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

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Wyoming and then home


Devils Tower (Bear Lodge) in Wyoming


Lunch of walleye fish platter here before leaving Wyoming


On our last full day in South Dakota Julian came up with a secret trip. He told me to get in the car and began driving west inside the Black Hills. I had no idea where we were heading.

After a while it appeared that we were driving toward the neighboring state of Wyoming. Then it dawned on me that we must be heading toward the famous Devils Tower which was declared a National Monument in 1906.

This is a sacred place for the native people of the region. 

Bear Lodge is one of the many names Native people gave the Tower. Colonel Richard Dodge named it Devils Tower in 1875. Just one more example how Washington and its marauding military dominated the region and renamed so many sacred native sites.

The Lakotas often had winter camps at Bear Lodge, documented as far back as 1816. Lakotas have an ancient and sacred relationship with the Black Hills, including Bear Lodge. The Black Hills are the Lakotas' place of creation.

At Bear Lodge, they fasted, prayed, left offerings, worshiped the "Great Mystery" (the essence of Lakota spiritual and religious life), and performed sweat lodge ceremonies. Lakota prayed for peace, health, welfare, and personal direction.

Once, five great Sioux leaders - Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Gall, and Spotted Tail - went there together to worship. "We did not worship the butte, but worshiped our God."

An additional crime from that period was the naming of another sacred spot in the Black Hills 'Custer State Park' after the defeated 7th Cavalry led by George Armstrong Custer in 1876. 

(Custer was an Army officer and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars. After the Civil War, Custer was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the Regular Army and was sent west to fight in the Indian Wars, mainly against the Lakota and other Plains Peoples. On June 25, 1876, while leading the 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana Territory against a coalition of Native American tribes, he was killed along with every soldier of the five companies he led. This action became known as "Custer's Last Stand".)

I am now in Maine and Julian is making his way back to his home in Cambodia.

My sister in Iowa, who we visited before heading west to South Dakota, has her cancer operation next week and we are all sending her love and prayers. 

It was a wonderful and memorable trip for Julian and I. The Black Hills are my most sacred place.


Sunday song



Saturday, April 29, 2023

NATO wants Georgia involved in its Proxy War with Russia


    West will continue to promote chaos in Georgian internal political scenario until it gets its objective of heading the country to war.

By Lucas Leiroz (Journalist, researcher at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, geopolitical consultant)


The current crisis in Georgia has been news on media outlets around the world. However, few analysts have paid attention to the real reason why so much instability is being fomented in the country. Indeed, Tbilisi seems to be the new focus for western warmongers. NATO plans to bring Georgia into a conflict with Russia. This will allow the West to open a new flank and distract Moscow by forcing it to send troops to yet another battlefield.

While the wave of violent protests has decreased its strength the crisis in Georgia appears far from over. Destabilizing forces are boosting the social and institutional chaos in order for the government to make decisions in favor of foreign interests. This is becoming increasingly clear as domestic players are formally calling on Western countries to impose sanctions on Georgia to advance pro-NATO and anti-Russian agendas.

In April, former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili formally requested that the Collective West sanction his own country. According to Saakashvili, currently imprisoned on serious charges of abuse of power and other crimes, with Western coercive measures, Georgia would be forced to release him and thus increase civil and political freedoms. On the occasion, he emphasized that the US and Europe would be the global defenders of democracy, decency and justice, and should therefore react to the supposedly “pro-Russian” tendencies of the current Georgian government – which he accuses of complying with “orders” from Moscow.

The case is particularly curious as it echoes the current Georgian domestic political situation. The opposition to the government uses as its main rhetoric a supposed connection of the Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili with Russia. No evidence of his alleged connection with Moscow is presented, other than his resistance to being actively involved in the Ukrainian conflict – in addition to his wise attitude to avoid fomenting new security crises in the separatist regions on the border with Russia.

When anti-government protests began in March, the signs of foreign interference to promote anti-Russian policies were already obvious. In the streets of Tbilisi, protesters held Ukrainian flags and sang the Ukrainian national anthem, as well as war songs of the neo-Nazi regime. President Vladimir Zelensky himself went public to thank the protesters for their support and said that “there is no Ukrainian who would not want the success of our friendly Georgia”, in addition to calling the demonstrations a “democratic success. European success”.


It is important to remember that at the height of the protests, these pro-instability actions were supported by the country’s own president, the native Frenchwoman Salome Zurabishvili, who expressed strong opposition to the government and parliament for the approval of a law against foreign espionage. Being a foreign agent on Georgian soil herself, Zurabishvili echoed Western rhetoric that demanding special registration for NGOs funded by international groups would be a kind of abusive or dictatorial attitude.

In fact, these attitudes on the part of the opposition to the current Prime Minister are not by chance – these moves indicate a coordinated action to pressure Georgia to act incisively in favor of Western interests. Zurabishvili, before becoming the country’s president, had served as foreign minister, standing out for her extremely pro-NATO work. In the same vein, former President Saakashvili, who is now demanding Western sanctions to pressure the government to release him, was recognizably a US-backed head of state, largely responsible for provocations against pro-Russian border regions during the 2008 conflict. He also gained asylum in post-Maidan Ukraine, even being governor of Odessa during the Poroshenko era.

The fact that politicians like Zurabishvili and Saakashvili are acting incisively to foment polarization and protests within Georgia, in addition to sanctions and external pressure at the international level, shows that there is indeed a Western plan for Tbilisi to take an openly anti-Russian position in the current NATO’s proxy war with Moscow. This scenario reflects the current strategy of the Atlantic alliance, which seems focused on the multiplication of battlefields. The more conflict zones, the better for the Western powers, which want to harm Russia as much as possible, causing it to lose troops and weapons.

Many analysts believe that the West is currently about to “admit” its failure in Ukraine, which is why, in order to safeguard its global hegemony, NATO’s new focus would be to fight against China, which is seen by the US as a weaker adversary and against which there are more chances of victory in direct military confrontation. But for a war against China to be viable, it would be necessary to prevent Moscow from helping Beijing on the battlefield, which would explain the attempt to distract the Russians with multiple conflicts in the Eurasian space.

In this military context, forcing Georgia to assume a fully pro-NATO and anti-Russian foreign policy would be a great victory for the West. As long as the Georgian government continues to avoid involvement in the conflict, international pressure and the foment of internal color revolution will remain. Certainly, chaos in the country will continue to be stimulated by foreign agents until the government agrees to send troops to provoke the Russians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, opening a new front in NATO’s war of aggression.

Anti-French sentiment growing across Africa



Wongel Zelalem reports on the Comorian authorities standing by their position, which France does not accept that "Mayotte is a Comorian island''. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Message to Int'l Ecological Forum in Crimea


Bruce Gagnon was invited to record a message to the International Ecological Forum being held on April 28 in Crimea to discuss the impacts on the environment by the current war on the Russian-ethnic population in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine along the Russian border by US-NATO using Ukraine as a proxy.

The event is being organized by the Crimean regional branch of the Russian Ecological Party and is supported by the Ministry of Internal Policy, Information and Communication of the Republic of Crimea as well as the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Republic of Crimea. 

China as peacemaker




News broke that the leaders of China and Ukraine had spent nearly an hour on the phone yesterday. What did Xi mean by "profiting from a crisis"? I can answer that question entirely using headlines!

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Biometric tech vs the 1st & 4th Amendments



By Julian Gagnon

History lesson: Putin's biggest crime?




 2007, 2008, & 2022 will forever be linked together by NATO treachery 

This February 10, 2007 speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Munich, Germany was an early true warning shot over the bow of NATO. After NATO promising General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the now defunct Soviet Union they would not expand this military alliance in 1990, they added three Eastern European nations in 1999, then seven nations in 2004, with three being on the Russian border. The Russians voiced their opposition to this expansion towards their borders, but were purposely ignored.

At this point in 2007, the US and NATO had made a conscience decision to continue its planned Eastward expansion to threaten and encircle Russia, hoping to provoke a military response to conduct a proxy war as they are in 2023. During Putin’s 2007 speech at the 14:00 minute mark, you can see warmongers like Senator John McCain in the front row, six feet away from Putin, arrogantly smirking with their dismissive body language. I truly believe that these very reactions from US government officials during this speech is when Putin made up his mind that diplomacy with the West was dead.

Then on April 1, 2008, President George W. Bush announced at the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania that Georgia and Ukraine would be allowed NATO membership. This put the final nail in the coffin of peace in Europe. Putin had peacekeepers deployed into Georgia to protect ethnic Russians on August 7, 2008. Skirmishes broke out after [after Georgia attacked Russian-ethnics], then a short full war. Russia still occupies the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia today. Then NATO, as planned, added Albania and Croatia in 2009, Montenegro in 2017, Macedonia in 2020, and recently Finland in 2023.



In this speech, Putin made (2) distinct statements in regards to the United States, then to NATO:

  • 3:58 minute mark: “By the way, they constantly teach Russia, use Democracy. But those who teach us, for some reason, do not want to learn.”
  • 18:58 minute mark: “I think that it’s obvious that the process of NATO enlargement has nothing to do with the modernization of the alliance itself or with security in Europe. On the contrary, it is a serious provoking factor that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have a fair right to ask frankly, who is this expansion against?”

So, here we are in 2023 with Ukraine being torn to shreds by the Russian military. Hey, the West got exactly what they wanted right? 

So why are they constantly [complaining]? 

~ Since April 14, 2014 till April 14, 2023 in the Donbass, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have killed 4,483 civilians, including 134 children; 2,628 civilians were injured, including 183 children.

Why have so many across the west been so silent about this genocide of the Russian ethnics since 2014?

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

South Dakota Odds & Ends


Long-horn sheep by roadside sitting down

Long-horn sheep stands and glares as I got closer


Badlands southeast of Rapid City. Once was ocean floor thousands of years ago.



Deer climbing rocks near our hotel in Keystone

A view of Mount Rushmore from a cemetery. Quite an ironic reminder of what the USA 'democracy empire' has brought to the world. I never go to Rushmore when I make my periodic visits to the Black Hills. This is close enough for me.

Yesterday Julian and I spent most of the day at the Pine Ridge reservation just south of Rapid City. While making the long drive we listened to KILI Radio (Voice of the Lakota Nation). It just so happened that the Pine Ridge Tribal Council meeting was being aired on the station. Much of it was boring and bureaucratic. But at one point we heard a young woman student's voice bring the meeting alive.

The day before there was a student walkout at the Pine Ridge high school. They were protesting the neglect they are experiencing by the system that rules America and ultimately their home nation.

The young woman told the council that the elder generation was not doing enough to protect the coming generations from the harsh legacy of hundreds of years of genocide. 'Multi-generational trauma' she named it. More support is needed to help kids who come from dysfunctional, broken families. Many  of the students get their only meal each day at the school. More support is urgently needed thus the student walkout - a cry for help.

But America has war$ to fight and lands to conquer. Budgets are being cut at home as the war machine's buried treasure grows each year.

Mount Rushmore - where four presidents faces were caved into a jagged rock mountain - was Washington's declaration of victory over the indigenous peoples and their land. 'Your way of life is now defeated. Your lives are in our hands. Submit or die'. And Americans come in droves each year to worship a long-gone Hollywood notion of 'freedom and democracy'. Many still hang onto the story book version as they see little else to cling to.

The student walkout proclaims they are not submitting. Each generation in Indian Country has to fight like hell just to stay alive. The native elders across Turtle Island have long been warning the people of America. 'You are next to be brought under Washington's control'. Few have listened attentively. 

The 'Great White Father' in Washington is today increasing the size of the reservations. The oligarchs have raped and pillaged North America and are currently attempting to stay in control of the whole world. It's a losing battle for the poor, working and middle classes. They are essentially being brought onto the expanding economic desperation-reservation. Just look at the legions of homeless across the country. Many fear the homeless will soon be rounded up and put in what would turn into extermination camps. We ignore this at our own peril. 

Just look at what the Neo-cons are doing to the people in Ukraine. Why would they not get rid of us as well?

In the age of AI and robotics land and resources are the real agenda. Workers can be robotized. Superfluous populations must be dealt with or they become radicalized and revolutionary. Witness the French oligarchy response to recent protests. Same in Palestine where Israel's apartheid system is all about genocide.

Civil rights are beaten down during this period as social control must be maintained at all costs. America is a police state - the global military arm of corporate capital. 

The native people of Indian Country know all about the big army boot of Washington. They've long reminded us to 'Put your ear to the Railroad Tracks and hear the train coming'.


Very important story



Top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been abruptly fired from his choice primetime show on the network. Carlson has consistently been the only voice on cable news calling out the war machine, criticizing his fellow media commentators for doing advertisers’ bidding and rejecting claims from Big Pharma. And now he’s gone! 

Guest host Aaron Maté and Americans’ Comedian Kurt Metzger talk to special guest Jimmy Dore about the silencing of Tucker Carlson.

Also see an excellent Consortium News story on this same controversy here 

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

On being human



As humans, we need interconnection: We rely on others to survive, especially as children. Yet, we also strive for authenticity. This creates an inherent tension. 

In this lesson, Dr. Maté discusses what is true human nature — and how the modern world has warped our understanding of our needs. 

It's always been about control of resources


This map was published by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1956 as part of a Symposium organized by the Committee. It is "a quintessential use of the map as an evidentiary weapon.... A black sickle hovers over Moscow, with militant arrows reaching each continent. Each arrow corresponds to a number in the legend, which indicates Techniques Being Used in Each Red ‘Thrust.'".  The targeted strategic commodities are identified across the globe. Communist "Techniques" identified in the text include subversion in South America, encouragement of nationalist terrorists in Africa, arms shipments in the Middle East and guerrilla warfare in Southeast Asia.

Maps of this kind were used frequently in cold war Congressional Hearings: "To be effective as evidence, the map had to conform to the expectations of its users... to provide simple spatial relationships and arguments about capacity that could be absorbed in quick, visual glances."

The Research Institute of America was an organization founded during World War II to provide tax and other regulatory guidance and intelligence for U.S. businesses. Its founder, Leo Cherne, has been called a "consummate ideologue" who "contributed greatly to the national hysteria of mindless anti-Communism," particularly during the Vietnamese War.

Source: Research Institute of America. 1956. "The New Soviet Strategy: Toughest Challenge Yet." In Walter, Francis E. (Chairman), The Great Pretense: a Symposium on Anti-Stalinism and the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, May 19, 1956. Washington: Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Bear Butte visions


    Bear Butte is considered a sacred site to the Lakota and a unique natural landmark in the Black Hills. The park's namesake, Mato Paha or “Bear Mountain” is the Lakota name given to Bear Butte State Park. The mountain a towering formation that rises 1,200 feet above the surrounding prairie and offers breathtaking views of the region.

My son Julian drove us an hour north of our hotel yesterday to Bear Butte.

It took two hours to climb up and down again along the narrow winding trails. We got more than 3/4 of the way to the top but my knees were shaking pretty good most of the journey.  It was a very special time for both of us. 

Julian was in Taiwan for 10 years teaching debate. Last year he moved to Cambodia. He's been offered a job in China. He's in flux and we are talking about that amongst many other subjects.

After that we went to Sturgis and Deadwood (this is the area where every year the huge national motorcycle jamboree happens). It was also a major mining region of the state after the Lakota were chased out of the Black Hills by the US Army.

Reading about what happened during this period of history grabbed my young mind, heart and soul. I remember asking myself back in the early-60's what I would have done if I had lived during the 1870's? Who would I have supported? The Lakota or Washington? I decided then - the Indians.

This is likely why today I have tended to support those on the receiving end of the US's fascist occupying boot. Cuba, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine. And the warlords in Washington currently dream of the final match - the take down of Russia and China.

These wars hit the lottery for Wall Street, Madison Ave, and Hollywood.  War money drives this nation.

So I pick the side being attacked by the ever sophistical US war making, death dealing, military arm of Mr. Big and his regional oligarch cronies. It's a criminal syndicate.

Yes war is bad. No, I don't want to die in a nuclear war.

But local populations have the right to defend themselves.

Current situation

The US-NATO ran the coup in Ukraine in 2014. I watched it virtually live on the Internet. Then the US had the new Nazi-backed corrupt government begin their war on the ethnic Russian population in eastern Ukraine (Donbass). That is where the war has been mostly fought ever since. Last year Russia moved in to protect the people there who by then had lost more than 14,000 lives with about 35,000 wounded.

I tried to spread the word about all this since 2014 but had few takers. Gladly now this is starting to change and more people are seeing things clearly.

I live here in the US and it has always been my role to stop my own government from killing people. It was the promise I made to myself and the Great Spirit many years ago. I will always help defend those being slaughtered by the neo-con killers in Washington. 

They, and the Brits, want control of everything. They have mega-mania-insanity.


Sunday, April 23, 2023

The view from South Dakota


Crazy Horse memorial


Prairie dog





My son Julian and I are in the Black Hills of South Dakota for several days. We first went to northwest Iowa to visit one of my sisters who is fighting cancer.

Julian made the trip from Cambodia where he now lives. I came from Maine.

I lived at Ellsworth AFB just next to the Black Hills during the early 1960's when my step-dad was in the military. It was during this time that we were crawling under our desks at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Early on in my life I was worrying about nuclear war. Not much has changed since then.

Also while living at Ellsworth, one day in elementary school at lunchtime, it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been killed. During this current trip we've learned that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (nephew of JFK) has declared he is running for president. I understand that in his announcement speech he said he wanted to shut down the CIA. It takes great courage to say that.

I fell in love with the Black Hills, the Badlands, and Native American history and culture at that young age and have tried to return to this very historic and spiritual place as often as possible.

One winter as a boy my family visited the Crazy Horse mountain carving site and met the family of Korczak Ziolkowski who was leading the effort to build the memorial at the request of Lakota tribal elders. The effort has come a long way since then. The museum at the site is excellent and a Native American university is also under construction at the complex as well.

The Ziolkowski family (with 10 kids) is now carrying on this amazing task of creating the Crazy Horse memorial after their father and mother have passed on to the Happy Hunting Grounds.


Sunday song



Saturday, April 22, 2023

John Pilger: 'U.S. the home of propaganda'



Journalist, author and filmmaker John Pilger, who has spent decades studying governments’ nefariousness, tells Katie Halper how to spot propaganda. 

US-UK fading imperial arrogance



Friday, April 21, 2023

U.S. to double its ‘Defense’ budget


The US is left with a choice – further escalate, not only with Russia, but the rest of the world as well, or find an off-ramp. Otherwise, its inflation will surge so much that the “doubling” of the Pentagon’s budget will happen on its own.

Written by Drago Bosnic (Independent geopolitical and military analyst)

Back in late March, top American General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the United States of America would be doubling its military budget in case the Kiev regime was defeated by Russia. At the time, Milley claimed that “not supporting Ukraine now would lead to a massive increase in future defense budgets”. He also added that “it would lead to a global conflict that has been avoided since World War II ended”.

    “If that rules-based order, which is in its 80th year, if that goes out the window, then be very careful,” Milley said while testifying before the US Congress on March 23, further adding: “We’ll be doubling our defense budgets at that point because that will introduce not an era of great power competition. That’ll begin an era of great power conflict. And that’ll be extraordinarily dangerous for the whole world.”

Firstly, it should be noted that Milley’s remark about the so-called “rules-based (world) order” supposedly lasting 80 years is completely misplaced. The geopolitical situation in the last three decades has merely been a shadow of the post-WWII global order. With the US conducting virtually incessant aggression against the entire world, any notion that there are actual rules that equally apply to everyone is beyond laughable. However, his claim that Washington DC would need to double its “defense” spending is much more serious and consequential. Ironically, he’s threatening to do that while “warning” about a looming global conflict, one which is solely caused by the US itself, as it’s the only country on the planet with an openly stated strategy of “full spectrum dominance”.

Milley testified before the House Appropriations Committee-Defense on the next year’s DoD (Department of Defense) budget, alongside Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The figure for the Pentagon officially stands at $842 billion, $69 billion more than the $773 billion the military requested for 2023. However, the total spending on national “defense”, including work on nuclear weapons (officially under the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy), pushes that up to $886 billion. This is without including the so-called “aid” for the Kiev regime, which stood at approximately $113 billion at the beginning of 2023. However, the updated figure is now getting closer to $150 billion and there’s no indication that it will stop growing any time soon.

General Milley has repeatedly described the conflict in Ukraine as “an important national interest” and “fundamental to the United States, to Europe and to global security”. It could be argued that it’s neither of those things, as the world, the EU and the US itself all have more pressing concerns. Unfortunately, this notion is extremely unlikely to lead to any peaceful settlement, especially as the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC) keeps getting its windfall. While some members of Congress have consistently been skeptical about the “aid” for the Kiev regime, the majority still have a strong preference for the official narrative. The skeptics usually cite “the US and Kiev regime’s failure to more clearly define their strategic goals” as the primary reason for the lack of “more adamant support”.

This clearly indicates that the only “strategic goal” is to keep the war going for as long as possible, which also explains the repeated calls for the perpetual increase of the Pentagon’s budget. However, Milley’s call for doubling it is a major escalation and it’s unclear how exactly Washington DC is planning to achieve such a monumental task. Global military spending for 2022 was around $2.1 trillion, meaning that the US is already at over 40% of the world’s total with its current budget. Doubling it, even over the next several years (also taking into account other superpowers would certainly respond to it) could push that figure close to 60%. In terms of the US federal budget, it would also require further cuts to investment in healthcare, infrastructure, education, etc.

As the military currently spends approximately 15% of the entire US federal budget, obviously, doubling it would mean the percentage would go up to (or even over) 30%. Such figures are quite close to what the former Soviet Union was spending in terms of its overall budget, which was one of the major factors that contributed to its unfortunate dismantlement. On the other hand, it also forces others to drastically increase their own military spending. If China were to follow suit, its military budget would then be close to $500 billion, with Russia’s military budget approaching $200 billion. This would cause a military spending “death spiral” that would be extremely difficult (if possible at all) to control, leading the world into an unprecedented arms race.

However, this “new” Cold War could potentially be far more dangerous than the “old” one, as there would be approximately half a dozen superpowers and great powers competing for influence and a bigger geopolitical footprint. On the other hand, if the rest of the world refuses to respond in kind, such a massive increase in US military spending would only push the multipolar world into greater integration, as it would be the only way to counter US aggression without doubling their own military budgets. Either way, the US is left with a choice – further escalate, not only with Russia, but the rest of the world as well, or find an off-ramp. Otherwise, its inflation will surge so much that the “doubling” of the Pentagon’s budget will happen on its own.

Jerry Mander Presente!



Jerry Mander: 1936-2023

By Koohan Paik-Mander

An author, bon vivant, and impresario of activism whose career of sensational campaigns reads like a history of the modern progressive movement.

Jerry Mander’s life was a love letter to Life itself. No place better captured that spirit than 20th-century San Francisco, where Jerry made his home when he first stepped off the SFO tarmac in 1960 and, upon filling his lungs with its sparkling air, knew that he wasn’t in Yonkers anymore. Little did he know that he was destined to become, arguably, the most important environmental and media activist of an era.

Jerry moved to San Francisco with perfect historical timing, just a heartbeat before The City’s counterculture consciousness would swell to a burst, sending waves of liberation ideology, cappuccinos and rock-and-roll to all corners of the planet. Jerry rode those waves to shore, as a groundbreaking activist-adman, as a journalist and author of a dozen books, as a key founder of the anti-globalization movement and as a mordant critic of technology and capitalism, finally passing away on April 11, 2023 in Kukuihaele, Hawaii, after a long struggle with terminal illness. 


As a graduate student at Columbia during the 1950s, Jerry had been impressed with the film societies thriving in New York at the time, where he discovered foreign and experimental films. Inspired, he opened San Francisco’s first – but short-lived — art cinema in the early 1960s, partnering with Ernest “Chick” Callenbach. Chick was then the editor of “Film Quarterly,” and would later pen the seminal eco-novel Ecotopia in 1975.

He was soon working as a full-time publicist for a number of clients, including the then fledgling San Francisco International Film Festival and the modern-dance trailblazer Anna Halprin. Jerry toured Europe as Halprin’s manager and would later recall one certain performance in an Italian village that was so inaccessibly avant-garde (it involved unorthodox composer John Cage) that the angered audience, faithful to their national stereotype, actually pitched rotten tomatoes at the performers on stage!

One of Jerry’s first Bay Area abodes was in the flat above the famed City Lights Books in North Beach, which was “ground zero” for beatnik culture, still in its heyday. It was from this apartment that, in 1965, young Jerry witnessed stand-up comic Lenny Bruce make headlines by tumbling out of the second story window of the residence hotel across the street. A few blocks away, Jerry had helped launch the legendary improv group, The Committee, with Alan Meyerson and Latifah Taormina, both from the Chicago comedy group, Second City. It was a time when politics and art were inseparable, so The Committee regularly merged with civil rights and anti-war protests that included Joan Baez, Mimi Farina, Norman Mailer, and other creative luminaries.

This was where Jerry shined – using humor to help people to think in new ways. For example, after the Pentagon had announced a cynical idea to offer humanitarian support to Vietnam by airdropping toys over war orphans, The Committee was appalled. In response, Jerry wrote a daring full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle announcing a “War Toy of the Week” contest.

The ad’s wry sub-head read: Give now! Help American Efforts in Vietnam! You May Win $100! It described the comedy group’s efforts to collect as many war toys as possible, and actually air drop them on the Pentagon! Within days, The Committee lobby was overflowing with a mountain of toys, slated to be dropped upon the Dept. of Defense. Even though the FBI ultimately put the kibosh on the plan, the campaign garnered so much publicity, that the Pentagon cancelled its insensitive toy airdrop over Vietnam.

The War Toy ad cemented the full-page political ad as a genre, and sealed Jerry’s reputation as a master tactician for this brand of movement-building.

In 1963, Jerry met his first wife, the noted feminist Anica Vesel Mander, in Big Sur, at the voluptuous cliffside retreat, Nepenthe. They were married in 1965 and had two sons, Yari and Kai.


In 1966, visionary advertising executive Howard Gossage enlisted Jerry to join his firm. Gossage, who had been known as “the Socrates of San Francisco,” mentored Jerry’s rising star. Together (in between selling cars and stereo systems), the two men generated one of the most successful ads in the history of the U.S. environmental movement. It was to stop the U.S. government from building two giant dams inside the Grand Canyon. They had been hired by David Brower of the Sierra Club, who was horrified that the dams would have flooded the canyon to a depth of 800 feet, thus submerging 150 million years of geological history.

The Bureau of Reclamation was asserting that the public favored flooding the rivers in the Grand Canyon, ostensibly because small boats would then be able to float high up in the canyon, allowing visitors to touch its beautiful walls! The imposing headline of Jerry’s full-page ad, which ran in the New York Times, read: SHOULD WE ALSO FLOOD THE SISTINE CHAPEL, SO TOURISTS CAN GET NEARER THE CEILING? The ad was an instant sensation and ultimately defeated the project. The success transmuted the Sierra Club from a humble hiking club into an authoritative force for political change.

In retrospect, it could be said that this trademark wit of zinger headlines was a prototype of today’s social-media memes. This was one of several ways that Jerry was indirectly, yet intimately, involved with shaping 21st-century culture.

Historians agree that 1966 was the year that the bohemian beats gave way to the phantasmagorical hippies, and that the portal through which that metamorphosis took place was none other than the infamous, three-day “Trips Festival.” Jerry partnered with Stewart Brand, an associate of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, to promote the festival. Brand sought to package Prankster philosophy for the mainstream, promising an exploration of the inner self and possibilities for utopia, enhanced by music, audio-visual technology and psychedelics.

It was also a turning point for a young Bill Graham, whom Jerry had hired to pass out flyers. After the raving success of Trips, Graham asked Jerry to partner with him on a long-term lease on a place he was going to call The Fillmore Auditorium. The idea was to throw a series of Trips-inspired events. “Nope, not interested,” replied Jerry flatly. That left Graham on his own to pursue a career as the most celebrated concert promoter in rock history. 

The “Ralph Nader of Advertising”

After Gossage’s premature death in 1969, Jerry soon opened his own agency, dedicated solely to advocacy advertising in the public interest. It was the first of its kind. Clients included Earth Island Institute, Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, and others. The Wall Street Journal called him “the Ralph Nader of advertising.” Howard Gossage remained a source of inspiration for Jerry throughout his career.

It was during this period that Jerry teamed up with Stewart Brand again, and others, this time to create the iconic Whole Earth Catalog. The jumbo-sized compendium of tools, ideas, and culture was a sort of Farmer’s Almanac for the Age of Aquarius. John Markoff of the New York Times called it “the Internet before the Internet. It was the book of the future. It was a web in newsprint.” Jerry served on the Whole Earth Catalog board, helping to determine which environmental and social-justice causes would receive funding derived from catalog sales.

Jerry and Ani were then living in a Russian Hill flat when they met Doug and Susie Tompkins, who lived a few blocks away. When Doug opened a little ski shop down the hill in North Beach, Jerry hired the Grateful Dead to perform at the opening reception. The shop was called The North Face, and would later expand to global dimensions. Doug and Susie’s later business venture, Esprit clothing, would be equally profitable. Jerry and Doug remained close creative collaborators, from Doug’s eventual disavowal of capitalism to his transformation to a wildly effective land conservationist, all the way until his untimely death in 2015.

Jerry also served on the original board of directors of Patagonia, Inc., founded by Yvon Chouinard, an adventurer-buddy of Doug Tompkins.  Due to Jerry’s efforts, Patagonia was one of the first companies to structure its operations to meaningfully include environmental and equity values.  Malinda Pennoyer Chouinard, Yvon’s wife, recalls, “One memorable day, while the rest of us were at lunch, Jerry wrote Patagonia’s Value Structure, which we have followed as our bible for the last 30+ years.  New hires are given his work at Yvon’s philosophy classes. Jerry was a National Treasure.”




As mid-century counterculture morphed into late-century corporate culture, the 1960s visionaries fell into two camps: the few, like Jerry, who questioned technology’s golden promises, and the others, such as Stewart Brand, whom Jerry and Doug dubbed the “techno-utopians.” In fact, in an allusion to the powers of technology, the purpose statement of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog opens: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Jerry would rejoin: “Technology will not save us.”

Jerry’s two most influential books on the subject were Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (1978) and In the Absence of the Sacred (1991).

Much of the conceptual framework of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television emerged out of Jerry’s history with Marshall McLuhan, whose career as a thought leader had been launched by Jerry and Gossage. McLuhan’s signature statement, “The medium is the message,” informed Jerry’s thinking for life.

Mander’s scorn for technology was a lone voice during the heady genesis of the Bay Area tech industry. He maintained that the deceptive term “communications technology” was not at all about accommodating communications, but rather, about centralizing control. He was viewed at the time as nothing less than heretical.

Jerry’s pariah status was summed up perfectly at a lecture he gave in 1995, hosted by Stanford University. After having warned the packed auditorium that a culture based on computers would kill both the Earth and democracy, the audience became outraged (perhaps even more than the Italian villagers made to listen to John Cage!). To utter such words was tantamount to telling them there was no God.

After Jerry’s lecture, the room of computer-science nerds quickly jostled into a queue to roundly insult him for close to an hour. One after the other, they seemed to burst at the seams in rage, fists in the air, spraying epithets at him like buckshot: “You’re a dinosaur!” “You’ll be left in the dust!” “Go back under your rock, old man!” while Jerry, bemused, bespectacled and definitely blindsided by the onslaught, sat on stage with his arms clutched protectively around himself like a straitjacket.

Twenty-three years later, Jerry’s beliefs on the perils of technology have become generally accepted. Reformed techno-utopian Jaron Lanier paid homage to the wisdom of Four Arguments in Lanier’s 2018 book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.

Jerry had often said that In the Absence of the Sacred was a continuation of the television book. Like the first book, it is also part reportage, part anecdote, and part analysis. It elaborates further on how media shapes worldview, and then goes on to examine how technology, in general, distances us more and more from Mother Earth.

He argues brilliantly, comparing solar energy to nuclear energy, on why technology is never value-neutral, and that, actually, every technology has its own unique, intrinsic values.  He details how there are inherent values to corporate structure, as well, such as hierarchy and centralized control. Indigenous worldviews, by contrast, are based on genuine democratic values and reciprocity with the natural world. The book gives a fascinating summary of the significant influence that Iroquois governance had on the formation of the U.S. during the 18th century.

In 1982, Jerry met his second wife, the environmental artist Elizabeth Garsonnin. They married in 1987 and moved to Bolinas, a tiny hippie enclave north of the City by the Bay.  

“Actors in our own history”

In the early 1990s, Jerry, and a band of leading international thinkers and activists, coined the term “economic globalization” to describe a certain phenomenon they saw taking form. Corporate dominance was running roughshod over the planet, accommodated by policy changes that were both accelerated and shaped by the new digital technologies. Activists took note that, no matter the problem, whether it be exploitation of sweatshop labor or Third World Debt or unregulated industrial pollution, the singular cause was consistently the same: the subjugation of people and Nature to corporate values.

Jerry and friends called themselves the “International Forum on Globalization,” or IFG. Representing over 60 organizations in 25 countries, board members and associates included, among others, Vandana Shiva, Ralph Nader, Edward Goldsmith, John Cavanagh, David Korten, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Andrew Kimbrell, and Walden Bello. Writing in The Nation, Naomi Klein called the IFG “the brain trust of the [anti-globalization] movement.”

Former co-chair of the IFG, John Cavanagh, reflects on Jerry’s role at the organization: “For many of us, what Jerry did, with his great ideas of teach-ins and books and beautifully laid out monographs, is that he created a stage where a number of us could become actors in our own history. Where we could take the stage as leaders, and push to deeper and smarter ideas and solutions. Where we could make an impact. This is his legacy.”

The IFG orchestrated a resilient international solidarity movement against economic globalization, targeting new types of institutions and agreements like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the north America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — the ultimate instruments of corporate global dominance. IFG generated a slew of reports, books and all-star teach-ins in cities worldwide, including the infamous 1999 “Battle of Seattle,” where over 50,000 took to the streets to protest a major WTO Ministerial.

As the anti-globalization movement grew, tens of thousands would convene for protest at each ministerial location like Grateful Dead enthusiasts shadowing their favorite band. But unlike rock concerts, the teach-ins electrified audiences with people-centered alternatives to the seismic economic shifts taking place. IFG events were so insightful that they drew the interest of individuals as varied and high-profile as George Soros and Bernie Sanders. A muscular anti-corporate movement was afoot.

In coordination with the Battle of Seattle, Jerry authored The Turning Point Project, a series of 25 full-page ads that ran in the New York Times throughout 1999 on the perils of globalization. Examples of headlines included “Extinction Crisis,” “Globalization v. Nature,” and “If Computers in Schools are the Answer, Are We Asking the Right Question?”

With Edward Goldsmith, founder of The Ecologist journal, Jerry co-edited the classic critique, “The Case Against the Global Economy,” a collection of seminal essays from IFG board members. Later, in 2004, he co-edited with John Cavanagh a solution-oriented counterpart, “Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible,” which presents solutions like “subsidiarity” and “living democracy.”


Two decades later, all the IFG’s admonitions have come to pass. Globalized capital has run amok. U.S. jobs and manufacturing have effectively disappeared (with the exception of the multi-trillion dollar arms industry), as corporations have outsourced to Asia and elsewhere. Environmental, labor and safety standards have dwindled, even as the world faces unprecedented catastrophes of climate, economic inequity, pandemics, and the Sixth Extinction. Authoritarianism has emerged in backlash, ratcheted up by new technologies.

Alas, this world — the world of Jerry’s sunset years — had fallen pitiably short of the morning promises of the Summer of Love.

Toward the end of his life, Jerry and his final wife, Koohan Paik-Mander, whom he met in 1995, spent their time divided between Bolinas, California and Kukuihaele, Hawaii. Together, Jerry and Koohan, a filmmaker and Asia-Pacific policy analyst, co-authored The Superferry Chronicles: Hawai’i’s Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism and the Desecration of the Earth (2009).

Jerry’s last book, 70 Ads to Save the World (2022), was named a 2023 finalist by the Independent Book Publishers Association for their Benjamin Franklin Award in the Political & Current Events category. 70 Ads features visually stunning, large-format reproductions of Jerry’s famous full-page newspaper ads, taking the reader on a sweeping, graphic tour of his storied life. Of Jerry’s time on this planet, the author Stephanie Mills observed, “The dear Earth could ask no more of anyone. It’s a noble life’s work.”

Jerold Irwin Mander* is survived by his wife, Koohan Paik-Mander, two sons, Yari and Kai, and three grandchildren Sadie, Ezra and Eli.

*Jerry Mander’s parents, Harry and Eva Mander, were not aware of the pun they had created in bestowing upon their son a name that is homonymous with a term that means to manipulate the electoral boundaries of a political constituency.  

~  Koohan Paik-Mander serves on the boards of World BEYOND War and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. She is also on the advisory committee of the Global Just Transition project at Foreign Policy in Focus and part of the CODEPINK working group “China is Not Our Enemy.” She formerly served as campaign director of the Asia-Pacific program at the International Forum on Globalization. She is co-author of The Superferry Chronicles: Hawaii’s Uprising Against Militarism, Commercialism and the Desecration of the Earth. She has written on the environment and militarism in the Asia-Pacific for The Nation, The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus, and other publications. She can be reached at 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

History lesson: U.S. rooted in imperialism


Artist: Victor Gillam

A satirical political cartoon reflecting America's imperial ambitions following quick and total victory in the Spanish American War of 1898. In June of 1899, Congress had authorized and President McKinley had appointed the Isthmian Canal Commission, charged with making a "full and complete investigation as to determine the most feasible and practicable route across [the] isthmus for a canal... under the control, management, and ownership of the United States." (Walker 1901, 11). By the fall of 1899, McKinley's popularity was high and he seemed likely to be reelected (as he eventually was, with Theodore Roosevelt as Vice-President). 

The American flag flies from the Philippines and Hawaii (annexed during the War as a strategic way station) in the Pacific to Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. President McKinley stands with one foot on U. S. soil and the other on Mexico, pick axe in hand, rolling up his sleeves to dig the Nicaraguan canal. (Mexico is badly distorted, with its northern border shown below Baja California, thus improperly enlarging the apparent size of the U.S.) Bound from Hawaii and Manila and the West Coast, "American Goods for Foreign Countries" are lined up to pass through the canal to Europe. An eager Uncle Sam is bringing more tools from Washington, saying (in the caption below), "Finish the canal, McKinley, and make our national expansion compete in your first administration."  

Date: 1899

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Macron has angered US lawmakers, but what lurks behind his China epiphany?


The French president has made bold statements about Western Europe asserting its independence from Washington’s belligerent foreign policy

By Rachel Marsden

En route back from his recent China visit, the French president suddenly started singing the praises of the independence of NATO's European members vis-à-vis Washington. But words are cheap.  

Aboard the presidential plane, Emmanuel Macron revealed the apparent and sudden epiphany he had; that Western Europe really doesn’t have to ride shotgun alongside Washington every time that it decides to load up the warmobile and speed down the regime-change highway.  

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron said, according to Politico. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the US agenda and a Chinese overreaction.” So Macron just figured out that France can have a foreign policy that’s independent of both East and West? Not sure how he managed to miss that lesson earlier, since he claims to be a big admirer of former French President Charles De Gaulle who kept France out of NATO, built a relationship with Moscow, and kicked the Americans out of France when they wanted to stick around indefinitely after the Second World War as they did in Germany.

“Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong we will be there’? If you really want to increase tensions that’s the way to do it,” Macron told the journalists. If he realizes that the EU is useless in the Ukraine conflict, then why doesn’t the bloc cut its losses? Why continue to commit personnel, weapons, and funding to something Washington's European partners see as unresolvable in their favor in light of all the current efforts?

Had Macron come to this realization earlier, he may have been able to convince his EU counterparts not to jump off an economic cliff over Ukraine. In doing so, they have harmed their own energy supply and industries because the US wanted them to, thinking that it would bring the Russian economy to its knees, as French economy minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

Macron now also says that Western European nations should reduce their dependence on the “extraterritoriality of the US dollar” and avoid becoming vassals. Incidentally, the French multinational TotalEnergies just transacted with China in yuan for the first time. 


Some US lawmakers are now furious with Macron. “If, in fact, Macron speaks for all of Europe, and their position now is they're not going to pick sides between the US and China over Taiwan, maybe we shouldn't be taking sides either. Maybe we should basically say we're going to focus on Taiwan and the threats that China poses, and you, guys, handle Ukraine and Europe,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio.  

Rubio is playing the “how could you, after everything we’ve done for you” card, now that Macron is flirting with China. Because Washington has just done so much for Europe in Ukraine? This is why Macron has pleaded with Washington for lower prices on gas exports to the EU, now that the bloc is dependent on US LNG having been encouraged by Washington to cut off their cheap Russian supply. And the Ukraine conflict is so good for Europe that Macron was begging US lawmakers on a visit to Washington last December to reconsider the impact of Biden’s protectionist Inflation Reduction Act on European industry, which has become vulnerable to energy shortages and skyrocketing prices as a result of Washington’s agenda on Ukraine.

So if the US wants to let the EU handle Ukraine alone, as Rubio says, there’s a pretty good chance of peace breaking out. Perhaps he didn’t think that through very well. It’s worth recalling that Rubio was a strong advocate for killing off Europe’s Nord stream pipeline with sanctions and hit the roof when Biden considered lifting them. Then, when the pipelines were mysteriously blown up, he claimed that it’s just “common sense” that Russia did it. This is weird because there weren’t any Russian officials running around like Rubio and his fellow American neocons demanding its demise.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton also attacked Macron on Monday on Fox News, over the French president’s newfound disinterest in blindly following Washington into a conflict with China at the risk of it kicking off militarily. Cotton was most recently seen advocating sending American troops into US ally and next door neighbor, Mexico, ostensibly to fix America’s own fentanyl drug problem.

But Macron went even further in his statements about China than simply expressing disinterest in being dragged into a new US-led conflict over Taiwan – and this has really been underreported. He also expressed an understanding of China’s position vis a vis Taiwan. “As Europeans, our concern is unity. The Chinese are also concerned with their unity, and Taiwan is a component of this unity from their point of view,” Macron said, according to Deutsche Welle.  

Macron sure has managed to get Washington’s attention fast. He goes over to China, leaves with a massive new economic deal for Airbus to sell 160 new commercial jets to China, leading to a foreign policy change of heart. This deal doubles the French-headquartered multinational’s production in the country, which ultimately amounts to a major victory over big global rival and Pentagon contractor, Boeing.

It’s worth wondering, though, if there’s more to Macron’s recent proclamations than meets the eye. Could he simply be using his new position on China as a ploy to pressure the US to give Europe more to keep it on the team? After all, Macron is president of a country synonymous with seduction games. This all sounds like someone who was just given a pricey gift by a suitor and then flashes it to everyone in town. All while hoping that it gets back to their partner who hasn’t given them anything recently except headaches and a lower net worth. Now that frustrated partner, Washington, is behaving exactly as you’d expect a possessive lover to act. 

~ Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist, and host of independently produced talk-shows in French and English.