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Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2002 at 6:04 PM
an essay on the necessity of direct action
WHAT DO WE WANT? A TRANSFORMATION IN HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS, REQUIRING CHANGES TOO NUMEROUS AND COMPLEX TO PUT INTO ONE SLOGAN!
WHEN DO WE WANT IT? IT’S NO LONGER A QUESTION OF WANTING! OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT!
"If there is no struggle, there is not progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are those who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightening…. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But, it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand; it never has and it never will." --Frederick Douglas, 1857
By The New Tea Party
The Human race deals with injustice and crisis everyday. The methods used to resist and survive have naturally been in whatever necessary proportions were required to restore a universal balance to life and livelihood. In prehistoric times, one could cope with an injustice or crisis simply by living contrary to it, or removing oneself from the situation. We no longer have the options that our ancestors had, because of population density, and the irresponsible abuse of technologies. Corporate colonialism, upsetting the balance of life and livelihood around the world, sits at the top of our 21st century crisis, intricately connected to military incursions, civil oppression, political and media corruption, and environmental devastation, which threaten the survival of all life.
WHEN WE LAST SAW OUR HEROES...
As far as social change goes, the type of movements we commonly associate with revolutions, and some civil struggles, changed the consciousness of the whole world. Mostly because the issues of the day sprung from (now accepted as) universal, self-evident truths which made overwhelming numbers of people from many social classes easier to inform and mobilize; human truths that proved themselves before they ever needed to be spoken or published. Large numbers could afford to confront the establishment with minimal hostility other than that which sprung from their desperation. When overwhelming numbers could be mobilized, hostility gave way to peaceful, resolute assertion, which helped to expose the brutality of their oppressors, and the foolishness of the establishment's unwillingness to accept social change. Not that the business or political sectors didn't comprehend the issues; quite the contrary. They completely understood the threat to their power, which is why their oppression was so brutal.
The power of the anti-war movement in the 1960's (followed by commercial co-opting which watered-down and even contradicted the message) added more complex layers to the progressive agenda. The addition of pro-environmental and anti-corporate ideas began to alienate those unwilling to fathom concepts that, at the time, were abstract except to scientists and scholarly activists. “Turtles and Teamsters” solidarity in Seattle ’99 proved that it is possible to mobilize enough Americans to make a multi-layered point. Now, if only the tens of millions of shy armchair activists and conflicted fence sitters would react to the fire under their asses. If they agree with even one aspect of the progressive agenda, what excuse do they have for not taking action? For those who prefer Zen futility rhetoric to actual discussion,
“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776.
If I may be so audacious as to supplement these words with the hindsight of a mere 226 additional years, consider the importance of chronicles, nature conservation, resource efficiency, art preservation, doctors, care-specialists, therapists and healers of every persuasion in the fabric of societies throughout all time. If our earliest ancestors shared the same degree of “doesn’t affect me” apathy with so many 20th century consumers, the human race would never have survived past the most recent ice age. If the human race had never existed, it would not matter. Yet here we are.
Millions (in smaller countries than ours) participated in relatively non-violent 20th century uprisings, which uprooted the probability of civil war: India in 1947 (which began in the 1890’s), Bangladesh in 1971, Iran in 1978, the Philippines in 1986, Chile in 1988, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania in 1989, Nepal in 1990, the Baltic republics in 1991, South Africa in 1994, Serbia in 1996, East Timor in 1999, and Argentina at the dawn of 2002. The overwhelming numbers were what forced the progressive agenda. That is why perpetually voiceless and marginalized pacifists often cheer on the less timid tree sitters, street blockers, window breakers, and corporate office occupiers who compensate for the ineffectual lack of numbers at our paltry rallies.
(SQUAK!) BUT YOUR ACTIONS ARE COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE (CHIRP!)
If you’re not happy with actions carried out for your sake, and the sake of all life, try some approach aside from parroting bushier` rhetoric from your easy-chair. The possibility of successful actions for justice is much greater when more people are involved. It is perplexing that this needs to be mentioned at all. Want to know what’s truly counter-productive? Wasting your valuable time and energy sending out criticism that will never reach the eyes and ears of those you criticize.
Ask yourself this: If all I had to do to force the issues that will mean the difference between prosperity and suffering for all life on Earth including everyone I know and their children, is risk loosing a thankless job that I already hate, and risk living with a misdemeanor on my head, wouldn’t it be worth it? Suppose, then, that you like your job; chances are you’re paid well enough to donate some of your chemical addiction, junk food, and porn money to a worthy cause or two.
Want to know what else is counter-productive? Showing up for a demonstration, and expecting your faith to protect you from pepper-spray and arbitrary arrest. It’s all very Gandhian, Christ-like, and romantic to act so smugly passive when you allow yourself or your street compatriots to be taken away in plastic zipper-cuffs. But once that happens, you have just been silenced. You’ve lost. Gas masks sell for or more now if you know where to shop. Used helmets, wrist-guards, and sport armor of all kinds sell for practically pennies at thrift stores and used sport-shops. Unarmed self-defense classes can be found free for women, and fairly priced for men. You have already angered the establishment just by showing up. Do not give them the satisfaction of scaring you away. You do not need to show up wearing your gas mask. Use your eyes and brain—police do not spray or gas until they don their own masks—that is your cue!
Again, for those who are not interested in street confrontations, remember those who came before you. Remember what they endured to win a multitude of labor laws, the 5-day week, the 8-hour day, and minimum wage laws that give you the free time to criticize citizens who engage in street confrontations, from the numb-ass pacified comfort of your couch, as you look out your window to witness hell on Earth if we aren’t out there to stop it. Perhaps if millions of us were to descend on the American corporate centers of influence, the police would not dare try to disperse us!
WHAT A COINCIDENCE, THEY HAVE THE SAME LAST NAME - WE CAN RE-USE THOSE 10-YEAR OLD POSTERS!
Protesters often receive accusations of hypocrisy for our paper signs, without credit for using recycled materials! Hypocrisy is Styrofoam take-out (ever try using your own container?). Hypocrisy is paper cups (just how burdensome is a mug?). Hypocrisy is not spending 2 minutes to find a recycling bin for your used or empty whatever. Say, did I mention that street theater typically uses recycled materials for their puppets, too? Get it? Puppets?
Wow, tough room.
While we are on the subject of amusing anecdotes, one kind of problem-solving strategy that would add to our success came from the early conquest of outer space: The U.S. space program spent millions of tax-dollars to develop a ballpoint pen for use in zero gravity. How did the Russians solve this problem? They used pencils.
Here’s some more technical advice: Go to your fridge, and turn the dial down to 3, or the mildest setting that will still freeze ice. Remember, the first segment of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” paradigm is “Reduce”.
DON’T BUY IT
You might suggest that a ‘simple’ boycott would be a safe, non-confrontational, passive-aggressive method for changing corporate behavior. You must be referring to pre-Reaganomics (the Montgomery bus boycott is not like a Wall-Mart boycott). Boycotts were a powerful and effective tool when privatization (then called capitalism) at least pretended to comply with the publicly authorized rules of honest competition, until merged markets became saturated with tax-subsidized luxuries built in modern indoor plantations called sweatshops. Manipulative and outright dishonest advertising coupled with population density and a consequently shrinking middle-class keep these luxuries on the shelves of aptly named ‘chain’ stores, whose absentee management treats non-union employees with the sort of respect usually attributed to “employers” of indentured servants, and service industries filled with barely paid servants called ‘employees’.
REALLY? YOU WERE GENTRIFIED, TOO?
The power-elite, who typically have no social conscience, or even social interests beyond plutocratic nepotism, have unwittingly helped to create alliances between civilian uprisings worldwide by forcing the working-class out of survival choices in their own communities, who then have little choice but to seek solidarity with civilian pressure groups and cooperatives. In a sense, the establishment’s attempts to divide and starve us into submission have actually strengthened the social justice movement with new members, formerly of the middle-class.
FUNNY, YOU DON’T SMELL HOMELESS
The truly needy need not be confused with young, annoyingly well-spoken, suspiciously clean, energetic, able-bodied, often round-bodied, with even rounder pets, or more per-tattoo or piercing, chain-smoking, coin-hustling sidewalk-scum, who use advertising (often perfectly articulated on cardboard) and tax loopholes no less dishonest than transnational CEOs.
A WELL-INFORMED PUBLIC
An important lesson in spin: Corporate media, to make 21st century progressives seem like backwards “flat-earth” types, invented the term “anti-globalization”. Progressives actually support equitable and democratic globalization; not controlled by corporations, but mediated by law and sustainability. Another small example of the power and influence that media has over thought: Most Americans unquestioningly believe that Democracy and Capitalism are interchangeable terms with similar meanings.
Repetition of video clips combined with manipulative voice-overs will easily distort the genuine opinions of TV-viewers unless we watch with more critical minds. When viewing mass media, one should notice more than the content. Notice also the names of producers, sponsors, and under writers. Notice what agenda is behind the organizations that send (often well-published) commentators, pundits, and polemicists to argue in the court of public opinion.
Establishment pundits and commentators miss a vital point. The loud, colorful demonstrators and window-breaking radicals all stand shoulder to shoulder philosophically with such altruists as Stephen Hawking, Vandana Shiva, Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, Ramona Africa, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, R. Buckminster Fuller, James Hoffa, Rosa Parks, M.L.King, Einstein, Gandhi, Wollstonecraft, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Harriet Tubman, etc, etc. (Add your own inspirational movers and shakers.). Network cameras focus on radicals for ratings while ignoring the other 90% of casual dress activists filling the streets, who amazingly aren’t breaking windows, considering our anger and desperation.
THAT WHICH WAS PAST IS ALWAYS PRESENT
Active citizens are forced into street battles because the establishment stonewalls every non-confrontational, legal avenue that we were taught was our right to use. Some recently litigated “David vs. Goliath” victories are encouraging, but not enough to turn the tide.
Media fear-mongering, arbitrary arrests, illegal detainments using made-up terms like “unlawful combatant” (or warehoused offenders in concentration camps called “prisons”), even proudly advertised executions happen all because the power-elite are terrified of ideas like democracy, tolerance, living wages, decentralized energy and agriculture, treaties, international courts and human rights, reparations for the disenfranchised, and corporate/government accountability, which pundits are only too eager to explain how either we already have, or don’t really need. The truth force of the progressive movement is such a threat, however, that the violence of corporate enforcement becomes more blatant and severe with each confrontation.
Movements based on justice eventually gain acceptance by the civilian majority, overwhelming the authoritarian crackdown by sheer numbers. Soon after, the establishment always relents, and legislates some principles of the movement (i.e., taxation reform, separation of church and state, abolition, suffrage, social security, welfare, unionization, labor laws, human rights, civil rights, birth-control rights, environmental laws; and the next logical step, election reform?). However, each time they have thrown us a few crumbs of equity, we then have to keep a vice-grip on them, because the establishment is a 24-hours-a-day machine that works to take away everything we declare is our unalienable right.
The American Revolution merely began our struggle for democracy. Regardless of how well we fine-tune our current system, the progress we have made can always backslide more than it already has, which will soon pass the point of no return into very literal class warfare. This is neither my opinion, nor a threat, merely an intrinsic consequence of persistent oppression.
WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
On August 22nd, 2002 in Portland, Oregon, while Mr. Bush made his Pacific Northwest fundraiser rounds, around 3000 citizens were converging downtown to show their dissatisfaction with his performance thus far in office. His arrival was met with a festival of resistance that covered the spectrum of emotions, from anger to celebration. When the local police force decided (under orders, despite no provocation of any kind) that the crowd had grown too large and intimidating, they ordered dispersal. The people in the back of the crowd could not hear the order, and those in front could not move, so police discharged “less lethal” chemical weapons into the crowd (sound familiar?).
Several parents had brought small children with them, who were indiscriminately sprayed along with adults, who were unable to flee, due to the police barricades and the concentration of people. These parents, who have every right to teach civic duty, and offer valuable experience to the next generation of citizens, were chastised by some of their fellow activists, as well as the usual protest-poopers. Blaming the victims, instead of trigger-happy police, only perpetuates an image of authority figures as a force of nature, to be simply avoided rather than confronted with legitimate grievances. Inclusion of children in lawful assembly is part of the point itself, to show whom the dissenters are: taxpayers with day jobs, parents who want a better world for their children and their families (you know…people).
Determined women in Nigeria have lately led unarmed occupations of the offices of oil drilling facilities, many with their infants on their backs, standing up to armed soldiers who routinely shoot and outright murder demonstrators (under orders from the local government, not unlike what was the norm during our own early labor struggle). Yet, when parents do much less here in the U.S., we accuse them of putting children in danger, even though our police are supposedly trained not to assault passive, unarmed civilians.
There is no comparison between a barrage of angry shouts, and a barrage of plastic bullets.
Between rhetoric printed on signs, and tear-gas.
Between inflammatory chanting, and pepper-spray.
Between unarmed silence, and a truncheon.
Between a broken window, and a broken collarbone.
Between the occupation of a despotic CEO’s office, and the occupation of a foreign national territory.
Between a spray-painted, lock-glued chain storefront, and a bulldozed private residence.
Between a burned-down, unoccupied (non-residential) office of a destroyer of worldwide eco-systems, and the mass bombing of homes, food storage, the Red Cross, or the destruction of infrastructure that causes the death or displacement of millions.
DUDE, YOU ARE LIKE, SO “SEPTEMBER 10TH”
I have participated in, and studied video of many, many demonstrations, and I have never witnessed citizen actions extreme enough to qualify as violent. What you see in overplayed network clips are reactions to the police attack that their cameras somehow missed. Undercover police or federal provocateurs disguised in grunge or Black-Bloc fashion are not uncommon, either. Panic and self-defense are understandable causes for petty bumps and scratches (subsequently exaggerated in the corporate media) sustained by riot police attempting illegal arrests, since a civilian’s right to defend our constitution by force legally supercedes an occupying agent’s directive from an illegal administration to silence dissent.
It cannot be stressed enough that we have been forced into public displays of dissent (and passing out leaflets doesn’t count), because corporate control of the mass media and democratic institutions, which originally were how citizens strove to voice their concerns, leave us no other choice. (The option of moving to another country is moot, thanks to corporate homogenization of world economies; a.k.a. U.S. imperialism.)
Property destruction has historically been less for grabbing media attention, and more for slowing the corporate juggernaut, holding up a mirror to the despots who can ignore NGOs, but not lost profits. Resistance to the fierce and ruthless exploitation of our world can only be effective if we are equally fierce, if not more. That being said, I also stress that no “direct actor” I’ve ever met has resorted to reckless endangerment. The lack of respect for human and animal life, and the perversion of the integrity of nature that is synonymous with corporate power, cannot be found at the heart of even the most extreme wings of progressive organizations (Did you folks at Cointelpro hear that?). Federal enforcement branches of corporations have no qualms about assassination, kidnapping, illegal surveillance, or double-dealing.
Obvious weapons of the corporate juggernaut are well-spun headlines about “senseless violence” parroted by their media subsidiaries. Discontinuing the use of laboratories, machinery, and offices by force is neither senseless, if those spaces are used for torture or unethical usurpation of public authority or the planning of such acts, nor violent, if those (non-residential) spaces are unoccupied.
Non-violent corporate sabotage in the name of protecting life and livelihoods is as much a part of progressive history as any act on behalf of social justice. The Boston Tea Party is idolized as a heroic act of patriotism in textbooks. The early 1800’s English hero Ned Ludd sparked a textile artisan’s revolt; not against technology itself, but against the exploitation of newly warehoused factory workers. Skip ahead to the late 1970’s/early 80’s in Minnesota, where a Wisconsin-based utility tried to force two rural counties to accept giant power-line towers that are proven to cause leukemia in people who live near them. After loosing a court battle against the Utility, the farmers, local police, and even the town judge participated in secretly removing the bolts from the foundations of these towers, which the wind then blew over. Over a five-year period, they managed to prevent three of the towers that now run across those farmlands. This true story, from the book “Bolt Weevils” by Sen. Paul Wellstone, illustrates just one of many examples of people taking action for justice, as opposed to complicity. I would like to use this example as part of my argument for decentralized energy production. If rural communities were encouraged and subsidized to develop small-scale renewable energy, they could become self-sustaining, thereby absorbing the rising price of food worldwide.
Drawing public attention to injustice cannot be done through the usual channels anymore, due in part to corporate hijacking of the media, in part to mainstream apathy, and the remaining part to the immediacy of our crisis. It is serendipitous that sleepy-eyed, latte`-swilling yuppies read about the temporary closure of their favorite sweatshop outlet in their morning print-ad and propaganda rag, or from the “all ads, all the time” station in their climate-changing 2-ton urban assault vehicle (lately redesigned to compensate for their top-heaviness by making them wider) on the 25 mile-average trip to the hive. A transformation finally occurs when, at some point between a “power” lunch and their 1:30 massage, a lost soul will ask “Why did this happen? What are they so upset about? Aren’t police trained not to draw their pistols unless they actually see a firearm? Why is it so much hotter this year? What’s so great about organic produce? What’s this funny taste in the tap water? What’s so bad about the W.T.O? Why was Al Gore so quick to concede the election, stopping the recount? Did police really need to discharge chemical weapons indiscriminately into the crowd?”
Others attempting to live out romantic escape fantasies are increasingly plagued by thoughts like: “Moving to the country was supposed to get me away from “city problems”, so where are the smoggy fumes coming from? What’s up with those “chemtrail” grids planes keep drawing in the sky? Why didn’t the birds come back this year? What happened to those frogs? Why are the sheep going blind and sterile? Why is the grass brown all summer? Isn’t there somebody who takes care of things like this? Gee, if only there were some way of creating a taxpayer-funded ‘Agency’ designed specifically for ‘Protection’ of ‘Environmental’ systems?”
The toothless “harsh/ scathing/ ardent/ widespread/ rounded/ stern/ fervent/strong” criticism timidly published by ironically bureaucratic NGOs (even famous ones like the Sierra Club that hand out “endorsements” just for not being Republican) have no significant effect on industry or government (unless you count the creation of multi-million dollar PR wings), but inadvertently serves to pacify the furious or terrified minds of an unresponsive public, in spite of the important information they offer.
ALL CORPORATIONS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME CORPORATIONS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
At first glance, it might seem that there is no financial incentive for environmental protection. However, the “Green Architecture” concept, which utilizes reused and recycled building materials, passive light and heat design, and less invasive, low-impact geographical placement, has proven to be more efficient and cheaper all around.
Clean energy from sources such as solar, windmill, geo-thermal, hydrogen, bio-diesel, and vegetable oil are the fastest growing new industries in the world, which debunks the argument for so-called “traditional” coal, petroleum, or even atomic energy (which is neither safe nor efficient, because of the radioactive waste that still has yet to find a permanent home).
Organic agriculture is also growing in popularity, due in no small part to new awareness of the harm that so-called “traditional” mono-culture farming has on the soil, and consequently our food. Genetically modified “improvements” on plants and animals has been unanimously rejected in most of the world, thanks in part to the work of responsible scientists like Vandana Shiva, Dr. Árpád Pusztai, Dr. Elaine Ingham, and journalists like Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, who have proven the dangers of GMO’s, and exposed the corporate/ political commandeering of nature by companies like Monsanto. However, if you rely on mainstream corporate media for your information, you will only get one side of any story.
If you happen to be a CEO, and direct your employees to destroy eco-systems, undermine the self-determination of civilians (by manipulation or at gunpoint), subvert democracy, and lie to the public, don’t act so surprised when hundreds of millions of your so-called “target customers” organize worldwide protests against you, with more and more succeeding in their own “regime-change”.
If you happen to be a politician, and conspire with CEOs (or were a CEO) for similar goals, don’t waste our attention span with your babble about betrayal by your financial advisor when your scandals hit the fan.
If you’re a social justice activist or supporter, and you feel frustrated by your lack of short-term results, strive to acknowledge the opportunity for dialogue that has been opened up by diverse tactics which brought important issues into public awareness that were previously dismissed by mainstream media.
If you’re a journalist, and you agree to lie for your employer, or knowingly allow a cover-up, expect to go down with the ship when the truth finally unfolds (and it always does eventually).
If you’re a well-meaning citizen who thinks anarchism is about stomping around in the forest like apes, put down "Fight Club", and pick up "Living My Life".
WAR IS GOOD BUSINESS, PERPETUAL WAR IS GREAT BUSINESS
"The people can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism." -- Nazi leader Hermann Goering
How dedicated are our “leaders” to our safety and security? Are they interested in our safety and security? What are the true interests of those who claim to speak on behalf of the majority? Mr. Bush’s latest national “security” report nakedly announces his intention to prevent all other countries from even attempting to match the level of U.S. military infrastructure, regardless of the political status of that nation.
U.S. interventionism into Afghanistan, Columbia, East Timor, Georgia, Guatemala, Iraq, Iran, Japan, Korea, Nicaragua, Panama, the Philippines, Serbia, Somalia, Venezuela, and Vietnam, among others over the decades, has been sold to the American public on the pretext of fighting an abstract idea like communism, or with a lie like a war on drugs. Now we conveniently shift our military juggernaut to the abstract idea of terrorism, which has no nationality or origin. This rationale is how the U.S. justifies striking anywhere in the world, as often as it wants, forever.
Military incursions for territorial conquest under the guise of exploration, politics, or religion have been the norm for millennia. But thanks to 20th (and some 19th) century commercial interests (who do not answer to the laws of any nation), "wars" of the 21st century will not be fought for justice, or even revenge, but for control of the world’s remaining natural resources. Strangely (or maybe not so strange), the very lack of public resources, which allegedly necessitates these coming conflicts, was actually caused by those same commercial interests (and who better to market the spoils of war than CEO’s?).
Had renewable energy been a priority when our government was generously handing out subsidies and public endorsements, instead of wasting fossil fuels while suppressing alternatives, and fostering murderous desperation around the world, the progressive movement’s rallying cry would not sound like Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling down.
The social justice movement has never been about eradicating the shadow-side of human nature (which some religious leaders are convinced exists outside of our bodies). It was, is, and will always be about resisting the institutionalization of the shadow-side of human nature. Obvious examples of those manifestations are the KKK, the Nazis, and the Taliban. Not so obvious are Cointelpro, the Monsanto corporation, the WTO, IMF, and the School of the Americas (recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, which is a training center for Central and South-American military oppression).
You may have an overwhelming urge at this point to remind me of “evil-doers” with box-cutters (as opposed to Daisy-cutters) or “homicide bombers” (as opposed to aerial bombers) with strap-on explosives. Have you met the “Army of God” fanatics who carry out assassinations to show their reverence for life? (Here’s a hint…they’re “Christian-Americans”.) It’s the 21st century, and ‘Uncle Sam’s’ proudest Aryan fascists still hold rallies in our nation’s capitol (guarded by cops paid with your tax-dollars to protect them from the likes of us bloodthirsty peaceniks).
Americans may not have invented religious extremism, but we have more than a few spooky individuals who have spent decades violating our separation of church and state, sailing up our political ranks to sit in the most public and influential national platforms, so deeply enfolded in our government and media (whose hate-speech is granted international proliferation by obedient network and cable channels named after biblical text) that one can barely discern where the dogma ends, and the civic duty begins. Using their powerful and far-reaching voices to further their own intolerant and regressive personal agendas instead of offering useful advice for dealing with crisis, some viciously accuse peace-loving Americans with liberal attitudes of metaphysically conjuring terror attacks against us.
This confusing, antiquated, and sadly persistent assertion stands in contradiction to their obsession with pre-destiny. Why would the faithful complain about the events they honestly want to happen--just for the smug “I told you so” right at the flashpoint? Perhaps that is the reason why the most powerful and influential mainstream Christian institutions will not lift a finger to help progressive causes. Their man, with his finger on The Button, can make the book of Revelations come true! We can certainly eliminate evil if we kill everybody. Oh, rejoice! (He really has no choice anyway; the Bible says so!)
SO, WHAT ARE THE STAKES IN OUR STRUGGLE?
Mass suffering that gave rise to acts of desperate self-preservation sparked past revolutions. These pre-industrial, pre-atomic, pre-genomic types of injustices, however intolerable, came with an open-ended resolution timetable. The situation now is nothing less than extinction of all life on Earth, which, for some reason needs repeating, includes us. You are right about peace. I want peace, we want peace; even most CEOs want peace (until it becomes unprofitable). Unfortunately, the traditional “peace-force” method could be successful only if a million or more Americans were to converge on D.C. and refuse to leave until the necessary changes are made. Every other injustice in history runs its course, and then is defeated. However, if these 21st century emergencies are not confronted in a revolutionary manner, there won’t be anyone left to see justice unfold.
How long are you willing to wait for justice…before they suspend elections, or after? Shall we join the quiet vigil, and beg Santa Claus to come and fix everything; patiently watching each other perish into corporate/military-led oblivion? Or shall we sit obediently in our homes with the TV on like a member of the family, to reassure us in vain? While our trillion-dollar media conglomerates use silence, spin, propaganda, and outright lies to insulate American minds from the more devastating effects of our lifestyle on the world, the majority of people in most other countries (even industrialized ones) are active already, often because they suffer from the by-products of our lifestyle. Sustainable models of economy, industry, and agriculture are blooming simultaneously around the world, in spite of mainstream U.S. media’s denial of their existence or success.
It's not as obvious to most of us who don't travel or study the facts, but life as we know it is hanging by a thread. If it's not a greenhouse gas inferno, carbon-emission suffocation, industrial poisoning of everything we breathe/drink/eat, genetically engineered pollution, or nuclear winter, it'll be a world of bio-dome cities surrounded by wastelands, and that's for those not wealthy enough to migrate off the planet.
Although I can offer a short list of websites that promise to expound on what I’ve written here, it is in no way a comprehensive list. I encourage readers to follow links, and search for names and terms they do not recognize.
reclaimthemedia.org motherjones.com indymedia.org thenation.com
DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT
"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve...I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'" -- Jerry Falwell, 9-11-01, shifting the blame away from his fellow religious fanatics, appearing on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Pat Robertson. Robertson agreed with Falwell's statement.
"Important signs of drug use in children: ...Excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc." -- From "How Parents Can Help Children Live Drug Free", published last year by Gerald Smith, director of the criminology program at the University of Utah, and others (with a foreword by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), as noted in the Washington Post, Wednesday, October 7, 1998, page A19.
"They know that if they even come across, just a little bit, I've said air-to-air missiles...They know it. If they turn on their radars we're going to blow up their goddamn SAMs. They know we own their country. We own their airspace...We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there is a lot of oil out there we need." -- Air Force Brig. Gen. William Looney, head of the Central Command's Airborne Expeditionary Force, which directs operations keeping Saddam Hussein's forces from flying south of the 32nd parallel, explains it all in a recent interview in Defense Week.
”I've spent 33 years, most of my time being a high-class muscle-man for big business, for Wall st. and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I helped purify Nicaragua. I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests. I helped in the rape of a half-dozen Central-American republics for the benefit of Wall st. I was rewarded with honors, medals, and promotions. I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate a racket in three city districts. The Marines operated on three continents.”
-- ex-U.S. Marine Major General Smedley Butler
“Mr. Bush claims that terrorists attack us because they hate our freedom. Did we level Afghanistan because we hated their suffering?”-- M. Leonard, 2002
"We are ready to kill to keep our automobiles running. We're ready to kill to keep our materialistic, wasteful economy...I am sick and tired of 18-year-olds being coerced into bearing the burden of the failure of politicians to face the tough economic choices needed to end our dependency on foreign oil." --former U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-OR)
"I've never been in a situation so bad that a policeman couldn't make it worse." -- Brendan Behan, Irish playwright.
"They had come in to the rooms where people were sleeping. Everybody had raised up their hands, calling out `Pacifisti! Pacifisti!' And they had beaten the shit out of every person there. There's no pretty way to say it. We went into the other building; there was blood at every sleeping spot, pools of it in some places..." -- Starhawk, July 21, 2001, in Genoa, Italy, describing one of the countless horrific scenes of unprovoked, brutal police and paramilitary attacks on G8 protesters.
"The contempt of the world's leading power for the framework of world order has become so extreme that there is nothing left to discuss." -- Noam Chomsky, analyzing the extralegal U.S.-led war against Serbia.
"Everything that we tried to achieve for the past several years was annihilated after the bombing began." -- A Serbian peace movement activist, via e-mail
”When the last tree has been cut down, when the last river has been poisoned, when the last fish has been caught, only then will they discover that money cannot be eaten.” -Native American prophesy
“Ask for jobs. If they don’t offer you jobs, ask for bread. If they don’t offer you bread, then take bread.” –Emma Goldman
"I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime." -- Albert Einstein, 1947
“You cannot solve your problems with the same sort of thinking that created them.” –Einstein
"Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system." -- Dorothy Day
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." -- Thomas Jefferson
“When a corporation is convicted of repeated felonies that harm or endanger the lives of human beings or destroy our environment, the corporation should be put to death, its corporate existence ended, and its assets taken and sold at public auction." -- Eliot Spitzer, New York's newly elected Attorney General
“They reached Jerusalem and, on entering the temple, He began to expel the sellers and the buyers that were in the temple. He upset the tables of the money-changers and the stalls of those who sold doves, and did not allow anyone to carry any goods through the temple.” –New Testament, Mark 11:15-16
"Perhaps the phrase 'fair world order' better sums up what we should strive for. It recognizes that we live in a society, not a marketplace. It admits of concepts of justice and human solidarity. It acknowledges that, while not everyone will live in the same way, we are all entitled to dignity and decency." -- Bertie Ahren, Prime Minister of Ireland, at the UN Millennium Summit, September 6, 2000
"True security is to be found in social solidarity rather than in isolated individual effort." -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"If we can't defend the country for 0 billion a year, we ought to get some new generals." -- Gen. Merrill McPeak, USAF (ret.), in Congressional testimony, March 2001
“Now that he's moved from a more military phase to a more political one, he is going to have to see how the world is organized--and the world is organized by people like us."--Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State under Reagan and Bush, on Laurence Kabilla's rise to power in Zaire.
"The allegedly unstoppable force of globalization just hit the immovable object called grassroots democracy." -- Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, as quoted in the Seattle P-I, 12/4/99, A1.
"Any rights that exist without responsibility are violent, brutal, and invasive." -- Vandana Shiva
"We are putting the US Space Command on notice that their satellite guidance of rainforest defoliation planes and military terror in Colombia, their enforcement of corporate globalization at gunpoint, their machinery of global surveillance and global war, will run into increasing direct resistance if they persist in this criminal pattern of serial high-tech violence." -- Vandenberg Action Collective, from a statement after a large direct action at California's Vandenberg AFB, 5-19-01.
“Not everyone is afraid, and not every voice can be silenced...If the way seems difficult, it cannot be abandoned. When any of us is stopped, ten others can take his or her place. That is the genuine hallmark of our struggle, and neither censorship nor base complicity with it can prevent its success." -- Edward Said
"We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we do about peace--more about killing than we do about living." -- General Omar Bradley
"Peace is not the product of terror or fear. Peace is not the silence of cemeteries. Peace is not the silent result of violent repression. Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all. Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity. It is right and it is duty." -- Archbishop Romero of El Salvador, assassinated March 24, 1980.
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." -- George W. Bush, 12-18-00
“The illegal we can do now, the unconstitutional will take a little bit longer” – Henry Kissinger
“The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass
"There are still places where people think the function of the media is to provide information." -- Dan Rottenberge, White House Spokesperson
"A newspaper is not just for reporting the news as it is, but to make people mad enough to do something about it." -- Mark Twain
“If only the press were to do its duty, or but a tenth of its duty, this hellish system could not go on.” –William Cobbett, 1830
“Don’t hate the media, become the media” –Jello Biafra, 2000
"If half the energy put into the Nader campaign by locals was put into organizing grassroots opposition to the Forces of Destruction, perhaps we'd be breathing better air and not worrying about getting gentrified out of our homes." -- Scott Soriano, editor of the excellent ETS!-style monthly Sacramento Comment (/yr, 1114 21st St., Sacramento CA 95814; firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Despite the booming economy, there are still 34.5 million poor persons in America, 13.5 million of whom are children, and 13.9 million of whom have incomes less than half the poverty line, meaning they live in dire conditions." -- Jared Bernstein, labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute and former deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.
"64K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, circa 1981.
"The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all." -- G.K. Chesterton
"When we're unemployed, we're called lazy; when the whites are unemployed, it's called a depression."--Jesse Jackson, 1970
“If we hadn't lost the Civil War, we wouldn't have had to deal with this crap."--Bill Clinton, speaking to a group of southern Democrats on the subject of affirmative action, as reported in the newsletter CounterPunch
"If in the name of the war on terrorism President Bush hands the state over to the energy industry, it's every patriot's duty to join the local opposition." -- Bill Moyers
“…that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” –Declaration of Independence—followed by our constitution, which was modeled from ideals held by our new-world friends, the indigenous “red savages”, who we promptly rewarded with everything from genocide to casinos.
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