Political Ideas

2017
Mar
01

Resolution Proposed for Charlottesville City Council

Tag: Political Ideas

Endorsed by Charlottesville Veterans For Peace, Charlottesville Amnesty International, World Beyond War, Just World Books, Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, the Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club, Candidate for Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Fogel, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible Charlottesville, heARTful Action, Together Cville,

Whereas Mayor Mike Signer has declared Charlottesville a capital of resistance to the administration of President Donald Trump.[i]

2017
Feb
28

This Is Not Your Grandparents' Resistance

Tag: Political Ideas

I want to disagree, in part, with a recent recommendation that John Steinbeck's The Moon Is Down be used as a guide to resisting the outrages of the Trump regime. I think you could present the basic plot to an average middle school student today, and they would point out the fundamental flaw quite quickly.

Here's the plot. Nazis armed with machine guns take over a small Norwegian town that has a 12-member army, instantly killing 6, injuring 3, and sending 3 into hiding. The Nazis want all the townsfolk to cooperate, including by working in a coal mine so that coal can be shipped out to help the Nazis in the war, as well as -- of course -- generally providing food, shoveling snow, and keeping things running in the town. The townsfolk bitterly resent the occupation. Yet they generally cooperate in all ways, except when they find opportunities to kill a German soldier or two. They send to England for dynamite with which to blow up bridges. No other resistance tactics even occur to them.

Does something occur to you? Does it occur to you that a mine won't run if the miners all refuse to enter it? The fact that this occurs to a great many people today is the result of intellectual and practical progress. We know now that nonviolent tools are the most likely to succeed. We have models and plans for potential situations. This response -- unthinkable through most of human history -- has almost become common sense today.

In part, that's because of the real history of Norway. A strong case has been made that Norway avoided developing its own brand of Nazism in the 1930s by means of using strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, and nonviolent occupations to democratize its society, rather than the violent approach used in some other countries. Norway also used, not just violence, but largely nonviolent resistance (as well as violence against non-living things, aka sabotage) to resist Nazi occupation.

Leaders of the Norwegian resistance were, appropriately enough, school teachers, who refused to cooperate with a puppet government, and inspired others to do the same. U.S. teachers should be, and in some cases are, leading resistance to Trump's agenda for the United States. So should local and state governments. So should prominent individuals and organizations of all sorts. I think this is what the article linked above has in mind, too, in recommending The Moon Is Down. But that tale needs updating.

Even so, The Moon Is Down, begins to get close to what's needed. It was a controversial book, and is a good book, because it depicts the Nazis occupying Norway as human beings, just as the people obeying orders to yank Muslims off airplanes in the United States today are human beings. Steinbeck depicts foreign occupations as hopeless and dreams of being welcomed with flowers and chocolates as insane -- something the United States has been in desperate need of learning these past 16 years. The Nazis fail to occupy the town in the story not because they are racists or sexists or haven't donated to the Clinton Foundation, but because there is no way to occupy someone else's town successfully, whether or not the people of the town have been "disarmed."

The Moon Is Down makes the powerful point that the victims of war do not excuse the crimes because the crimes are part of a war. After all, most of them have never attended any U.S. university, so they don't know any better. When the Nazi commander orders the mayor to order the killing of one of his citizens for the crime of murdering a German soldier, he asks if they will punish their own troops for the crime of killing six Norwegian soldiers. Murder is murder, after all, even -- I would bet Steinbeck might agree -- when a flying robot is used.

But the idea that today Norwegian villagers occupied by German troops would be wisest to engage in assassination, as opposed to mass non-violent resistance live streamed on the internet, seems hopelessly outdated. If we want to resist strategically, if we want to transform positively, we will have to update our toolkit dramatically. Looking back at how people thought 75 years ago should serve us primarily as an inspiring reminder of how far we've come, and thereby as an indication of how much further we can go in changing the way we think and act. The permanent military state into which Trump now wants to dump 65% of discretionary spending was begun by people who basically didn't know any more about how societies can work than Aristotle knew about evolution. Perhaps we should reconsider our devotion to their manner of resistance -- which is, after all, what the Pentagon believes it is leading.

2017
Feb
20

Ukraine on Fire

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

I read this article: "A Documentary You’ll Likely Never See," and watched this preview.

So, of course, I wanted to see it.

I got a hold of a copy but am not allowed to share it and have been unable to get any information on where you can learn more, how you can rent it, where it will be screened, etc.

Bit *if* you are ever able to see Ukraine on Fire you should. This is a story about recent events in Ukraine that puts them into the context of Ukraine's history, rejects propaganda, and presents the evidence clearly and concisely. It includes interviews of key figures conducted by Oliver Stone.

To summarize the key points will just sound like lunacy to U.S. media consumers, though a bit of reading or watching this film might help persuade many.

The United States promoted two color revolutions in Ukraine several years apart, taking the side of neo-Nazis, installing handpicked leaders in Kiev and even a former coup leader from Georgia in Odessa. Russia did not invade Ukraine. Just as Russia did not hack the German or U.S. elections. The evidence also suggests that Russia was probably not involved in shooting down that Malaysian airplane, that Ukrainian nationalists did that.

As Russia is being demonized in a new way every week in Washington, knowing truth from lies on Ukraine may be critically important and could just save us. I hope somebody makes a way for you to see this movie.

2017
Feb
15

Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?

Tag: Elections, Peace and War, Political Ideas

Michael Flynn participated in mass murder and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocated for torture, and manufactured false cases for war against Iran. He and anyone who appointed him to office and kept him there should be removed from and disqualified for public service. (Though I still appreciate his blurting out the obvious regarding the counterproductive results of drone murders.)

Many would say that prosecuting Al Capone for tax fraud was a good move if he couldn't be prosecuted for murder. But what if Al Capone had been funding an orphanage on the side, and the state had prosecuted him for that? Or what if the state hadn't prosecuted him, but a rival gang had taken him out? Are all take-downs of major criminals good ones? Do they all deter the right activities by up-and-coming criminals?

Michael Flynn was not removed by public demand, by representative action in Congress, by public impeachment proceedings, or by criminal prosecution (though that may follow). He was removed by an unaccountable gang of spies and killers, and for the offense of seeking friendlier relations with the world's other major nuclear-armed government.

2017
Feb
14

Racist Warmonger Plans Return to Charlottesville

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas, Race Relations

We chased this guy away once. And Robert E. Lee too.

He's coming back to Charlottesville to insist that we glorify racism and war.

Let's tell him we prefer love and peace.

February 21, 5:30 p.m., City Hall.

Sign up here and share widelyhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1903821353181998

2017
Feb
09

Should California Secede? An Interview with David Swanson

Tag: Political Ideas

On November 21st, California secessionists calling themselves “Yes California” filed papers with the California Secretary of State proposing a November 2018 ballot measure that would ask registered voters whether California should secede from the US and become its own nation. If passed, the measure would strike language from California’s constitution that says the state is “an inseparable part of the United States of America, and the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land.” It would also require a special election in March 2019 for the sole purpose of asking voters whether they’re really sure they want to secede. The measure has been dubbed Calexit after Brexit, which is shorthand for Britain’s vote to withdraw from the European Union. Its author answers a long list of questions about how California’s institutions might adapt on their website yescalifornia.org. I spoke to David Swanson, Executive Director of World Beyond War and one of the first writer-activists to come out in favor of Calexit.

Ann Garrison: David, you saw the Calexit coming back on March 17th when you wrote the essay “Secession, Trump[, and the Avoidability of Civil War” after California Governor Jerry Brown joked about building a wall around California if Trump were elected. Similar movements emerged, most visibly in California and Vermont, after George Bush’s second election, but both quickly faded from media attention. Do you think this is a historical moment in which they might have more staying power?

2017
Feb
06

Against Simplicity: A Complexity Manifesto

Tag: Philosophy, Political Ideas

In academia there is a general understanding that the sort of rules applied in (certain specific and limited) physical sciences don't always work in the "human sciences" due to the complexity involved. Among the general public (and plenty of academia too), there is nonetheless a widespread tendency to impose radically over-simplistic rules on the observation of human behavior.

To my mind, once the earth's temperature has been observed to set a new heat record year after year, and extremely likely causes have been identified, one can predict the trend continuing as long as the causes do. Most of the U.S. public, needless to say, would not agree.

The same simplicity cannot be found useful in predicting Atlanta Falcons scoring or Hillary Clinton polling, because the brains and behavior of homo sapiens are involved, regardless of how relatively ignorant you may hold many of those homo sapiens and their brains to be.

2017
Feb
05

The United States Is Innocent and Has Never Killed Anyone

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

It was bound to be the case that if a U.S. president ever admitted that the United States murdered people and did so on a scale at least as significant as other countries, he would be defending the practice, not denouncing it.

It is not a secret in much of the world that the United States is (as that Putin stooge Martin Luther King Jr. put it) the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. The United States is the top weapons dealer, the top weapons buyer, the biggest military spender, the most widespread imperial presence, the most frequent war maker, the most prolific overthrower of governments, and from 1945 to 2017 the killer of the most people through war.

During this past U.S. election, a debate moderator asked if a candidate would be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of basic presidential duties. One can find many faults in Russia and other countries, but in none could one find such an occurrence.

I ask people at public events where I speak to name eight countries bombed under president Barack Obama, and most cannot come close. Nowhere else on earth can people not keep track of their wars.

During this last presidency, the United States developed a new policy of murdering people with missiles from drones. Other nations do not yet have anything to match it.

Hillary Clinton told Goldman Sachs bankers that a no-fly zone in Syria would require killing lots of Syrians, but told the public that a no-fly zone should be created.

For all its evils at home and abroad, Russia -- over the years -- has proposed complete nuclear disarmament, significant overall disarmament, a ban on weapons in space, and a peace settlement in Syria. The United States has broken promises, laws, and morality to expand NATO and its troops to Russia's border.

The reality of U.S. foreign relations is generally treated as "fake news." So, when someone like Donald Trump, who pushes lies and disasters like they're going out of style, blurts out some truth, Democratic partisans are eager to denounce it.

But their blind partisan patriotism just reinforces the truth of what Trump said. As he pursues policies of "stealing oil" and "killing families" he is adding nothing new to the United States' record. Killing has been the primary investment of federal discretionary spending since long before the days of the Bowling Green Massacre.

2017
Feb
03

Apologies to Norway

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas
To my friends and cousins in Norway:  Re this story

Your former prime minister was abused in the way that thousands of people are by my government -- mine because my great grandparents abandoned your relatively civilized land for this one. 

I am deeply sorry and apologize on behalf of the United States. Please forgive it. It knows not what it does.  

This happened at an airport named for a criminal. It happens all the time, all over the United States, but people are starting to resist it. There are big protests that you'll have to send your own reporters to see. The U.S. media won't inform you.

If you'd like to see dangerous trends reversed in the United States, you can help. Stop buying U.S. weapons. Stop collaborating with NATO. Start giving the Nobel Peace Prize to actual peace advocates.  We cannot do this alone. And when we go down, we bring the world along.   Peace, David
2017
Jan
31

The Next Step in Caring

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

Airport resistance is the biggest step forward by the U.S. public in years.

Why do I say that? Because this is unfunded, largely unpartisan activism that is largely selfless, largely focused on helping unknown strangers, driven by compassion and love, not political ideology, greed, or vengeance, and in line with activism around the globe. It's also targeted at the location of the harm, directly resisting the injustice, and achieving immediate partial successes, including very meaningful successes for certain individuals. It's gaining support from people never before engaged in any activism. And it shows no signs of any significant undesirable side-effects. This is a movement to be built on, and I have an idea what a next step should be.

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

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