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: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I THANK MY MOTHER

4th of July in Bath, Maine

I often suffer from the world.  Maybe because we moved around in my Air Force family so much I have always found myself deeply identifying with suffering people everywhere.  Because I lived in Germany and England when I was young I never considered myself an "American" when we moved back stateside.  Really my only loyalty to America was the Baltimore Orioles baseball them - my version of a hometown - and hamburgers.

I didn't think much about US military bases when I was young.  When we were overseas we spent good periods of time living "on the economy" - which in those days meant living in the local community - because the waiting list for on-base housing was too long.  So the experience of living with the German and English people was that the barbed wire fences were torn down for me and I could really learn from the people.  I was still getting all the pro-American brainwashing in my military run school but off base I confronted the real world.  We had our car tires slashed once and I saw "Yankee Go Home" spray-painted on walls in downtown Wiesbaden, Germany.  Nothing unique I know, but for me they were flashes of light.

Our school took our 9th grade class out to see the ruins of a former Roman military barracks overlooking the Rhine River.  I found myself wondering what the Romans were doing so far from home?  It made no sense, it was unsustainable in nature.  But I didn't immediately make the connection between the Roman Empire and the one my family was representing with our stationing in Germany.  I was always a bit slow.

Part of my suffering was about my own dysfunctional family.  Alcohol, violence and deep personal insecurity was the reality of my family.  My mother, pregnant early and shipped south because of the shame, met my father who was 10 years older than her.  He was shy and bookish and had a small chicken and turkey farm in Maryland.  My father was 'boring' and religious and my mother was a bit wild and angry at the world. They didn't last long.  My Italian immigrant grandparents, settled in Connecticut, and my grandfather hid his Jewish roots and married a devout Italian woman who was Northern Baptist.  My mother fell in love with a young Jewish guy and her father prohibited the relationship.  It appears to me my mother rebelled and wanted to acknowledge their Jewish heritage.  But my grandfather was a social climber and wanted no obstacle to his ascending the great ladder of success.  My mother had a hard road after all that and the six kids she dragged along (sometimes while singing beautiful Italian songs) all have our scars from the experience.

It was my stepfather, who my mother married when I was about three years old, who was in the Air Force.  He grew up in Maine and was a true Mainer in that he could do everything - fix cars, carpentry, plumbing, electronics, photography and more.  He was a good horse trader and often bought, fixed, and sold cheap cars on the side to make a few extra bucks to help feed all six kids - three of which came from mom's first marriage.  There was lots of pressure on Wesley, and like many in the military he drank.  It was not until I joined the Air Force myself did I see how the military intentionally peddles alcohol to personnel.  By creating legions of alcoholics the military retention problem was abated.  These days the poverty draft helps keep the barracks full. Imagine the profits the alcohol industry makes on military bases.

One of our military postings was in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We moved there in the middle of a snowstorm.  Everywhere I went during my time in the Black Hills or the nearby Badlands I felt the spiritual nature of these places and it cut right to my core.  The wild sweet smelling grasses, the bitter howling cold wind, the big skies, the dry heat and rattle snakes, the shiny rocks and petrified wood, the sounds of the beating drums and high keening of the Lakota people - all brought me home.  I found out about our connection to Mother Earth and our relatives in the other life forms around us.  I prayed at night (of course after I first said the Lord's Prayer) to the Great Spirit begging to be part of the spiritual energy connection that ran through all life.  Please help me be part of "all my relatives"... I will give my life to it if you could help me.

Little did I know that there was not a sign-up sheet for this one.... if you wanted it all you had to do was take it.  Believe in it.... feel it......I've spent my adult life trying to make that all real for me. I've tried to keep my promise to the Great Spirit.

I thank my Mother Earth and my earthly mother Ruth, for my life.  I thank the water and air for keeping me alive.  I thank the wood that keeps us dry and warm inside our house.  I thank my sisters and my friends.  I thank Julian for being my son and I thank MB for helping me learn how to love.

Friday, December 27, 2013

TOUCHING HEARTS


Sent to me this morning from a friend in Maine......

Thursday, December 26, 2013

THINKING ABOUT SWORD AND CROWN

MB and I with our favorite gals at the Addams-Melman House yesterday.  We were looking at the new book called "Even Aliens Need Snacks"

Our neighbors house grows icicles

  • MB works for an organization that runs a homeless shelter/soup kitchen in Portland.  It's a 45-minute drive from here.  In Maine jobs are few and far between so people have to move around to work.  She must be "on call" during the holidays because her turn came up in the supervisor’s rotation.  So last night, Christmas night, at 12:30 she was woken by the beeper signaling her that she had to respond to a situation.  Someone in one of the programs didn't show up for the late shift.  So MB drove to Portland, worked all night, and then came home about 7:00 am to sleep before leaving again just after noon to go back to work today on her own job.  This is the kind of life that social workers are being hammered with as cutbacks in jobs and social program funding is flooding the homeless shelter with new desperate folks.  Not many people want to, or can, handle working in that environment. I wish the social workers national association was stronger in publicly defending their members and the people they struggle to serve.
  • One reason that there is no money around is because of all the corruption going on in Washington and at the state capitals.  Both Republicans and Democrats are so indebted for the campaign donations given by Mr. Big that they must in return hand back massive funds to the corporate oligarchy.  They rob Peter to pay Paul.  And how do those "leaders" fight for the people who are being robbed?  Meekly and miserably....... and of course they keep the military production lines humming at all cost.  Even the liberals in Congress are on their knees before the mighty sword and crown.  The peasants are left to fend for themselves in their crumbling communities. 
  • Our friend Selma Sternlieb (a wonderful editor) lives in nearby Brunswick and sent an email around this morning illustrating one version of corporate welfare.  Here it is:
The federal government paid millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies to 50 billionaires who had interests in megafarms*** at the same time that Congress cut 5 million people off of food stamps.
  • Welfare doesn't have a bad name when Mr. Big grabs his bling.  They even dare say they are creating jobs for the people.  It's all a hoax and the word is out - Mr. Big is done - but it only happens if we all do it together. Each using their particular skills and contacts to bring on the non-violent revolution. It's the 3rd way we've all been looking for - power to the people from home to the top of the hill.  Call it socialism, communism, anarchy, christianity, feudal cooperative culture - it doesn't really matter to me.  Capitalism doesn't work for the people and the current mess, is to a large extent, a result of spiritual breakdown - our connection to Mother Earth has been severed by the bulldozers and the addiction to the green frog skins.  We've got to repair the sacred web.
  • I continue to be intrigued by the new pope story.  I posted one video below about the bling priest in Germany who just got fired (or relocated) due to spending $40 million on his private palace.  Not the kind of story you necessarily want to come out at Christmas time.  After all Jesus got nailed to the cross for taking on the empire and Rome's now got priests and bishops on the loose.  Maybe if nuns could share power with men in the church there might be a faster consciousness raising within the flock and the hierarchy.  Until they get rid of all the gold, jewels, and cash they are holding and do more for the poor I've got little patience for the institution.  One local perennial Republican candidate for Congress (who never wins) wrote an interesting Op-Ed the other day defending the pope's recent critiques of capitalism.  The conservative maintained that the pope has a long record of opposing the left wing.  He's merely helping capitalism survive by forcing them to deal with their greedy warts and such.  Kind of a globalized version of FDR saving his greedy capitalist peers during the Great Depression here in the USA. On it goes.  The great unraveling......all things must pass.

TRIMMING THE BLING




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

JEJU GHOST DANCE



Artists gather in Gangjeong village to cast away the evil spirits of militarism.

Video made by Grace Kim.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ANOTHER GOOD ONE


ONE OF MY FAVES


REMEMBERING A CHRISTMAS


OIL CONFLICT IN SOUTH SUDAN



Conflict in South Sudan over control of oil.  Profits from the oil not making their way down to the people.  The hand of Mr. Big in this mess is obvious.

JOIN US AT VANDENBERG



Global Network 22nd Annual Conference
March 14-16, 2014
 Santa Barbara, California

The 2014 Global Network space organizing conference will be held near Vandenberg AFB, California on March 14-16.  We will meet at the La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center in Santa Barbara.  On Friday, March 14 we’ll organize a 4:00 pm vigil at the front gate of Vandenberg and on the evening of March 15 we will hold a public event at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara. 

Speakers at the March 15 event will include: David Krieger (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation), Dave Webb (Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament-UK & Global Network board convener), Dennis Apel (Guadalupe Catholic Worker House), Christine Hong (Korea Policy Institute and UC Santa Cruz), Andrew Lichterman (Western States Legal Foundation), and Mary Beth Sullivan (Social worker & peace conversion activist).  Music will be provided by singer/songwriters Tom Neilson and Holly Gwinn Graham.

We will have limited sleeping space (dormitory style) available at the La Casa de Maria Retreat center so reservations will be necessary.  (Other hotel information will be available if you would prefer those arrangements.)  We will provide meals for those staying at the conference center.  A sliding scale charge will run from $50-$150 (pay what you can best afford.)

There will be no charge for the Saturday, March 15 public event that will be held at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara.  More details will follow.

Events will conclude on March 16 after lunch.

  • Please sign me up for a sleeping space at the retreat center on March 14 & 15.  Enclosed is _________ (Pay what you can best afford between $50-$150)  Meals are included.
  • Please send me local hotel information in the Santa Barbara area.

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org

Monday, December 23, 2013

NOT SO HOLY LAND



Richard Falk, who is a professor Emeritus of international law at Princeton University, was appointed in 2008 to a six-year position as the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

Falk is catching hell from the Obama administration and other Israeli allies.  I say good for Richard Falk for just telling the truth about the current plight of the Palestinian people.  

THIS IS HOW WE ARE TRAINED



Trained into servility......it's the militarization of our culture.  Can you say Israeli style?

To learn more about the TSA push back go here

SOLIDARITY GETS PERSONAL


I'm closely following the current developments from South Korea - maybe it should be renamed the "Corporate state of South Korea".  This week's right-wing government "surprise" was to bust into the multi-storied headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) on Dec. 22.  The current fascist government in the corporate state of South Korea is cracking down hard these days on anyone that dares to peep their head into the clouds.  Everyone is supposed to look down and bow directly to the corporate dominated consumer culture they are being shackled with.

On previous trips to South Korea I was taken by Global Network board member Sung-Hee Choi to meet with representatives of the KCTU while in Seoul.  They kindly assigned a reporter from the union newspaper to one meeting where I talked about the growing militarization and corporatization of space and ultimately the earth below.  They gave me a chance to reach South Korean workers with our message and I was happy to make that connection.

I learned alot in South Korea about the corporate and military connection and the return to a fascist model.  Right after WW II, when the US took over South Korea, there was a harsh period when many were jailed for long periods or killed for opposing the puppet government run by Uncle Sam and his investors.  The long struggle against the military "Uncle" (such misuse of a sacred word) forced a relaxation of the military boot and helped build hopes for some kind of reunification with North Korea.  But now the boot is coming down hard again as the workers, through their unions and general domestic support, have made significant economic gains for many people.  And with that came more political voice across their nation.  Those gains though have become too costly to those who rule and they also feared a strong and mobilized labor would naturally oppose the growing militarization of the Republic of [South] Korea - a sure sign that Uncle Sam had "big plans" for the near future.

South Korea is a US military colony - just as are Guam, Hawaii, Taiwan, Japan and Okinawa, and soon again the Philippines.  All of this is aimed directly at China.  Boom.

Back here at home, as we near the birthday of the prince of peace, the few remaining decent paying jobs across America are in the military production system.  Alot of paper pushers fill those jobs because Mr. Big needs to skim off a good-sized national layer of bright, ambitious, and good-hearted folks who must be kept employed, and satisfied, if the corporate oligarchy wishes to keep control.  Social control is maintained by that thin but wide layer of natural born leaders that essentially get bought off with good jobs.  If they still have a conscience they join the Sierra Club.

That group is now on the ledge - fearing that they will soon be pushed over - to fall likely into the declining welfare system - imagine falling from one safety net to the other, each with gaping holes.  Ouch.

When this "executive layer" falls out of grace the political momentum will pick up across our land.  Our work now is to connect with them to ensure they have open hearts and understand the deeply wounded moment we are in as we see our Mother Earth in toxic shock.  We must ask the question:  "Can we now all get on with the real program"?......

What say you my friend?

REPRESSION GROWS IN SOUTH KOREA

Police break down the glass door at the Korean Confederation of Trade Union headquarters during a government raid of KCTU in Seoul on December 22.


Umbrella trade union KCTU sets Dec. 28 for a general strike

By Jeon Jong-hwi, Im In-tack and Lee Jung-gook, staff reporters
the Hankyoreh

The Park Geun-hye administration, which has maintained an “uncommunicative and proud of it” approach on contentious social issues, is ramping up its use of force and rejecting dialogue.

In the latest development, police stormed the offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) on Dec. 22, the fourteenth day of an ongoing strike against railway privatization. It was the first time authorities had been sent into the KCTU since it was legalized in 1999.

The police were there to execute arrest warrants for nine members of the leadership for the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU), but the individuals in question weren’t there. Instead, the 136 KCTU officials and members who fought back against the police were rounded up and arrested.

After convening an emergency meeting of its central committee, the KCTU declared a “genuine campaign to bring down the Park administration,” with a general strike to start on Dec. 28.

The government’s attack on the KCTU was a signal of how anxious it is to end the KRWU strike, which has drawn out to become the longest in South Korean railway history. As popular support for the anti-privatization strike remains high, the situation appears poised to escalate into a more general anti-privatization campaign in areas like healthcare and education. With the “front lines” of the privatization furor now parked on the railway, the government appears to be trying to break them down as quickly as possible.

Previously, Park called the strike a “groundless action that shows a lack of trust in the government’s promise not to privatize.” Police and prosecutors promised to enforce the law rigorously.

“There seems to have been a strategic decision by the hard line bureaucrats in the Blue House,” said Cho Hee-yeon, a professor at Sungkonghoe University’s graduate school of NGO studies. “Crushing the privatization strike is the only way to keep the unions in check, and they would also be able to push the next phase of their policy.”

“In short, they see it as a great opportunity,” Cho said.

Indeed, unions are among the best organized areas in South Korean society for speaking out on social issues.

Another of the government’s aims is to draw a clear line that extends beyond the KRWU to all members of the labor community who oppose the administration’s policies. While the KCTU, KRWU, and civil society in general have proposed setting up a “social dialogue” framework to address the key issue in the privatization furor - the establishment of a KORAIL subsidiary - the government’s response has instead been an ostentatious use of force. In effect, it has shown that it intends to respond to the debate by putting physical force ahead of dialogue.

“The government should be the ones initiating dialogue,” said a KRWU source on condition of anonymity. “Instead, they’ve issued what amounts to a declaration of war. They refuse to even recognize the body that is the supreme representative of unions, viewing it as an enemy instead.”

Some are saying the administration’s militant response is a reaction to having its legitimacy called into question. From this position, the actions are intended to break a deadlock that has been going for nearly a year since Park took office.

It’s a year that has seen one problem after another for the administration. Already facing a challenge to its legitimacy due to the election interference by the National Intelligence Service and the military’s Cyber Command, it has had to deal with a backlash over backpedaling on its basic old age pension election pledges, the privatization controversy, and charges of “targeting” former Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook.

“These actions come in the context of questions about the administration’s legitimacy, after it emerged that the election that brought it into office was unfair, along with a loss of popular support over the backpedaling on election pledges,” said Catholic University of Korea professor Cho Don-moon.

“They can’t win the people over, and they’re trampling on the right to pursue stability and happiness,” Cho added. “What happened today shows just how weak the administration’s legitimacy is.”

The KCTU’s declaration of a campaign to “bring down the administration” comes two years and one month after the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP) single-handedly pushed the South Korea-US Free Trade Agreement through the National Assembly in Nov. 2011. All that’s left now is a clash between giants.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

SUNDAY SONG





Happy holidays to everyone.