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30.11.2017 Robert Burrowes

Killing the Biosphere to Fast-track Human Extinction
(Image by en.wikipedia.org)

Several years ago in Cameroon, a country in West Africa, a Western Black Rhinoceros was killed. It was the last of its kind on Earth.

Hence, the Western Black Rhinoceros, the largest subspecies of rhinoceros which had lived for millions of years and was the second largest land mammal on Earth, no longer exists.

But while you have probably heard of the Western Black Rhinoceros, and may even have known of its extinction, did you know that on the same day that it became extinct, another 200 species of life on Earth also became extinct?

This is because the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history is now accelerating at an unprecedented rate with 200 species of plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles being driven to extinction on a daily basis. And the odds are high that you have never even heard of any of them. For example, have you heard of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, recently declared extinct? See ‘Christmas Island Pipistrelle declared extinct by IUCN’.

Apart from the 200 species extinctions each day however, and just to emphasize the catastrophic extent of this crisis, myriad local populations of many species are driven to extinction daily and millions of individual lifeforms are also killed. See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.

For a taste of the vast literature on this subject touching only on impacts in relation to insects, see ‘Death and Extinction of the Bees’, ‘Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.

Is anything being done to end this omnicide (the destruction of all life)?

Not really, although there is plenty of rhetoric and limited action in some contexts as all bar a few committed individuals and organizations ignore this onslaught while even fewer take action that addresses the underlying cause and/or fundamental drivers of this killing. Unfortunately, most effort is still wasted on lobbying elites.

For example, in the latest example of the foolishness of lobbying elites to take action in our struggle to defend Earth’s biosphere, the European Union has again just renewed Monsanto’s licence to keep poisoning (and otherwise destroying) our world – see ‘German vote swings EU decision on 5-year glyphosate renewal’ – despite the already overwhelming evidence of the catastrophic consequences of doing so. See, for example, ‘Killing Us Softly – Glyphosate Herbicide or Genocide?’ and GM Food Crops Illegally Growing in India: The Criminal Plan to Change the Genetic Core of the Nation’s Food System’.

Of course, massive poisoning of the biosphere is only one way to destroy it and while elites and their agents drive most of this destruction they nevertheless often rely on our complicity. To itemize just a few of these many techniques for destroying our biosphere in most of which we are complicit, consider the following. We destroy rainforests – see Cycles of Wealth in Brazil’s Amazon: Gold, Lumber, Cattle and Now, Energy’ – we contaminate and privatize the fresh water – see Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’ and ‘Nestlé CEO Denies That Water is an Essential Human Right’ – we overfish and pollute the oceans – see New UN report finds marine debris harming more than 800 species, costing countries millions’ – we eat meat despite the devastating impact of animal agriculture on Earth’s biosphere – see ‘The True Environmental Cost of Eating Meat’ – we destroy the soil – see ‘Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues’ – and we use our cars and air travel (along with our meat-eating) as key weapons in our destruction of Earth’s atmosphere and climate with atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide levels all breaking new records in 2016. See ‘Greenhouse Gas Bulletin’.

But if you think that is bad enough, did you know about the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that we have triggered – see ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’ and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’ – and did you know that scientists at the University of Leicester warn that we are destroying the Earth’s oxygen? See ‘Global warming disaster could suffocate life on planet Earth, research shows’ and ‘The Extinction Event Gains Momentum’.

In addition, relying on our ignorance and our complicity, elites kill vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence (without even considering the unique, and possibly life-ending, devastation if the recently and repeatedly threatened nuclear war eventuates) – see, for example, the Toxic Remnants of War Project and the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’ – subject it to uncontrolled releases of radioactive contamination – see Fukushima Radiation Has Contaminated The Entire Pacific Ocean And It’s Going To Get Worse’ – and use geoengineering to wage war on its climate, environment and ultimately ourselves. See, for example, ‘Engineered Climate Cataclysm: Hurricane Harvey’, ‘Planetary Weapons and Military Weather Modification: Chemtrails, Atmospheric Geoengineering and Environmental Warfare’, ‘Chemtrails: Aerosol and Electromagnetic Weapons in the Age of Nuclear War’ and ‘The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use’.

Of course, all of this is done at immediate cost to human beings, particularly indigenous peoples – see, for example, Five ways climate change harms indigenous people’ – and those who are in the worst position to resist – see Global Poverty: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World: The Big Lies’ – but elites know they can ignore our lobbying and occasional, tokenistic and disorganized protests while relying on the fear and powerlessness of most of us to ensure that we do nothing strategic to fight back.

And given the unrelenting criminal onslaught of the insane global elite – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane’ – directed against Earth’s biosphere, together with the elite’s many sycophantic academic, bureaucratic, business, legal, media, military, political and scientific servants who deny science and threaten human survival in the interests of short-term personal privilege, corporate profit and social control, it is long past time when those of us who are genuinely concerned should be developing and implementing a strategy that recognises the elite and its many agents as opponents to be resisted with a careful and powerful strategy.

So, in essence, the problem is this: Human beings are destroying the biosphere and driving countless lifeforms, including ourselves, to extinction. And there is little strategic resistance to this onslaught.

There is, of course, an explanation for this and this explanation needs to be understood if we are to implement a strategy to successfully halt our omnicidal assault on Earth’s biosphere in time to save ourselves and as many other species as possible in a viable ecological setting.

This is because if you want to solve a problem or resolve a conflict, then it is imperative to know and act on the truth. Otherwise you are simply acting on a delusion and whatever you do can have no desirable outcome for yourself, others, the Earth or its multitude of creatures. Of course, most people are content to live in delusion: it averts the need to courageously, intelligently and conscientiously analyse what is truly happening and respond to it powerfully. In short: it makes life ‘easier’ (that is, less frightening) even if problems keep recurring and conflicts are suppressed, to flare up periodically, rather than resolved.

And, of course, this is how elites want it. They do not want powerful individuals or organizations interfering with their scheme to (now rapidly) consolidate their militarized control over the world’s populations and resources.

This is why, for example, elites love ‘democracy’: it ensures disempowerment of the population. How so? you might ask. The fundamental flaw of democracy is that people have been deceived into surrendering their personal power to act responsibly – in relation to the important social, political, economic, environment and climate issues of the day – to elected ‘representatives’ in government who then fearfully represent the elites who actually control them (whether through financial incentives, electoral support or other means), assuming they aren’t members of the elite themselves and simply represent elite priorities out of shared interest (as does Donald Trump).

And because we delegate responsibility to those powerless politicians who fearfully (or out of shared interest) act in response to elite bidding, the best scientific information in relation to the state of the Earth is simply ignored or rejected while conservative ‘scientific warnings’ advocating ‘strategies’ that must fail are widely circulated. See, for example, ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’.

So this widespread failure to respond thoughtfully and powerfully is a fundamental reason that we are killing the biosphere and destroying life on Earth. Too few humans are willing to accept personal responsibility to understand why the violence is occurring and to participate in a carefully designed strategy to avert our own extinction, let alone save countless other species from premature entry into the fossil record. It is easier to leave responsibility to others. See ‘The Delusion “I Am Not Responsible”’.

And, clearly, time is running out, unless you are gullible enough to believe the elite-sponsored delusion that promotes inaction, and maximizes corporate profits in the meantime, because we are supposed to have until ‘the end of the century’. Far from it, however. As some courageous scientists, invariably denied access to mainstream news outlets, explain it: near-term human extinction is now the most likely outcome.

One of these scientists is Professor Guy McPherson who offers compelling evidence that human beings will be extinct by 2030. For a summary of the evidence of this, which emphasizes the usually neglected synergistic impacts of many of these destructive trends (some of which are noted above) and cites many references, listen to the lecture by Professor McPherson on ‘Climate Collapse and Near Term Human Extinction’.

Why 2030? Because, according to McPherson, the ‘perfect storm’ of environmental assaults that we are now inflicting on the Earth, including the 28 self-reinforcing climate feedback loops that have already been triggered, is so far beyond the Earth’s capacity to absorb, that there will be an ongoing succession of terminal breakdowns of key ecological systems and processes – that is, habitat loss – over the next decade that it will precipitate the demise of homo sapiens sapiens.

In relation to the climate alone, another scientist, Professor Kevin Anderson, who is Deputy Director of the UK’s premier climate modelling institution, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, has warned that emissions are now out of control and we are heading for a world that is 6 degrees hotter; he pointed out that even the International Energy Agency, and conservative organisations like it, are warning that we are on track for a 4 degree increase (on the pre-industrial level) by 2040. He also accused too many climate scientists of keeping quiet about the unrealistic assessments put out by governments. See ‘What They Won’t Tell You About Climate Catastrophe’.

So be wary of putting any credence on ‘official’ explanations, targets and ‘action-plans’ in relation to the climate that are approved by large gatherings, whether governmental or scientific. Few people have the courage to tell the truth when it guarantees unpopularity and can readily manifest as career-extinction and social and scientific marginalization.

As an aside, it is perhaps worth mentioning that most people have long forgotten that a decade ago (when the global temperature was .8 degrees above the pre-industrial level) it had been suggested that a decrease in global temperature to not more than .5 degrees above the pre-industrial level was actually necessary to achieve a safe climate, with the Arctic intact (although there was no clear feasible method for humans to reduce the global temperature to this level with any speed). Sadly we have made little progress in the past decade apart from to keep raising the ‘acceptable’ limit (whether to 2 degrees or ‘only’ 1.5). Most humans love to delude themselves to avoid dealing with the truth.

Hence, for those of us committed to responding powerfully to this crisis, the fundamental question is this: Why, precisely, are human beings destroying life on Earth? Without an accurate answer to this question, any strategy to address this crisis must be based on either guesswork or ideology.

So let us briefly consider some possible answers to this question.

Some people argue that it is genetic: human beings are innately violent and, hence, destructive behaviors towards themselves, others and the Earth are ‘built-in’ to the human organism; for that reason, violence cannot be prevented or controlled and humans must endlessly destroy.

However, any argument that human beings are genetically-predisposed to inflict violence is easily refuted by the overwhelming evidence of human cooperation throughout the millennia and there are endless examples, ranging from the interpersonal to the international, of humans cooperating to resolve conflict without violence, even when these conflicts involve complex issues and powerful vested interests. There are also plentiful examples of humans, particularly indigenous communities, living in harmony with, rather than destroying, nature.

Other analysts argue that human violence and destructiveness are manifestations of political, economic and/or social structures – such as patriarchy, capitalism and the state, depending on the perspective – and while I agree that (massive) structural violence actually occurs, I do not believe that these structures, by themselves, constitute an adequate explanation of the cause of violence.

This is simply because any structural explanation cannot account for violence in all contexts (including the violence that led to creation of the structure in the first place) or explain why it doesn’t happen in some contexts where a particular perspective indicates that it should.

So is there another plausible explanation for human violence? And can we do anything about it? Let me offer an explanation and a way forward that also takes advantage of the insights of those traditions that have critiqued structural violence in its many forms.

I have been researching why human beings are violent since 1966 and the evidence has convinced me that the origin of all human violence is the violence inflicted by adults on children under the guise of what sociologists call ‘socialization’. This violence takes many forms – what I call ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence – and it creates enormously damaged individuals who then personally inflict violence on themselves, those around them (including their own children) and the Earth, while creating, participating in, defending and/or benefiting from structures of violence and exploitation. For a full explanation of this point, see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

Hence, in my view, the evidence is overwhelming that if we want to end human violence, whether inflicted on ourselves, others or the Earth, then the central feature of our strategy must be to end adult violence against children. See ‘My Promise to Children’. I claim that this must be ‘the central feature of our strategy’ for the simple reason that each damaged child grows up to become a willing and active perpetrator of violence when, if they were not so damaged, they would be powerful agents of peace, justice and sustainability committed to resisting violence and exploitation in all contexts until it is eliminated.

This profound evolutionary inheritance – to be an individual of integrity who consciously chooses and lives out their own unique, powerful and nonviolent life path – has been denied to virtually all of us because humans endlessly terrorize their children into mindless obedience and social conformity, leaving them powerless to access and live out their conscience.

And this makes it very easy for elites: By then using a combination of our existing fear, indoctrination (via the education system, corporate media and religion) and intimidation (via the police, legal and prison systems), sometimes sweetened with a few toys and trinkets, national elites maintain social control and maximize corporate profits by coercing the rest of us to waste our lives doing meaningless work, in denial of our Selfhood, in the corporate-controlled economy.

As I implied above, however, we need not be content with just working to end violence against children. We can also work to end all other manifestations of violence – including violence against women, indigenous peoples, people of color, Islamic and working class people, and violence against the Earth – but recognize that if we tackle this violence without simultaneously tackling violence at its source, we fundamentally undermine our effort to tackle these other manifestations of violence too.

Moreover, tackling structural violence (such as capitalism) by using direct violence cannot work either. Because violence always feeds off fear it will always proliferate and remanifest, whether as direct, structural, cultural or ecological violence, however beneficial any short-term outcome may appear.

Importantly then, apart from understanding and addressing the fundamental cause of this crisis, we must implement a comprehensive strategy that takes into account and addresses each and every component of it. There is no point working to achieve a single objective that might address one problem no matter how important that particular problem might be. The crisis is too far advanced to settle for piecemeal action.

Hence, if you wish to tackle all of this violence simultaneously, you might consider joining those participating in the comprehensive strategy simply explained in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth. If you wish to tackle violence in a particular context, direct, structural or otherwise, consider using the strategic approach outlined in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy or Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

And if you would like to publicly commit yourself to participate in the effort to end all human violence, you can do so by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

Killing the biosphere is the most effective way to destroy life on Earth because it destroys the ecological foundation – the vast array of incredibly diverse and interrelated habitats – on which organisms depend for their survival. And we are now very good at this killing which is why averting human extinction is already going to be extraordinarily difficult.

Hence, unless and until you make a conscious personal decision to participate strategically in the struggle to save life on Earth, you will be one of those individuals who kills the biosphere as a byproduct of living without awareness and commitment: A person who simply over-consumes their way to extinction.

So next time you ponder the fate of humanity, which is inextricably tied to the fate of the Earth, it might be worth considering the unparalleled beauty of what Earth has generated. See, for example, Two White Giraffes Seen in Kenyan Conservation Area’.

And as you do this, ask yourself how hard you are willing to fight to save life on Earth.

 

29.11.2017 – London UK Silvia Swinden

Universal Basic Income. Return to Eden?
Göbeki Tepe, Anatolia (Image by Teomancimit, Wikimedia Commons)

The “modern” relationship between human beings and Work begins with the Neolithic Revolution when agriculture and animal husbandry coincides with the establishment of permanent settlements.

The beginning of this process in different regions has been dated from 10,000 to 8,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent. The transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist was initially detrimental to the health of the population, something that has been attributed to the reduction in the diversity of food, but also to the increase in harder work needed to maintain a steady supply for the now growing settlements. Recent analyses point out that agriculture also brought about deep social divisions and in particular encouraged inequality between the sexes. Wikipedia

An interesting archeological site that corresponds to this moment in Göbeki Tepe excavated in 1994 by Germán Archeologist Klaus Schmidt which seems to be challenging some of the assumptions made about the chronology of the process. While it was classically assumed that organised religion followed the Neolithic Revolution and the establishment of permanent settlements, those who congregated in Göbeki Tepe for some kind of rituals were in fact hunter-gatherers who brought with them food from other areas. However, as the site developed and the visitors became more settled, the need to feed them appears to have been a factor in the development of plant domestication. That is, some people had to engage in hard Work.

As excavator Klaus Schmidt put it: “First came the temple, then the city”. Wikipedia. He should have added, and with it, Work.

The site seems to have inspired a little flurry of stories from those looking to find archeological proof of the Bible, who saw here perhaps the mythical Garden of Eden, but a more interesting interpretation has been proposed that the burden of the agricultural revolution with its consequences of bad health and hard work became over many years the memory of a “moment” allegorised as being expelled from Eden and having to get your bread “by the sweat of your brow”.

Whilst Work was regarded as a curse by ancient civilisations, the Protestant work ethics and seeing sloth as a deadly sin have created a culture based on the modern dogma that work is the meaning in life and every human being’s duty. There is horror at the thoughts that robots are in the future going to replace humans. But this does not distinguish between mindless, wearing out, menial and repetitive work, the most likely to be replaced by automation, from creative, research oriented and emotionally rewarding work, which may be made lighter by automation but certainly not replaced by it.

If we add that free time created by a reduction of the working week could be used for entertainment, learning and social activities, the future brightens up. The fear created by the automation scenario is based on the present trend of concentration of wealth and resources in fewer and fewer hands. So, the assumption is that automation will allow the rich to get astronomically richer and the workers will be massively unemployed.

Universal Basic Income (UBI)

The only way to address the collapse of the social structures brought about by automation is to ensure that all the population counts on enough money to cover a reasonable lifestyle. Not just “basic” needs but also those that allow full participatpion in community life. Experiments in UBI show that far from becoming “idle” people engage with enthusiasm in the creative tasks that motivate them. Instead of “working” for a salary people participate, engage, develop and learn.

Just like the Neolithic Revolution’s negative effects that took millennia to recover, the “Antropocene Revolution” we are facing runs the risk of having negative consequences if the values on which to base itself are a continuation of the dehumanisation we experience today. It requires then to become a “Humanist Revolution”, one in which the Human Being becomes the central value, rather than money and power, one in which solidarity rather than individualism and cooperation rather than competition form the basis for new forms of relation and production. Work cannot be the meaning of human life as each individual must have the freedom to explore the meaning of their own existence.

We return then to the motor of the leaps the Human Being takes in its evolution. If a spiritual search preceded some of the most drastic changes, perhaps it is again necessary to find in the depth of human consciousness the spark of the new state of being. This is the key to choose the path that opens the future for all of humanity rather than just a tiny powerful minority. Being able to implement policies such as the UBI and a return to the Commons would be the reflection (and inducer in permanent feedback) of the existential changes that will allow human beings to emerge from their present dehumanisation. It would be not the “return” to a mythical Eden, but the creation of a society based on an image that was always beckoning from the future.

 

25.11.2017 Francesco Gesualdi

This post is also available in: Italian

Libya: Break the silence to avoid complicity
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the Bourbon Argos 142 people are found in an overcrowded rubber boat in the Central Mediterranean, containing many women and children. (Image by Medici senza Frontiere)

The gavel struck at a Tripoli auction to announce that a migrant had been sold for $400 and took us back 300 years to when markets in Montgomery and New Orleans separated men from women, children from mothers, and sold human-beings like oxen, ducks or horses. Then came Abraham Lincoln and in 1863 the American Constitution introduced the thirteenth amendment, which forbid slavery in the United States of America. Fifty years later the ban was extended globally by a United Nations convention signed in 1926.

Humanity seemed to have been freed forever from the barbarity of slavery, yet a recent CNN film has documented that no, slavery still exists in the 21st century and we are closely implicated as the migrants we reject are the ones being sold as slave laborers. While we aren’t directly involved, as we do not have the stomach for these actions, we do enable it by the providing means and advisors to the Libyan Coast Guard.

In a certified statement written on November 14th by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he declared: “The European Union and Italy are providing assistance to the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept migrant boats in the Mediterranean, including in international waters, to bring them back to Libya even though human rights organizations have denounced this as it exposes them to arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment, torture, rape, forced labor and extortion.” And he added: “Despite increasing interventions in the area by the European Union and its member states, so far nothing has been done to reduce the level of abuses suffered by migrants.”

And as confirmed by CNN’s film: that gavel strike proved that Libya follows no rule of law other than that of money, and lacks not only moral leadership, but also basic human decency when it comes to taking advantage of migrants’ unprotected and vulnerable status to transform them into auctioned goods.

Now Italy is in the midst of election campaigning, with all of the parties vying to reflect their voters’ emotions and say what voters want to hear. Unfortunately, the media has painted migrants as criminals who steal and kill, thugs who rape women and children, and beggars who will impoverish us by taking welfare benefits. Inevitably now a large section of our population has a burning hatred for migrants, considering them to be at the root of all our evils, and political parties are competing to prove who is better at liberating us from this evil. The grosser demagogues go off to repel these migrants at sea with their machine guns while more educated leaders make arrangements with African militias so that they do the dirty work.

The writers of our Constitution would have never believed that our democracy, no matter how battered, could become such competitive machinery, used to trample any principle in the name of victory. But it is not our democracy that has decayed: it is our society that has not been able to accompany technological progress with human progress; which has not been able to accompany the growing of complexity of our world with education capable of understanding how to manage it; which has been unable to accompany growth of the market with growth of societal values to prevent market rules from governing our entire society; which has been unable to accompany the growth of economic power with the growth of information outlets, so now only the few most powerful are able to create a distorted vision of reality.

How to break this perverse cycle is difficult to say, but if there is a possibility, it is from those who have retained their ability to think and raise their voice in disagreement at the cost of being marginalized and vilified. While in prison in 1963, Martin Luther King wrote, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Raising our voice in condemnation is the only way to put an end to the banality of evil, the most contagious disease which humanity suffers from.

Translation from Italian by Liane Arter

21.11.2017 – Madrid, Spain Rafael de la Rubia

This post is also available in: Spanish, Italian, Catalan

The 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence to start in 2019

The 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence was announced during the Conference for Nonviolence that took place between the 15th and 18th of November in Madrid, Spain.  It is scheduled to start on the 2nd of October 2019 (International Nonviolence Day) and end on the 8th of March 2020 (International Women’s Day).  The March will start and end in Madrid.

The conference was organised by World without Wars and Violence with support from PNND(i), the Peace Culture Foundation, WILPF (Spain), the Spanish campaign “Nonviolence 2018”, Ecologists in Action, Pressenza and the Spanish Peace Research Association among others and was held in several locations of the Spanish capital: from the symbolic Congress of Deputies to the more humble district of Vallecas, passing through the Madrid City Council in Cibeles Square.  The organisers’ interest was to introduce the subject of nonviolence in its various expressions in all social fields, from national, to city and neighbourhood level.  This will be strengthened by the development of the 2nd World March which will try to impact all sectors of society with the subjects of peace and nonviolence.

Global security was the subject tackled on the 15th of November, in the Clara Campoamor Hall in the Spanish Congress of Deputies, including the increasing risk of the use of nuclear weapons and its relationship to the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(ii) the ratification of which is currently underway in the United Nations but without Spain’s support.  In this session, Congress Deputy Pedro Arrojo(iii) announced that 50 colleagues from the Podemos parliamentary block had joined the PNND network.  There was also a meeting between Congress Deputy Pablo Bustinduy and Alyn Ware(v), the international coordinator of PNND, on the subject of how New Zealand managed to get and maintain a defence agreement with Australia and the United States which respected the decision of the New Zealand people to reject the presence of nuclear weapons on their territory.  Arrojo also announced the activation of an international network of parliamentarians to support the 2nd World March.

Pictures by René Gómez

On the 17th of November in the Auditorium of the Madrid City Council’s Cibeles building, an intense and packed day of events took place with 30 speakers spread among 10 different panels and presentations.

Stephane Grueso(vi) from Radio Carne Cruda, Magda Bandera(vii) from the magazine “La Marea” and Javier Belda from Pressenza took part in the Media panel: “At whose service?”.  Among other aspects they highlighted the need to counteract the information that is published by big media corporations which is frequently very far away from the information needs of the people.

Different perspectives were developed in the panel on how Nonviolence and Spirituality are being instilled in today’s world.  Moisés Mato underlined the Nonviolence 2018 campaign, Philippe Moal from the Noesis Humanist Centre of Studies presented the philosophical and psychological bases of nonviolence, Houssein el Ouarachi from the ONDA Collective underlined nonviolence from an Islamic perspective, and Aurora Marquina did the same from the new spirituality proposed in Silo’s Message.

Photos: René Gómez  (Album)

Antonio Zurita, director of the Ibero-american Union of Capital Cities (UCCI in Spanish Initials) said that Madrid City Council and the UCCI would collaborate and support preparations for the 2nd World March and expressed interest in supporting the values of nonviolence as well as developing the proposal for Peace Cities.  He underlined the need for an alliance between local political power and social power that converges in these types of actions.  He mentioned a reflection by Professor Tierno Galvan, former mayor of Madrid, who said, “empires and the patchwork of nations fall apart but cities remain.”  He said that a new edition of the World Forum on Urban Violence will take place in 2018 with the aim of building Cities for Peace and Cities for Coexistence.  Zurita invited World without Wars to participate in the Forum’s organising committee.

In this international forum, scheduled for 2018, to which the mayors of 300 of the most-populous cities on the planet will be invited, the 2nd World March for Peace and Nonviolence will be officially launched.

The tentative calendar for the 2nd World March indicating entry and exit dates by continent is as follows:

Europe: Madrid (Spain) 2nd October 2019, Cadiz (Spain) 6th October.

Africa: Casablanca (Morrocco) 8th October, Dakar (Senegal) 27th October.

America: New York (USA) 28th October, San José (Costa Rica) 20th November, Bogota (Colombia) 21st November, Santiago (Chile) 3rd of January, 2020.

Oceania-Asia: Wellington (New Zealand) 4th January, New Delhi 30th January

Europe: Moscow, 6th of February, Madrid 8th of March.

These dates will be confirmed along with the detailed route within countries and continents in October 2018 at the official launch.

Rafael de la Rubia  

Member of the World Coordination Team of World without Wars and Violence and Base Team Coordinator of the 1st World March.

 —

(1) PNND Network of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.

(ii) On the 2nd of July 2017, 122 countries finished negotiations and approved the text of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty was subsequently opened for signatures on the 20th of September 2017.  The treaty comes into force once the fiftieth country has ratified it.

(iii) Pedro Arrojo Agudo Deputy in the Spanish Congress for the Podemos Party. He is a Doctor of Physics and Professor at the University of Zaragoza whose research is focused on the economics of water.

(iv) Pablo Bustinduy Amador is the parliamentary spokesperson for the Podemos Party in the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Spanish Congress and a Deputy for Madrid.  He is also the International Secretary for Podemos.

(v) Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

(vi) Stephane Grueso, Journalist, film-maker and social activist.

(vii) Magda Bandera, journalist and author.

(viii) UCCI – the Ibero-american Union of Capital Cities.  A network of cities that brings together the capital cities of Iberian and Latin-American countries, and other emblematic cities of the region.

video de Alvaro Orus

25.11.2017 Redazione Italia

Tell Giro d’Italia: “Don’t Pedal for Israeli Crimes!”
(Image by bdsmovement.net)

Starting the race anywhere under Israel’s control will serve as a stamp of approval for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.  Would Giro d’Italia have considered starting a race in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s?

By Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

September 19, 2017

Organizers of the famed Italian cycling race Giro d’Italia have announced the start of the 2018 edition from Israel, starting in Jerusalem followed by stages from Haifa to Tel Aviv and in the Naqab (Negev).

The race will ‘celebrate’ the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment on the ruins of the Palestinian homeland and through the ethnic cleansing, or Nakba, of a majority of the indigenous Palestinians.

We have to act to stop this sports-washing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid, dubbed by the media as “a big political coup for [Israel], which has been striving to paint a picture of ‘normal’ life.”

Join us in telling organizers RCS to #RelocateTheRace and cycle away from Israel’s occupation and apartheid.

The Giro d’Italia will serve to institutionalize Israel’s hold on Jerusalem. One Israeli official after another laid claims to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during the announcement ceremony, something no other country in the world recognizes. The Jerusalem Municipality is actively involved in the illegal gradual ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, including through home demolitions and forced expulsions as a matter of policy.

In the Naqab (Negev) in the south of present-day Israel, dozens of Palestinian Bedouin towns are refused recognition and basic services, and subjected to repeated demolitions, some over 100 times. Israel is also revoking the citizenship of Palestinian Bedouins for no reason, leaving them stateless.

Starting the race anywhere under Israel’s control will serve as a stamp of approval for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Would the Giro d’Italia have considered starting a race in apartheid South Africa in the 1980s?

Take action now to pressure RCS to respect international law and relocate the race.

Let’s make sure RCS and cycling teams get the message: stop sports-washing Israel’s egregious human rights violations, move the race start to another country!

#RelocateTheRace Campaign

23.11.2017 – London UK Silvia Swinden

This post is also available in: Spanish

The beginning of The End of Prehistory
Tomas Hirsch canvassing (Image by Tomas Hirsch facebook)

There are few moments when in the midst of what appears to be the hopeless political situation of a dehumanised society something unexpected happens, something that shows that at least some people have managed to wake up from the hypnotic dream induced by the prevailing system.

It happened in Bolivia, when against all odds Evo Morales was given the mandate that has transformed the poorest economy of Latin America into a place of hope, acknowledged even by neoliberal analysts. 

It happened in the UK, when Jeremy Corbyn and his team defied most doomsayers and managed to position his party as a powerful force with coherent proposals now being studied worldwide as the way out of the crisis induced by years of “free” market dogma and austerity.

And now it happened in Chile, where the Broad Front, given no more than 8% vote in the pre-election polls, managed to achieve 20% of the electorate, becoming the third political force, with members in the National Congress and regional governments. The presidential candidate Beatriz Sanchez denounced the negative campaign of the media, as she came up only 2% behind the candidate that will compete in the second round. She could have been in the second round had it not been the message from polls and media that the Broad Front was so far behind that support for them would have been a “wasted”vote.

One of the newly elected deputies for the National Congress is Tomas Hirsch, for the Humanist Party, one of the forces that formed the Broad Front, ex-presidential candidate and author of the book “The End of Prehistory”. His book is both a prediction and an explanation of the phenomenon. It states:

The change will be produced when the intentionality of individuals and peoples is set in motion and actively corrects the direction of the process.
But the feasibility of such a mobilization is linked, necessarily, to a simultaneous inner transformation — the modification of the belief system. This, because as long as each of us continues to experience themselves as a passive object, pushed and pulled by forces we cannot control (which is what they tell us we are), then no intentionality will be set in motion, or any change produced. In short, change will happen when the human condition is revalued as active consciousness, whose destiny is always to transform itself and the conditions in which it lives.”

The realisation that we are fed hypnotic dreams of fame and fortune as the meaning and objective of our lives leads to this active awakening. Until then we are limited by the mechanical input that formed us, exemplified by this Simpsons’ joke:
“Look, danger approaching from 10 o’clock”.
“I don’t know what that means, I have a digital watch”

Having thoroughly dismissed Fukuyama’s contention that humanity had reached the end of history with liberal democracy, Silo proposed that an active consciousness was required to emerge from Pre-history leaving behind violence, discrimination, the emptiness of provisional meanings and the appropriation of the social whole by a ruthless minority. This is the point of Hirsch’ book and the political campaign that took by surprise most political analysts.

Perhaps this is the element to pay attention to. When the “unexpected” happens it is either because the population was already way ahead of the analysts or because the “experts” were biased against radical change and were manipulating figures to prevent it. Or both. In the case of Jeremy Corbyn this has been denounced even by the “committed to be neutral” BBC’s own employees. Chile will have to investigate in depth this possibility. In the meantime the Broad Front is left with the delicate decision to support the neoliberal centre to prevent once more the rise of the Pinochet’s heirs of the right in the second round or be blamed for the consequences of the latter.

They seem to be clear though that their most important task is to prepare to give the country an even bigger “surprise” in four years time.

 

19.11.2017 – Santiago, Chile Redacción Chile

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Tomás Hirsch: “We can’t do the changes we want alone”

A team of Pressenza editors is currently in Santiago, Chile to cover the general election taking place on Sunday 19th November.  We had the chance to interview Tomás Hirsch from the Humanist Party, an integral part of the Broad Front coalition.  He explained how it is possible and necessary to work with others to build a society that’s worthy of human beings without losing a humanist profile.

Pressenza: Tomás, we are in the final day of a long campaign.  The Humanist Party has put up many candidates and has done so within a very broad coalition called the Broad Front.  We’d like to know how the Chilean Humanist Party has always been able to work with others without losing its own profile or proposals.  How something so unusual such as keeping a clear profile and proposals has been achieved while working with other political forces.

Tomás Hirsch: I would say that here in Chile humanists have three convictions.  The first is that we have a good proposal, that Humanism is good and that it would be good that Humanism develops here in Chile because we have a lot to contribute.  The second conviction, in short, is that we can’t do what we want alone, here we need to do it with others; with others who also have the same convictions and ideals even though they come from different currents: Socialism, Marxism, Environmentalism, Ecology, Feminism, Indigenous Rights, and so on, from many different fields where there are people who are necessary to make this construction.  No one can do it alone.  For us this is very internalised.  And the third conviction, which is similar to the second, is that there are good people in many places.

With these three convictions and since we were born as a political party, we have always sought to build things with others.  I don’t know how we would have emerged from the dictatorship without others.  Then we participated in the Concertación.  Afterwards we left it when we saw that it was taking a different direction.  We were the founders of Juntos Podemos.  And today we are in the Broad Front, in which we were one of the ones to help form it.

How to not lose profile?  It’s a good question.  It’s like asking a centipede how to walk…

 

Video of the entire interview – produced by Domenico Musella

P.: In other places the Humanist Party usually thinks that participating in a coalition with others, will cause it to lose profile.

T.H.: I don’t think so.  I think that there is a fear of trying it, which is different.  There’s a fear of losing profile.  So they don’t want to contaminate themselves, they don’t want to bump into others, they don’t want to allow themselves to be influenced by others.  We believe that if we have good ideas, a good attitude, good relationships with others, then nothing bad can happen.  I don’t think there’s any need to be so afraid of making links with others.  On the contrary, we can contribute a lot.  So, yes, effectively we have always been in relations with others, but our ideas and proposals are very clear.  And we don’t try to impose them on others.  This seems to me to be an important element.  We establish certain minimal agreements: nonviolence and a certain regard to the society that we are aiming for.  But we don’t demand that they sign a document to say they’re humanists, because they aren’t.  We don’t say, “you have to say that human beings are the central value.”  No, you don’t have to repeat every one of our principles.  Because if it were so, it would be better that they join the Humanist Party.  Then there’d be no diversity.  It’s the convergence of diversity.

I think that what we have is so good, that we don’t need to be afraid at all of joining forces with others.  It’s the same thing that happens in other ambits.  You have many friends and each one is different.  We co-exist, we construct something better, precisely because we are many.  If I am alone, perhaps I have a marvellous idea but I don’t have to carry it out.  It’s the same thing that happens in the relationship with your partner.  We are two different people.  It must be torture to have an identical partner.  We are different.  Because we are different, we complement each other and we make a joint project.  I think that humanists in Chile have known how to value differences.  Not to see them as a problem, but rather to see them as an opportunity.  And this means to respect each other’s identity.

P.: What could it mean for Humanism that you are elected as a deputy?

TH: It’s a long-held aspiration of Humanism to contribute to transforming people’s structural situation.  People are having a very bad time.  This country has been sold to the world as a success story, a developing country, a country that today is part of the OECD, but most people are having a bad time of it and feel very badly treated.  I think that Humanism can contribute by helping to change this, perhaps we can’t humanise Chile in a few years, but maybe we can contribute to a small change of direction, sufficient enough for people to start to see that there are other ways of organising themselves, other ways of relating to one another.

I think that Humanism in the Broad Front also contributes an experience.  Here there are many young movements that are very interesting, very valuable, but Humanism has a lot of accumulated experience of participating in government, for example when the dictatorship finished; working at a local level… I think that all of this, which perhaps isn’t being seen in Humanism in this moment, is there.  It exists as accumulated experience.

And to be able to be a deputy here, also in this district where we had a deputy 25 years ago, I also believe that it gives a very special meaning and a charge.  The possibility to return to parliament from here is very beautiful.  It’s like saying, “Where were we?  Ok, let’s continue.”  Because look, 25 years have gone by and many things have changed, but many other things, really if you look close up, continue to be the same.  People continue to be discriminated against.  There are serious problems here in this district; evictions, problems of education and housing, pensions, environment, lack of recreational spaces, crime, drug addiction… that are the same that we saw when we are in congress with Laura Rodriguez 25 years ago.  So, yes, I think that we have something to contribute.

P.: Neoliberalism is savagely advancing around the planet.  At the same time movements are emerging in different places that talk about something new, of wanting to build a different society.  If you are elected as a deputy, or not, how do you imagine working in order to connect all these movements and build a movement on a planetary scale that can imagine another world, one worthy of human beings?

T.H.: Neoliberalism here in Chile, which was one of the first countries where it was implemented in its pure form so categorically, is much more than an economic model I would say.  In reality it has been instilled as a way of life, as a way to make a society.  It has won until now a certain cultural struggle, if you like.  It has been installed as truth.  And what is that truth?  Basically, it’s the truth of individualism.  It’s the truth that everyone is fighting for themselves and has to succeed.  And this success can come at anyone else’s expense and it doesn’t matter, moreover, it’s seen to be a good thing.  It’s a good thing because it means that you are more capable than others.  It’s social Darwinism.  Neoliberalism ultimately today has turned into social Darwinism in which the strongest, or let’s be clearer, in which the biggest asshole, the one best able to fuck up others, is the one who wins.

Well, in front of this there is a new sensibility emerging.  I would say that six or seven years ago a new sensibility started to emerge that is looking for precisely the opposite, community, togetherness, others, the valuing of diversity, horizontality, nonviolence in the face of violence, an ability to recognise the contributions of others… I think that all of this has effectively being gaining strength, it has been expressing itself – we have seen it since 2011 in the 15M in Spain, but also in Cairo and Tel Aviv, and also here in Chile with the environmental and student movements, in the United States, in New York… in very different places.  I think that this is very hopeful, that in some way it’s a new generation starting to awaken; and for those of us who believe that the driver of history is the generational struggle, well, it’s very hopeful to see that a new generation is awakening, because really for the last twenty years, the generational driving force has been very quiet.  I’m not saying that it will end up doing away with neoliberalism as a cultural form in the next months or years, but I think that a different look is starting to emerge and you can see it; political parties with a new style, with a new language, social organisations that connect among themselves, I think that this reflects the new moment.

P.: From the Broad Front, from the Humanist Party, are you in connection with these organisations, do you plan to strengthen those relationships?

T.H.: We are in contact, but to be honest, it’s not easy.  There is a strong dispute between social movements and political parties.  There is mutual mistrust that has been instilled, perhaps not with us as humanists, but it’s there.  Social movements strongly distrust political parties and quite rightly because they have been used, they’ve been manipulated, they have been repeatedly tricked.  And political parties often don’t like social movements, above all when they start to take their own decisions.  So there is an abyss or a wall that separates them and we have to see how to bring this wall down, how to build a bridge over that abyss.  It’s a pending task.  I can’t say to you now, “look, it’s fantastic here!”  In Juntos Podemos, what we tried to do twelve years ago in the Humanist Party was to make a construction with social movements and political parties as peers.  We couldn’t do it.  We failed, but we keep on trying!  We couldn’t do it, political parties were there, the Communist Party in particular, with a vision that was completely different to ours; they felt that it was the parties that had to be in the vanguard of the process.  And social movements were tremendously irritated by this.  Today the relationship is closer.  In the Broad Front the relationship is more of peers but the mistrust exists, the distance exists.  So I see that this is a future challenge.  One of the things that most motivated me in the district is to see if we can advance in a kind of model in which we can work together among different political movements and social organisations… but that’s a challenge for the future.

P.: Tomás, if you are elected you have until March to prepare yourself to take your position.  What plans do you have?  What images?  How will you prepare?  What will the construction of this project that will last for the next four years be like?

T.H.: To be sincere, I haven’t thought about anything after Sunday.  I have been concentrating 100% on the election and every day, from 7:00 am to 10:30pm at night, we have been campaigning.  But I am clear about the more global answer to your question.  It has to do with a team project.  One can be elected as a deputy, but it’s a function within a team.  I don’t think in the slightest that I can sit down and think and design this project.  Don’t be unfair!  I don’t have the vision of this project.  In other words, to answer more positively, after Sunday, if things work out as we hope, we will have to sit down with all those who feel motivated by this project in order to design a Plan.  What do we want to be a deputy for?  What do we want to do?  Probably in that role we will have to do a thousand things that can’t be planned for, that are part of the day-to-day work of a deputy, but there is an intention, there’s a purpose, there’s an intention behind what we want to do.  What happens is that this intention, this direction, this purpose, I at least until now still haven’t written it down because I think that it’s a job that we have to do together and from Monday.  But the conception of the issue is this: we have to build it together.  Now, in this joint construction what motivates me is what I said before: how to try in this district, which for me is a reflection of Chile, a miniature copy of what Chile is, it’s long, it runs alongside the Andes, but more than that, the human diversity of the country is reflected here.  It’s one of the districts most populated by indigenous peoples.  It’s the district with the richest population of Chile, and maybe of South America in one zone; in another zone there are sectors that are totally deprived in terms of healthcare, education and housing.  It’s a district in which many pensioners live with miserable pensions, in which there is a youth population totally trapped by the situation of drugs and a lack of access to good jobs, or even to any jobs.  So, I feel that what we can do in the district can be an interesting experience if we could later on – if all goes well – replicate the experience in other places.  But all of this will be part of the Plan that we will have to write after Sunday.

P.: If you are elected, what mechanisms will you put in place in order to know people’s opinions and how will you give the greatest possible participation to the population?

T.H.: I aspire to be able to do here in the district the same as the Humanist Party proposes generally: to advance from representative democracy to direct and participative democracy.  What does that mean?  It means that we incorporate popular law initiatives, i.e. that citizens can present projects for laws, for which they’ll have to meet, organise, dialogue, discuss and see what laws are their priorities.  That’s the good thing about plebiscites, both at a national and district level; that there are mechanisms to revoke mandates of those who are elected and then are glued to their posts for long periods so that they can be removed from office; that accounts should be produced for the activities undertaken by the authorities, especially those elected, and also those not elected, but in publically important positions.  Well, I think that all these mechanisms deepen democracy, make it more direct and return protagonism to the people.  If there is anything that motivates me, it’s how to give protagonism back, or give for the first time because in many cases people have never had protagonism.  Today we live in a very formal democracy in which it is assumed that one casts a vote every four years but this vote later on has no importance because they promise one thing and then do something else and represent other interests.  So, for me a fundamental issue is how to advance towards a direct, more participative, consultative, dialoguing democracy, and this for me is valid, both in terms of the law projects that we should drive forward at a national level and at a district level.

P.: Laura Rodríguez, the first Humanist deputy elected in this very district spoke and wrote a lot about Heights Virus [when power goes to the heads of those elected politicians who forget about those who helped them get there], how are you and your team vaccinating yourselves against this virus that could affect you if you are elected?

T.H.: I think that as humanists we are quite well vaccinated generally speaking against Heights Virus, but at the same time I think we should never stop exercising.  It’s like going to the gym, and the best way of exercising is, I think, to work in a team, to always work in a team, and secondly to never lose a sense of humour.  And humour works by basically laughing at oneself, because I think we are the funniest and most surreal thing there is!  So this helps a lot!

For us, elected positions are functions and there is no big difference between any of the functions in a team, while we’re having a good time, while we are plotting, while we are in a project, I think that we are vaccinated.  And on the other hand, it’s always good to have Laura’s book close to hand… just in case we forget.

We are grateful to Tomás for this interview, made by several Pressenza editors in Chile for the elections.

 

18.11.2017 Redazione Italia

Poland, Forum for the Future of Culture Manifesto: Let Us Get Together!
(Image by https://www.facebook.com/pg/powszechny/photos/?ref=page_internal)

Forum for the Future of Culture

18th and 19th of November 2017,  Powszechny Theatre, Warsaw

In the autumn of 2016, this slogan brought together nearly three thousand participants of the Congress of Culture. We met up in Warsaw and talked about culture in Poland during three days.

We finished the meeting with the conviction that a new heated debate had begun, the Congress being an important, but not the only, place of it. We have no doubt that culture is one of the fields and, at the same time, the subject of a political dispute growing ever more intense. Its stake is similar as when Poland’s independence was being shaped one hundred years ago and when, two centuries ago, efforts to save independence had failed.

After another hundred years, we need to answer again who we are and who we want to be. The political camp which has been in power since 2015 clearly defines its purpose: it is a top-down abolition of social pluralism and the subordination of Polish people’s life to the apparatus of the national state. Cultural reduction is the main element of this policy. Under the slogan of restoring traditional values, strengthening national identity and pride or shaping patriotism, culture institutions are being taken over and subjugated to the ideological programs of the group in power; independent culture is being impoverished and the artists’ work – censored. At the same time, the authorities are developing a propaganda system programmatically using falsehood and disinformation on a scale reminiscent of the propaganda of the People’s Republic of Poland.

Culture is being confused with worship, artistic criticism of works with religious judgment, and the Ministry of Culture is dealing only with heritage and history. Hate speech and xenophobia are escalating to find their expression, more and more frequently, in physical violence; citizens’ freedoms are at risk, misogyny and obscurantism are running rampant.

It is precisely culture that is the essence of the dispute and the stake for the future. We need an all-encompassing, open and socially shared vision which will embrace the multitude and variety of experiences, practices, tastes; a vision based on humanist values, founded on respect for human dignity and rights as well as for the environment; drawing on the resources of local, national, European and human heritage.

Recognising this challenge, referring to the achievements of the Congress of Culture in 2016 and its message, we call: let us get together again!

Let us meet up in the autumn of 2017, to discuss culture in Poland and its future.

Let us meet up to work on the vision of culture and society of the 21st-century Republic of Poland, a member state of the European Union and a responsible member of the international community.

Let us meet up to undertake the task of inventing a project for the future: creating a vision of the culture we dream of, one which we would desire for ourselves today, as well as for future generations. We need new stories which will return us hope and sense of commitment and action for shared values. It is the Bildung work, mentioned by Maria Janion in her letter written to the Congress – the work of understanding leading to empathy, the wise effort of transforming oneself and the world around. Let us not allow the vision of the future to be taken away from us!

Let us meet up, there is no alternative to free culture.

17.11.2017 Robert Burrowes

Why are Police in the USA so Terrified?
(Image by globedia.com)

In a recent incident in the United States, yet another unarmed man was shot dead by police after opening his front door in response to their knock. The police were going to serve an arrest warrant on a domestic violence suspect – the man’s neighbour – but went to the wrong address. See ‘Police kill innocent man while serving warrant at wrong address’.

For those who follow news in the United States, the routine killing of innocent civilians by the police has become a national crisis despite concerted attempts by political and legal authorities and the corporate media to obscure what is happening. See ‘Killed by Police’ and ‘The Counted: People killed by police in the US’.

So far this year, US police have killed 1,044 people. In contrast, from 1990 to 2016, police in England and Wales killed just 62 people. See ‘Fatal police shootings’.

Of course, these murders by the police are just the tip of the iceberg of police violence as police continue to demonstrate that the freedoms ‘guaranteed’ by the Fourth Amendment have been eviscerated. See ‘What Country Is This? Forced Blood Draws, Cavity Searches and Colonoscopies’.

So why are the police so violent? you might ask. Well, several scholars have offered answers to this question and you can read a little about what they say in these articles reviewing recent books on the subject. See ‘The Fraternal Order of Police Must Go’ and ‘Our Ever-Deadlier Police State’.

While there is much in these works with which I agree – such as the racism in US policing and the corruption of the legal system which is used to violently manage oppressed peoples in the name of ‘justice’ while leaving the individuals, banks and corporations on Wall Street unaccountable for their endless, ongoing and grotesque crimes against society, the economy and the environment – I would like to pose a deeper question: Why are police in the USA so terrified? This is the important question because only people who are terrified resort to violence, even in the context of policing. Let me explain why this is the case and how it has occurred in the police context in the USA.

Violence does not arise ‘out of nowhere’. And, sadly, its origin can be traced to what is euphemistically called the ‘socialization’ of children but which is more accurately labeled ‘terrorization’. You might think that this sounds extreme but if you spend some time considering the phenomenal violence – ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ – that we adults inflict on children during the ordinary course of the day – see Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice – while deluding ourselves that we are preparing them to become just, decent and powerful citizens, then you might be willing to reconsider your concept of what it means to nurture children. Tragically, we are so far from any meaningful understanding of this notion, that it is not even possible to generate a widespread social discussion about how we might go about it.

So, having terrorized children into submission so that they unthinkingly and passively accept their preordained role in life – to act as a cog in a giant and destructive enterprise which they are terrorized into not questioning and over which they have no control – each of them takes their place in the global ‘economy’ wherever they can find a set of tasks that feels least painful. The idea of seeking their true path in order to search out their own unique destiny never even occurs to most of them and so they lead ‘shadow lives’ endlessly suppressing their awareness of the life that might have been.

Some of these individuals end up as recruits at a police training facility, where they are further terrorized into believing an elite-sponsored ideology that precludes genuine appreciation of the diversity of people in the community they will later police (that is, terrorize) in the name of ‘law and order’. After all, elite social control is more readily maintained when people, including the police, live in fear.

Police training further terrorizes the individuals involved and militarizes policing by encouraging recruits ‘to adopt a “warrior” mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies’; the equipment they use, such as battering rams, flashbang grenades and Armoured Personnel Carriers, evoke a sense of war. See ‘War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing’.

But it doesn’t end with terrorization during childhood and then police training. Police practice functions within a long-standing cultural framework which has both wider social dimensions and narrower, localized ones. And this cultural framework has been changing, more quickly in recent years too. Unfortunately, more than ever before, this framework is increasingly driven by fear and older, delusional social expectations that police are there to maintain public safety or defend the community from criminal violence have given way to militarized assumptions, language and procedures that regard virtually everyone (and certainly indigenous people and people of color) as both dangerous and guilty until proven otherwise and treat the family home and car as targets to be ‘neutralized’ with military-style tactics and weapons. And this trend has been accelerated under Donald Trump. See ‘Trump to lift military gear ban for local police’.

By triggering fear and using military-style tactics and weapons, however, the very essence of the relationship between police and civilians is more rapidly, completely and detrimentally transformed in accord with elite interests. It equates law-enforcement with counter-terrorism and community safety with social control.

Fundamentally, of course, this plays its part in ensuring minimal effective resistance to the broader elite agenda to secure militarized control of the world’s populations and resources for elite benefit.

This transformation in the relationship between police and civilians has been accelerated by training US police in the use of military tactics that the Israeli military employs against the occupied Palestinians. See ‘Israel trains US law-enforcement in counter-terrorism’.

But consider the implications of this.

As Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, has noted in discussing this phenomenon: US police are learning paramilitary and counterinsurgency tactics from the Israeli military, border patrol and intelligence services, which enforce military law.

‘If American police and sheriffs consider they’re in occupation of neighborhoods like Ferguson and East Harlem, this training is extremely appropriate – they’re learning how to suppress a people, deny their rights and use force to hold down a subject population’. See ‘US Police Get Antiterror Training In Israel’.

Moreover, the most tangible evidence that the militarized training is having an impact on US policing is that both Israel and the US are using identical equipment against demonstrators, according to a 2013 report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and photographs of such equipment taken at three demonstrations in the USA. ‘Tear gas grenades, “triple chaser” gas canisters and stun grenades made by the American companies Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. were used in all three U.S. incidents, as well as by Israeli security forces and military units.’ See ‘US Police Get Antiterror Training In Israel’.

Given the sheer terror that drives Israeli military policy towards occupied and militarily undefended Palestine, it is little wonder that this fear is transmitted as part of any training of US police. All knowledge and technology is embedded with emotion, and fear is utterly pervasive in any military activity. Especially when it is directed in pursuit of unjust ends.

So what can we do?

If you are interested in working to reduce police fear and violence, you will get plenty of ideas in the document ‘A Toolkit for Promoting Justice In Policing’ which is summarized here: ‘15 Things Your City Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality’.

If you want to organize a nonviolent action while reducing police fear to minimize the risk of police violence, there is a comprehensive list of guidelines here: ‘Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’.

If you want to work towards ending the underlying fear that drives police (and other) violence, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’. In essence, if you want powerful individuals who are capable of resisting elite social control, including that implemented through police violence, then don’t expect children terrorized into obedience by parents, teachers and religious figures to later magically have this power.

And if you are inclined to resist violence in other contexts, consider participating in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth, signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World and/or using the strategic framework explained in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy for your peace, environmental or social justice campaign.

Why are the police so terrified? Essentially because they were terrorized as children and then terrorized during police training to violently defend elite interests against the rest of us. Elite control depends on us being too terrified to defend ourselves against their violence.

If humans are to survive this elite-driven onslaught, we need people courageous enough to resist police violence and other elite-driven violence strategically. Can we count on you?

.11.2017 Pressenza New York

Impeach! A Letter From Michael Moore
(Image by Flickr)

It is time to remove this dangerous man from office.

I have just signed the “Need To Impeach” petition initiated by Tom Steyer of California. Over two million other Americans have also signed it. And that number keeps growing every hour. We — all of us — must not wait a minute longer to act.

Trump has sent a fleet of our ships into the waters off North Korea in order to provoke the unhinged leader of that country to make the mistake of attacking us. This, plus Trump’s reckless taunts at Kim Jong-un, is being done for one reason: to start some sort of conflict so that America will rally behind him and forget about the impending criminal indictments he, his family and his cohorts now face. He has put us all in danger, and he may get a lot of people killed.

The Founders of this country were worried that, from time to time, we would have a President who would behave in such a manner that would put our nation in jeopardy, or a President who would try to profit off being in office, or a Commander-in-Chief who might not be right in the head (King George III gave them a good example of that). They feared we could end up with a President who might be a traitor to our country.

They even knew that we might get stuck with someone who committed not just “high crimes” but also “misdemeanors.” They wanted to make it easy for us to fix a mistake we’ve made.

My friends, we have the most colossal mistake in our history sitting right now in the Oval Office. And there is only one way to rectify it: TRUMP MUST BE IMPEACHED. We can NOT wait until November of 2020 for that to happen. We simply won’t make it til then. The country we know as the United States of America will not be the same after three more years of Trump. You know it and I know it. Turning the TV off and trying to avoid the daily insanity won’t make him go away.

Donald J. Trump has proven himself to be completely unfit for office, a threat to our country and an imminent danger to this world.

He is also not well. He is a malignant narcissist and an active sociopath. Because he holds the codes to, on his own, launch nuclear weapons, he is a singular threat to humanity.

He has no fidelity to this country, to the constitution or to his oath of office.

He tried to coerce the director of the FBI into ending the investigation of him — and when the director wouldn’t, Trump fired him. It’s only a matter of time before he fires the Special Prosecutor.

He has lied about his finances, his campaign’s dealings with Russia and just about everything else that has come out of his mouth. It is stunning to see how many untruths he speaks in a single day (this site keeps track of all of them on a daily basis).

But here’s something even more stunning than Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors:

NOT ONE Democrat in the U.S. Senate has stood on that floor and called for his impeachment! Not one! Rep. Maxine Waters and other members in the House have not been afraid to do so. This morning, Rep. Steve Cohen was joined by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Marcia Fudge, Rep. John Yarmuth, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat in introducing five Articles of Impeachment against Trump. But no Democrat in the Senate has yet to say this man must be impeached!

This petition I’m asking you to sign isn’t just a challenge to the Republicans to clean house, it is a demand to the Democratic elected officials you and I voted for to DO THEIR JOB. Many of these Democrats have even said they are opposed to impeachment. They need to hear from us! Now! If recent history has proven anything, it’s that Democrats only act when we tell them to.

When you were opposed to George W. Bush getting ready to start a massive war in Iraq (when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11), the majority of Democratic Senators voted to send us to war. Most didn’t change their votes until the citizenry went to the polls in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and rejected the Democratic candidate for President who had voted FOR the war. These Democratic candidates became anti-war because of YOU.

For decades, when you believed our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be able to get married, the establishment Democrats (including the Clintons and Obamas) said NO and used their religion as an excuse to say that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Only when the polls showed that a majority of Americans backed this basic civil right did Democratic leaders begin to “evolve.”

Although the majority of Americans have favored a single-payer universal health care system for some time — Medicare for All — it took until last month for 16 Democratic Senators to finally back such a bill.

‪The cautious and often-frightened Democratic leaders will usually, eventually, finally come around and do the right thing. And they do so because they are good at (sooner or later) listening to the will of the people.

That’s why they need to hear from you and me right now. Give them the backbone and support they’re looking for. Sign the Need to Impeach petition and let them see that the majority of us can’t wait any longer to remove this dangerous man from office.

Here’s the link once again. Share it and this letter with your friends and everyone you know who loves this country. Let’s not wait until he gets us in a war to sign this petition. Let’s not wait until he turns another million acres of federal land over to the oil companies. Let’s not wait until he and Betsy DeVos dismantle what’s left of our once-admired-around-the-world public schools. Every day at his EPA, at his ICE headquarters, at his FDA and elsewhere, his cronies are literally taking apart our American way of life, piece by piece — and it will take years to rebuild after all the damage they are doing.

Can you really take one more day of this?

Please, I appeal to you, join with me and millions of your fellow Americans and sign this impeachment petition now: www.needtoimpeach.com

I did. You must.

Thank you for helping to save this country and this planet.

‪Michael Moore

https://michaelmoore.com/impeach/

 

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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