Tag Archives: Nonviolence

The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs, in a Nutshell.

JesusGET THIS. I heard a reverend-person yesterday lecturing newish activists about their need for nonviolence training, which she was volunteering to lead. She was also offering rubber wristbands for her graduates to wear at demonstrations, so that police could differentiate between protesters. She told us she’d ask officers to scrutinize those not wearing bands as being the potential troublemakers. This, she assured everyone, would make it more difficult for outside groups to waylay the action. I kid you not. And she’s a church leader praised locally as something of an activist! HA! That’s a RAT!
 
I recognized the Springs “outsider” buggaboo so I thought I’d relate where it came from in a little piece I’ll call The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. Ready? It won’t take long.

So what violence have I seen in my fairly full-time participation over a dozen years, multiple wars and as many elections? ZERO. That’s right. I’ve seen a lot of brutal handling by police, but by the hands of protesters? Nothing.

Yep. The History of Violent Protest in Colorado Springs. The End.

For as much as local church leaders harp on nonviolence training, which includes, by the way, nonviolence bounderies that forbid even confrontational speech, you’d think they’d seen a need for it. They haven’t. For EVERY preacher and or disciple regurgitating nonviolence edicts, I’ve never seen ONE counterpart advocate for, nor commit, violence. It’s almost a laugh, if the practice wasn’t so damaging to public demonstrations. Colorado Springs street protests have been defanged to nothing, police needn’t bother to show up and they don’t. As a result, neither do protesters.

And it isn’t just that nonviolence dogma declaws the public beast. Religifying activism alienates intellectuals and atheists who woud prefer not to suffer the foolish god-justified claptrap. Monotheism is the engine which has always perpetuated privilege, enslavement, colonization and capitalism. Wtf.

Not satisfied to deputize citizens with the equivalent of TSA pre-boarding approval, clergy want to deprive their charges of the element of surprise. The Springs antiwar community keeps direct contact with law enforcement. I’m guessing protestations, if any, are now simply phoned in.

I JUST WANT TO PUNCH these nonviolence religion freaks for mutilating the impetus of budding activists. A newcomer’s anger is what drew them to protest in the first place. Of course as ministers that is their function. Social injustice is job security to church employees. They are about as likely to remedy inequity as the Pope. Sermons aim to temper their sheep’s natural anger at injustice. But enough about those assholes.

No matter the issue, antiwar, the environment, racism, homelessness, in Colorado Springs I’ve seen absolutely no public demonstration escalate to violence. Why then the ready queue of spiritual nuts so eager to innoculate every next wave of concerned citizen before they can even take to the street? It goes back to something that happened at an antiwar demonstration in 2003, although the lesson being drawn is not based on what really happened. That’s the bugaboo.

Palmer Park, 2003
In 2003 George W. Bush was about to initiate an illegal war against Iraq and public demonstrations were coordinated across the globe. In Colorado Springs nearly 2,000 people assembled in Palmer Park along Academy Boulevard. The Springs rally looked to eclipse the antiwar events planned in Denver, so some people came from Denver, or so it’s believed. In reality, the Springs antiwar community had an average age of 75 and hadn’t seen new faces for decades. The sight of younger participants led many to believe they were from elsewhere. Plus some of the younger protesters wore black, so word spread they were Anarchists. Scary.

For the usual reasons, the CSPD decided to close Academy Boulevard. When rally-goers realized their protest wasn’t being seen because motorists were no longer driving by, some decided to lead the crowds southward toward an intersection where traffic was still passing. Being that Academy Boulevard was cleared of cars, the most obvious route was on the street. There was no sidewalk and the park was congested with the parked cars of the attendees. No matter. The police formed a line and ordered the marchers back.

The police began to spray tear gas as the protesters retreated. Clouds of gas enveloped the crowds as they dispersed and struggled to get in their cars. The cars were gased with families and small children inside them, unable to drive away.

Across the globe that day, only two cities used tear gas against their antiwar protests: Athens and Colorado Springs. That’s how old timers like to tell the story. They’ll add that the police crackdown was prompted by unruly outsiders being violent with police. By which they mean, refusing to get off the street. Being assertive of one’s rights somehow became translated to mean impermissively violent.

Had these Emily Posts ever seen the footage of Selma?! These nonviolence sticklers are MLK idolators, yet just like Selma’s whites, they blame the victim.


Palmer Park, 2003

Protests in Colorado Springs immediately diminished in popularity and never again drew large numbers. Apparently when organizers called their members the apprehension was always “will it be safe?”

And so from that day, nuns and other clergy met regularly with Colorado Springs police to talk to them about protest plans, lest CSPD be surprised and overreact. That hasn’t stopped police from dragging us across streets or assaulting us in parking lots or on sidewalks. Oh to have merited it even once!

NOTE: I have omitted a couple of insider details about the 2003 rally because I wanted to relate the experience of the average participant. Yes, the event was advertized statewide and drew opponents of Bush’s war from along the Front Range. And yes, there was a strategy among frontline protesters to try to block an intersection. Most attendees didn’t know either of these facts. The local peace community was so insular that all new faces were looked upon as interlopers. But my point remains, there was no violence. Our freedom to assemble, wherever two thousand people need to go, is not abriged by congress nor by traffic laws. Rebuffing law enforcement’s attempt to disrespect civil liberties by standing, walking, sitting, or shouting, is not violence.

St Patricks Day, 2007

Nonviolently submitting to state violence is supposed to move onlookers to empathy. In 2007, was the Colorado Springs public moved by the police brutalization of nonviolent 70-yr-old Elizabeth Fineron, who later died of complications of her injuries? No, they cheered the police.

Sacrificing yourself may work in democracies with an empowered populace, but against fascism, as against the Mongols or Manifest Destiny, it’s abrogation of responsibility and suicide.

Nonviolence
Incorporating the dogma of “nonviolence” into what would otherwise be straightforward protest becomes problematic when nonviolence folks want to differentiate themselves. Those who are “othered” are then presumed to be planning violence. That’s a very serious charge. Inciting a riot is a crime. Plotting to overthrow a democracy is sedition.

Non-nonviolence does not equal intending-violence. For example, I do not advocate violence, I advocate solidarity.

I do not oppose people asking for NV training, or undertaking it, though I would prefer that nonviolence wasn’t marketed to newcomers who wouldn’t have thought to have needed it.

Why should “nonviolence” even have to come up, for example, at a discussion about a SIT-IN? Agreeing to sit is already a gesture which has capitulated the option to resist. A crowd can’t charge from the seated position. You can’t even defend yourself. The nonviolence is inherent.

Religious NV training is really about nonviolent communication, a whole other can of rotten worms. There is no evidence that Gandhi, MLK or the Flint factory sit-ins practiced that aberration.

If the challenge is to show public opposition to the sit-lie ordinance because it further oppresses the homeless, public energies need not be exhausted by habitually passive religious leaders and their idea of what direct action needs to be.

Yes, the anticipation of the supremacy of nonviolence over state violence is a religious expectation. Against fascism you’re asking for a miracle.

If preachers were activists they would lead their flocks into the street. Circulating among activists, those church leaders are opportunistic missionaries, looking for recruits among the disenchanted.

To be earnestly inclusive of faiths and non-faiths, leave you diety at home. Show respect for the “others” who don’t need the voodoo rationalizations you require to muster moral courage.

The frequently cited St Paul Principles had their time and place: ST PAUL


In my circle they’re called “Saint Paul’s Principles” because my colleagues think the edicts are Catholic I guess. The St Paul Principles came from St Paul Minnesota, circa 2008, and were formally adopted by the varied groups organizing to disrupt the Republican National Convention of 2008. They’ve lived on as guiding principles for activists of all ilk. In 2011 many Occupy encampments ratified the StPP as their own code of conduct, indifferent to whether they were applicable or even beneficial. Let’s examine the well intended dogma. Do they apply universally? Are they constructive? And how did they work out for St Paul? The last one is easy. As you may remember, disruption of the 2008 RNC failed spectacularly.

The St. Paul Principles

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups.

2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space.

3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.

4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.

It’s hard to argue against this elegant expression of solidarity. With the SPPs, the protest organizers aimed at preempting COINTELPRO style disruption from generating conflict within the movement. The implicit condemnation of violence was of state sponsored violence, not authentic barricade defense. And no snitching. The SPPs addressed the problems which were already scuttling Denver’s 2008 DNC protests. In Denver, “Recreate ’68” planners let the press infer they meant to revive the Chicago riots of 1968, prompting almost every traditional social justice group to circulate a contract which everyone was expected to sign. It was a vow of nonviolence. Organizations who refused to sign were ostracized and could expect the violent police clobbering they invited.

Essentially the SPPs aimed to unite the nonviolent and non-nonviolent activists, to ensure neither denounced the other, and that physically neither wound up caught in each other’s fights or sit-ins. Probably the chief concession was being asked of the nonviolent crowd: Please, as long as we promise not to shroud your family atmosphere and your baby strollers in tear gas, please let the Black Blocs do their thing without your repudiation. Please. We share the same goals.

Can you begin to see where such a strategy might fail to lead?

But the St Paul organizers did share the same goals. Their aim was to disrupt the RNC via a strategy they called “3S” actions. SWARM, SEIZE. STAY. It’s easy to see why three years later Occupy Wall Street was attracted to these directives. “3S” defines Occupy and another three years on, OWS activist followed the 2014 Climate March with an action called “Flood Wall Street” the instructions for which rephrased 3S aquatically.

The “movement” to which the SPPs refer shared a goal, to disrupt the RNC, by means of swarming, seizing, and staying, by whatever tactic each member group wanted. They shared a further agreement, that the city of St Paul was to be partitioned in sectors allowing groups to conduct their actions in isolation, united in time, but separated geographically so that red zone, yellow zone and green zone participants needn’t mix and find themselves out of their respective confort zones.

The groups organizing against the 2008 RNC shared one more thing in common, bound as they were to the St Paul Principles, they were all signatories to the principles.

Do the St Paul Principles apply universally?
It’s easy to see that the 2011 OWS occupations in major cities across the country shared a similar goal. It was, if perhaps more vague than to prevent a party convention, to disrupt the wheels of commerce by means of encampments; the “3S” tactic now reduced to a single verb “Occupy”. Allies such as unions and antiwar organizations, while sympathetic, cannot be said to have shared the same determinaton to disrupt. Even MoveOn with their “99% Spring”, FireDogLake with their merchandizing, and Adbusters had to relent with the revolutionary rhetoric. Eventually OWS spinoffs like Occupy Sandy Relief began to serve functions diametrically opposed to disruption. Did they expand the “movement”? Of course. But did the more inclusive “movement” outgrown the capacity for St Paul Principles to maintain its unity? Are activists bent on disruption expected to respect and support activists determined to prevent disruption?

I know it’s lovely to imagine every social justice effort as anti-authoritarian, and whether nonviolent or indulgent, each comprises a unique wing of a broad anti-government movement. If you are prepared to pretend that everyone’s aims are progressive, we share similar enough goals and we are reformists. But if some aims are revolutionary, explicitely anti-Capitalist for example like Occupy Wall Street, then reformists are counterrevolutionary. If you think reformists aren’t Capitalism’s first line of defense, even as they consider themselves activists, then you don’t know your adversaries from your allies. To imagine that activists shouldn’t address such chasms of understanding in favor of upholding popular delusion is going to get a movement nowhere.

At last year’s Climate March in NYC, the prevailing sentiment was against Capitalism. The organizers didn’t want to mouth it, but a vast number of marchers began to grasp instinctively that Capitalism has no solution for Climate Change. The anti-Capitalist movement can become “the movement” but reformists will have to understand they are obstructionists before they as individuals can be said to share the common goal.

The St Paul RNC Welcoming Committee aimed to disrupt the Republican National Convention for a WEEK. Can activist groups as they grow and transform over years and compete for membership and community resources expect that they shouldn’t be critical of one another’s missteps or aggressions even as their goals diverge?

How scalable are the St Paul Principles? Do they apply to no matter who considers themselves part of a greater “movement”. Do they apply to signatories and non-signatories alike?

Are the St Paul Principles constructive?
I would argue: Hardly. While it seems safer to segregate the Black Bloc from the civil disobedients from the family picnic crowd, you’re not going to reach critical mass with each on its own. With public dischord still in its infancy and while we have nowhere near the numbers to defend against or deter violent repression, perhaps it is only reasonable to program our street protests according to color zones, as if marches were amusement rides for protest tourism.

If you’re satisfied to lead combatants to jail and probation for mere symbolic shows of defiance, and you’re prepared to let nonviolent activists subject themselves to brutality which even when filmed will not awaken the conscience of the sociopathic oligarchs, and you’re resigned to let the masses burn themselves out with boredom given nothing to challenge their apathy, then the St Paul Principles are for you.

Did Kyle Lawrence represent Occupy CS, as its attention-hangers-on assert?

Kyle LawrenceCOLO. SPRINGS– Poor Kyle. Not only is the newly suspected-arsonist in a hospital burn unit with third degree burns, but his until-recent colleagues are now laughing at his clumsiness and are belittling his motives. “What did his vandalism accomplish?” –his advice-givers ask, as if sensing a teaching-moment for their Youtube viewers. Well, if Kyle Lawrence INTENDED to burn down a civic justice building, as his cohort alleges, he accomplished THAT. You can’t take that away from him, you polemically-challenged pedants!

But my ire has more to do with why you attention-divas rushed out with public musings at all, drawing the media’s attention to Kyle’s participation with the early Occupy gathering in Acacia Park. Kyle Lawrence, age 22, passed through what became Occupy Colorado Springs like many a disaffected outcast. He carried no responsibility as founder, organizer or strategist, and as it turned out, bore most resemblance to the many itinerants with criminal records that abound in homeless populations. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but of course the local media are going to revel in associating lawbreakers with OCS. Why be the direct conduit?

Would the local media have made the Kyle Lawrence connection on its own? Maybe. But certainly not, I’ll allege, with the bells and whistles provided by people pretending to have the inside dirt on Occupy. You’ve insinuated that other occupiers harbor felonious intentions, pretending that you left OCS as a result. What self-aggrandizing poppycock! Can you be both insiders and outsiders? Begone then, you cretinous sound-backbiters!

Presuming you thought your were stepping up to some moral obligation, I’ll ask this: Do spokespeople for OCS need to make a public statement repudiating Kyle Lawrence’s arson? That’s certainly a local strain of the nonviolence pedagogical virus. In my opinion, absolutely not. The act Kyle committed was a crime — what’s that got to do with Occupy? OCS doesn’t condone crime. To address it implies that crime bears some relation to OCS actions. It doesn’t. Who is held to be in favor of rape, robbery or murder just because they don’t publicly repudiate it? That’s nonsense.

Repudiating anti-societal behavior is a trap, actually, to extract the menace from protest movements. Get a disgruntled populace to repudiate all forms of self defense and they’ll police themselves. To ineffectualness, ideally. Mass demonstrations aren’t met by riot police in order to prevent riots, the deployment of police is meant as a deterrent to the people’s will to assemble. Our freedom of assembly is guaranteed by right because our landlords will constantly scheme to ensure we not practice it. Demonstrations large enough, and giving off an air of sufficient stamina, are what it takes to effect government policy. Toothless crowds, not at all.

This differential is quite obviously seen in the abundant effort to keep occupiers from using tents. Daily protests don’t gather steam. Occupations threaten to give them momentum.

Oh, famously –I think mythically– toothless determination can combat segregation, but it’s never produced regime change or any reform having to do with money, especially at the top. What was desegregation but a privilege which one lower class was forced to relinquish to another? Unfortunately the MLK mythology has been used very successfully to inoculate modern activism. Popular protest has been getting nowhere ever since MLK. Coincidence?

So no repudiation of Kyle Lawrence, on principle. OCS is law abiding and like anyone, presumed innocent until proven guilty. OCS has never advocated violence or lawbreaking, end of story. From an effective activism standpoint, it’s important to remember the St Paul Principles, which advise activists not to criticize the tactics chosen by others. It’s obvious to see why nonviolence zealots condemn the St Paul Principles.

Should Kyle’s actions be addressed? Not as yet, they’re alleged, first of all, and second, it’s hearsay. But if we are to believe Kyle’s accomplice, and before accounting for drunkenness, apparently the act of burning the Green Mountain Falls city building was a deliberate act of protest, misguided whatever, yada yada, but it wasn’t teenage vandalism, burglary or insurance fraud.

If Kyle and his accomplice are found guilty, as the crime so far is understood, it was a politically motivated crime and they will be political prisoners. A menace to society, yes, candidates for incarceration and rehabilitation, lamentably yes, but moral degenerates? Hardly. Make fun of them if you want, but their crime was idealism.

Patrick Henry’s priest would’ve favored Give me liberty, or give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Some juxtaposition, don’t you think? Patrick Henry’s call to arms Give me liberty or give me death mashed up with the Goddamn Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It sure puts passivism into religious perspective. It’s the fog of the opiate of masses, with church as enforcer of nonviolence, keeping the people down in advance of the king’s Dragoons. What a mockery serenity makes of poor fools eager to feel self-respect for docile servitude. It calls to my mind the impoverished parents who cripple their young so to be more effective beggars. Or who sell their children into slavery. What cretinous vile beings. Their desperation to be pitied of course, but their fate to be repudiated, not accepted with whatever boat-non-rocking serenity.

From The War Inevitable, March, 1775, by Patrick Henry
 
They tell us, Sir, that we are weak – unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.
 
Three millions of People, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Beside, Sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of Nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable; and let it come! I repeat, Sir, let it come!
 
It is in vain, Sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentleman may cry, Peace, Peace! – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that Gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!

First they ignore you then they laugh at you, Oakland’s got no further than that.

The brutality of the Oakland Police against #OccupyOakland and Iraq vet Scott Olsen is prompting many to measure their eminent victory with ol’ Gandhi’s hopeful adage: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Apparently we’ve reached the fight stage. Yeah no. Sorry folks but teargas and nonlethal measures while dressed in riot gear is still the LAUGH AT YOU stage. You’ll recognize FIGHTING. It’s what America does to everywhere.

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks

In honor of Oct 2, the International Day of Nonviolence, which hardly any government of the world honors IN DEED, especially the league of NATO and USA’s coalition of the killing. I thought I’d perseverate further on the role nonviolent dogma plays in squashing dissent. Here’s my theme: If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks the antiwar movement of the 60s might have deposed the military industrial complex before it became supersized, privatized and above the law. Or not, but NV claptrap certainly got us nowhere.

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks, Gaza might have been liberated already. Nonviolent kabuki demonstrations have spoiled attempted marches from Egypt, have scuttled would-be flotillas, have squeezed out real activists from sailing to Gaza’s rescue. Ask yourself, which brought more attention and sympathy for Palestinians, the Mavi Marmara or “The Audacity of Hope” which didn’t even show audacity enough to confront Greek harbor keepers? The Turkish activists on the Marmara were nonviolent, but not neurotically so. They might have expelled their Israeli boarders, but we have to pretend at least surprise at the brutality of Israel’s massacre. The US Boat on the other hand exchanged indignation over bullhorns without ever leaving the harbor, then stood down. Nonviolence doesn’t mean passivity, really?

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks, the Palestinian’s right to defend their homeland from their occupiers would not be an issue. If Palestine was allowed to resist their invaders, Israel would stop trying to take it all.

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks, Bush could not have stolen a second election and Americans wouldn’t have had to settle for hope instead of change.

If it wasn’t for the nonviolence sneaks with their ultimatums of passivity, who knows how soon the New World Order might have been prevented? It’s the nonviolence sneaks who are the most despicable provocateurs, alienating the 99% by ensuring public protest remain forever ineffectual.

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks, antiwar movements would end war, social injustices would be righted, and greed brought to justice.

If it weren’t for the nonviolence sneaks who enforce public compliance, world governments would respect their people and couldn’t rule by fear.

If if wasn’t for the nonviolence sneaks, the public’s urgent will would be heeded, instead of dismissed for inconsequential whine it’s become.

Want a depressing laugh? See what’s passing for direct action strategy

It begins: “Nonviolence is a great power which, when used correctly, can overturn empires.” You see the hole they’ve dug for themselves… For your reading enjoyment, here’s the entire of the Metta Center’s nonviolence page, unedited, gross assumptions, emphasized.

“Overturn empires” –WHICH? Can you name EVEN ONE? Apparently nonviolence has yet to be “used correctly.”

“that power” –Sorry, unproved.

“it’s our only option” –You wish, I guess. You and the forces of oppression.

“the most effective approach” –So you see the problem here. Every conclusion flows from a false assumption.

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Nonviolence is a great power which, when used correctly, can overturn empires. You will be drawing on that power, the full extent of which comes into our hands when we adopt it deeply and consistently, not because it’s our only option but because it’s the option that allows us to preserve our humanity in the process of struggle, i.e. to not further create the problem we’re trying to solve. Just ends and nonviolent means are a powerful combination, and that becomes clearer the longer the struggle goes on. We also get closer to the full potential of nonviolence when we have trained ourselves to the point where nonviolence is practically a way of life, offering unyielding resistance to injustice but never hostility to the true well-being of any person. Nonviolence is strategically the most effective approach in any situation of oppression particularly; however, its full power comes out when we:

have set a determination to identify core issues for which we are willing to make great sacrifices (and compromises on everything else);

have a well developed program of self-improvement and constructive work, building the world we want without demanding that others give it to us;

have a strategic plan that can carry us forward for the long term, using constructive program whenever possible and active resistance when necessary.

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“great sacrifices” –Martyrdom, victimhood. “compromise” –Punked.

“self improvement and constructive work” –Blame the victim. Onus for change is apparently the responsibility of the oppressed.

I’m sick already. What follows is nothing better than bad religious dogma, based not on morals but psychological engineering. It’s textbook Dale Carnegie, How to Make Friends And Influence People. As if corporations were people.

You can almost smell the crap. What you have here are missionary opportunists seizing upon strife to convert the oppressed to their pie-in-sky-when-you-die spirituality. No different than trying to convert indigenous peoples instead of educating them. Or making drunkards sing church hymns before they get soup.

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Points for Consideration:

I. Nonviolent Strategy Curve

Explanation:
Nonviolent strategies help to create a state of positive peace, restored relations and a higher image of the human being. There are times when conflict is necessary for this process. A nonviolent person will never shun conflict but will always use an opportunity to deepen his or her practice and connection with others.

This curve demonstrates how to create positive peace by advancing nonviolent strategies when relationships deteriorate and dehumanization increases.

II. Anger Under Discipline

Nonviolence is not passivity; it is a power in and of itself. There are three faces of power, according to Kenneth Boulding: threat power, exchange power and integrative power. Threat power is the power of a military force; exchange power is the power of money. Unlike military/threat or economic power, nonviolence is integrative power or love in action. In order to use its power on any scale–small or large–we must as Dr. King said, “harness anger under discipline for maximum effect.”

Anger, like other emotions, is a powerful force. But it does not need to be expressed in destructive or short-sighted action. Anger can be transformed into the fuel for nonviolent, constructive action with a long-term positive effect. What are some ways to “harness anger under discipline?”

1. Respect yourself and respect the goals of the movement by using the means that will achieve the end for the benefit of everybody (aka nonviolently).

2. Never humiliate another human being; all who watch and participate are potential allies, including perceived opponents.

3. Make your movement irresistible, not alienating, through education, professionalism, dialogue, restorative practices and nonviolence trainings.

4. Be willing to take on suffering and insult if necessary rather than inflict it onto others, at whatever the cost to yourself.

5. Be able to articulate clearly and effectively the goals of the movement and see the media as a way to persuade others to join your efforts. This takes reflection and serious strategic planning. Keep the message focused, clear and easy to understand.

6. Take time each day to take care of yourself spiritually. You need to be at your best when emotions and anger are running high. Take time to meditate and enjoy that you are working for a higher purpose.

III. Three Components Needed

Nonviolent struggle has three primary dimensions:

Constructive Programme: This means building the world you want without waiting for others to give it to you, e.g. alternative institutions, local economies, nonviolent leadership models.

Obstructive Program: This is what Dr. King called “non-cooperation with evil.” This includes tactics such as reverse and general strikes, marches, sit-ins, boycotts, etc.

Strategic Overview: In order to have the maximum effect, a movement needs to know when to switch between CP and OP, when to walk away from the police or when to allow for confrontation, etc.. Strategy can be strengthened by an overall commitment to nonviolence, a coherent message to share with those involved and those watching, and disciplined action.

IV. Learning

Take the time to watch other movements. Do not merely imitate but learn from them: understand what worked and why it worked. For instance, if protesters on Wall Street provoked a police struggle, how effective was it for an overall nonviolent goal and how might a different strategy work better?

Constantly assess and re-assess the situation in light of new information and new situations.

Stay in contact with other movements. Share the lessons with one another.

V. Tips for a Long-term strategy:

Sometimes in nonviolence we don’t get what we immediately set out to change, but in the long-term, the situation is more pliable, flexible and change comes more easily. Do not see short term failures as a failure of the method of nonviolence, and do not let anyone convince you that violence would be a better strategy to take. It isn’t. If one needs greater strength, one can “purify” one’s efforts. A simple way is to increase one’s commitment to nonviolence in thought and word. At this point, other practices such as meditation will be tools.

Statistics show that even if violence “works” in the short run, in the long term, it never makes a situation better. As Gandhi said, “violent revolution will bring about violent self-rule.”

The more comprehensive our nonviolence, the greater effect it can have. This means that instead of focusing all of our efforts on outward change, we can learn to deepen our awareness of how nonviolence works, not only on the level of the deed, but in our words and thoughts.

Nonviolence is a form of persuasion and dialogue, not a one-sided form of coercion. Respect the escalation curve model and always try to deescalate a conflict; avoid using the wrong strategy at the wrong time (this is where a strategic overview is essential).

Satyagraha is a last resort strategy for a discussion (looking for a win-win outcome) and can lead to the need for self sacrifice at the highest degree possible. Do not make this sacrifice before it is necessary e.g. promises of fasting unto death without first a willingness to try other strategies are always ineffective. Satyagraha is a method which “compels reason to be free.” We must be reasonable ourselves to awaken the reason of another; we must be willing to take risks and sacrifices (even to our ego) to open the heart of another.

(At Metta, we would like to change the slogan to “Create a New World! Stop the Machine! because in creating a new world, the machine dissolves more readily.)

That’s right, METTA CENTER can’t help themselves from second guessing the OCTOBER2011 slogan. It’s like antiwar detractors insisting message be FOR something instead of ANTI war. You can be AGAINST injustice, inequity, crime, greed, et al, without having to be on the hook for condescending an alternative.

#OccupyDenver gains speed in spite of counterrevolutionaries hitting brakes

You can point the finger at the angry Anarchists, or at the nonviolence biddies who refuse to mingle, but in the end the Occupy Denver General Assembly emerged unscathed. At issue was the third of the St Paul principles, that activists will not condemn each other over divergent tactics. Of course condemnation provokes… condemnation, so the disruptors succeeded with their divisive interjections, until participants concluded that violence versus nonviolence was a non issue. No one wants or plans violence, why pretend it requires sanction or prohibition? For my part I wonder who says youthful exuberance has anything to learn from voices of experience, experienced at failure? Occupy Together is the common goal. The Denver occupation on the capitol steps is now encamped 24/7 and has organized a permitted demonstration on Saturday Oct 1. Local unions have signed on to march, which mirrors the interest labor is now paying in several dozen cities worldwide, just as Occupy Wall Street garners more and more celebrity and media attention.

Chicago G8 protest planners offer city guarantees of usual ineffectual actions

Organizers meeting today to plan against next year’s G8 summit in Chicago hit the ground running –backward. On Friday a spokesperson for one of the coalition partners offered this assurance to the Chicago Tribune: “Our goal is a legal, permitted, family friendly march where people can come and have their voices heard in a safe environment.” Interesting. The objective of successful past anti-globalization protests has been no less than to shut the undemocratic summits down.

Nine months out, it appears activism’s old guard is determined to blunt all real resistance welling in American youth. The Tribune found another normalizing voice from UNAC which disavowed any recourse but nonviolence. WTF? It’s one thing not to encourage violence, another to promise to “back off from any violence.”

Hello? Activists with broken spirits need to STFD and STFU. Let younger, hotter heads give you a lesson in courage and purpose. If you are over thirty, hold yourselves among the fucks responsible for this mess. Who are you to deny the young their righteous rage?

As elder activists, precisely what wisdom is it you think you can impart? Have you stopped one war? Slowed imperialism? Ended nukes? Saved the whales? Halted global warming? Attended to anything but the erosion of democracy, the social safety net and the environment? Your exalted nonviolence neither delivered India from class exploitation nor ended racism in America. Stick with fundraising, educating, inspiring others, drawing your peers into social networking; lead, but not by edict, and not by a consensus dominated by your peers. Put your dogma aside for the young leaders, let them make their own mistakes. I hope you will at least admit they can’t fail more miserably than you.

At Sunday’s meeting, the United National Antiwar Committee spokesman acquitted himself when confronted by a young gentleman representing an anarchist entity. Committee member Ashley Smith’s full quote had been: “We will not be the ones to initiate or perpetrate any violence.” And: “We will back off from any violence.” But when pressed at the meeting, he explained that organizers hoped the event would be safe for families, but that younger militants could exercise their freedoms like anybody else. I paraphrase.

I’ll qualify my criticism by pointing out that a number of the organizers were personal victims of recent FBI home invasions, so they are fully justified in having to distance themselves from being interpreted as advocating violence. An additional challenge is presented by an adversarial corporate press determined to squeeze whatever soundbite it wants to discredit or hobble protest.

Of course I’d prefer activists recused themselves from addressing the subject of violence/nonviolence, instead of alienating potential allies by being deliberately exclusionary. And by potential allies, I mean the only allies that will get the movement anywhere, the NEXT GENERATION, because who else are you expecting?

Uncle Sam wants you to pledge you’ll only resist his violence nonviolently

Uncle Sam: I want you to submit, shut up, or protest only nonviolently. It's cheaper.At Juneteenth this weekend, I saw the local Justice & Peace table being manned by young graduates of its “Peace Camp.” I resisted asking them if their religio- pacifist training was being extended to corporations and oligarchs, or was nonviolence a prohibition for just them, the social-justice-minded, idealistic youth? How convenient for an increasingly deaf leadership to require that even the most desperate, urgent protestations remain toothless.

Nonviolence works, but Jesus saves

How is an antiwar message advocating a metaphysical ideal any different than saying that My God is better than Yours? My pacifist colleagues have distilled their protest slogan to “Nonviolence Works” which I believe is as provable as “Jesus Saves.” Neither ideology can reduce beyond the afterlife. My god says love your neighbors. So what? Mine says kill my enemies. And what’s more, God forgives me, particularly what I do in His name. To assail American Christian crusaders with with the logic of moral superiority is to argue that my god can lick your god. Believe me, God America is kicking Muslim ass on that front every day. Beside which, at best you’re telling someone who wants to believe 2 plus 2 equals 3 that 3 & 1/2 is close enough.

In the struggle for Middle East land, Palestinian violence will always win

Israel can build all the new settlements it wants, take heart, it only takes one horrific Tate-Labianca-like crime scene to curb the Zionist homecoming charade. Israel can terrorize Gaza to smithereens, the Palestinians have nowhere to flee. American Jews on the other hand, are not going to leave comfortable digs, to relocate to Jerusalem where their 11-month-old might be slashed to death in her crib. Such dastardly strategy comes at a price of course, against a military willing to defy international law and exact collective punishment for the deed of one zealot, but Israel knows that even its US billions in weapons cannot compete with one Palestinian knife that finds its mark.

Odd, isn’t it? On the battlefield, Goliath can slay an entire West Bank of Davids, but when the contest is holding ground, you can take it, but if you can’t convince your people to settle it, the land will revert to its rightful inhabitants.

I’ll leave you to decide if the murder of an Israeli settler family is off-limits. They’re moved unto properties appropriated from Palestinians, illegal settlement of occupied land, they’re ferried by armored SUVs in military convoys, their rooftops, front gates, walls and streets are guarded by soldiers, their neighborhoods buffered by “sterile zones” purged of all inhabitants, the persistence of their habitation is used to advertise for more settlers and demoralize the non-Jewish native population in waiting of cleansing. Are settlers “innocent civilians,” irrespective old or young age? Who is to blame for putting settler children into homes whose previous inhabitants have been put out on the street, who can only assail their walls with stones?

Remember too, it’s the Israeli settlers, more than the IDF soldiers, who routinely raid Palestinian homes, orchards and farms, killing their neighbors with impunity. Where does any settler get to pretend they should be considered an innocent civilian?

Arab Palestine is confronted with a slow death by attrition. Israel has never disguised its plan to ethnically purge the entire of what it calls Judea and Sumaria. What does it matter then, if resistance violence begets occupier retaliation, if this brazen home-invasion-family-murder provokes an avenging of deaths ten fold? The Russian Partisans paid fifty to one. The Gaza massacre was 300 to one. The Gilad Shalit prisoner ratio is tens of thousands to one, still well shy of US military disproportional force.

Peace activists want to curb armed resistance in favor of nonviolence, calculating that peace will come when Palestinian martyrdom awakens the Israeli conscience, or whichever comes first, Palestinian blood runs dry. This suits Israel of course, its Apartheid State needs the Palestinians gone, for Jews cannot forever pretend they have a Democray while subjugating an inferior untouchable class. So long as one Palestinian remains who fights back, Israel will never conquer Palestine.

Israel can plan all the settlement construction sites it wants, the more beautiful the better, in the end the people of Palestine can claim them in partial compensation.

Egypt’s protesters are owed 302 lives


After Hosni Mubarak did his best last night to bite his thumb at his gaping-mouthed subjects, the heart of humanity aches in anticipation of the potential of angry bloodshed Friday in the streets of Cairo. Egypt’s JAN25 organizers have so far held steady to a winning strategy of nonviolent protest, in spite of the tremendous state repression, and as yet it’s only moved them forward. But Mubarak has proved that the success of demonstrations is not judged by public opinion. Revolutions very traditionally involve an overthrow. Despotic torturers rarely capitulate to appeals to their conscience. Before the revolutionaries can ensure the universal support of the Egyptian people, they will have to commandeer the state’s propaganda machine. Hopefully sympathetic employees will turn it over without forcing the demonstrators to compel its silence. While it might be prudent to guard against provocateurs inciting mayhem, public audacity wanes without momentum. Let’s not discount the gains which the brave youth of Jan25 have won with violence. Tahrir Square would not have been gained without wave after wave of assaults against the ranks of riot police. Returning the thrown stones was the only action which kept Mubarak’s goons from overtaking Tahrir and slitting everyone’s throats. Whether Egypt’s freedom-seekers this Friday take the high road or the low, under fire from Mubarak’s security goons, we must support them.

Power already knows the truth

As the election nears, I recall Ward Churchill’s rejection of a modern activist’s purported objective, “speaking truth to power,” as left-leaning voices speak up to validate the Democratic Party’s inherent claim to represent what the Republicans do not. As if the corporate status quo doesn’t know very well the reforms it is resisting. Speaking truth to power is not tilting at windmills, it’s flapping your arms in a charade, to convey your divination of a windmill’s function, to responses of shoulder-shrugging at the omniscience of power, literally. Democrats have absolutely nothing to offer except lip service. What else is new. So why are even stalwart leftists calling this horse race like they’ve got a candidate in the running?

Tony, David Barsamian says hello

The local Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission found a little more between the lines than they may have counted on from visiting scholar/lecturer David Barsamian. Although he preached the habitual Gandhian nonviolent civil disobedience, and putting faith in reforming electoral politics, some heresy emerged from the mix. Asked how he could cite 1984 with the authority of scripture, three times, but overlook how Orwell derided nonviolence as a tool of totalitarian control, Barsamian reminded the audience that Orwell joined the Spanish Civil War against Franco, believing that Fascist threat justified armed struggle. Barsamian then clarified that neither of the sainted NV Big 3, Gandhi, Mandela or MLK, completely eschewed violent resistance.

The PPJPC audience may be too far gone to appreciate the distinction. This was demonstrated by a rambling question/interjection by a PPJPC member luminary. Not only is the PPJPC nonviolent, it sanctions only nonviolent communication, to elaborate further, non-protest, and even non-talking about negative things. While she was thankful for David Barsamian informing his audiences, she felt what he was doing served to defeat the positive outlook necessary to float a new consciousness. There’s a growing world movement, apparently. What’s required, said she, was a concentrated focus on the positive. I paraphrase, but I lack the parochial school vocabulary.

Fortunately, Barsamian politely pooh-pooed that notion, though not with the ridicule I would have liked. Barsamian’s theme was about historical illiteracy, and while he could fault education and media for the sad state of US critical aptitude, he could offer just the usual intra-capitalism strategies of consumer boycotts and hope for turning our legislators around. For Barsamian, our task as activists is to spread understanding to the oligarchs. The corporate bosses have children too, how could they fail to recognize that the destruction of our planet will be their doom as well?

Barsamian could have found the answer in a parable he recited while illustrating another point. He asked the audience if we’d heard the story of the scorpion and the camel, a parable circulating in popular culture to vilify Islam.

The tale recounts a scorpion who asked a camel to ferry him across the river. The camel declined, certain the scorpion would sting him. After much pleading from the scorpion, the camel eventually decided to offer the benefit of the doubt, hoping his good deed would overcome the scorpion’s reputation. In the middle of the river, “Oy vay” Barsamian lampooned, the scorpion struck. Asked why he betrayed the camel, the scorpion replied “Welcome to the Middle East.”

Yes, it’s a despicable slander of the Arab, and by intentional extension, the Muslim character. Especially as you consider the original version of this tale, an ancient Sanskrit parable, which the Zionist propagandists are not foolish enough to quote in the original. When you pretend a universal truth damns an entire people, the racism is too obvious.

Originally the scorpion’s victim was a turtle, and the argument which won the turtle over was: why would the scorpion sting him in the middle of the river, were both would surely drown? After the backstabbing, the explanation given to the turtle was a moral that has enlightened mankind since ancient times, I’m certain everyone in the audience knew it. Quoth the scorpion: it is my nature.

You knew I was a scorpion when you took me on your back.

Who are the turtles today, thinking that corporations and capitalism can be turned by our altruism?

A last question came from an audience member who expressed their faltering hopefulness. In reply, Barsamian pointed to other milestones in history when dramatic relief was also more than the average person could have foreseen. 1958 in Cuba, 1788 in France and 1775 in the American Colonies. YES, thank you David Barsamian!

I’m guessing I’m going to regret not having yelled out to put the exclamation mark on where Barsamian puts his faith. Each of the events which he tenders to offer hope, was a VIOLENT REVOLUTION!

As to the cryptic title of this post. On every visit to the Springs, the indefatigable Barsamian witnesses a further disintegration of our local peace community. Not long ago, Tony caused an uproar with his boisterous complaints of the PPJPC’s misplaced piety. Perhaps David witnesses such fractures everywhere in the movement these days, the bristling tension growing between activists and the elders ascended into their delusions. Into such atmospheres Barsamian does not hold himself above the fray. To even the divisive Tony, for example he wished to convey his warmest regards.

Religious nonviolence is a death cult

Reading about the media/police snap to judgment on the Palmdale CA, Queen Marisol Girls prayer picnic, I had to wonder what behavior defines a “death cult.” Trotting off to the park to chant prayers and submit to a rapture sounds exactly like the nonviolence zealots I know. Pray fast and furious, but for God’s sake, don’t stay the sword!

Nonviolence is the refuge of cowards

I say this with the full authority of my own personal experience: nonviolence is for cowards. When push has come to shove, I stepped to the sidewalk but I am so full of admiration for those who stayed in the line of fire. Today much of the world commemorates Bastille Day, France’s unique independence day, because it launched the French Revolution. Not just a revolution for the masses of humanity, but their Enlightenment. Storming the Bastilles was no small transformative event, and the sans-culottes were not led by urgings to keep it nonviolent. The monarchy took heed, as it had for every historic concession, because the citizenry had it scared to death.

Have you changed social inequity by voting in the polls? Have you found justice via protest? Sought, beseeched, was as far as you got. Violent uprising has not lately looking too effective either. But it’s got the track record.

I’m not saying I’m up to the task, but I assure you I have the courage to be nonviolent in spades.

It is a most self-aggrandizing dishonesty that holds nonviolence to be brave. There is nothing easier than to take the path of least resistance. I don’t mean to downplay the audacity to protest, as opposed to conforming, although isn’t sticking to your principles squarly self-indulgent? I claim no credit for failing to bend on matters of principle. In fact, sometimes I feel positively anti-social.

But taken the next step, what’s easier than subjecting yourself to the authority of the sword? Again it’s the principle of not becoming like your abuser, another no-brainer, but no-bravery required.

Standing up for what you believe? Easy-peasy. To the death? Positively cowardly lion.

This is you inner dialog, be honest: I defy your authority, but only so far. I reject your physical oppression, but just kidding. I call for the total destruction of your hierarchy, but only in words, I’m entitled, and you can’t lay a finger on me because I’m playing by the rules.

Hope of getting anywhere: dismal. Modern social movements have only Gandhi and Mandela as purported success stories. But I’ll not insult the elders. The Gandhi and Mandela of our textbooks bear no resemblance to the reality, they are false role-models put forth by fascists who want to blunt every effort to rise against power.

Oh, nonviolence is the higher ideal, sure. Lovely. Browny points for the afterlife. Trickle-up transcendence has as much potential for success as awaiting extraterrestrials or building playing fields for disgraced baseball reincarnates.

Unless power wants to transcend the human experience, and lift all of us with it, mankind is not going anywhere. The only way you’re going to levitate powerful heads is with a guillotine. Dreadfully eighteenth century, but check out the horrific bygone days from which they’re reconstituting torture and feudalism.

You can probably contrive a litany of rationalizations for why it would be beneath you, but imagine picking up a gun and having a go against the overwhelming power of the state. Now that’s terrifying.

Which was more awesome: power of nonviolence, or right of self-defense?

IDF raid on Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla
Give praise to Allah where praise is due
 
As the Freedom Flotilla made its slow approach last week, a popular Huffpo article pronounced the convoy a testament to the awesome power of nonviolence. That sentiment went about as viral as activist-geeks can get. But the blockade running denouement proved something of the opposite, didn’t it? I hope the sanctimonious pacifist will be brave enough to admit it. The Muslim Brotherhood bravely charging the Israeli navy was surely the definition of martyr, if anyone has ever earned it. Without pushing the IDF to bare its authoritarian fangs, there would have been no story, no outrage, the end. An entirely compliant convoy would have been led by the nose to Ashdod and diplomatic compromise. Neither Gandhi nor King nor Mandela gained without a massacre they didn’t provoke. It’s a slander to their legacy that nonviolent movements have been co-opted by religious purists who subordinate social justice to self-fulfilment, generally in the guise of your post-earthly reward. Labor organizers used to curse the industrialists’ first line of union busters, the churches which practiced appeasement and promised “pie in the sky when you die, by and by.”

We may view and review the IDF night vision tapes which recorded the hardly nonviolent reception given Israel’s would-be swashbuckling commandos. Those convoy defenders delivering the first blows may appear to be having way too much fun for our sense of propriety. But it’s hard to begrudge men who’ve suffered under the Israeli boot, perhaps even Israeli torture, who’ve never gotten closer to their oppressors than an Israeli sniper’s range would allow. Perhaps they have loved ones to avenge, or ideals higher than secular humanists can credit. Whatever hatred or anger, the bravery it took to lift metal pipes against modern firepower is undeniable. And just like the stone-throwers of their youth, this is the indomitable spirit that buoys their survival. Without this fight, their numbers would entropy to servitude and attrition, lifeless bodies suspended on their invader’s web, to feed the occupier’s young until they are gone.

From our church pews and academic perches we can supplicate they heed the road most honorably traveled. What do Westerners know of pragmatics? At best our reality is theoretical. Really, who are we, we are always wrong. We can neither elect presidents who matter, nor pass legislation that does not agree with our corporate landlords. And we presume to advise on struggles that mean life and death.

Am I saying that there is no efficacy to nonviolent action? Not at all. But I do say, give human nature and righteous anger its due. Nonviolent passivity is for sheep. It will lead us all to an unceremonious death. Wolves count on sheep that don’t bite back. If humans can be divided between wolves and sheep, be upfront with the sheep and perhaps you’ll rouse in some of them a wolf’s courage. That is what will lift your collective humanity.

At this moment a second wave of the Freedom Flotilla is poised to make a second go at Gaza. The MV Rachel Corrie waits in mid Mediterranean for reinforcements to join it, whereupon it too will push Israel’s buttons. Rumors are already circulating that a diplomatic compromise may already have been reached to divert the aid supplies through Egypt. Of course that rumor was spread about the recent flotilla. From the horses mouth however, the Rachel Corrie crew are expressing the desire to avoid a similar disaster, they vow to sit peaceably with arms raised lest IDF interlopers mistake resistance.

This may be the false pacifist bluster that led Israel to underestimate the fighting spirit of the Mavi Marmara’s above deck. Or it may be genuine. Which Israeli game theorists will be eager to plug and play. The MV Rachel Corrie wheelhouse will be handed to the IDF just as a harbor pilot boards to guide a ship into port, IDF gunboats serving as tugboats, aid supplies unloaded at Ashdod, then transferred through an approved border crossing with as much fanfare as collaboration with occupiers will garner. Humanitarian relief delivered but no blockade breached. A Pyrrhic victory that means private interests will forever subsidize the bill which Israel owes.

I have more faith than that in the Free Gaza Movement, they’ve played their cards superbly, if of course lacking the visual aids which it would seem would greatly enliven media coverage. But I’m second guessing there too. Perhaps an imagined picture is better than the reality mundane. The public knows enough about what happened on the Mavi Marmara with just a sliver of video coverage. Even with IDF fine-tuned selective snippets, the public imagination can run with the truth. And organizers are not at liberty to praise the Marmara martyrs. So I will.

I was dismayed when heard on the Marmara’s last video stream, someone pleading with the “brotherhood” to cease their resistance because the activists were facing live ammunition. The admonition was in English, meaning most of the brotherhood would not understand it anyway. If you watched the continuous broadcast, it was almost exclusively in Turkish, suited to its main audience in Turkey. When participants wanted to testify in another language, many onscreen slunk their shoulders until the Turkish was back. Bilingual announcers who asked the hosts which language they should speak were always advised against English. So when the final plea was made to the “brotherhood,” the language seemed deliberately aimed at the Western viewer, a telltale conceit that would bolster Israel’s version of events.

For the most part, what Israel says happened is what happened, to the most significant degree. A lot of damning gunfire may have been omitted from the IDF tapes volunteered to skew public perception, but what pretext more did the brotherhood need to defend the ship against the surprise nocturnal invaders? None.

Just as Israel insists on its right to defend itself, it can hardly deny the convoy the same right.

What is utterly clear is that the Muslim brotherhood didn’t raise its arms chanting Kumbaya, neither did they lock arms to be trampled afoot. As the Israeli special-ops came down from the helicopters, the brotherhood gave them their best wallops. They had no guns, nor swords nor explosives nor booby-traps. They showed amazing restraint for the anger they carried. Yet in the face of overwhelming firepower they ran straight forward, some of them armed only with a plastic chair. I had practically to sympathize with the soldiers coming one at a time down the ropes. That brave first one certainly caught the brunt of a violent ride. Only an inhumanly ardent partisan could not feel pain for that solitary first Israeli battered like a rag doll. We are certainly never treated to videos which have shown that IDF soldiers might feel the pangs in the face of what the violence they are committing.

Thinking outside the bomb, in the box

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOMB is a clever antiwar appropriation of Taco Bell’s inventive twist, but since when does imitation break from a box? And does “the bomb” mean what it used to? By the look of their logo, the TOTB activists are not talking about the A-bomb, nor bunker-busters, nor smart-bombs, nor predator drones. Intentionally or not, TOTB they’re invoking the proverbial cartoon explosive, wielded by anarchists or other insurgents, the only means by which social uprisings have ever transcended the box.

“The bomb” was the feared Armageddon of the early nuclear age. More recently, “Food Not Bombs” conflates bombs with militarism because modern war-making, aka peace-keeping, is dominated by aerial bombing. Returning to “bomb” in the singular insinuates nukes, or the mutually-assured destructiveness of endlessly reciprocated violence. So let’s see the bomb depicted more as a nuclear warhead or an artillery shell.

Intrinsic to the plea for nonviolence is the determination to subdue the military instinct with transcendence. And when have proponents of nonviolence exerted jurisdiction over anyone but themselves? Lead by example they cry. We will defeat the barbarians by not becoming barbarians ourselves. Turn the other cheek, the meek shall inherit the earth. I rather suspect, quoth Camelot: “It’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.”

To warmongers I say: think. In of itself, thinking is outside the box enough for you. To peaceniks: exchanging the challenges of human reality for a spiritual realm, is a religious balm that dates to antiquity, about as inside the box as it gets.

Martin Luther King Day marks his death

Martin Luther King Jr arrest mug shotMLK 2010- The memory of Martin Luther King Jr. has been cuffed and confined as well as if it had been assassinated. The dream he had of empowerment for the powerless is frozen now en memoriam, neutralized, the masses left only to hope for an end to racism and oppression. It’s an ideology for simple folk, isn’t it? We can all have equality and justice, so long as we want to possess it only vicariously, in our dreams. Asking for it, nay demanding it, is to commit violence to the decorum of our betters. Pragmatism has meant codifying King’s ideals to the liking of his adversaries. MLK Day is theirs. It should be celebrated on April 4 to mark his death.

Sticks and stones can hurt Berlusconi

Silvio BerlusconiWounded premier kept for four days in the hospital. At a young age we’re taught to pretend that words cannot hurt us like sticks and stones. Later we accord to words more power even than paper, scissors, rock –those of us for whom violence is only a surreality.

Both delusions it seems to me come of a world inured by a void of physical hardship. I can’t help but believe that Silvio Berlusconi’s assailant got a message across to the Italian despot that none before had been able to connect, no matter their shouts, pleas or accusations.

Will Berlusconi rebound like Hitler or Stalin after the attempts on their lives? This wasn’t an assassination attempt, whether or not Massimo Tartaglia’s act was premeditated. And it wasn’t a conspiracy either. Massimo by his own hand cut the pompous autocrat down to a mortal stature.

I’m guessing Berlusconi is no stranger to fist fights, he probably pulls his errant subjects’ fingers off using the piers himself. But it’s probably been awhile since he’s been sucker punched. A sudden, uninvited violence like that is the closest example Berlusconi can experience of the institutional violence his regime and ours visit upon innocent people. From out of nowhere.

If Berlusconi and his fellow autocratic leaders beef up their security after this episode, so what? If it now becomes virtually impossible for a common man to get within arms length, or even shoe-throwing distance of a world leader, so what? What expectations do we have that there has ever been communication at that level? Massimo’s gesture, like al-Zaidi’s puts closure on the facade of our leadership. We must communicate among ourselves. Nothing comes of begging crumbs from people in power.

It fills me with inspiration, it really does, to look the wounded visage of Silvio Berlusconi’s, his untouchable countenance wiped clean away.

That said, my favorite scene from Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas comes at the end, after he’s gotten the best of the despicable Whoville mayor. “No hard feeling?” the Grinch asks, leaning in close and extending his hand. But instead of shaking his hand, he points his finger into the mayor’s face and laughs: Hahahahahaha Hahahahahahaha Hahahahahahahaha Hahahahahahahah!

Pacifism versus Resistance, facing death

Pacifism or resistance means death or life
Who can begrudge Palestinians for resisting annihilation ? Our PC ideal would be to resist with nonviolence, bare your chest and dare the IDF soldiers to kill you. But they will, and as Israel has forbidden foreign cameras, who will be moved by your sacrifice?

But what if you’re not being granted the opportunity of being martyred by a tank? Before Hamas’ December rockets, the people of Gaza had been subjected to 18 months of blockade, with no end in sight. How do you make a heroic nonviolent stand against continuous incarceration, where you are being starved of food and medicine and you have nothing to do but watch those around you die?

What recourse do the Palestinians have but to elect representatives like Hamas who promise to take the fight to Israel? The Palestinians will surely rot in Gaza if their jailers are not made to take notice. What right have American pacifists to scold a desperate oppressed people?

In the recent attacks, Israel has targeted hospitals and refugee centers, UN aid workers and emergency food supplies, while blocking incoming aid. Of their 1,100 victims, 320 have been children. Is this how you defend yourself from rockets or how you rid yourself of a problematic population?

Will the Biden-Obama plan to ethnically divide Iraq into 3 parts lead to peace?

obama-bidenJoseph Biden is a long time proponent of creating 3 separate ethnic enclaves in Iraq so that the Pentagon can better dictate Iraq’s future. Essentially, Joe Biden is the actual architect of current Bush Administration strategy in Iraq, which is based on ethnic cleansing and separation. See the report US Senate votes to divide Iraq for a peek into the background information about this.

The Democratic Party controlled US Antiwar Movement has been in a long hibernation away from doing any sort of mass protests against the US-Iraq War and Occupation by Pentagon troops, simply because the Democratic Party has been directing the strategy of the US troops for some time now and there is no plan by their Big Shots to basically change anything that was previously worked out with the Republican Party in this strategy currently being used. The strategy has bipartisan accord going for it and the Iraqi people themselves working against it. In short, it’s doomed to failure.

The problem facing US antiwar activists today is how to break the grip the Democratic Party has on this movement? The American public itself does not see the connection between their own bleak economic fate from the pending economic collapse, and the continued US occupation of Iraq, and has opted out to do just about basically nothing as it puts its faith almost entirely into accepting the empty sloganeering that the Obama Campaign used to get the Democratic Party Establishment back into the White House. It has not registered on most American’s minds that military deficit spending is the foundation of corruption that the entire US economy is structured on.

The long term prognosis for the Biden strategy of maintaining US government control over the fates of the people of Iraq is bound to produce a horrible collapse into total chaos and disintegration for the entire region, not that either the Democratic Party Big Shots nor their more local ‘PEACE’ underlings really care much at all about any of this. They will merely wring their hands and absolve themselves of all responsibility for the final meltdown when it eventually occurs, even as they will cast blame onto the supposed ‘violence’ of the Iraqi people themselves.

One can already begin to imagine the recriminations of the US religious Left, pacifist DP voters as they will lament about the lack of Gandhian methodology used by ‘the others’, the Iraqi people. They will pray on the matter and then will continue to go on about their business of getting more Democrats into office. The Iraqis will be left inside a totally decimated country left in shambles. Those of us outside this mind frame owe the people of the world to do the best we can in opposing the complicity of our own US liberals in the destruction of Planet Earth, the US economy, and the Middle East. We will have to work against these people even as we will try to find ways to work alongside them, if they will do anything very constructive at all? One thing is for sure, right now they have entirely dropped the ball on concretely opposing the bipartisan US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, they have helped put Joseph Biden into a higher office within the US government.

For more information about the Biden Plan for continued US control over Iraq see Mother Jones in its August, 2008 issue
Partition in Iraq: A Serious Problem With Biden as VP?

American death squads and torture in Somalia

somaliaWhy are Americans so uninterested in what their government does in their name in Somalia? We certainly have shit loads of good liberal folk running around in circles demanding that the US government intervene militarily in Sudan, do we not? But we have a virtually total silence about what the US is doing to the Somali people. More blowback from the war on terror Why is that?

One local example is how the church folk over at the Colorado Springs so-called Justice and Peace Center have never shown any signs of interest in helping fight to stop this US war which is becoming genocidal in nature. It’s off their hypocritical lips altogether. They just received a $1600 grant from a local church, but don’t look to see any of that money put to uncovering the plight of Somalians for people here in Colorado Springs. It will all go to talking about their supposed commitment to ‘non-violence’ and love of Gandhi. Wonder if they would act the same if they were Somalians in their US-Ethiopian invaded Homeland? One rather doubts it.

Here are pictures of All American troops in Somali, in an all Black country, fucking it all up. Now the US government has Black African mercenaries doing most of the dirty work for them.