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

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Gore Vidal on conversion

Although no public jobs can be created and no bridges repaired as long as all that money goes for unworkable Rube Goldberg Star Wars systems, not to mention cost overruns and plain corruption, [President Bill] Clinton will have to overcome his natural southern affinity for all things military.  Conversion is the name of the only game we have left.  Conversion from war to peace.  Instead of Seawolf submarines, he must build bullet trains (my advice to Jerry Brown, who dramatized it on television and won the Connecticut primary).  The same workforce that now builds submarines has the same technology to build trains.

~ Gore Vidal in GQ November 1992

Over the past weekend MB and I went to our friend Ridgeley's cabin on an island in the middle of Flying Pond (Mainer's often describe lakes as ponds) in Central Maine.  We canoed, kayaked, swam and had two lovely sunset rides on a floating picnic table mounted on drums with a small, quiet battery-operated motor.  One sits on the picnic table bench and dangles your legs in the surprisingly warm lake water.  We drank a bottle of Crimean red wine (the best wine I have tasted in recent memory). I was given the bottle for my birthday by our Russian friend Tanya.  What fun it was to spend time on the lake as we near the end of summer.

While at the lake I reclined in a hammock for several hours reading Gore Vidal's 2001 book entitled The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000.  I found his statement above about conversion of the military industrial complex inside this spirited book.

Gore Vidal knew about the ruling class.  He emerged from it and became one of the ruling elites fiercest critics.

Vidal was born into a political family; his maternal grandfather, Thomas Pryor Gore, served as United States senator from Oklahoma. He began to drift towards the political left after he received his first paycheck, and realized how much money the government took in tax. He reasoned that if the government was taking so much money, then it should at least provide first-rate health care and education rather than endless war.

Vidal was very much against any kind of military intervention in the world. In Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta (2002), Vidal drew parallels about how the United States enters wars and said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt provoked Imperial Japan to attack the U.S. in order to justify the American entry to the Second World War (1939–45). He contended that Roosevelt had advance knowledge of the dawn-raid attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). In the documentary Why We Fight (2005), Vidal said that, during the final months of the war, the Japanese had tried to surrender: "They were trying to surrender all that summer, but Truman wouldn't listen, because Truman wanted to drop the [atomic] bombs .... To show off. To frighten Stalin. To change the balance of power in the world. To declare war on communism. Perhaps we were starting a pre-emptive world war".

As a public intellectual, Vidal criticized what he viewed as political harm to the nation and the voiding of the citizen's rights through the passage of the USA Patriot Act (2001) during the George W. Bush administration (2001–2009). He described Bush as "the stupidest man in the United States" and said that Bush's foreign policy was explicitly expansionist. He contended that the Bush Administration and their oil-business sponsors, aimed to control the petroleum of Central Asia, after having gained hegemony over the petroleum of the Persian Gulf in 1991.

In 1977 Vidal said, "There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party .... and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt .... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties."

He was a great, gutsy man who gave the nation deep insights into the ruling class that he largely rejected during his long and active life.  Vidal died in 2012.



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