Tag Archives: human rights

Grand Jury Resisters Need Your Help

27 Oct

Friends are in jail. We don’t know how long they will be there. We don’t what criminal activity is being investigated that leads to these folks being jailed for refusing to answer Grand Jury questions.

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave.

Jump in, you can help. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

 

 

 

Committee Against Political Repression

 

 

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Compilation Album Created in Support of Grand Jury Resisters

Posted on October 26, 2012 | 2 Comments

 

Musical Impressions has created a compilation album called “Black Clothing, Anarchist Literature, Flags, Flag-Making Materials, Cell Phones, Address Books, & Hard Drives” in support of the Grand Jury Resisters.

You can buy it here. Proceeds go to support the legal and material needs of those resisting the FBI investigations of anarchists in the Pacific Northwest.

The State is a Condition

29 Jul

“The State is a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently toward one another…”

Gustav Landauer

Have to pack and set up the Really Really Free Market in Olympia. Contracting other relationships, behaving differently toward one another? Can we really destroy the state by behaving differently?

Vote Rocky?

12 Mar

Looking for a Second Political Party

11 Mar

I know there is a lot of talk about how hard it is to start a third political party and there is no doubt that the talk is true. Large political swings that realign the political parties in the US are rare, but the political history of the US is about the swings. Whigs and Tories, Bull Moose and Know Nothing parties. These things come and go and right now we have the appearance of a two party system: the dems on the left and the repubs on the right, but the truth is that we have dems in center/right and the repubs in right to hard right. Courtesy Gerolsteiner91 at Wiki Commons

There is no significant left party in the US, only the 25 to 30% of us who identify as left/progressives/liberals/social democrats etc. and we are left to rail at the dem party to move left and lead the country with good public policy that works for all of us. The dem party leaders provide lip service, then do the bidding of the large political contributors – the deciders, the haves and have-mores who control the political agenda of the dem and repub party. Don’t kid yourself about that. Just look at the need to provide Medicare for Everyone, a national health insurance policy that could/would have left the insurance industry scrambling to compete for Medigap insurance coverage, but instead we could not even get a public option, we got Health Insurance for Everyone – The Pay Up health care system doubled down on us.

So when will a political realignment occur that will put a left political party on the scene? Who knows? These changes are like the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement and more. The political shift will occur when the time is right. There is work to be done having the options available when the body politic wakes up and says, that’s it, I have had it with the Dems and Repubs.

Here are some options that are already established and waiting, or developing:

The Green Party – Another U.S. is Possible, Another Party is Necessary (a political party that is established and global)

Americans Elect – Pick a President, Not a Party (doesn’t look like a political party in the making?)

Justice Party – Economic, Environmental, Social and Civic Justice for All (Rocky Anderson’s party platform is the basis at this point)

Black Bloc 101

11 Feb

Chris Hedges made a few waves with his recent piece describing the black bloc as the cancer in occupy.

click me pleaseI believe in diversity. I think diversity is a fundamental natural law of the universe. But I understand that human beings have a tidiness gene that makes us think that we can organize and be more efficient through suppression of diversity, by rejection of the natural order and diversity that constantly arises and evaporates back in to the order of chaos. Chaos is not merely disorder. There may be a level of order benefit and diversity in chaos that is not easily observed and is under-appreciated.

The black bloc tactic is something that arises from police violence toward non-violent protest and the willingness of society to choose order over the bedrock right to peacefully assemble and petition for redress of grievance.

Diversity of tactics and tolerance of the diversity of tactics is something that I embrace whole-heartedly. Things can go wrong. I have seen that. Things can go right. I have seen that as well. I am usually pleased to see a black bloc tactical option in a crowd of protesters. I believe Hedges could not be more wrong about the black bloc tactic.

Here is an interesting and informative piece in response to Hedges cancer article. I recommend that you read the piece if you don’t understand and appreciate the black bloc tactic or if you read the Hedges article and thought what he said made a lot of sense.

After you read the piece, you might want to look through the n + 1 zine that is carrying the piece. Looks like a pretty informative vehicle. A weapon of mass instruction. I am down with that. Thanks to my friend Elliot Stoller for bringing this piece to my attention.

Boycott, Divest, Sanctions: Peaceful and Effective. Speak Truth to Power.

10 Feb

Political pressure expressed through our collective wallets is very effective. Count me in:

We Can’t Live with Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power Plants

7 Aug

The annual peace walk to the Ground Zero Center in Bangor is wrapping up today with a talk by Dennis Kucinich at 6:30 pm. I was able to speak with Senji Kanaeda for a few minutes on July 31st and am finishing up a short video with Senji’s thoughts front and center.

I still have a little tweaking to do on the video, but it’s almost finished and I wanted to get this up. I am also using the video to publicize the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant event at Traditions on Monday, August 8th at 7 pm. We have to stop nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. This is a road that leads nowhere.

Organizing 101: 10 questions, Part I

30 May

Tacoma activist Arthur M sent along an email and link about organizing that I think is right on. Thanks, friend.

Here is the link if you want to read the whole article. It’s 14 pages and I recognize that we live in a world of tweets and sparkle fingers today, so I want to tweet this article down a bit.

It’s funny, email seems so 1999 now. I still rely on email and I do not like telephone calls or telephones, but emails seem superfluous to blogging and the resultant give and take. Now I am thinking/wondering if blogging is becoming superfluous, being replaced by more interactive social networking tools. Not sure about that. I am continuing to blog, but also becoming more involved in social networking stuff.

Back to Organizing. Thanks again to The End of Capitalism for this work. I recommend reading the whole text, but here is Part 1:

“We aren’t done, we’re not leaving, and we’re in this together.”

1. What Is Organizing?

A. How to actually organize and build lasting radical organizations, particularly in terms of maintaining radical politics while reac10 questions about organizihing beyond insular communities

B. Without a sense of why they are there or a program about which to talk with people, door knocking will yield few productive results

C. Build Dual Power, Confront State Power. Building coalitions, political infrastructure, and visionary, alternative institutions that prefigure the types of social relationships we desire — while simultaneously confronting the state, right-wing social movements, and other forms of institutional oppression. One without the other is insufficient

2. How Do We Build Intergenerational Movements? (A Challenge to Young and Old!)

A. Recognizing that the struggle is for the long haul means that no generation can or should exist in a political vacuum

B. Most people do not work in productively intergenerational groups or live intergenerational lives outside tightly pre10 questions about organiziscribed roles (e.g., teacher-student)

C. We have a responsibility to find and work with the teenage radicals who are just now becoming political conscious and active

3. What Role Do Militancy and Confrontation Play?

A. People want to not just register their dissatisfaction with the war through petitions and periodic protests but actually end it

B. Develop a strategy that incorporates a sense of direct action in line with the state of local movement

C. Maintain relationships with other activists and groups who may not have engaged in the same tactics but who remained committed and sympathetic

D. Continually expand the movement numerically, while simultaneously increasing the militancy of those prepared to take risks.

E. Build mass movements where militant tactics can be present without dividing the movement

4. What about Anti-racism and Multiracial Movement Building?

A. The left, like U.S. society in general, remains significantly divided by race, so proactive measures are needed to create multi-racial spaces

B. The relationship of race to gender to class is still a challenging one for many U.S. radicals to grasp and organize around

C. How do we build a radical power base among white people that is profoundly anti-racist to contribute to toppling white supremacy?

I think the groups that M & I are working with in Olympia are very much about 1. C. right now. I feel good about the dual power. More of the ten questions sometime soon.

Solidarity.

Prisons and Profits? Can we have both?

29 May

It’s bitter sweet to be writing about prisons during the week that Gil Scott-Heron died. I believe that Gil did some time for possession of cocaine. That tells you so much about the current purpose of the incarceration industry. I guess there’s a good chance that with a record and prison time that Gil lost the right to vote. Think about that. The guy that wrote the television will not be televised could be disenfranchised. There it is. That is the purpose of the war on drugs. To disenfranchise a certain population. Dark skin have anything to do with it? I don’t know. You get to decide for yourself. But I do hope you will think about it.

Anyway, back to prisons and profits. If you want to have prisons in your society, a good purpose for a prison would be to rehabilitate folks. To give them skills that help in the world on the other side of the bars. Forget about punishment. We are likely to get plenty of punishment in this life, let’s work on opportunity, stability, value. Instead of creating a revolving door for throwaway people in the Prison/Justice Casino, how about we focus on a value-added system?

I am not dead set against profit. I understand that the profit motive, that style, fashion, all that stuff that powers the capitalist model, is like a natural force in the world. It’s like wind and tide. Fashion/desire/style is like human weather. Capture it and you can move things. But let’s make sure that profit is derived from the right things. I am ok with incentives that would turn a reasonable profit for a system that would create outcomes that the community desires.

So, in the case of the Justice and Prison system, if we are going to privatize the prisons and allow a profit to be made on the misery of incarceration, why not make profit contingent on good outcomes for the prisoner and the community?

How would you do that? It’s not that hard. Just think about this model:

* A for-profit prison would be paid a certain daily rate for incarceration of a prisoner.
* The for-profit prison would be paid a certain daily rate for a period after release of the prisoner
* The for-profit prison would be paid a bonus at one year after release for each prisoner who has not been arrested since release.
* The for-profit prison would be paid a bonus at one year after release for each prisoner who is employed
* The for-profit prison would be paid an even larger bonus at 5 years for each prisoner who has not been convicted of a felony crime since release.

That daily rate during incarceration would be flexible enough that the the prison could choose to help with vocational and living skills, maybe operate a vocational school and community college inside the joint. At the end of a sentence there would be a flexible release period where a private, for profit prison could decide to move a prisoner outside the walls into a supported system that would help with job placement and move the released prisoner toward a future that does not include more time inside the joint and moves the for-profit entity toward a profitable bonus payment for success in the form of a conviction-free future for the parolee and safer community.

Our current system creates throwaway people. There is a three strike system in effect in a lot of jurisdictions, but if you look at real opportunity, a single felony conviction may be sufficient to create the next two strikes. For lots of folks, it is a one strike, you’re out system.

People will say, wow, that sounds expensive. Where are we going to get the money for that? Declare a truce on the war on drugs. That’s where the money is currently going. Take the money from the war on drugs and spend it for drug treatment on request, and roll the balance into the prison-correction system. Let’s recycle folks who make a mistake back in to the productive community instead of targeting and disenfranchising certain populations and recycling those populations through a prison system that dehumanizes the prisoners and the jailers. Profit on misery is not a good thing.

Sanity, Power, Values and More

11 May

“It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”
— David Brin
(1950- ) Author

I don’t know much about sane folks, but I get the drift here from Mr. Brin. I figure the realm of politics attracts opportunists the way a basketball court attracts tall folks. It’s just obvious that this realm appeals to a certain population. One population that is called to politics are reformers, utopians, philosophers who want to see if their ideals can be put in practice. That is probably the best of the lot. Another group are or become pragmatists who think they can see a way to move a body politic toward an ideal through compromises and the politics of the possible. And yet another group are simply political functionaries who understand the political realm as primarily a playing field for exercise of power. All of the experimentation that attends the exercise of power and is done without the counterweight of the human values captured by Eleanor Roosevelt’s master work, the declaration of universal human rights is fraught with risk. Perhaps it is done in the context of a different philosophical realm – the social darwinism of Ayn Rand or the puritanical criminality of folks who come to power with the idea that ethnic cleansing of society is a means that is justified by their dream end of a pure society. And really, this ethnic cleansing model is simply operationalizing social darwinism. It is an impatient social darwinism that doesn’t even have the moral conscience to enact policies of neglect and exclusion that will achieve a similar end more slowly. I will give those folks points for efficiency. The trains will run on time or the conductors will be thrown under the wheels.

So, in an exercise of brutal or brutish efficiency, our country now engages in some horrendous stuff and there is not much outcry. Waterboarding? Is it ever ok to torture beings? I don’t think this is a tough question. Our efficiency (misunderestimated imho) overcomes our values and we are drawn into questions about whether torture works? Does torture work? Of course it works. The work product is tortured individuals on both sides of the equations. Torture creates monsters.

The correct question is should we torture beings? Is there ever a justification for torture? The simple and correct answer is no. Kick the question to ethics philosophers, to religious leaders, to large political bodies, the answer is the same. Torture is wrong. Don’t bother playing around the margins with sleep deprivation, isolation, stress positions etc. This is torture. Subject any of the individuals who favor these “pragmatic” options to skirt the clear moral and legal prohibitions to torture to enhanced interrogation techniques for 72 hours and let’s see if they continue to think this is ok. Of course, that is a rhetorical proposition. Unless the proponents of enhanced interrogation techniques volunteer for the treatment to show that is not inhumane, we who believe the treatment is inhumane cannot cross that line. It’s just that simple.

public domain Wiki CommonsHow about murder? Is murder ever ok? “Thou shall not kill” seems to be a pretty common principle in religions and moral philosophies. Geopolitics continues to find justification for wholesale violation of this principle in decisions to enter into wars or “police actions.” Intentional destruction of life is delivered through our proxies, the drones, that circle above us. The finger that pushes the button is isolated from humanity by electronic screens, the screens of violent computer games, the screens of electronic drone control panels, the human screens that allow this murderous activity to be conducted anonymously. Murder from behind the screen of anonymity. Pay no attention to the man behind the screen or curtain. The drone attacks are surgical and intelligent. We get the illusion of smart bombs when we need the reality of smart leaders, smart policies, smart action.

So, this country recently sent a team of assassins into another sovereign country in the dead of night to murder an unarmed man. Our agents captured a man who had been convicted of no crime and it is said they shot him in the face, possibly in front of his family members. Are we ok with that? Is that an event for celebration?

I say no.

So what are our values? Why do other folks around the planet find themselves in conflict with us? I will let John Foster Dulles have the last word:

 

“Somehow we find it hard to sell our values, namely that the rich should plunder the poor.”
— John Foster Dulles former Secretary of State