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, May 05, 2018

Plutocracy III: Class War


Plutocracy III - Class War from Scott N on Vimeo.


The early struggles of the working class are placed under a microscope in Plutocracy III: Class War, the 3rd chapter in an exceptionally well produced series which explores the origins of America's growing economic divide.

Without a doubt, the clashes between worker rights and corporate interests are prominent in today's political and economic landscape, but they're not a modern phenomenon by any means. These imbalances, and the wealth inequalities that have resulted in their wake, have existed for generations. The filmmakers provide a searing portrait of the brave workers who fought for true democracy in the early decades of the 20th century.

The episode begins with the titan of the labor movement during that period - Mary Harris "Mother" Jones. A galvanizing presence who spent her life inspiring a working class revolution, Jones rallied a coalition of miners from Ludlow, Colorado in 1914. These miners worked under heinous conditions and for little pay in a coal operation owned by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Their determination knew no bounds; when the company cast the striking miners and their families out of their homes, they defiantly set up a colony of tents and continued their fight for fairness.

Their stand-off ended in tragedy. The National Guard was deployed and unleashed gun fire into the colony, senselessly massacring men, women and children. This appalling event sparked outrage and public protest across the United States.

The bulk of the film examines the impact of World War I on the labor movement, a conflict that saw the slaughter and disfigurement of a generation. The war provided further evidence of the class divide, and would propel labor advocacy efforts among all genders and races.

All of this culminated in the rise of the Socialist Party and the radical International Workers of the World organization, as well as the events of 1919, a year that saw 22.5% of the work force in strike mode.

Plutocracy III: Class War offers invaluable historical insights from a panel of historians and labor advocates. Their deeply human narrative is assisted by a briskly edited barrage of stock footage, archive materials, and other provocative imagery.

Directed by: Scott Noble

Friday, May 04, 2018

Should cities/states fund the war machine?



Regis Tremblay just finished his 29-minute video about the effort in Maine to defeat LD1781, a $60 Million tax giveaway to General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, builder of Navy destroyers.

It shares the broader story of the three-month campaign and features teacher/activist Lisa Savage and Bruce Gagnon along with Regis telling the tale.

We are proud that we forced General Dynamics/BIW to work for their welfare check.

The military industrial complex is attempting to normalize the notion that cities and states should have to help pay for endless war.  If we allow that to happen then say good-bye to all social progress and environmental funding.

See an article by journalist Alex Nunes on a similar effort by GD to extract millions from Rhode Island and Connecticut here

Song at start and finish by John Morris.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Okinawa video coverage



Good video of the kayak water action last week at US Marine base Camp Schwab in Okinawa.

Also some footage of construction gate blockades.

I'm tired of war



I am home now - tired from the long journey to Okinawa and Taiwan but glad I took it.  After I left Okinawa I stopped in Taipei to visit my son Julian and his wife Emily.  We share a love for food so Julian enjoys showing me some of their favorite places to eat - always a good adventure.

When my flight left Taipei I had a stop in Tokyo with a four-hour layover.  I used that time to get caught up on emails and reading.  I was deeply struck with a sadness as I confronted the feeling that I've spent my whole life hearing about and seeing wars.

I was born during the Korean war. Growing up in an Air Force family war was always present.

During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis we were living at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota and my step-dad was called in on alert and I remember wondering if he'd be coming home or not.  My mom divorced my father when I was two years old and I never saw him again.  Now I might be losing another father I feared.

One evening in the Cold War period of the mid-1960's, while living in Germany, we were returning home from some all-day outing and I was spread out in the back of our station wagon. On the Armed Forces radio network was a play about nuclear war. A family (mother, father, and son around same age as me) were living in an isolated valley after a nuclear exchange.  They could not go beyond the valley because of radiation.  They were doomed to a life of non-existence really - the boy had no future.  That story has hung in my heart ever since.

I joined the Air Force in 1971, during the Vietnam War, largely because it was really all I knew.  My induction physical was to be done in Oakland, California and we were instructed to report to the induction center quite a bit early.  There was a long line of us young guys standing outside the center waiting for the doors to open. A woman, some one's mother, began working the line of mostly draftees - wailing and pleading with us not to go to war.  She had lost her son in Vietnam.  Her cries still live inside my heart.

The woman was followed by a young black man with no face.  He had no nose, no ears, no eye brows, no lips, just a burnt scarred face and he too begged us not to go to war as he had done.  His painful to see face also still lives inside of me.


During our recent week in Okinawa the hundreds who blocked the construction gate at the US Marine base at Camp Schwab each day were mostly older people.  Many of them have memories of the terrible Battle of Okinawa where at least one-quarter of the civilian population died in 1945 when the US attacked the island and defeated the Japanese occupiers.  People there are deeply marked by WW II and fear another war as the Pentagon occupiers use Okinawa as an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' aimed at China, North Korea and Russia.

On the plane home I searched for movies to watch and was not surprised to find that most of what the airline offered were war movies or films that suggest humanity's future on this planet will be filled with violence.  The 'entertainment industry' helps keep people stuck in the endless war cycle with a sense of helplessness about doing anything about it.

My step-dad was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean war and worked in photo reconnaissance.  He had several picture books from his time there and when I was young I spent many hours pouring through these books - similar to the way kids are drawn to video games in current times.  I wonder if my four trips to Okinawa and numerous trips to Korea are tied to these books?

I was thinking about all of this during my trip home and feel lucky that I found a path in life that rejects this violent view of human culture.  I don't accept it and want something different - and believe that I've got to help create the new path forward.  I thank the great spirit for guiding me on this peace road.

Bruce

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

We need a peace treaty on Korean peninsula



If there was a military option to eliminate North Korean nuclear weapons, the US would have done so by now, Hyun Lee of the Korean Policy Institute and Zoom in Korea tells RT’S America Ed Schultz. Hyun is an excellent speaker.

Instead, President Donald Trump is getting ready to discuss denuclearization with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

Okinawa: Final photo report from Oura Bay protests










 












These photos were taken by VFP member Tarak Kauff (New York) at the gates of US Marine base Camp Schwab in Henoko where a twin-runway airfield is being built on top of pristine Oura Bay.  They are from a week-long daily protest on land and the sea. (Click on any photo for a better view.)

Near the end are a few photos from when we moved to the port area where trucks full of huge rocks are being taken to a ship to circumvent the construction gate protests at Camp Schwab.  We tried to slow down the process there for two hours on our last day.

Some of our Okinawan friends/hosts are also pictured above as well.

For even more photos click here

Many thanks to all the courageous people who have been struggling daily for the past 15 years to protect sacred Oura Bay from the US imperial war machine.

Those of us in the US have a responsibility to work harder at home to stop this malignant cancer from spreading and destroying the lives of innocent people around the world.

Bruce

Monday, April 30, 2018

May 2: Remembering the Odessa massacre



This video is by Regis Tremblay who joined Phil Wilayto and me in Odessa, Ukraine on May 2, 2016 for a remembrance event with the Mother's Committee of those killed at the Trades Union Hall in 2014 by Nazis.

International Solidarity with the People of Odessa!

On May 2, 2014, the people of Odessa, Ukraine, experienced the worst civil atrocity in Europe since World War II. Scores of people [46] died when a fascist-led mob chased a group of progressive activists into the five-story House of Trade Unions in Kulikovo Square - and then set it on fire. Some died from the flames, some from smoke inhalation, some from gunshot wounds. Some leapt from the building, only to be beaten to death when they hit the ground. Dozens of cellphone videos posted on the Internet clearly show that this was a mass lynching. Just google “May 2, 2014, Odessa.”

But even though many of the attackers’ faces are clearly visible on the videos, to date not one of the perpetrators has been brought to justice - while victims who survived the fire still languish in prison, many without ever being charged with a crime.

Background to the Massacre

The winter of 2013-14 in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev saw escalating protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, who was accused of corruption and anti-democratic practices. He also favored strengthening trade relations with Russia, while the parliament, or Rada, wanted a trade deal with the European Union. The initially peaceful protests on a large city square, or “maidan,” were soon taken over by extreme right-wing paramilitary organizations, leading to violence and the overthrow of the president. Today Ukraine is run by a right-wing government that openly works with neo-Nazi organizations to suppress dissent. Those who supported the coup are called Maidan. Those who opposed it are known as anti-Maidan. In Odessa, the anti-Maidan activists started a petitioning campaign to allow local provinces to elect their own governors, hoping this would provide some protection from the increasingly reactionary central government. It was this simple demand that infuriated the fascists, leading to the massacre of May 2.

Role of the US, EU, NATO & IMF

After the coup, then-U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland openly bragged that the U.S. had spent $5 billion cultivating “civic” organizations in Ukraine. During the Maidan protests she was even seen handing out pastries to the protesters. She also was caught on tape deciding with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who should be the country’s next president!

Today Ukraine is a country in crisis - economically, politically and socially. Its leadership is desperate to join the European Union. But first it has to submit to “structural reforms” demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF): privatization of state-owned industries, deregulation of businesses and deep cutbacks in social services - including raising the age at which workers can collect their meager pensions. Ukraine also wants to join NATO, which would give that military alliance a new member with a 1,200-mile land border with Russia. Meanwhile, Ukraine receives massive military aid and training from the U.S. and other NATO countries and conducts regular joint air, sea and land exercises with the U.S. military.

Today in Odessa


Despite the hostility of a right-wing government and the openly fascist forces that support it, the people of Odessa continue to regularly gather at the site of the May 2 massacre and demand justice. This May 2 they are holding another mass gathering - even though the fascists have called for a march on their memorial. This is why solidarity events are being carried out in so many countries today. Together we can raise our voices and say to the world:

* Solidarity with the People of Odessa!
* Justice for the Victims of the Massacre of May 2!
* US, EU, NATO & IMF out of Ukraine!
* No to Fascism - from Charlottesville to Odessa!

This statement is issued by the Odessa Solidarity Campaign, which works in support of the Council of Mothers of May 2 in Odessa. The OSC is a project of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). For more information, visit us at:

https://odessasolidaritycampaign.org 


This is the way it looks in Okinawa


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Palestine: What drives the resistance to occupation?


Abby Martin Max and Blumenthal Jewish-American on Israel's Fascism No Hope For Change From Within from Larry Alger on Vimeo.

Abby Martin interviews journalist and author Max Blumenthal on the current situation in Palestine and the Israeli occupation. This episode covers what is behind today's rebellion, the rising dominance of far-right, ultra-racist ideology in Israel, eye-witness accounts of the aftermath of the Gaza war, and the Israeli government's fear of Palestinian resistance. 

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and New York Times Best Selling author. He has written two books on Palestine, "Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel", and the recently-published "The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza."

Sunday Song




More sordid U.S. history - COINTELPRO



On March 8th, 1971 eight antiwar activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole over 1,000 classified documents which revealed J. Edgar Hoover's criminal government operation, COINTELPRO.

COINTELPRO was directed towards the public and broke first amendment rights and was later dismantled. But we know this shit still exists.

The eight antiwar activists called themselves the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI.

By Will Griffin