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imperialism & war

"We-They" attitudes will not bring peace

Let's creat "open" dialogue. The results may not be as fast but they last longer.
Dear Family;

It continues to sadden me to see such anger and spewing of generalities that have little or no meaning. Many words seem not to inform but to simply create more anger, more "We-They" rhetoric.

Throughout history there have been to some degree, the "Downtrodden" held in place by an unfair, unjust "Ruling class." Using force to overthrow the perceived "Ruling Class" as some of you seem to be suggesting will only exacerbate the problem. Yes, there will be change; we will simply have a new "Ruling Class."

I find it interest ring that we are bantering around two main terms; Pro-War, Anti-War.

Is anyone really Pro-War? As a Viet Nam vet I can assure you, that the vast majority of soldiers instructed to fight that war did not want to be there. Families of soldiers would rather have their loved ones home. You might find, if would take the time to have real dialogue with someone who has a loved one in Iraq, that they HATE the war, but support totally the sons, daughters, or husbands. They pray for these folks, send them letters and food, and most of all, love. Yes, there is a sense of pride they have. Why? Because here is an individual who may not totally agree with what is happening, but is willing to put his/her life on the line in support of freedom for all, even those who disagree. Now you may not agree with this stance. I certainly do not. However, I am not going to bring about a "Peace Mentality" by getting in their face. I may, over time, be able to gently persuade through real dialogue. Real dialogue though demands that BOTH have an open mind.

Some of those who espouse Anti-War seem so determined, so righteous, so angry that folks disagree with the "Anti-War" movement that they are willing to damage property, challenge the police openly, actively disrupt commerce, shut down freeways and generally express disregard for the very government that allows freedom of speech and thought along with many other freedoms.

Name calling, finger pointing, screaming insults, spitting on policemen, raging against the corporations, violence in the streets WILL affect change. It will not bring peace. It will not bring equality. It will not stamp out racism. It will simply provide yet another "Ruling Class" that must be dealt with.

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, and the Dahlia Lama all have clear understandings of how to bring about TRUE peace, TRUE equality, and TRUE justice. I urge you to lay down your "We-They" thinking and enter into reasonable dialogue.

LM
reply 24.Mar.2003 09:46

Raven

Your intent is good, but your mind is clouded with hollywood images.

Jesus went into the temple and threw down the money changers tables. This is just such an act as you say is not the correct act, yet you point to jesus as one admirable person.

Gandhi also advocated property destruction, and he even said, if you are unable to stop an aggressor through non-violent means, then violence is better than doing nothing and letting the aggressor succeed.

Hollywood has turned most of the icons of non-violence into something they never were. MLK was only successful because of the violence that was happening as a backdrop and he himself admitted that.

Get real.

And stop assuming everyone wants peace. If there is not justice, then peace is the face of fascism. Of course the wealthy elite want you to be peaceful and never challenge their power and control. This sort of peace is an expression of fear. It is a slavery.

Now before you start thinking that I am advocating violence or that it is the only way or other such rubbish, I will state that I am not. I am advocating clear thinking, and not being deluded by terms such as peace which have no solid meaning. In the completely controlled totalitarian state, there is peace, but it is a place of horror.

The U.S. is one of the most spiritually bankrupt places on earth. We think we have freedom, and that is our terrible slavery. People are very obedient here, afraid of true self initiative, afraid to go outside the bounds as set out by the powers that be.

Yes, you can speak about things with relative freedom, but try to actually accomplish real change, and the heavy hand will descend upon you. Look at Fred Hampton, Judi Bari and all the others who have been killed without remorse.

I can assure you that my mind is open. I am always willing to talk with individuals and institutions as long as I feel there is a real intent at communication. However, you delude yourself that this is so. For example, forest activists have been accomodating corporations for years. The corporation and government negotiate and agree to 'save' some forest or land in exchange for cutting some land. Then a couple years later the saved land is back on the table being negotiated. Old growth forest is down to about 3-5% in this country. There is no room for negotiation or compromise now. The amount that is left may already not be enough to maintain a healthy ecosystem and at the same time the corporation has proven itself to be a soulless entity which knows only profit and is without integrity. This is the bitter experience learned from many years of being 'open'. Real openness does not mean being a dupe or doormat.

Of course people are willing to damage property, challenge the police openly, actively disrupt commerce, shut down freeways and express disregard for the government. Bless them for that. This is a healthy reaction. This government is fundamentally corrupt. It has completely failed to earn respect and does not deserve it. I do not recognize it having any authority over me. It's sole power over me is through their having guns, and being willing to use them on me to make me do as they demand. When that coercion is there, this is proof that there is not open communication and respect from the side of the establishment.

I refuse to betray myself and pretend that this society is anything other than sick and a terrible danger to itself and the world.

If you want to be nice to your jailer in the hope that you will get an extra dessert with dinner, that is your choice. Some people intend to break out of the prison, and that is going to cause some ruckus.

NO JUSTICE - NO PEACE

OK, here's a response 24.Mar.2003 12:59

xyzzy

It continues to sadden me to see such anger and spewing of generalities that have little or no meaning. Many words seem not to inform but to simply create more anger, more ?We-They? rhetoric.
I agree, but there's "we-they" rhetoric on both sides [And myself, I'm somewhere in the middle on the law-abiding/all-out-anything-goes continuum. I'm an anarchist and advocate direct action, but I think there's been too much ill-considered and ill-tempered advocacy of the same. I don't hate the ruling class, I love myself. I want the ruling class to simply go away. I'm not interested in exacting deliberate retribution or humiliation, the situational humiliation of knowing you were on the wrong side of history will be punishment enough.]
Throughout history there have been to some degree, the ?Downtrodden? held in place by an unfair, unjust ?Ruling class.? Using force to overthrow the perceived ?Ruling Class? as some of you seem to be suggesting will only exacerbate the problem. Yes, there will be change; we will simply have a new ?Ruling Class.?
All political change involves a degree of force or coercion. Strikes force the bosses to go without profits until the worker's demands are satisfied. Campaigning a congressman comes with the implied threat to remove him from office should he prove deaf to your demands. Gandhi rendered India ungovernable and forced the British to choose between instituting a police state in India (thus making it hard to explain their claim of being pro-democracy) or letting India go. It's really a question of what force, when, and how.
I find it interest ring that we are bantering around two main terms; Pro-War, Anti-War. Is anyone really Pro-War? As a Viet Nam vet I can assure you, that the vast majority of soldiers instructed to fight that war did not want to be there. Families of soldiers would rather have their loved ones home. You might find, if would take the time to have real dialogue with someone who has a loved one in Iraq, that they HATE the war, but support totally the sons, daughters, or husbands. They pray for these folks, send them letters and food, and most of all, love. Yes, there is a sense of pride they have. Why? Because here is an individual who may not totally agree with what is happening, but is willing to put his/her life on the line in support of freedom for all, even those who disagree. Now you may not agree with this stance. I certainly do not. However, I am not going to bring about a ?Peace Mentality? by getting in their face. I may, over time, be able to gently persuade through real dialogue. Real dialogue though demands that BOTH have an open mind.
Yes, I really believe that our ruling elites, are pro-war. See http://www.cbc.ca/news/iraq/issues_analysis/realitycheck030317.html for some evidence. They want to kill not in self-defense, or even the vaguer and more dangerous notion of preemptive self-defense, but simply because they believe it will suit their aims of getting more power. They kill because killing doesn't bother them very much. They love power more than life. That they lie and protest otherwise when speaking for public consumption doesn't change these facts.

There's a difference between the criminals on top and those simply misled by them. At the very least, those who actually have to do the dirty work the ruling class orders them to do generally do feel extremely queasy about it, even if their brains have been thoroughly polluted by fascistic authoritarian propaganda and they believe the worthiness of the cause they are participating in. This extreme cognitive dissonance is probably one of the reasons so many combat vets have psychological problems. I do have sympathy for the all of the people caught up in the theatre of combat in this monstrosity, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Those on the ground may think they're fighting for freedom, no doubt many do here as well. There's plenty of evidence to suggest that it was worth fighting WWII for this reason, despite all the skeletons in the closets of the Allies. That doesn't mean it's true in this case (or in any war I can think of since WWII). They're being sent to fight for imperialism, and they're being sent to fight to maintain and strengthen class rule at home.

Some of those who espouse Anti-War seem so determined, so righteous, so angry that folks disagree with the ?Anti-War? movement that they are willing to damage property, challenge the police openly, actively disrupt commerce, shut down freeways and generally express disregard for the very government that allows freedom of speech and thought along with many other freedoms.
I think we have a different concept of what "freedom" is. I don't think that the corporate media empires which spew fascistic poison into the minds of the people are "free speech". They're authoritarian power structures that grew with little or no public support [check out the evolution of broadcast law some time]. I mean, it's not as if it's even on as generous a basis as "one dollar, one vote": they won't even let many causes purchase advertising even if they have the money. Therefore liberating billboards and occupying corporate radio/TV stations are not suppressions of free speech: they are assertions of it.

It might be an individual tolerance issue. I just can't participate in a system of governments that, every so often [time and time again over history] just go crazy. Especially now when we're in a world filled with weapons of mass destruction. And when the most recent one to go crazy might just have destroyed some of the institutions of internatioal law and diplomacy that, however flawed, did function as something of a check against this trend. That threatens civilization itself. Let me repeat: that threatens civilization itself. And I'm supposed to continue to pay my taxes and not monkeywrench its machinery of armageddon just because it's "illegal"? How am I supposed to look myself in the mirror each morning when I get up?

Yes, there is a level of domestic political freedom in the USA that is greater than in, say, the Arab world. Alas, that doesn't mitigate the fact that George W. Bush is the most dangerous terrorist in the history of the world. 9/11 shocked the world, but it didn't back the world as a whole into an entirely different ballpark of thuggery the way the Iraq war has. I mean, if it's OK for the biggest and most influential nation-state to use terrorism, then it must definitely be OK for everyone else.

Not all threats to human decency are alike; they all contain their unique structures. Comparing just a single aspect of two threats (such as internal political freedom) won't give an accurate picture. One must compare the whole of one to the whole of the other.

And given how skin-crawling the current ruling gang's sense of personal ethics has been shown in other areas, I don't doubt for one minute their willingness to do away with most of the remaining political freedoms at home. That in itself is reason to create underground direct-action networks now while it's still easy.

I don't hate them, but I hate the things they do. And, nothing personal, but I'll oppose them and gum up the works of their machinery.

Name calling, finger pointing, screaming insults, spitting on policemen, raging against the corporations, violence in the streets WILL affect change. It will not bring peace. It will not bring equality. It will not stamp out racism. It will simply provide yet another ?Ruling Class? that must be dealt with.
I agree. I think there's too much direct action being engaged in with a feeling of hate and anger, and too many people are -- consciously or subconsciously -- looking for excuses to use violent techniques [tho' I suppose there might be another disagreement about just what's 'nonviolent': myself, I don't think the term 'nonviolent sabotage' is a contradiction]. There is no blank check -- moral and tactical consequences must still be weighed.
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, and the Dahlia Lama all have clear understandings of how to bring about TRUE peace, TRUE equality, and TRUE justice. I urge you to lay down your ?We-They? thinking and enter into reasonable dialogue.
I do have a lot of respect for the likes of Gandhi and MLK. However, I don't think there is such a thing as the one true way.

Portland

peace without justice is slavery 24.Mar.2003 17:05

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

I agree with Raven, and mostly with xyzzy.

It's hard to admit for some, but there is, in fact, a "ruling elite." And THEY make sure to make every distinction bewteen THEM and US. THEY do not care at all about US. THEY would gladly kill, imprison, humiliate, and harm us, merely to make a profit. THEY must be resisted. THEY do not understand peaceful messages, and in fact, THEY prefer that their subjects be very peaceful, like meek and submissive, peaceful slaves.

I feel kinship with any human, to varying degrees. Some peoples actions make it difficult for me to relate to them, like those ultra-wealthy elites who forced the US into a war of imperialist conquest in Iraq. THEY have never paid any attention to messages of peace, and usually support the establishment's fetishism for peace at ALL costs.

"Violent" means many things. Although I suppose property damage and sabotage are TECHNICALLY "violent," I have no qualms about using such techniques because they don't hurt any people (unlike the warmongers). I wouldn't cry if military or corporate media properties, vehicles, and machines were to be destroyed. In fact, it would directly hamper the effort to slaughter Iraqi citizens. I'd prefer that (military/corporate/media) trucks, satellites and buildings be destroyed than humans - any day.

reply to raven's reply 24.Mar.2003 18:11

scout

Right on, Raven.

The wealthy elite's most effective and reliable weapon in defense of their status is the Good American Citizen. Perfectly trained and eager to please, the GAM is jumping to slap you back into place should you step outside the lines. That's how we maintain a decent society, by golly.

Yeesh.

The ruckus is the only thing giving me any hope. Rave on.

A few thoughts... 25.Mar.2003 01:25

Rick Bergstrom Oleoay@yahoo.com

Before I get to my point, I'm curious as to where Gandhi condoned property destruction. I did an internet search and wasn't able to find any quoted text or speech in this regard.

I guess the problem that I have with an Us versus Them approach is it encourages sides to stereotype each other. Any time a person is grouped into a stereotype, they are no longer looked at as an individual, nor as a human, and more as part of a mob, an entity, or a machine that can not be reasoned with. The government is comprised of people, some of which can be considered as "good", and others as "bad" by the opposition... in this case, protestors or activists or whatever. Yet, because both good and bad individuals in the government get lumped into a bad stereotype, then those individuals are dehumanized, and seen with derision, and suspicion. Unfortunately, such an adversarial and aggressive, close-minded attitude is not a great way to begin a dialog. Likewise, the government stereotypes the "rebels" back, and an impasse develops.

More to the point, for change to occur, whether one side "takes over" the other side, or "compromises" with the opposing side, it has to be something mutually amiable, or else the "losing" side will start the struggle back up again.

And, again, these are human beings. Sometimes, those in the government don't realize they are touching a burning stove. Others may think they are doing things with the best intentions solely because they have not learned to look at a situation in a different way. American culture conditions us to think in certain ways, to have certain beliefs, and to react to problems in similar ways. Perhaps, if both sides were able to open a clearer dialog, then those different opinions would be more prevalent in the government. Yet, as I learned as a kid, you don't get someone to listen to your ideas by insulting them.

Insulting does work to garner attention, but it is divisive. From what I know, Gandhi never called the British evil, and Martin Luther King's dream did not call for a violent purge of all segregationists or racists. Instead, a change of thought in Indian and American society respectively were encouraged.

I am impressed with the numbers gathered in the recent protests. I am a bit concerned because the protestors in Corvallis seem to have disappeared and I wonder if they are now marching in Portland instead. It makes me feel a bit excluded. I wonder how the driver of a car that is blocked off in traffic is also feeling. The success of many nonviolent movements has been the accessibility... but I don't think many SUV drivers would hop out of their car to help block traffic. Perhaps they can join a sit-in, but still, it is a march that lasts a few hours, then dissipates. I wonder what the long-term effect is on an observer of a march. Are pamphlets handed to him or her? Is there an explanation given to him or her on why war is wrong? If protesting, in part, is to encourage change, I wonder how the protests accomplish this besides gaining press clippings. Perhaps this is more of a fault of corporate media than anything, however.

I also realize that part of the philosophy behind the current protests are to hurt corporations who are funding the war. Of course, I can't read this on CNN, and must come here to do so. I wonder how many pamphlets or signs discuss this. Still, not everyone can march, nor can everyone sit in... but they can talk to their friends. And, believe it or not, the power of conversation is an effective way to change cultural views on an issue. It changed racism, and colonialism, so it just might have the chance of changing America's view on homeland security, terrorism, and war.

Now, all that aside, I thought I'd throw out my idea of a productive kind of protest. I would arrange a march to a branch bank, accompanied by fellow customers of that bank. The object would be to move all money from my savings account to my checking account. I would pass out pamphlets to bystanders telling them that the US government takes out loans on my savings account to fund their operations. Because I disagree with these operations, I won't let the bank give loans to the government using my money. Perhaps I lose the interest rate my savings account would accumulate, but with enough people, it would be a nonviolent and informative way to place pressure on corporations and the government. It would also educate people, and might give them reason to think more about their lives, the taxes they pay. I might have in the pamphlet a statistic sheet showing how much of my income tax goes to the military, and by correlation, to killing people. This might give others pause.

To sum up, I believe change needs to be accomplished through informing people in a constructive manner, as opposed to a destructive and divisive manner. Every warmonger in the government, is still a human being, and thus can learn, and can love. Likewise, they are worthy of teaching and of love. Turning them into monsters will make them less receptive to ideas. Likewise, the general populace that are looked upon as nothing more than slaves or sheep, are also people, and must be informed properly and constructively so that they can assimilate information that they might be distracted from because they are pissed at the amount of traffic in Portland.

Anger is healthy 25.Mar.2003 02:04

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

"To be angry is very good. It burns out things and leaves nutrients in the soil. You should always be ready to be angry at injustice and cruelty."
-- Maya Angelou

"Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear."
-- Zora Neale Hurston

"The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough."
-- Bede Jarrett

Americans are raised with a "don't rock the boat" mentality, and in general avoid conflict. Anger is seen as taboo, like some kind of personal failure. Yet humans get angry. And healthy humans will express this in a way that no one gets hurt. But the social norm against conflict, especially with those seen as authority figures, is bound to attract conflict from those who have been socially obedient for so long. They are just waiting for someone to step out of line; the french, dixie chicks, michael moore, sean penn, ANYONE. Social norms are real. true, humans are individuals, but they are individuals socialised by and socialising in a larger community.

You say that government employees are humans. very true. But how many times have you heard it claimed that someone would "change the system from the inside?" and how many times has that happened? I would LOVE to hear of any examples, seriously. But I know of none. The system changes you. It requires strength and diligence to avoid the changing effects of society.

Many liberals are fans of peace, because they dislike conflict. I'm sorry to point out that conflict is a fact of life. And when certain people do things so dehumanising that it ends with deaths and violence against people, there SHOULD be a real backlash against these people. There should be anger. There should be repercussions.

This war in Iraq is a war of imperialist aggression and must be stopped. But squeemish feel-good tactics serve to only make participants feel good, which is certainly not a bad thing. But real tactics must be used to actually STOP THE WAR;
 http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=03/03/17/2210240&mode=thread
We live in a fascist authoritarian society. We do NOT have a democracy, yet I see people pretending that we have some kind of democracy. How sad. The unelected George II ignores the people. A majority us against war. Ina democracy, that would have stopped the war from ever starting.

Rick, your thoughts on a funds withdrawal action at banks is a good idea. Now it requires solidarity. Unfortunately, virtual transactions count for sixty times the amount that real transactions do in our economy, which is worse than it was in 1929. I'm not certain how much of an effect it would have, but it is definitely worth studying.

To learn more about Gandhi I suggest this excellent article;
 http://www.isreview.org/issues/14/Gandhi.shtml

Nothing wrong with anger 25.Mar.2003 03:37

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

"To be angry is very good. It burns out things and leaves nutrients in the soil. You should always be ready to be angry at injustice and cruelty."
-- Maya Angelou

"Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear."
-- Zora Neale Hurston

"The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough."
-- Bede Jarrett

Americans are raised with a "don't rock the boat" mentality, and in general avoid conflict. Anger is seen as taboo, like some kind of personal failure. Yet humans get angry. And healthy humans will express this in a way that no one gets hurt. But the social norm against conflict, especially with those seen as authority figures, is bound to attract conflict from those who have been socially obedient for so long. They are just waiting for someone to step out of line; the french, dixie chicks, michael moore, sean penn, ANYONE. Social norms are real. true, humans are individuals, but they are individuals socialised by and socialising in a larger community.

You say that government employees are humans. very true. But how many times have you heard it claimed that someone would "change the system from the inside?" and how many times has that happened? I would LOVE to hear of any examples, seriously. But I know of none. The system changes you. It requires strength and diligence to avoid the changing effects of society.

Many liberals are fans of peace, because they dislike conflict. I'm sorry to point out that conflict is a fact of life. And when certain people do things so dehumanising that it ends with deaths and violence against people, there SHOULD be a real backlash against these people. There should be anger. There should be repercussions.

This war in Iraq is a war of imperialist aggression and must be stopped. But squeemish feel-good tactics serve to only make participants feel good, which is certainly not a bad thing. But real tactics must be used to actually STOP THE WAR;
 http://www.phillyimc.org/article.pl?sid=03/03/17/2210240&mode=thread
We live in a fascist authoritarian society. We do NOT have a democracy, yet I see people pretending that we have some kind of democracy. How sad. The unelected George II ignores the people. A majority us against war. Ina democracy, that would have stopped the war from ever starting.

Rick, your thoughts on a funds withdrawal action at banks is a good idea. Now it requires solidarity. Unfortunately, virtual transactions count for sixty times the amount that real transactions do in our economy, which is worse than it was in 1929. I'm not certain how much of an effect it would have, but it is definitely worth studying.

To learn more about Gandhi I suggest this excellent article;
 http://www.isreview.org/issues/14/Gandhi.shtml

Time for reality 25.Mar.2003 14:42

John

LM states:

"vast majority of soldiers instructed to fight that war did not want to be there".

Pardon me, but are you aware that the US military has been all volunteer for about 30 years? Anyone who joined the military knows that they may have to go any where in the world, for any amount of time. That is a simple concept that is accepted by anyone who joins the US military.

You indicate you are a Vietnam vet. I am also a vet, and am currently reservist.

The majority of military today people believe we need to be where we are now, doing what we are doing. Perhaps in your Vietnam time it was different, but that was then & this is now.

Anger can be healthy 25.Mar.2003 17:18

Rick Bergstrom Oleoay@yahoo.com

Gringo,
Anger is useful to motivate people to action. Conflict is also a necessity whenever action takes place. The question, as always, is what kind of action should take place?
Personally, I like to think that "the system" can be changed from the inside and from the outside. Examples that come to mind of public sentiment that became strong enough to change the government's laws can include Title IX, Affirmitive Action, and the like. Not perfect examples, mind you, but things can change. When things change, the social norms also change.
The problem is, we have been educated from an early age that capitalism and competition are good. What we often do not learn is that if one person wins, there most likely was someone else who lost. Perhaps the movie "A Beautiful Mind" on the life of John Nash would be abetter form of capitalism and competition to endorse. In there, he stresses that Adam Smith's Theory of Economics was incomplete because the best result in a group dynamic happens when each individual does what's best for themselves and what's best for the group. War, unfortunately, does not do this, since injured Iraqi civilians become statistics, instead of living and breathing people who, after being bombed, will have little reason to greet their "American saviors" with open arms.
Ideally, social norms should change to the point where any candidate who endorses a warmongering mentality, whether it's at the local or national level, wouldn't be allowed into office in the first place. A true democracy, as opposed to this facsimile that we reside in, might have had the chance to stop the war. However, the social norm that allows a Bush to be elected, or a supportive Republican House to support such a platform, enables these people to be voted into office.
As a side note, I joke with my friends that we are coming close to an aristocracy, since blood lines determine who inherits billions of dollars from whom. It is quite likely that, in 2004, we will have an election between the son of a President (GW) and the wife of a former Preisdent (Hillary Clinton).
So thus, we have people marching, which is good. It provides notice on a cause. Yet, some also block traffic. That also creates awareness, but if it creates any anger in the SUV driver, it won't be towards the government, or towards the war, but towards the people who are protesting. Anger directed as such will make it less likely for a protestor to get their message across, since the message will most likely be "tuned out".
The problem resides in social awareness. The same feeling in America that allows violent-minded people to be elected to office is the same mindset that turns their head away from a homeless bum, or laughs at a Jerry Springer episode where two individuals beat each other up. Unfortunately, it is also the same sentiment that causes people to look on the government as an inhumane monster that is unable to compromise. Even if George Bush wasn't the president, even if we lived in complete anarchy, there is still a social norm conducive to hate, apathy, and derision.
Also, regarding the bank thing, it wasn't so much as a funds withdrawl as a funds transfer... moving funds from an interest-bearing (and thus, government loan inducing) account, to a noninterest bearing account like a checking account. It is something that can be done as a march, but can also be participated in by the general populace. Granted, people do ATMs, but it doesn't matter so much how many march or which bank is hit, but that people all over a city or country are able to participate in the process.
Thanks for the response.