Print your own house
  • Coop-i-tition
  • Master Card wants to be a social justice company.  They want to get rid of paper money.  Don’t need big banks.
  • If we get rid of paper money and go to computer money – the corporate oligarchy could turn off the money flow to anyone who speaks out against the system
  • Chasing debt drives the economic growth culture
  • Artificial scarcity – banks sell us money as a product which we pay interest on. Never enough money because the monetary system managers make money by regulating the $$$ supply
  • The caring components of our society are devalued and are being defunded
  • Public banks don’t dramatically change the capitalist system as debt just moves from private to public institutions but they are still important anyway
  • Need more ways to have transactions between people outside of the debt system
  • We sing to make ourselves happy because we are the ones we have been waiting for
  • Human survival is not a solo act
  • We are the building blocks determined not to become the stumbling blocks
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify
  • The tigers are vanishing.  What is the answer?  Build more cages?  No, build more forests
  • Limiting factor in capitalist growth these days is resources
  • If you don’t grow the economy then you have to solve poverty by redistribution which is an unpopular topic
  • Unlimited growth is increasing environmental and social problems
  • In China the obstacles to reevaluate the consequences of endless growth are less than in the west
  • The economy is primarily studied as an isolated system.  The issues of waste and environmental consequences must be factored into economics
  • Globalism destroys communities at the national level.  Corporate feudalism is a global commons of another kind
  • We’ve been brainwashed by individualist thinking.  We need community
  • Gross national happiness has been declared in the constitution of the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan
  • If we continue with the growth model nations will keep fighting wars over resource control
  • We need a federation of nations to agree to limit war and resource competition
  • If people were truly self interested they’d reject individualism
  • Pando aspen tree grove in Utah has lasted 80,000 years with one inter-connected root system.  This is the way we should live.  The pando grove is now in danger of destruction from failing environment
  • Check out
  • We must share with the future generations and non-human life
  • Be fruitful and multiply is the only commandment in the Bible that we have obeyed
  • It is a humanly controlled fact that we can’t now make changes thus it is a humanly controlled fact that this could change
  • The power of the purchased media is the leading voice for continued growth
  • The irresistible power of the unarmed truth
  • The education system is a key prop that holds people to the growth system
  • Many universities claim to be ‘value free’ which means they will teach what ever someone pays them to teach
  • Unsustainable means terrible catastrophe
  • Without virtue happiness cannot be.  We have a crisis of lack of virtue.
  • Love is an action.  We need a civilization of love and an international debt jubilee.  Usury is a crime
  • We the people should own the banks.  Globally 40% of banks are publicly owned
  • We should bail out the students by writing off their student debt
  • Renting or hiring of people puts them in a position of being a slave.  People should be partners in a cooperative firm where they have real rights
  • In Honduras a ‘private city’ is being built and if you go there you would have no rights in this corporate city. Is Detroit a step on the road to private cities in the US?
  • We now have a system not of private property but private theft
  • Priority of labor – 100,000 workers at Mondragon Coops in Spain
  • Neo-abolitionism is the movement against renting workers where they have no rights of labor
  • The ‘Bank of the People’s Labor’ was set up for the Mondragon coop movement
  • We don’t know American history.  Frederick Douglass had a lot to say about wage slavery.  We don’t have to go to Europe and Marx to study this
  • Cities are where production is happening as folks worldwide move to urban areas
  • Slaves and farm animals were often fed the same slop
  • African-Americans and nature both experienced domination
  • Why is this conference so overwhelmingly white?
  • In 1961 MLK spoke to the AFL-CIO and offered to consolidate the civil rights movement with labor but labor turned him down
  • Labor studies in the US usually ignore slave rebellions.  Where is Harriet Tubman in that history?  It’s an obsession with white identify
  • Building trades unions in the US consistently reject overtures by black activists to build strong inclusive unions
  • Economo-centrism – the naturalization of the economy
  • Industrial revolution was a satanic mill that ground people into dust.  The disembeding of economy from society.  The market ruled all.  That separation translates into the way we think and know today
  • Capitalism has functioned by making itself the only story in town
  • We can’t handle differences, everything is reduced to one thing (way) being valuable and the other not valuable
  • The critique of development of well being (bien vive) can help serve as a practice of reframing our economic ideas
  • Multiplicity is a strength
  • Some people think of economy like they think of natural law – like gravity our economy must be the law of nature.  In other words unmovable, unchangeable, rigid
  • How do we design processes to open up public participation in education while fighting off corporate interests that want control of teaching?
  • The left is lacking in developing an alternative economic vision and building support for it.  The public wants to see a real alternative vision
  • An independent media is a key ingredient in helping create an alternative economic and political program
  • We need a Triple bottom line – people, profit, planet – the economy can’t simply just be about profit
  • Who do we need to help us move things along?  How do we figure out how to work with them?
  • One criminal justice worker said he’d never seen a black kid with a job shoot anyone
  • Creating pathways involves deep moral passages
  • We are on a train heading for a brick wall and the people driving it think going faster and faster is the right thing to do
  • A key step toward transformation is for us to reject the notion of American exceptionalism that carries with it the belief that corporate capitalism equals democracy and freedom and is the only way to proceed
  • You’ve got to work in the present moment and do the best you can
  • We need compassion and radical insight into the interdependence of all things
  • The biggest uncertainty is how will human beings act in the coming hard times.  The safest way out is to nurture one another in a loving solidarity
  • The US is the biggest obstacle to peace and sustainability because of its arrogance
  • People change when they have an alternative that is practical and easy to understand.  Helps when there are already successful examples in motion – like coops and places where military installations have been converted
  • When you want to transcend the present system it helps to include some features of the past – people like to feel comfortable about change
  • We need a more just and more humane way of organizing our societies – a more perfect union
  • People want practical examples because they are afraid of change and want reassurances that they will be safe as things change. They fear being left behind
  • Local governments and business community could decide to target their economic procurement power toward worker-owned coops and ESOP’s
  • We should treat evil as a system failure and route around it (MIT guys again)
  • A conference like this should have a direct action component – we need to model taking action so that when folks go home they will do it there as well.  Why not organize a march thru town during the conference?  Bring our message directly to the public – make it a public participatory production.  Our great thoughts and words must be shared in the streets where all America is stopped at traffic lights sitting in their expensive cars
  • We must figure out how to unfreeze blocked institutions and move people to action while there is still time
  • Move from opposites to contrast
  • Peace, love, humility and compassion 

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Unfreezing the Status Quo & Moving Toward Real Change

This is a mural from one of the walls on the Pitzer College campus where our conference 'track' has been meeting the last three days.  There are several colleges linked together here but I saw more political murals on the Pitzer campus than on the others. 

This mural I particularly love because it expresses the reality of America as I see it.  People of color know the score but have little voice.  They don't have the money, the power, nor the institutional connections to effectively speak.  They are often repressed when they try to speak by police, courts, educational systems and the media. When people of color resort to protest or riots out of rage or frustration they are often belittled, mocked, and attacked by the dominant forces that control society.

Most white folks don't appear to know what is going on - or at least many don't want to see or do much about fundamentally changing things.  It might mean they have to give something up and in America the story goes that the 'one with the most toys when they die wins'.  Many whites don't want to acknowledge their historic privilege and they don't want to recognize institutional racism.  Many are 'invested' in the system and have learned to see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.  We are trained by the system to keep our mouths shut and stay in line.

I learned alot during the days here in Clermont, California.  The predominately white middle class highly educated people at this conference truly want to save the planet for the future generations and for the many other life forms that we share our Mother Earth with.  Very admirable.  My perception of the bulk of the people here though is that for them transforming things so we can preserve life on the planet is to a considerable degree an intellectual exercise.  They want to change the curriculum at their educational institutions, have their churches pray and reflect on the moral and spiritual questions surrounding our carbon foot print, and help people in the business community still make profits while doing 'sustainable capitalism'. These well intentioned, good-hearted people hope for change to come by mostly traditional methods of operation. It ain't gonna work that way.

I believe that transforming our growth oriented corporate driven extractive system, backed up by the power of the muscle-ripping Pentagon (that controls the biggest slice of the national economy), is going to take more than most of the conferences attendees are bargaining for.  Sadly I think this important piece of the organizing equation appears to have been significantly left out of this otherwise extraordinary event.

Anytime an organization brings together more than 1,500 people from around the country, and parts of the world, conference organizers have an obligation to attempt to stretch the people - to challenge them to push beyond their normal operating boxes - especially when we face mass extinction. There must be inspiration and strategic planning so that when the people go back home they would actively help fortify the important but relatively isolated movements that are currently working to oppose the cancerous institutions that keep us on our present suicidal path. Sometimes that means moving into non-violent civil resistance - even if you are white-haired, white-skinned and middle class.  Age and class are not a ticket out of the struggle.  The conference should have had a direct action component so that this kind of process was modeled for the attendees. Stars brought in to inspire the people should be helping to lead the non-violent direct action during the event.

If we want the public to move toward real change we have to begin to model a passionate direct action process in our conferences and in the streets across the nation. Doing so will help ensure that our good words and alternative visions can actually be seen and heard by the rest of those who were not fortunate enough or able to be here to listen to the urgent warnings of so many great thinkers and doers.

Ecological Mexico

Sunday Song