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

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Checking-in from afar

As stories leak out about the enormous cost of the bail out package for Wall Street (with very little in the pipeline for the working people) I've been trying to learn more about how life is going for many of my friends around the world.  Below are two of our Global Network leaders from England and California.  I asked them to give me some words about their communities.  Please consider sending me some thoughts from your part of the world.  I'm certain that readers will be very interested to hear from you as well.

By Dave Webb (Leeds, England)

We are in lock-down but allowed out to shop, look after the needy and for exercise as long as we keep 6 feet from anyone else. Today Lesley was in a queue for the health food shop which stretched way down the street because people were standing apart from each other. Members of the government and the royal family have been confirmed as having the virus. However, the rich and powerful are more likely to survive than the many who now have no money coming in because their workplaces have closed. For many there is an added stress of how to afford food and rent. Not a lot of government help there – but small and medium sized businesses can access aid and cheap loans.

We are in a really strange political situation – on the one hand our right wing government has nationalised the railways and is saying that people need to shift from cars to public transport. The roads are so quiet now that air pollution has diminished considerably over the last weeks. The air is fresher and streets are quieter. But unfortunately children can’t play in them.

The government is building more hospitals and also encouraging industry to turn to making more ventilators and even large aerospace companies such as Airbus and Rolls Royce are helping out. Nationalisation and defence diversification were among the policies of Jeremy Corbyn that were ridiculed in the media and by the Tory Party [during the recent election].

The National Health Service is struggling to cope but people are very much aware of the hard work of NHS staff – they are receiving donations from industry such as fold-up bikes and very cheap car rental to avoid contact with others on public transport. The other day we had a nationwide “applaud the NHS and carers” event when people opened their doors and windows and clapped to show their appreciation for their key services. The applause resounded across the country. On a personal level people are generally looking after each other and making sure the vulnerable in their communities are given help when needed.

On the other side of things the government is getting new powers to control the situation as it sees fit. Police are now able to break up groups of more than 2 in public places. There has been talk of an emergency government of national unity to get other parties to share the burden and the blame for the crisis. Temporary mortuaries are being erected in some big cities.

There is a long way to go yet and things are going to get a lot worse before they improve. We can only hope that the right lessons have been learned from all this. Governments should have been prepared – there have been warnings of a pandemic and its consequences for many years.

At the moment it is a bit like Gaia has reacted to a human infection. An infection that is destroying the environment, polluting the land, the atmosphere and the seas, sucking out the life-force from the planet. The corona virus is like anti-bodies produced by the planet to rid it of the pestilence that crawls upon it. Perhaps we can learn and evolve into a more caring and beneficial inhabitant in the future?

By Dennis Apel (Santa Maria, California) 

Yes, Rozella is home from Swarthmore and Thomas is home from UCLA [college age kids].  Both are taking classes and tests online.  We are fortunate that they both got scholarships for their schools so there is not really much of a financial impact on us.

We are still helping local [farm] fieldworkers with supplemental food and a free medical clinic.  Interesting that fieldworkers are now designated as "essential workers" so they continue in the fields but still have no access to medical insurance or a wage that brings them above the Federal poverty level.  They will not figure in any bailout plans.  All fieldworkers pay the same taxes as everyone else, but usually under a fake Social Security number so the benefits returned to them are limited.

Homelessness is less of an issue here as we are more rural, but housing is a real problem.  Rents keep going up because of housing shortages, but income remains the same.  Folks double up or triple up in tight quarters and live in fear of losing their housing because it's nearly impossible to find a new place.

[Nearby] Vandenberg AFB continues to test I.C.B.M.s and to launch school-bus sized classified satellites into earth orbit for the National Reconnaissance office.  No one gets to know what their purpose is.  We have vigiled there for 23 years.  We have decided to stop gathering for a spell because of the virus, but will resume when things feel more safe.

Thank you for what you do.  So happy to be associated with the Global Network.


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