Political Ideas

Jun
16

Brexit Violence Deeply Rooted, With Lessons for U.S.

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas, Public Policy

On Thursday, in a political move more typical of the United States than Europe, a member of the British Parliament was murdered. She was an opponent of Brexit (Britain exiting the European Union), and her murderer reportedly shouted "Britain First!"

Jun
15

We Should Be More Viking

Tag: Book and Movie Reviews, Political Ideas, Public Budgets

A birth lottery winner, or a chooser behind a Rawlsian veil of ignorance, today would likely end up not as a U.S. billionaire's child (much less a random U.S. child), but as a child in Scandinavia. That is, whether you're looking for higher happiness, life-expectancy, health, education, safety, and quality of life, or you're looking for environmental sustainability, social justice, and relations of peace and generosity with the rest of the world, the model today is the land of the Vikings' descendants.

Traditionally it has not been popular in the United States to emulate others. Books on how Europe is better than here don't always fly off U.S. shelves. Michael Moore's latest movie is not his highest grossing. On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders made the Scandinavian model the core of his surprisingly successful campaign. Many voices were quick to tell him that his socialism doesn't work in theory. He was quick to reply that it has nonetheless been proven to work in practice.

Jun
07

Talk Nation Radio: Ahmed Salah on Masterminding the Egyptian Revolution

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas, Talk Nation Radio

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-ahmed-salah-on-masterminding-the-egyptian-revolution

Ahmed Salah is an Egyptian democracy activist. He was a co-leader of three of Egypt’s most prominent protest movements—Kefaya, Youth for Change, and the April 6th Movement—and a principal organizer of the Egyptian Revolution. In 2013, he re­ceived the Champion of Justice Award from the Center for Justice and Accountability. His book is called You Are Under Arrest for Masterminding the Egyptian Revolution.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.Producer: David Swanson.Music by Duke Ellington.

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

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Jun
03

Lessons for Peace from Back in the USSR

Tag: Culture and Society, Peace and War, Political Ideas

In the early 1980s almost nobody from the United States traveled to the Soviet Union or vice versa. The Soviets wouldn't let anybody out, and good Americans were disinclined to visit the Evil Empire. But a woman in California named Sharon Tennison took the threat of nuclear war with the seriousness it deserved and still deserves. She got a group of friends together and asked the Russian consulate for permission to visit Russia, make friends, and learn.

Russia said fine. The U.S. government, in the form of the FBI and USAID, told them not to go, warned that they would not be permitted to move freely once there, and generally communicated that they, the U.S. government employees, had internalized their own propaganda. Tennison and company went anyway, had a wonderful experience, and spoke at events with slide shows upon their return, thus attracting many more people for the next trip.

Now it was Tennison's turn to brief the flabbergasted and ignorant U.S. government staff who had virtually no actual knowledge of Russia beyond what she gave them. This was back in the day when President Ronald "Is this a film or reality?" Reagan said that 20 million dead Americans would be acceptable in a war. Yet the so-called intelligence so-called community didn't know its assets from its elbows. War as a "last resort" was being considered without having considered literally any other resorts. Someone had to step in, and Sharon Tennison decided she'd try.

Obama 2012 75a66
Jun
02

Democratic Party Ignored Its 2012 Platform

Tag: Political Ideas

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Bernie Sanders' accomplishment, whether he wins the most actual delegates, despite the rigged system, or not, and whether that garners him the nomination or not, has not been to persuade Hillary Clinton to pretend to support progressive policies. And it has not been to persuade the DNC to let progressive people have some say in drafting its 2016 platform. Sanders' accomplishment has been persuading millions of people to vote for whom they choose in defiance of the corporate media's dictates. The U.S. public's growing ability to tell the corporate media to go to hell is going to mean a lot more to our future than the outcome of any election.

If you look through the 2008 and 2012 Democratic Party Platforms, the idea that the next one could be improved upon appears obvious. The idea that it matters appears less so. In 2008, the Democratic Party was going to "defeat al Qaeda," and "win" a war on Afghanistan by escalating it, make America loved again while expanding its military presence all over the globe, eliminate nuclear weapons from the earth, handle climate change, enact the Employee Free Choice Act, etc., etc. It's not that times changed. It's not that the evil Republicans got in the way. The Democrats never attempted these things -- well, except for the one in Afghanistan that they're still attempting, and the hate-generating military expansion.

This is not necessarily a drawback in platform writing. If you fail to do something in four years, you get to stick it into the next platform four years later -- perhaps with even worse writing after some additional group-editing is applied. After the 2006 congressional victories, Rahm Emanuel told the Washington Post that the Democrats would actually not end the war on Iraq, because they preferred to run "against" it again in 2008. That attitude seems to be the model for how the 2012 Democratic Party Platform evolved out of the 2008 version.

Jun
01

What if Revolution Were More Than a Campaign Slogan?

Tag: Political Ideas

Learning From Egyptian Revolution

By David Swanson

What if people in the United States came to understand "revolution" as something more than a campaign slogan in a presidential election campaign?

Ahmed Salah's new book, You Are Under Arrest for Master Minding the Egyptian Revolution (a Memoir), early on characterizes its own title as an exaggeration, but over the course of the book works to substantiate it. Salah was indeed as involved as anyone in building public momentum in Egypt over a period of years, culminating in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, though all of his accounts of in-fighting among various activist groups necessarily have other accounts from each individual involved.

Of course, master minding a revolution is not like master minding a construction project. It's much more of a gamble, working to prepare people to act effectively when and if a moment arises in which people are willing to act -- and then working to build on that action so that the next round is still more effective. Being able to create those moments is itself more like trying to control the weather, and I think must remain so until new democratic forms of media become truly mass media.

May
23

Let's Back All Moderates in Syria and the World

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

I've come around in favor of backing all moderates. The question appeared to me for a long time as a difficult one. Should one give anti-aircraft weaponry, for example, to al Qaeda fighters in Syria in order to better combat ISIS (which could some day develop the airplane)?

The answer is yes, if, and only if, those fighters are moderates.

Now, who's a moderate? Some people get confused on this part, but it's not really that difficult to get straight. Fighters who want to blow up buildings and airplanes and cars and pedestrians and playgrounds can be either moderates or extremists, since war has nothing to do with their categorization. After all, we're picking which people to arm in the war.

May
23

Hey Kids! Try Collateral Damage at Home

Tag: Peace and War, Philosophy, Political Ideas

One day a couple of weeks ago I was reading Saint Augustine while driving to the local convenience store, and I accidentally drove right through the front glass wall of the store, smashing up some shelves of junk food. After I'd made my purchases, a police officer stopped me and asked if I'd intended to drive into the store. "Oh, not at all," I replied. "I intended to get here as quickly as possible while also educating myself as quickly as possible. I knew I might crash, of course, but that wasn't part of my intention."

"Well," the cop replied. "Where should we send the check for your car repair?"

"I'll let you know," I replied, a bit annoyed by the hassle.

My brother in law repaired my car for not much more than $100,000, and all it still needed was to be repainted. So, I took a giant paint sprayer with me. I parked the car in front of my neighbor's house, the one with the loud dog. When I'd finished painting the car, there was a rough shape of its profile on the front of my neighbor's house, surrounded by fresh purple paint. I pinned a note to the door letting him know that my intention had been only to paint the car and not his house.

May
12

The Best and Least Known Killing Spree

Tag: Political Ideas

This week we lost one of the best lawyers and activists the United States has known, Michael Ratner, on the same day on which Bob Marley had died years before. It was Michael Ratner who told us who killed Che Guevara. This led me to make this little list:

1955 John Wayne

1960 Ernest Hemingway

1961 Paul Robeson

1963 John Kennedy

1965 Malcolm X

1967 Che Guevara

1968 Martin Luther King Jr.

1968 Robert Kennedy

1976 Bob Marley

(Never give up?) Fidel Castro

2015 Beau Biden

What does this list have in common? These are all people whom I hope some of you know of and who quite likely died of the same disease: U.S. militarism (except Fidel, but not for lack of trying).

But perhaps I don't have to try such bizarre approaches anymore to get anyone to care about mass murder. Donald "kill their families" Trump admitted this week that U.S. wars are one-sided slaughters, that the U.S. government kills millions of people, and that the U.S. government lies about it.

Perhaps someone else on television will say that again. Perhaps reporters will report on it.

Ha. Ha. Just kidding. Back in reality, click on a few of the famous names above and see if that moves you.

May
11

How to Oppose the Draft for Women and Not Be Sexist

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas

For the majority of people in the United States who have no idea, yes, draft registration still exists, but only for males. However, the U.S. House of Representatives is interested in adding young women to the rolls. In fact the House Armed "Services" Committee passed such a measure in April, and it is now part of the National "Defense" Authorization Act pending review, amendment, debate, and passage.

An amendment proposed by Congressman Pete Sessions would undo this "progressive" development. Some rightwing groups that consult the Bible for their standards of women's rights also want to stop the extension of "selective service" to all 18 year olds. Some peace activists believe that the key to ending warmaking is actually activating the draft in as big a way as possible. And liberal humanitarian warriors want equal war rights for women. Much of the rest of the world, meanwhile, believes the United States has overdosed on military madness.

As a helpful public service, I offer this guide on how (and why) to oppose extending draft registration to women without being a sexist pig.

1. Oppose the draft extension while wearing a Hillary hat.

2. Just kidding. The goal here is to prevent wars, not launch a dozen new ones. Stay principled. This isn't actually that hard.

3. Join a growing movement backing legislation to end draft registration in the United States for everyone.

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