Archive for the ‘revolution’ Category

Review: endgame volume 2 chapter 3

February 11, 2011

In the chapter entitled “Importance” we learn that Jensen doesn’t equate civilization with species. The argument he’s making is not fueled entirely by misanthropy or racism.

Reviewing a book chapter by chapter, sometimes this happens. I don’t really know what to make of this section. Is this just, and I say just, but the threat I’m sure is real, a way of shaking off the racists, windbags, nihilist people haters, conspiracy theorists who would be attracted to the idea of taking civilization down?

Because in prefering the indegenous over civilized, Jensen flirts with race. He flirts with eugenics. Because race isn’t just hatred of those outside, but the impure element within the race. Jensen has given talks, a lot of talks. I’ve been to enough to know, that someone in the crowd will stand up and criticize one race for breeding too much. Here he’s addressing, more dismissing, “do something, or shut the hell up” those who think the problem is breeding (racists).

It’s an interesting story about the racist who shuts the hell up. But it’s probably not a good idea to think the racists have been dealt with. We’re probably going to be discussing the problem again later.

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Review: endgame volume 2 chapter 2

February 11, 2011

“The state of emergency in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a concept of history that is in keeping with this insight.”

John Berger quotes Walter Benjamin in Hold Everything Dear.

The quote is clipped by Berger, so it’s presentation clipped is here more for discussion than argument. Because as Benjamin wrote it, (see number 8 (and here the translation is “emergency situation” )) we are to clearly realize that our task is to bring about a real state of emergency. And this is clearly what Jensen is trying to convince us to do.

Let’s not lose our heads. I’m riffing on the sense of urgency behind Jensen’s call to action. The picture pretty much speaks for itself. Jensen begins chapter 2 of volume 2 describing the scientific prediction of this news article. Our last date is 2100. And Jensen writes, “We also know that most of those who act will not do so with a level of urgency commensurate with the situation.” and he ends the section with the line “Civilization needs to be brought down.”

Jensen is older than I am. I mention this because I’m old enough to remember bomb drills. Sure this article is about the 50, but things didn’t improve in the 60, and in the 70 we were still getting under our desks to be prepared for the big one. Prince sang Ronnie talk to Russia, 1999. These songs didn’t come out of nowhere. During the the cold war we all lived in a state of emergency, that, maybe it was because I was young, but since 9/11, the state of emergency seem less threatening. The problem for revolutionaries is this need to create a real state of emergency, in this eternal “state of emergency”.

The problem with lines like “Civilization needs to be brought down.” at least for me, is I see this lone guy jumping on a squad of riot cops. Don’t be that guy. That’s not even advice, because if you are that guy you’re already gone.

For the book review part of this post Jensen tells us in this chapter that “This abandonment ( of autonomous moral responsibility) is central to everything that is wrong with this culture, and it is central to the explorations in this book.” And in this chapter Jensen tells us, “The solution is to reintegrate, to feel what we feel, to determine our own moralities (large and small scale) and to act on them.” So here in chapter 2 we’ve made it to the center of everything that is wrong with our culture, and we’ve got the solution.

He defines the terms strategy and tactic, so we can discuss the plan. But he also discusses violence, hate and dualisms. He also continues to do those things with the concepts I mentioned in chapter 1. And interestingly, coincidentally he defines rationalization in almost identical language to my definition of stupidity in the post on chapter 1. Rationalization he defines as “the deliberate elimination of information unnecessary to achieving an immediate task.”

At the end of the chapter we’re asked to put down the book and imagine the world we want. I should probably put a sketch of my imagined world down here. I desire the spread of autonomia; the development of complex relationships, through local councils, co-ops, community, love. I desire real direct democracy and free education. I think if we were more developed we’d be better able to solve our problems.

Review: Endgame Volume 2 Chapter 1

February 9, 2011

Frank Zappa observed, “It’s not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you.”

Oh no. Oh no.

It’s me, the disappointment is all mine. I’ve been on the lookout for a good and revolutionary plan of action for more than two decades. I’m an eternal optimist. I dive in with open expectations and in this case, in the case of Derrick Jensen‘s endgame, I feel the disappointment deeply. Jensen has come up, his name, that he’s the leading edge philosopher of the radical movement, has somehow, I’m sure the internet has something to do with it, come into my consciousness. Me. I want change, I want radical change, so when Jensen became a topic of discussion on VMC, when the possibility of a discussion of a radical call to action presented itself, because it is hard to talk about radical ideas, flipping through volume 2 of endgames, and I also flipped through 50 ways to stay in denial while the world burns, and this difficulty, this frustration of trying to connect with others at a radical level is something Jensen and I share, so yes when the possibility of a discussion presented itself I took it. I am taking it. This is it. This is the beginning of a long look at Jensen’s endgame.

I’m starting in the middle. It’s as good as any place to start. And I only have a copy of Volume 2. So I can’t start at the beginning. The sentence that stands out in the first chapter of the second volume comes immediately after the first break. Jensen writes “I am not stupid.” The act of writing that begs the question. Ok. Derrick. If you’re not stupid, who is? Me? Your reader? Because in eight pages, in the Chapter entitled “We Shall Destroy All Of Them” you’re presenting an argument/call to action that takes as its motto a telling line from the ethos guiding the actions that oppress us and the planet, and then ask us to take that motto on for ourselves, as a call to action to destroy our oppressors. There is a whole lot of stupidity here. Jensen has clearly been dismissed before as a stupid reactionary, part of his argument is spent dispensing with that dismissal.

Had I started at the beginning, I imagine, I can’t know for sure because I didn’t start at the beginning, but I imagine there would be much more basis for, or maybe not… I mean part of Jensen’s frustration is that he’s not really telling us anything we don’t already know. Everybody knows that deforestation, mining, milling, pulping, bleaching, cooling, fertilizing, pesticides, energy and manufacturing waste is threatening the health of every living thing, and yes, deniers included, the inconvenient truth of climate change has us all conscious of living in end times. It was in the 60’s that the Lorax gave us the word “UNLESS” and today no one, not a single person living in our civilization is unaware of the impending planetary doom of industrial growth.

Jensen has some concepts (being fair) and does some things with them that might come up later, but here in this review of the first chapter in the second volume I want to deal with stupidity. Here too, I’ll agree with Jensen that civilization, our civilization is the problem. We have been created in and by this civilization, so we are of it, and all his criticism of the civilization, that it is stupid, insane, and death-driven apply to us as well. Look at Jensen’s plan, in a nutshell to make war on the war-machine. It is stupid, insane and death-driven. The criticism, by extension applies to me and you. We are stupid, insane and death-driven. But here like I said, I’ll only deal with stupid.

Our civilized way of thinking is to dismiss the stupid, insane and death-driven, which is ourselves, and Jensen, he’s one of us. This dismissal preserves the self, maintains the stupid, insane, death-driven self and perpetuates civilization. So lets not be dismissive.

Let’s engage with Jensen. Let’s develop ourselves. Because the opposite of stupid is not smart. There are a lot of smart people doing the stupid, insane and death-driven actions that Jensen wants to destroy. We’re not really looking for an opposite, what we’re looking for is a way out of stupidity, which is a closed, limited way of thinking and acting on limited thought. What we want to do is develop, and that means incorporating everything, it means developing our ideas out in the open, with others, for good and revolutionary action.

Some notes at the end of October

October 28, 2010

I posted two “dialogues” today. One of the dialogues has been joined by another writer since the posting. We’ll see if anything comes of it.

I’m also looking forward to any discussion surrounding Paulette Regan‘s new book.

I don’t know if it comes across in the “dialogues” but I’m going to, here, in this post, note a sense of frustration. The mystic dialogue ends on a spastic note. And in the crowdsourcing dialogue I never really make communication. I make an attempt to show that I have understood the responses, and seek confirmation that I am being understood, but it appears that no communication has actually taken place. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt someone I was talking to was actively avoiding the ideas I was trying to inject into the conversation. The mystic converser avoids direct contact with ideas through a discursive style, and the capitalist in socialist clothing converser is simply dismissive.

Orwell mentions this kind of slippery socialism. (I’ll find the reference later) The thought goes that socialists want justice and equality on the level of thought, but they subconsciously know that real justice and equality would remove their privilege, so the movement sabotages itself. You can’t have your privilege and equality too. The contradiction short circuits thought and action.

There are political activists willing to think and act for equality in spite of what it means for their privilege. A very recent and obvious example is Alex Hundert. He has literally given his freedom to speak against dominant narratives. What has happened to Alex is real (Radical suggestion – Realism), and outrage, not acceptance, is the appropriate response. It’s hard to be positive knowing that this is happening.

I have a dialogue about The Power of Now that I’ve yet to post. It’s a huge back and forth email correspondence that covers the entire book. I mention this as a possible source of research into the mystic mind. The debates between evolutionists and creationists was between contradicting sources of authority. The debate became heated when a group of scientists began to blame a group of Christians for cuts to the governement funding and for the weak state of education. Christians are useful at this point for capitalist governments which are slashing education and social budgets. It’s confusing because George W. Bush was a proclaiming Christian, and the President of the United States, and slashing funding to social programs, but the austerity measures imposed by capitalist state organizations are the practice of an ideology of profit, of capitalism. There’s an authoritarian anti-democratic aspect to the extra-governmental economic policy-makers. The noise of the debate between authoritarian scientists and authoritarian Christians was a mere spectacle because niether had the authority to be won in debate.

But Orwell and his explaination of the inability to deal with the contradiction might help us understand what was going on. The real authority, economic policy makers, the military-capitalist complex, trade agreement that strip the working class of power, is also that same body that funds universities and scientific research. The complex has a mystique, with the invisible hand of the market economy, and an authority unchecked by democratic process, a certain kind of Christian flocked to this authority and power. This certain kind of Christian became the scape goat. The reality is that if you name the complex, you die. Ok. that might be a little dramatic, but funding dries up. In the case of Alex, you go to prison. In Dreams of a Final Theory there’s a story how physicist named the goal of a project, The God Particle to help secure funding. So there may be some validity to the charges of a Christian block against scientific funding, but only some. The military-capitalist complex is profit, power and control driven. The complex is also in a position of power, from this complex issues the policy that shapes our world. Christian in general are critical of the world, but their analysis, as it is, usually blames the powerless for much of the world’s problems.

Scaffolding might be necessary. What I mean is a general education of the converser. We are at war with the mystics. More presicely we are at war with ourselves. Until very recently in human history all we knew was from God. The struggle for democracy comes of age during the 18th century, but clearly the ideas of reason, freedom, equality, self-government were not unopposed by the power those ideas were developed to oppose.

Wisdom was couched in religion. It came from God. See the Book Of Wisdom for an example. It would be a mistake to not take this Wisdom seriously. The mystics prior to the rise of Scientific Philosophy had a monopoly on Wisdom. This wisdom was packaged in a fear of authority. This wisdom validated the right of Kings. But this wisdom, was wisdom.

The Bodhisattva vows can help us understand the danger of dealing with unprepared minds. One of the 18 vows states that you are not to teach emptiness to those whose minds are unprepared. There is wisdom in this. As Orwell showed we tend to swerve around mental contradictions avoiding, and unconsciously ignoring them. One phenomenon is conspiracy theory. Teaching criticism should be reserved for the prepared mind. Today is schools and in general an objective scientific thought process is the basis for education, but a residual cultural mysticism still exists. I’m working on the theory that the more mystical minded who learn of the world are susceptible to conspiracy theory. It’s a working theory.

Through November I am going to blog every day. I might sign up at NaBloPoMo, or I might just do it. Either way, and it sort of follows from the rambling here. I’m going to blog Negativity and Revolution. I came across this article searching for the book link) You’re welcome to join me. Here’s a review.

Broad strokes toward a theory of living radically and well

June 17, 2010

1. A radical theory puts the locus of control in your hands.

2. A theory of living well demands a unit of thought measured in years of action.

3. The complexity of this theory is in multiplied simple statements.

4. Lifeworld has been colonized by system.

5. There is no system.

6. “Soylent Green is people!” Dystopian literary visions and Self-help literary  re-visions can not be ignored.

7. Living well is not a solution. How and why to act is always in deliberation.

8. Do not separate everyday life from an abstract social in which a future justice is imagined.

9. What’s necessary is a way of thinking about the sphere that allows change.

10. The self needs to be understood as a concept formed through an external and internal process of socialization. (myth shattering thought is self-destructive)

11. The development of human faculties is crucial.

comforting abstractions

January 17, 2010

“Individual consciousness is only the flower and the fruit of a season, sprung from the perennial rhizome beneath the earth; and it would find itself in better accord with truth if it took the existence of the rhizome into its calculations.” — Carl Jung

I didn’t think too much of, or about, this quote before posting it to facebook. It was a pointless post, disconnected from any attempt at communication, but clearly a seed. What caught my attention was the use of the rhizome metaphor. The rhizome may be a revolutionary concept. Or simply a signifier of knowledge of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. And there was also the definition, or analogy, of individual consciousness.

I’m not going to profess any knowledge of Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. They might be on to something. When I read them I feel like I’m on to something, but I’m also wary of any academic interest in their philosophy, and without citing any sources, one way or another, I’ll just say outright that the interest of any revolutionary philosophy will not coincide with academic institutions.

I am not yet up to the task of separating the interests of existing institutions and revolutionary theory, but if I were to propose a course of study, A Thousand Plateaus would be required reading. A concrete example of coinciding interests is the health of the body. It is in the interest of institutions of state capitalism to maintain a relatively healthy workforce. A reactionary impulse is to destroy what the state values. This reactionary impulse is then counter to a revolutionary theory(praxis). The health of the body is also in the interest of the revolution. (The baby is in the bathwater.)

That brings me to Alex Storino‘s comments.

Deleuze and Guattari explain that there is no hierarchy in the network, merely a system of decentralized and interlinked nodes in which no order is ideal. “A rhizome doesn’t begin and doesn’t end, but is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo”. (in Strickland, 2005, p. unnumbered, in activism section under brown page tag, article three). This is also described in Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “Where there is no centre and no circumference then there is truth. When you freely express you are the total style.” (Lee, in Lee, 1975, p. 204). McLuhan, describes this as something that has caused him to never stop deep thinking.

…[sic] the characteristic modes of acoustic space as a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose margins are nowhere (which is, incidentally, the Neoplatonic definition of God). …The basic structural fact about simultaneity is that the effects come before the causes in such structures, or, the ground comes before the figure. When the figure arrives, we say ‘The time is ripe’. (McLuhan, 1972, in McLuhan & Staines, 2003, p. 196).

I couldn’t respond on facebook because my response, even so far, to this unconsciously seeded discussion has been too much for a facebook’s format. I am also bringing into this a few other comments from Alex’s facebook page:

BELIEVE NOTHING & QUESTION EVERYTHING

GOVERNMENT is a fiction.
STATUTE LAW is a fiction.
RELIGION is a fiction.
BANKING is a fiction.
TAX is a fiction.
MEDIA is a fiction.

And also:

Alekz Storeenoe  believes knowing love is all that matters. Everything else is an illusion.

I’m not disagreeing with these comments, but I do think that Alex is attributing negativity to these qualities of existence (“TRUTH??”). Yes, there is a fictional quality, and/or an illusionary quality to existence. But these qualities are necessary. Consciousness and reality, because of reality’s unfinished quality, and it’s manipulatable quality, can only have a fictitious relationship. That reality, because of this temporal quality, can seem illusory should not be a cause for dismissal. For the revolutionary, the temporal, unfinished and manipulatable qualities of reality should be cause for optimism. That reality is not fixed, should be cause for celebration, a reason to work.

I dropped this quote a few weeks back.

“If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no indifferent place.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The idea is that, yes, the dominant institutions are fictions, but look at yourself. How are you a character in these fictions? Rilke was aware that these fictions have created us as characters, but as bodies we have creative powers.

Imaginary Career

At first a childhood, limitless and free
of any goals. Ah sweet unconsciousness.
Then sudden terror, schoolrooms, slavery,
the plunge into temptation and deep loss.

Defiance. The child bent becomes the bender,
inflicts on others what he once went through.
Loved, feared, rescuer, wrestler, victor,
he takes his vengeance, blow by blow.

And now in vast, cold, empty space, alone.
Yet hidden deep within the grown-up heart,
a longing for the first world, the ancient one…

Then, from His place of ambush, God leapt out.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

How do you read that? It’s relevant to this discussion. The bent becomes the bender. Again we need to look at ourselves, as creators of reality and truth. All this in response to Alex’s comment invoking Deleuze, Guatarri, Strickland, Lee and McLuhan!! What I’m responding to is the abstract thought. Guattari especially was a concrete thinker. The revolutionary fucks and shits, and doesn’t forget it. And if you are aware of, and living in a concrete world, McLuhan’s abstractions, while sure, deep thinking, are ridiculous, because we’re not talking about God, and we’re avoiding His ambush!! And avoiding the shit, which while it is everywhere, has a physical form and a margin, and the stink too, a vapour, has a physical form and a margin, it’s less easy to avoid or fix in a narrative consciousness, but the idea of a vapour and the vapour itself are not the same, and while ideas are creative, and while I’m not disparaging thought, I am warning of comforting abstractions.

Toward a community of lovers

September 30, 2009

I’ve been thinking about communal living, poly-amory and open relationships. It’s time to start writing. Of course the problem with where to start is still something I’ve yet to solve, but editing is the necessary step for any finished writing, and so I write without regard for beginnings.

Poly speaks of different lovers, but I’d like to suggest as well different loves. There are different ways, or kinds of love. You can love someone in a moment, for the moment, a light and easy love, and there is a passionate love, unconditional, non-temporal. And these loves can exist simultaneously.

love is a relationship, but a relationship can also be a mistake. You can make a mistake in a love relationship, and you can make a mistake in a mistake relationship.

When people speak of open relationships they are most often thinking of multiple relationships. Relationships are generally understood as a coupling; that we are to choose one lover. When this choice is made, which is really the expression of a wish or desire, the expression is reciprocated by the other or rejected, the rejected person continues to search or remains open to potential lovers, but the reciprocated wish, the affirmative choice, closes the relationship and ends the search. In the case of the commonly understood open relationship everything remains the same, but the search continues. Practitioners of the common open relationship are poly-amorous in that they have a number of lovers, but lover in this sense is a common term that implies an exclusive or closed relationship. The common open relationship can be understood as a series of exclusive or closed relationships. It is only open in the sense that it is not limited to a single exclusive (closed) relationship.

The open relationship I desire, is completely open.  It is non-exclusive or positively, inclusive. It could be described as a community of lovers. The question is always “How does that work?” There’s a need for the development of a theory that is yet to exist, based on actions that have yet to be performed.

On Communal Living

September 3, 2009

I’ve been holding off writing about communal living for a while now, mostly because the writing would be an expression of a desire that can only ever be frustrating. I thought about putting something down after reading this post by Favianna…  But recently a family member wrote a post on the subject. And even more recently some friends mentioned the desire to open their relationship. It seems now’s as good as any time to start writing about the subject, and really, I should have been writing about this immediately, I mean the subject of communal living should be a theme woven through this blog. Really, any discussion of any desire for change should touch on communal living.

I say it should be a theme weaving throughout this blog, and now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t really know where to start. There are a number of reasons I desire communal living. There are so many social practices and institutions that work against the idea, and then there are so many possible conceptions of the idea of communal living itself, that any one of these factors could be a starting point.

I could start with a critique of traditional marriage, which would create a false opposition and misdirect from the difference of communal living. Or I could start with a set of distinctions between open relationships, communal living and poly-amorous orientations. I’m trying to think of what’s essential. Why is communal living so difficult to imagine? Is it a question of narratives? Or the lack of narratives? How do we understand the sublime? Camus writes that one must disparage the greatness that insults. And somehow that seems relevant. Again, how do we understand the sublime?

I ain’t gonna study war no more

June 28, 2009

It’s a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent.

Here’s the quote in context. This sermon is amazing, nearly every line is quotable. This is the transcript of MLK’s Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967:

Listen to the sermon here.

The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I’m using as a subject from which to preach, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam.”

Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. “Ye shall know the truth,” says Jesus, “and the truth shall set you free.” Now, I’ve chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing, as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we’re always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for in all our history there has never been such a monumental dissent during a war, by the American people.

Polls reveal that almost fifteen million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam. Additional millions cannot bring themselves around to support it. And even those millions who do support the war [are] half-hearted, confused, and doubt-ridden. This reveals that millions have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism, to the high grounds of firm dissent, based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Now, of course, one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It’s a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent. But something is happening, and people are not going to be silenced. The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition.

Yes, we must stand, and we must speak. [tape skip]…have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam. Many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” Peace and civil rights don’t mix, they say. And so this morning, I speak to you on this issue, because I am determined to take the Gospel seriously. And I come this morning to my pulpit to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

This sermon is not addressed to Hanoi, or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Nor is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in a successful resolution of the problem. This morning, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans, who bear the greatest responsibility, and entered a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

Now, since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is…a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings. Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube. And you may not know it, my friends, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hope of the poor at home. It was sending their sons, and their brothers, and their husbands to fight and die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room. So we watch them in brutal solidarity, burning the huts of a poor village. But we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago or Atlanta. Now, I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years–especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action; for they ask and write me, “So what about Vietnam?” They ask if our nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent. Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they’ve applauded me. America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, we can’t do it this way. They applauded us in the sit-in movement–we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor;when I was saying, Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark. There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, “Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There’s something wrong with that press!

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was not just something taking place, but it was a commission–a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of Man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances. But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men, for communists and capitalists, for their children and ours, for black and white, for revolutionary and conservative. Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved His enemies so fully that he died for them? What, then, can I say to the Vietcong, or to Castro, or to Mao, as a faithful minister to Jesus Christ? Can I threaten them with death, or must I not share with them my life? Finally, I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be the son of the Living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. And because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come today to speak for them. And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak not now of the soldiers of each side, not of the military government of Saigon, but simply of the people who have been under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know these people and hear their broken cries.

Now, let me tell you the truth about it. They must see Americans as strange liberators. Do you realize that the Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation. And incidentally, this was before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. And this is a little-known fact, and these people declared themselves independent in 1945. They quoted our Declaration of Independence in their document of freedom, and yet our government refused to recognize them. President Truman said they were not ready for independence. So we fell victim as a nation at that time of the same deadly arrogance that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years. France then set out to reconquer its former colony. And they fought eight long, hard, brutal years trying to re-conquer Vietnam. You know who helped France? It was the United States of America. It came to the point that we were meeting more than eighty percent of the war costs. And even when France started despairing of its reckless action, we did not. And in 1954, a conference was called at Geneva, and an agreement was reached, because France had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu. But even after that, and after the Geneva Accord, we did not stop. We must face the sad fact that our government sought, in a real sense, to sabotage the Geneva Accord. Well, after the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come through the Geneva agreement. But instead the United States came and started supporting a man named Diem who turned out to be one of the most ruthless dictators in the history of the world. He set out to silence all opposition. People were brutally murdered because they raised their voices against the brutal policies of Diem. And the peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States influence and by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown, they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. And who are we supporting in Vietnam today? It’s a man by the name of general Ky [Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky] who fought with the French against his own people, and who said on one occasion that the greatest hero of his life is Hitler. This is who we are supporting in Vietnam today. Oh, our government and the press generally won’t tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church. This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Oh, my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today is that these are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. They are saying, unconsciously, as we say in one of our freedom songs, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around!” It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo, we shall boldly challenge unjust mores, and thereby speed up the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing, unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of mankind. And when I speak of love I’m not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of John: “Let us love one another, for God is love. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.”

Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism. The home that all too many Americans left was solidly structured idealistically; its pillars were solidly grounded in the insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage. All men are made in the image of God. All men are bothers. All men are created equal. Every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Every man has rights that are neither conferred by, nor derived from the State–they are God-given. Out of one blood, God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. What a marvelous foundation for any home! What a glorious and healthy place to inhabit. But America’s strayed away, and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality.

It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to come back home. Come home, America. Omar Khayyam is right: “The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.” I call on Washington today. I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today. I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “You’re too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I’ll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God.”

Now it isn’t easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart. Sometimes it means losing a job…means being abused and scorned. It may mean having a seven, eight year old child asking a daddy, “Why do you have to go to jail so much?” And I’ve long since learned that to be a follower to the Jesus Christ means taking up the cross. And my bible tells me that Good Friday comes before Easter. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it–bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing “We Shall Overcome” because Carlyle was right: “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: “Truth pressed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: “You shall reap what you sow.” With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!” With this faith, we’ll sing it as we’re getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don’t know about you, I ain’t gonna study war no more.

Text from Pacifica Radio/KPFA/UC Berkeley Library’s Media Resource Center’s site.

Dude, where’s my bike?

June 26, 2009

Park This!

Originally uploaded by Rodger Levesque

In Happy-Go-Lucky Poppy comes out of a bookstore, stops at the empty spot where her bike had been parked earlier. She says, “Oh no.” looks around a little and then, “I didn’t even get a chance to say good-bye.”

When she gets home, she tells her roommate that she’s decided to learn to drive a car.

For advocates of pedal power the issue of bike theft, or more positively, the ability to park your bike securely, arises at the beginning and end of each ride. The VPSN has looked into the issue and made a report of their findings. Check it out here.

You can also check out the audio of last nights presentation/discussion Park This! on Pedal Revolutionary Radio at 10:30am (in fifteen minutes!) today. Listen at 102.9fm in vancouver. The show will be archived for podcast listeners so you can check it out anytime.