All posts by Robert J. Burrowes

The Disintegrated Mind: The Greatest Threat to Human Survival on Earth

Like many people who have struggled to understand why human beings are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history, which now threatens imminent human extinction as well, over many decades I have explored the research and efforts of a great many activists and scholars to secure this understanding. However, with many competing ideas from the fields of politics, economics, sociology and psychology, among others, this understanding has proved elusive. Nevertheless, I have reached an understanding that I find compelling: Human beings are driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history because of the disintegrated nature of the human mind.

While the expression ‘mental disintegration’ has been used in a number of contexts previously, for the purpose of my discussion in this article I am going to redefine it, explain how it originates, describe several ways in which it manifests behaviorally and the profoundly dysfunctional outcomes this generates, and suggest what we can do about it.

Given that the expression, as I am using it, describes a shocking psychological state but also one that is so widespread it afflicts virtually everyone, it can be described as posing the greatest threat to human survival on Earth. Why? Simply because it caused – and now prevents virtually everyone from thinking, feeling, planning and behaving functionally in response to – the multifaceted threats to humanity and the biosphere.

So, for the purpose of this article: Mental disintegration describes a state in which the various parts of the human mind are no longer capable of working as an integrated unit. That is, each part of the mind – such as memory, thoughts, feelings, sensing capacities (sight, hearing…), ‘truth register’, conscience – function largely independently of each other, rather than as an integrated whole. The immediate outcome of this dysfunction is that human behaviour lacks consideration, conviction, courage and strategy, and is simply driven compulsively by the predominant fear in each context.

The reason this issue first attracted my attention was because, on many occasions, I observed individuals (ranging from people I knew, to politicians) behaving in ways that seemed outrageous but it was also immediately apparent that the individual was completely unaware of the outrageous nature of their behaviour. On the contrary, it seemed perfectly appropriate to them. With the passage of time, however, I have observed this dysfunctionality in an enormously wide variety of more subtle and common forms, making me realise just how widespread it is even if it goes largely unrecognized. After all, if virtually everyone does it in particular contexts, then why should it be considered ‘abnormal’?

One version of this mental disintegration is the version usually known as ‘cognitive dissonance’. The widely accepted definition of this state, based on Leon Festinger’s research in the 1950s, goes something like this: Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we have an inner drive to hold all of our attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior in harmony and to avoid disharmony (or dissonance). This is known as the principle of cognitive consistency. When there is an inconsistency between attitudes, beliefs and/or values on the one hand and behaviors on the other (dissonance), something must change to eliminate the dissonance.

The problem with this approach to the issue is that it assumes awareness of the inconsistency on the part of the individual impacted and also assumes (based on Festinger’s research) that there is some inclination to seek consistency. But my own observations of a vast number of people in a substantial variety of contexts over several decades have clearly revealed that, in very many contexts, individuals have no awareness of any discrepancy and, hence, have no inclination to seek consistency between their attitude, belief and/or value and their behavior. Moreover, even if they do have some awareness of the inconsistency, most people simply act on the basis of their predominant emotion – usually fear – in the context and pass it off with a rationalization. For example, that their particular work/role is so important that it justifies their excessive consumption on a planet of limited and unequally shared resources.

Consequently, to choose an obvious example, most climate, environmental, anti-nuclear and anti-war activists fail to grapple meaningfully with the obvious contradiction between their own over-consumption of fossil fuels and resources generally and the role that consumption of these resources plays in driving the climate and environmental catastrophes as well as war. The idea of reducing their own personal consumption is beyond serious contemplation (let alone action). And, of course, it goes without saying that the global elite suffers this disintegration of the mind by failing to connect their endless acquisition of power, profit and privilege at the expense of all others and the Earth, with the accelerating and multifaceted threats to human survival including the future of their own children. But the examples are endless.

In any case, leaving aside ‘cognitive dissonance’, there are several types of mental disintegration as I define it in this article. Let me briefly give you five examples of mental disintegration before explaining why it occurs.

(a) Denial is an unconscious mental state in which an individual, having been given certain information about themselves, others they know or the state of the world, deny the information because it frightens them. This is what happens for a ‘climate denier’, for example.

(b) The ‘Magic Rat’ is an unconscious mental state in which a person’s fear makes them incapable of grappling with certain information, even to deny it, so they completely suppress their awareness of the information immediately they receive it.

(c) Delusion is an unconscious mental state in which a person is very frightened by certain information but the nature of the circumstances make it impossible to either deny or suppress awareness of the information so they are compelled to construct a delusion in relation to that particular reality in order to feel safe.

(d) Projection is an unconscious mental state in which a person is very frightened of knowing a terrifying truth so they ‘defend’ themselves against becoming aware of this truth by (unconsciously) identifying a more palatable cause for their fear and then ‘defending’ themselves against this imagined ‘threat’. Political leaders in Israel do this chronically in relation to the Palestinians, for example. But the US elite also does this chronically in relation to any competing ideas in relation to political and economic organization in other countries.

(e) Lies arise from a conscious or unconscious mental state in which a person fears blame and/or punishment for telling an unpalatable truth (such as one that will self-incriminate) so they unconsciously employ tactics, including lying, to avoid this blame and punishment (and thus project the blame onto others). When people lie unconsciously, it means they are lying to themselves as well; that is, constructing a lie without awareness that they are doing so.

So why does this mental disintegration – this disintegration of the mind so that its many components are essentially unaware of the others – happen? In brief, it happens because, throughout childhood, each individual is endlessly bombarded with ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence in the name of socialization, which is more accurately labeled ‘terrorization‘. This is done to ensure that the child is obedient despite the fact that obedience has no evolutionary functionality whatsoever.

A primary outcome of this terrorization in materialist cultures is that the child learns to suppress their awareness of how they feel .  by using food and material items to distract themselves.  By doing this, the child rapidly loses self-awareness and learns to consume as the substitute for this awareness. Clearly, this has catastrophic consequences for the child, their society and for nature (although it is immensely profitable for elites and their agents).

Beyond this, however, this terrorization ensures that the human mind is so disintegrated that virtually all humans have no problem living in denial, delusion and projection and using ‘magic rats’ and lies on a vast range of issues because they simply have no awareness of reality in that context. Different parts of their disintegrated mind simply hold one element of their mind separately from all others (thus obscuring any denial, delusion and projection and the use of ‘magic rats’ and lies), consequently precluding any tendency to restore integrity from arising.

This is why, for example, most people can lie ‘outrageously’, including under oath, without the slightest awareness that they are doing so and which, as an aside, is why oaths to tell the truth in court, and even lie detector tests, are utterly meaningless. If the person themself is unaware they are lying, it is virtually impossible for anyone else – unless extraordinarily self-aware – to detect it. And, of course, judges and juries cannot be self-aware or they would not agree to perform their respective roles in the extraordinarily dysfunctional and violent legal system.

In essence then, the process of ‘socializing’ (terrorizing) a child into obedience so that they will ‘fit into’ their particular society has the outcome of scaring them into suppressing their awareness of reality, including their awareness of themselves. In this circumstance, the individual that now ‘survives’ does so as the ‘socially-constructed delusional identity’ (that is, obedient and, preferably, submissive individual) that the significant adults in their childhood terrorized them into becoming.

To reiterate: Because social terrorization destroys the emergence of an integrated mind that would enable memory, sensing capacities, thoughts, feelings, conscience, attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviours to act in concert, the typical individual will now invariably act in accord with the unconscious fear that drives every aspect of their behavior (and ‘requires’ them to endlessly seek approval to avoid the punishment threatened for disobedience when they were a child).

Moreover, this disintegrated mind has little or no capacity to ‘observe reality’ in any case, such as seek out genuine news sources – like the one you are reading now – that accurately report the biodiversity, climate, environmental, military and nuclear catastrophes and, having done so, to be truly aware of this news in the sense of deeply comprehending its meaning and implications for their own behaviour.

So, to elaborate one of the examples cited above, even most individuals who self-identify as climate, environmental, anti-nuclear and/or anti-war ‘activists’ go on over-consuming (which is highly socially approved in industrialized societies) without any genuine re-evaluation of their own behaviour in light of what should be the observed reality about these crises (or, if their mind allows a ‘re-evaluation’ to commence, to dismiss it quickly with a rationalization that their over-consumption is somehow justified).

One obvious outcome of this is that elite-controlled corporations and their governments can largely ignore ‘activist’ entreaties for change because activist (and widespread) over-consumption constitutes financial endorsement of the elite’s violent and exploitative economy. In other words: If people are buying the products (such as fossil fuels for their car and air travel, and hi-tech devices), made possible by fighting the wars and exploiting the people in countries where the raw materials for this production are secured, then why pay attention to calls for change? Dollars speak louder than words.

So what can we do?

Well, given that the above describes just a small proportion of the psychological dysfunctionality of most humans, which is why we remain on the fast track to extinction despite overwhelming evidence of the profound changes that need to occur – see ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival‘ – I encourage you to seriously consider incorporating strategies to address this dysfunctionality into any effort you make to improve our world.

For most people, this will include starting with yourself.

For virtually everyone, it will include reviewing your relationship with children and, ideally, making ‘My Promise to Children‘.

For those who feel readily able to deal with reality, consider campaigning strategically to achieve the outcomes we need. The global elite is deeply entrenched – fighting its wars, exploiting people, destroying the biosphere – and not about to give way without a concerted effort by many of us campaigning strategically on several key fronts.

If you recognize the pervasiveness of the fear-driven violence in our world, consider joining the global network of people resisting it by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

But, most fundamentally of all, if you understand the simple point that Earth’s biosphere cannot sustain a human population of this magnitude of which more than half endlessly over-consume, then consider accelerated participation in the strategy outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

Or, if this feels too complicated, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will not travel by plane
  2. I will not travel by car
  3. I will not eat meat and fish
  4. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  5. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  6. I will not buy rainforest timber
  7. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  8. I will not use banks that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  9. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and the destruction of the biosphere
  10. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Facebook…)
  11. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  12. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Conclusion

There is a vast array of ‘professional help’, literature, video material, lecturers and other ‘resources’ from a wide range of perspectives that advocate and ‘teach’ one or a variety of ways that people can use to change their behaviour to get improved outcomes in their lives (whether from a personal, economic, business, political or other perspective). Virtually all of these constitute nothing more than psychological ‘tricks’ to achieve a short-term outcome by ‘working around’ the fundamental truth: As a result of terrorization during childhood, virtually all humans are unconsciously terrified and this makes their behaviour utterly dysfunctional.

The point is this: there is no trick that can get us out of the catastrophic mess in which we now find ourselves. Only the truth can do that. Psychological and behavioural dysfunctionalities notwithstanding, if we do not address this fear as part of our overall strategy, then this fear will destroy us in the end. And the evidence of that lies simply in the fact that the daily updates on the already decades-long but ongoing horrific biodiversity, climate, environmental, nuclear, war and humanitarian crises are testament to our ongoing failure to respond appropriately and powerfully. Because our (usually unconscious) fear prevents us from doing so.

So if you believe that human beings are going to get out of our interrelated social, political, economic, military, nuclear and ecological crises with a largely psychologically dysfunctional population, I encourage you to re-evaluate that belief (paying attention, if you can, to how your disintegrated mind intervenes to prevent you doing so). And I encourage you to ask yourself if the value we get out of improving the psychological functionality of our species might not be worth considerable effort as part of our overall strategy to avert human extinction.

Tackling the “Impossible”: Ending Violence

Whenever, in ordinary circumstances, the subject of violence comes up, most people throw up their hands in horror and comment along the lines that it is ‘in our genes’, ‘nothing can be done about it’ or other words that reflect the powerlessness that most people feel around violence.

It is true that violence is virtually ubiquitous, has a near-infinite variety of manifestations and, at its most grotesque (as nuclear war or run-away climate catastrophe), even threatens human extinction in the near-term.

Nevertheless, anyone who pays attention to the subject of violence in any detail soon discovers that plenty of people are interested in tackling this problem, even if it is ‘impossible’. Moreover, of course, at least some people recognize that while we must tackle each manifestation of violence, understanding the cause of violence is imperative if we are to successfully tackle its many manifestations at their source. To do all of this effectively, however, is a team effort. And hopefully, one day, this team will include all of us.

In the meantime, let me start by telling you a little about some of the people who are already working to end violence by tackling one or more of its many manifestations. These individuals are part of a worldwide network set up to focus on ending violence – ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ – and they have signed a pledge to do so.

Concerned about US government threats to Iran and Venezuela, several Charter signatories were part of one or both recent peace delegations to Iran and Venezuela respectively. These delegations were designed to open more lines of communication and to demonstrate solidarity with those who do not submit to US hegemony.

The 28-member US peace delegation to Iran from 25 February to 6 March 2019 included long-term nonviolent activists Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and David Hartsough. Unfortunately for David, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist and director of Peaceworkers, his trip didn’t go as planned. If you would like to read a compelling account of his time in Iran with some wonderful Iranians, while learning something about what it means to be on the wrong end of US sanctions, you will find it in ‘An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran’. Glad you got the lifesaving medical treatment from our Iranian friends that you needed, David, despite the sanctions! And it is a tragedy that Iran has recently suffered even more, as a result of the devastating floods that have hit the country, with the sanctions cruelly denying them vital emergency assistance.

In relation to Venezuela, a 13-member peace and solidarity delegation from North America landed in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend of 9-10 March 2019. The delegation included leaders of antiwar groups from the US and Canada and, once again, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of ‘Popular Resistance’ and ‘Clearing the Fog’ podcasts. You can read an account of this delegation’s findings in Kevin and Margaret’s highly informative report.

Another initiative to support Venezuelans was outlined in the article ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat a US Military Invasion of Venezuela’.

Traveling widely to witness and demonstrate solidarity with those on the receiving end of US military violence, another long-term nonviolent activist, Kathy Kelly, recently wrote an article pointing out that ‘Every War Is a War against Children’ in which she evocatively documented examples of what this means for those children living in the war zones we call Yemen and Afghanistan. In an earlier article, Kathy questioned the morality of those corporations – such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon – that profit from the killing their weapons inflict.

Environmental journalist Robert Hunziker continues to fearlessly research and truthfully document the ongoing assaults that humans are inflicting on Earth’s biosphere. In his most recent article ‘The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems‘, Robert straightforwardly explains the content of a recent interview of Dr. Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading Arctic scientist. Robert notes that ‘Currently, the Arctic is heating up about 4 times faster than the rest of the planet… the temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics is dropping precipitously… thus, driving the jet streams less… creating meandering jet streams… in turn, producing extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in mid-latitudes where most of the world’s food is grown.’ Robert also notes that the study of ancient ice cores by a team from the British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham found ‘major reductions in sea ice in the Arctic’ which will crank up (via temperature amplification as a result of no Arctic sea ice) Greenland regional temperatures ‘by 16°C in less than a decade’ with horrific implications for life on Earth. Thank you, Robert, for reporting what the corporate media won’t touch and even many activists find too terrifying to seriously contemplate.

In Chile, Pía Figueroa continues her heavy involvement in efforts to network those committed to peace and nonviolence and to develop media channels that report the truth. Pía reports that ‘Pressenza International Press Agency’, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last November ‘in more than 40 places of the world’, continues to advance its contribution ‘with a journalism focused on peace and nonviolence, to a world in which all human beings have a place and their rights are fully respected, in a framework of disarmed and demilitarized societies, capable of re-establishing the ecological balance through governments of real and participatory democracy.’

Since attending the Media Forum organized in the city of Chongqing, China, by CCTV+ and CGTN, in October last year, Pía has been busy organizing the upcoming Latin American Humanist Forum in Santiago with the objective of ‘Building Convergences’, as its slogan points out. It will be held on 10-12 May with the participation of many grassroots and social organizations involved in more than twenty networks of nonviolent action and inspired by the European Humanist Forum that took place in Madrid, Spain, in May 2018.

Anwar A. Khan was born into ‘a liberal Muslim family in Bangladesh’. As a 16 year old college student, he participated in the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which resulted in horrendous loss of life, genocide against Bangladesh’s intelligentsia and systematic rapes.’ This experience taught him the nature of the US establishment as he was ‘on the battle field along with so many friends of mine and Indian soldiers to fight back the obnoxious nexus of the Pakistani military regime and the Whitehouse establishment’ to create Bangladesh. Khan Bhai went on to complete a post-graduate education, before embarking on a 43-year (so far) business career, involving many different levels of corporate engagement and which took him to many countries of the world, including Venezuela in 2010 where he met both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro.

He also writes regularly in his spare time and recently wrote an article highlighting the adverse impact of the lack of infrastructure under which many impoverished countries suffer, given the way in which the global economy functions to exploit them. In the article, he describes an inferno that started on the night of 20 February 2019 in a building at Chawkbazar, a 300-year-old Dhaka neighbourhood, ‘where chemicals for making deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored’. The fire ‘quickly spread to four nearby buildings where many people were trapped. Hundreds of firefighters rushed to the scene but traffic jams in the narrow streets held them up. It took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control….’ The horrific inferno claimed about 100 lives and more were injured.

Commenting on the current project that she is organizing with friends, Lori Lightning outlines the rationale behind ‘Bear Bones Parenting’:

There’s no course or exam to pass to become a parent, and most try to figure this out once a parent, and usually in an exhausted overwhelmed state. Bedtimes, meals, chores, and healthy open communication all become a task without a trusted framework in place.

Based on 51 years of combined wisdom as educators, counselors, health practitioners, moms, step moms and foster moms, Bear Bones Parenting offers an intuitive formula to demystify the basics of parenting and a workbook with tools for reflection and wellness practices to take you actively through day to day living no matter where you are at in your life. You dedicate 15 minutes a day and in trade stop being overwhelmed. A “do it yourself” workbook filled with tools to turn life into what you envision for yourself and your family.

Our cast of puppets help to inspire playful reflection on our children’s temperaments and our own. Eventual creation of short videos will be easily accessible for busy parents and provide some examples of how things typically play out with temperaments and inspiration of the Bear way, which is curious, intuitive, firm and loving.

We hope that BBP can help reduce parental stress and frustration so there is time to connect in joy and curiosity with our children and foster their independence.

For more information, you can contact Lori at this email address: moc.liamgnull@gnitneraPsenoBraeB

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is volunteer Director of The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) but he is also actively engaged in the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation. As he evocatively noted in a recent Easter reflection:

This is the tenth Easter I celebrate after returning to Palestine in 2008. When we native Christian Palestinians have a few moments to meditate and reflect in this season, we reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a manger here and was crucified for being the first revolutionary Palestinian to push for caring for the sick and the poor.

We reflect on the real message of Jesus, a message of love and coexistence. The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a better future.

We are hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 150,000 years ago, humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passage way to Western Asia and then the rest of the world. 12,000 years ago, this area became the center of development for agriculture (the Fertile Crescent). This was where we humans first domesticated animals like goats and donkeys and plants like wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils. This transformation allowed our ancestors time to evolve what we now call “civilization”. Hence, the first writings, the first music, and art, and the first thoughts of deities. From our Aramaic alphabet came the Latin, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and much of our current Palestinian Arabic is still Aramaic words.

Mazin continues to travel regularly, lecturing about initiatives of the museum but also about the political reality in Palestine. If you would like to volunteer to assist the museum’s projects, or to donate money, books, natural history items or anything else that would be useful, you are welcome to contact Mazin and his colleagues at gro.erutanenitselapnull@ofni

Finally, we are deeply saddened to report the passing of Tom Shea, a long-time stalwart in the struggle for a better world and one of the original team of individuals who launched ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ on 11 November 2011. We include below the testament of his great friend and fellow nonviolent activist, Leonard Eiger:

For Tom Shea, Peace WAS the Way

My dear friend and fellow Ground Zero member Tom Shea passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of April 3rd surrounded by his family.

Earlier in his life Tom had been a Jesuit, a high school teacher, and had started an alternative high school and Jesuit Volunteer Corp: Midwest. He had also been involved in social justice issues on the national level with the Jesuits. Ground Zero member Bernie Meyer remembers Tom with great fondness, from being a student at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland where Tom was teaching, to resisting together at Ground Zero many years later.

Tom was 47 when he left Cleveland for Traverse City, Michigan in 1977. There he met his partner Darylene, and they were inseparable from then on. Together, they participated in the Nuclear Freeze movement, and were part of the Michigan Peace Team. They traveled to New York for the second Conference on Disarmament in 1982. They protested both the first Gulf War and the war in Iraq. They also engaged in war tax resistance.

At Darylene’s suggestion, they attended a course in conflict mediation in the early ‘80s at a time when there was little written on the subject. That experience led them to a course taught by Quakers at Swarthmore College in 1986. In 1990 Tom and Darylene founded the five-county Conflict Resolution Service in Northern Michigan and trained the first group of volunteer mediators. Their mission was to promote peace and civility in the community through the use of mediator guided dialogue. In the early days of the program, volunteers met in church basements and around kitchen tables to train, role play and share experiences. They would travel to the homes of people needing mediation, focusing on resolving family and neighborhood conflicts.

Tom and Darylene moved to Snoqualmie, Washington in 2007 to spend more time with Darylene’s children. Tom got involved in community issues and continued his war tax resistance work. You could find him every April 15th, in front of the local post office, offering tax resistance information.

I was still leading a social justice ministry at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church when one day Tom called the church office and asked who was doing social justice work in the area. We connected immediately due to common work and friends. Soon, Tom and I were making the pilgrimage together across the water to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and the rest (as they say) is history.

I have spent countless hours with Tom and Darylene, discussing world affairs and working together on strategies and tactics for our work with Ground Zero. Tom and Darylene have been inseparable as both life partners and co-conspirators for peace. Tom once said that Darylene is like a Jesuit herself: “Jesuits are taken as very scholarly people and she’s very scholarly.”

In addition to working on media and communications for Ground Zero, and planning vigils and nonviolent direct actions at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base, Tom put himself on the line many times, often entering the roadway blocking traffic, both on the County and Federal sides, symbolically closing the base and risking arrest. Tom also created street theatre scripts that have been used during vigils at the submarine base to entertain and educate people.

Robert Burrowes, who cofounded ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’, said that “Tom was one of the true legends in my life. A long-standing symbol of, and nonviolent fighter for, everything that could be in our world.” When all is said and done, Tom’s life can be summed up by A.J Muste: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

We will be scattering some of Tom’s ashes (per his wishes) at Ground Zero Center during our August Hiroshima-Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action.

I invite you to honor Tom’s memory by supporting the work of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. There are many ways we can engage in war tax resistance in the context of a broad range of nonviolent strategies for social change.

While diminished by the passing of Tom, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action continues ‘to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action.’ You can read about their ongoing efforts on their website, Ground Zero, which also features a ‘Current Action Alert: Stop the “Low-Yield” Trident Warhead!

Each of the individuals mentioned above is part of the ongoing and steadily expanding effort to end the violence in our world. They refuse to accept that violence cannot be ended, and each has chosen to focus on working to end one or more manifestations of violence, according to their particular interests. If you would like to join these people, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

If your own interest is campaigning on a peace, climate, environment or social justice issue, consider doing it strategically.

If your focus is a defense or liberation struggle being undertaken by a national group, consider enhancing its strategic impact.

If your preference is addressing the climate and environmental catastrophes systematically, consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

If you would like to tackle violence at its source, consider revising your parenting in accordance with ‘My Promise to Children‘. If you want the evidence to understand why this is so crucial, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

If you are aware enough to know that you are not dealing effectively with our deepening crisis, consider doing the personal healing necessary to do so.

It may be that ending human violence is impossible, as many believe. But there are a great number of people around the world who do not accept this and who are struggling, relentlessly, to end violence before it ends us. What about you?

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat a US Military Invasion of Venezuela

Recently I wrote an article explaining how you could defeat, using nonviolent strategy, the US coup attempt that is taking place in your country.

I would like to complement that article by now briefly explaining how you can also defeat a military invasion by the United States and any collaborating invaders by using a strategy of nonviolent defense as well.

In making this suggestion, I acknowledge the extraordinary difficulties inflicted on Venezuela by the US sanctions imposed over many years as part of its ‘undeclared war against Venezuela’ (partly designed to destroy its progressive social banking model), explained straightforwardly by Ellen Brown in her article “The Venezuela Myth Keeping Us From Transforming Our Economy” as well as alternative proposals to resolve the crisis, ranging from that by several governments to facilitate dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition1 to Stephen Lendman’s suggestion that a peacekeeping force be deployed to Venezuela by such countries as Russia, China and non-aligned nations.2

I understand that your first reaction to the idea of a strategy of nonviolent defense might be one of scepticism or even outright disbelief. However, if you are willing to consider what I write below, I will briefly explain why a strategy of nonviolent defense is theoretically and empirically sound, has often been successful in a wide range of contexts in the past, and why I believe it is important and how it can be done.

Of course, I am well aware that this history of successful nonviolent defense is little known because it has been, and still is, suppressed. And yet the history of nonviolent resistance in many diverse contexts clearly demonstrates that a strategy of nonviolent defense has the best chance of defending your country while minimizing the death and destruction in doing so (which does not mean that it would be without cost).

Moreover, if you want to read many carefully documented historical accounts of nonviolent struggles that were successful against military opponents, including those that were ruthlessly violent, you can do so in The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. The book also carefully explains why these successes occurred without incurring heavy casualties on the defense, particularly in comparison to military campaigns and guerrilla struggles.

In my view then, the idea of implementing a strategy of nonviolent defense is important to consider for two essential reasons.

First, you are dealing with an opponent that is insane,3, incredibly ignorant4, and grotesquely violent 5 – that, history teaches us, is highly likely to destroy your country to gain the geostrategic advantage and natural resources that control of your country offers, as the people of Iraq and Libya, for example, can testify.

And second: no matter how committed and courageous are the (loyal) members of your military forces and civilian militia (the National Bolivarian Militia of Venezuela), and the military forces of any allies who will stand with you in the defense of Venezuela, even a ‘successful’ outcome, such as that which Syria may be on the verge of ‘celebrating’, will only come at enormous cost in terms of human lives, infrastructure (including national heritage), ecological impact and time, all of which can be far more gainfully employed to continue building Venezuela, including overcoming outstanding problems, as you decide.

The Background

As I know that you are well aware, given the declared interest of the US elite in stealing your natural resources, including oil6 – the US elite has long interfered with7 and threatened military invasion of Venezuela to seize control of these resources in clear violation of international law.8

Consequently, the US administration has finally used the pretext of an unfair election result in 2018 to call for the overthrow of your government despite the widely accepted result, verified by independent sources, and even the testimony of a former US president that your electoral system is without peer.9

Moreover, the US puppet Juan Guaidó, anointed by the US to replace your elected President, has effectively indicated his support for US intervention, which clearly reveals where his loyalties lie, his willingness to now provide a pretext for a US invasion, and his complete disregard for the well-being of those Venezuelans who will inevitably be killed, injured and/or dispossessed during an invasion to support the ‘neocon regime-changers’ in Washington.10

This threat of military intervention, as the historical record clearly demonstrates, has every prospect of being carried out.11

Despite this threat, as you are aware, President Nicolás Maduro has persisted in offering to discuss the issues arising from this conflict while also calling on the international community to “‘Stop Trump’s insane actions!’ Venezuela’s Maduro talks to RT about avoiding war” and even writing an appeal to the people of the United States which, of course, was ignored by the corporate media so that it does not even reach a wide audience.12

While I applaud your President for his persistent calls for dialogue to resolve this issue13there are simply three realities that make it highly unlikely that his call will be heeded, whether by the US administration that has already rejected such a call14 or by the international community, a substantial section of which has already declared their support for the US puppet Juan Guaidó, who has been carefully groomed for a decade for the role he is now playing.15

These three realities are those I mentioned above: You are dealing with an insane, incredibly ignorant, and grotesquely violent opponent: an elite that seeks geopolitical control and endless resources for profit no matter what the cost to fellow human beings and the biosphere, as the record demonstrates.

Moreover, in seeking to secure its objectives, the US elite will endeavour to control the narrative in relation to Venezuela. Hence, as you have noticed, the corporate media is lying prodigiously about Venezuela as it ‘beats the drums of war’.16

For you and those of us outside Venezuela who have some knowledge of your country’s history, we are well aware of the enormous gains made by the Bolivarian movement, despite the enormously damaged country that the movement inherited.17

This progress, of course, does not mean that all problems have been resolved, most of which have been exacerbated by the sanctions imposed in recent years by the United States government,18 which identified the crisis the US ‘economic warfare’ was precipitating.19

Defending Against a US Military Invasion of Venezuela

So, while your effort to defeat the coup attempt continues, even if the United States military invades Venezuela before or after this issue is resolved, you have the powerful option of resisting any invasion effectively by employing a strategy of nonviolent defense.

I have explained the essential points of this strategy on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. The pages of this website provide clear guidance on how to easily plan and then implement the twelve components of this strategy.

If you like, you can see a diagrammatic representation of this strategy by looking at the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel.

And on the Strategic Aims page you can see the basic list of 30 strategic goals necessary to defeat a military invasion. These strategic goals can easily be adopted, modified and/or added to if necessary, in accordance with your precise circumstances as you decide.

If you want to read a straightforward account of how to plan and conduct a nonviolent tactic so that it has strategic impact, you can do so here: “Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works.”

This will require awareness of the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.

And, to ensure that the military violence directed against you is made as difficult as possible to perpetrate and, in many cases, does not eventuate, you are welcome to consider the 20 points designed to ensure that you are “Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression” whenever you take nonviolent action to defend yourselves when repression is a risk. This information is useful for both neutralizing violent provocateurs but also to ensure that invading military forces are compelled to deal with complex emotional and moral issues that do not arise against a violent opponent who is threatening them, and which will lead some, and perhaps very many, to desist as the historical record clearly documents.20

Conclusion

The US government and its sycophantic allies might not invade Venezuela. It may transpire that the diplomatic and other efforts of your government to defeat the coup and avert a US-led military invasion of Venezuela will be successful. There is also a fracturing of the opposition forces within Venezuela, in several ways, which works against the success of ongoing efforts to remove your government.21

However, the extensive historical evidence of US interventions in violation of international law, the geostrategic and natural resource advantages that will accrue to the US elite from an invasion that removes your elected government, the anointment of a puppet president of Venezuela, the recent posturing and declarations by key members of the US administration and many US-allied governments, and the manufacture of public acquiescence by the corporate media all point heavily in the direction of invasion. And, as you are well aware, it is wise to treat this possibility seriously.

The elite conducting these preparatory moves is insane and, if it attacks Venezuela, there is a serious risk it will destroy your country as it has destroyed Iraq and Libya, especially if it meets significant military resistance. Their insanity precludes them caring about you, the people of Venezuela (even as they present any intervention as ‘humanitarian’).22 They care about nothing more than geostrategic advantage, eliminating progressive elements of your society’s development, and seizing your natural resources from which they can profit enormously.

Nevertheless, a strategy of nonviolent defense would enable you to defend yourselves and enable every last member of your population, irrespective of age and ability, to be strategically involved, as well as any solidarity activists overseas. It would also minimize the loss of life and destruction inflicted on your country.

Importantly, even if you suffer setbacks, unless and until you accept outright defeat, your strategy of nonviolent defense, ongoingly refined to maintain effective strategic coordination and to retain the initiative, will ultimately prevail.

As always,  however, whether or not you decide to consider/adopt my suggestion, you have my solidarity.

  1. See, for example, “Russia Proposes Venezuelan ‘Peaceful Measures’ Initiative to UN
  2. See ‘Save Venezuelan Sovereignty: Oil Economy Destabilized. Peace-keeping Role by Russia, China, Non-alligned Nations?’
  3. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ with a more detailed explanation in ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’
  4. See this interview of US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo ‘Venezuelan military will realize Maduro’s time is up: Mike Pompeo’ which is critiqued in these articles ‘Pompeo: America “obligated” to fight “Hezbollah” in Venezuela to save “duly elected” Guaido’ and ‘Pompeo Attempts to Link Iran, Hezbollah to Crisis in Venezuela’
  5. See ‘The History — and Hypocrisy — of US Meddling in Venezuela’ and Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
  6. See, for example, ‘“Good for business”: Trump adviser Bolton admits US interest in Venezuela’s “oil capabilities”’ and ‘Regime Change for Profit: Chevron, Halliburton Cheer On US Venezuela Coup’
  7. See, for example, ‘US Influence in Venezuela Is Part of a Two Centuries-old Imperial Plan’
  8. For recent examples only, see ‘Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says’ and ‘Time for talks “long passed”: US weaponizes aid amid push for regime change in Venezuela’.
  9. See ‘Former US President Carter: Venezuelan Electoral System “Best in the World”’.
  10. See ‘Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “president” Guaido isn’t ruling out “authorizing” US intervention’ and ‘The Cynicism of Empire: Sen. Rubio Tells Venezuelans to Overthrow Their Government… or Starve!’
  11. See ‘Before Venezuela: The long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America’ and ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.
  12. See ‘An Open Letter to the People of the United States from President Nicolas Maduro’.
  13. For a recent example, see ‘Maduro Asks International Community to End US’s Threats of War’
  14. See ‘Time for talks “long passed”: US weaponizes aid amid push for regime change in Venezuela’
  15. See ‘The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader’.
  16. See, for example, ‘Dissecting the jingoistic media coverage of the Venezuela crisis’, ‘Venezuela Blitz – Part 1: Tyrants Don’t Have Free Elections’, ‘Venezuela Blitz – Part 2: Press Freedom, Sanctions And Oil’ and ‘The BBC and Venezuela: bias and lies’.
  17. See, for example, ‘Venezuela: From Oil Proxy to the Bolivarian Movement and Sabotage’.
  18. See, for example, the report by Alfred de Zayas on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council – ‘Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador’
  19. See ‘Former UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Against Venezuela Causing Economic and Humanitarian Crisis’.
  20. Again, for many examples, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.
  21. See ‘Venezuela Regime Change “Made in the USA”’.
  22. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat the US Coup Attempt in Venezuela

Yet again, the United States elite has decided to attempt to impose its will on the people of another nation, in this case, and not for the first time either, your country Venezuela.

On 23 January 2019, following careful secret planning in the preceding weeks and a late night telephone call the previous day from US Vice President Mike Pence – see ‘Pence Pledged U.S. Backing Before Venezuela Opposition Leader’s Move’ and ‘Venezuela – Trump’s Coup Plan Has Big Flaws’ – the US initiated a coup against your President, Nicolás Maduro, and his Government, whom you democratically re-elected to represent you on 20 May 2018. See ‘The Case for the Legitimacy of Maduro’s Second Term’.

By organizing, recognizing and supporting as ‘interim president’ the US puppet trained for the purpose over the past decade – see ‘The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader’ – the United States government has simply brought into clearer focus and now precipitated its long-standing plan to seize control of Venezuela’s huge oil, gas, gold, water and other natural resources, with the oil and gas conveniently close to Texan refineries. In relation to gold, for example, see ‘Bank of England refused to return $1.2bn in gold to Venezuela – reports’ and then ‘Bank Of England Urged To Hand Over Venezuela’s Gold To Guaidó’.

Of course, this coup is perfectly consistent with US foreign policy for the past two centuries, the essential focus of which has been to secure control over key geostrategic areas of the world and to steal the resources of foreign nations. For a list of only the ‘most notable U.S. interventions’ in Central/South America over that period, see ‘Before Venezuela: The long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America’.  But you can also read a more complete list of US interventions overseas (only since 1945) in William Blum’s ‘Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List’.

Needless to say, this latest attempt at ‘regime change’ is in clear violation of international law on so many counts it is difficult to document them concisely. First, the ongoing US intervention over an extended period has always been a violation of international law, including Chapter IV, Article 19 of the Charter of the Organization of American States. Second, sanctions are illegal under so many treaties it is sickening. See ‘Practice Relating to Rule 103. Collective Punishments’. And third, the coup is a violation of Venezuela’s constitution. See ‘The Failure of Guaido’s Constitutional Claim to the Presidency of Venezuela’.

Unfortunately, international law (like domestic law) is simply used as another means to inflict violence on those outside the elite circle and, as casual observation of the record demonstrates, is routinely ignored by elites in the US and elsewhere when their geopolitical, economic and/or other interests ‘require’ it.

As usual, there is no remotely reasonable pretext for this coup, despite the usual alphabet of sycophantic US allies such as Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel…. – see, for example, ‘Australia recognises Juan Guaidó as Venezuela president’ and ‘Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sanchez, Angela Merkel and Theresa May Have No Right to Issue an Ultimatum to Venezuela’ – as well as the elite-controlled corporate media, lying that there is such pretext. Mind you, given the flagging domestic support for many of these political leaders in light of their obvious incompetence in dealing with issues of critical import to their own constituencies – is this where we mention words like ‘Brexit’ and ‘Yellow Vests’, for example? – it is little wonder that the distraction offered by events elsewhere is also used to provide some relief from the glare focused on their own ineptitude.

Of course, a submissive Organization of American States (OAS) – recognizing Guaidó in violation of its own Charter – and the cowardly European Union (EU), also kneeling in the face of US pressure to ignore international law, simply add to the picture of a global system devoid of moral compass and the rule of law, let alone courage.

It is true, as most of you are well aware, that Venezuela has been experiencing dire economic circumstances but, as most of you also know, these circumstances have been caused by ‘outside intervention, internal sabotage and the decline in oil prices’, particularly including the deepening economic sanctions imposed by the United States in recent years. For solid accounts of what has taken place in Venezuela in recent times, particularly the external factors causing these dire economic circumstances, see the report on behalf of the United Nations Human Rights Council written by Alfred de Zayas, “Report of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order on his mission to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Ecuador”,  which identified the crisis the US ‘economic warfare’ was precipitating – see ‘Former UN Rapporteur: US Sanctions Against Venezuela Causing Economic and Humanitarian Crisis’, as well as the research reported in ‘Opposition Protests In Venezuela Rooted In Falsehoods’, ‘Trump’s Sanctions Make Economic Recovery in Venezuela Nearly Impossible’, ‘US Regime Change in Venezuela: The Documented Evidence’ and ‘Venezuela: What Activists Need To Know About The US-Led Coup’.

But lest some people think this US coup is only about resources, geopolitical control is also vital. As noted by Garikai Chengu: ‘America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.’ See ‘Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America’s War on Venezuela’.

Of course, even though the outstanding problems in Venezuela have been primarily caused by the ongoing illegal US inteference, the eminently reasonable government of your country remains willing to engage in dialogue to resolve these problems. See, for example, ‘Venezuela leader Nicolas Maduro seeks talks with Obama’ and ‘Maduro Reaffirms Willingness For Dialogue’. However, this willingness for dialogue does not interest the US elite or its sycophantic western and local (both within Central/South America and within Venezuela) allies who, as noted above, are intent on usurping control from the people of Venezuela and stealing your resources.

In any case, and most importantly, for those of us paying attention to the truth, rather than the garbage reported in the elite-controlled corporate media – see, for example, ‘Can Venezuela Have a Peaceful Transition?’ but outlined more fully in ‘“Resistance” Media Side With Trump to Promote Coup in Venezuela’ – we are well aware of what you all think about this. Because, according to recent polling, you are heavily against US and other outside intervention in any form. See ‘86% of Venezuelans Oppose Military Intervention, 81% Are Against U.S. Sanctions, Local Polling Shows’.

Fortunately, of course, you have many solidarity allies including countries such as Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey who acknowledge your right to live with the government you elected and do not wish to steal your resources. Moreover, at an ‘emergency’ meeting of the UN Security Council on 26 January 2019, called by the United States to seek authorization for interference in Venezuela, the Council was divided as China, Equatorial Guinea, Russia and South Africa opposed the move, with Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia abstaining. See ‘UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis’.

And there is a vast number of people, including prominent public intellectuals, former diplomats and ordinary people who are solidly on your side as you defend yourselves from the latest bout of western imperialism. For example, Professor Noam Chomsky and other prominent individuals have publicly declared their support – see ‘Open Letter by Over 70 Scholars and Experts Condemns US-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela’ – and former UK ambassador Craig Murray has argued that ‘The Coup in Venezuela Must Be Resisted’.

Anyway, given your existing and ongoing resistance to the coup in defense of your elected government, I would like to offer another avenue of support for you to consider. My support, if you like, to plan and implement a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to defeat the coup.

So what is required?

I have explained in detail how to formulate and implement a strategy for defeating coup attempts such as this in the book The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.

However, I have also outlined the essential points of this strategy on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. The pages of this website provide clear guidance on how to easily plan and then implement the twelve components of this strategy.

If you like, you can see a diagrammatic representation of this strategy by looking at the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel.

And on the Strategic Aims page you can see the basic list of 23 strategic goals necessary to defeat a coup of the type you are resisting at the moment. These strategic goals can easily be adopted, modified and/or added to if necessary, in accordance with your precise circumstances as you decide.

If you want to read a straightforward account of how to plan and conduct a nonviolent tactic so that it has strategic impact, you can do so here: ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’.

This will require awareness of the difference between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’.

And, to ensure that your courage is most powerfully utilized, you are welcome to consider the 20 points designed to ensure that you are ‘Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression’ whenever you take nonviolent action where repression is a risk. The information is useful for both neutralizing violent provocateurs but also in the event that sections of the police or army defect to support the US puppet Guaidó in the days or weeks ahead, as often happens in contexts such as these.

In essence, your ongoing resistance to the coup is essential if you are to defeat the coupmakers and defend your elected government. But the chances of success are vastly enhanced if your struggle, and that of your solidarity allies around the world, is focused for maximum strategic impact and designed to spread the cost of doing so.

Remember, it is you who will decide the fate of Venezuela. Not the US elite and not even your President and government.

Of course, whether or not you decide to consider and/or adopt my proposed strategy, you have my solidarity.

Human Delusion and Our Destruction of the Biosphere: We Aren’t Even Trying!

Have you heard the expression ‘climate change’? That lovely expression that suggests a holiday in a place with a more pleasant climate?

Unfortunately, only the rarest individual has the capacity to see through the elite-promulgated delusion that generated this benign expression and its twin notions that 1.5 degrees Celsius (above the preindustrial level) is an acceptable upper limit for an increase in global temperature and that the time-frame for extinction-threatening outcomes of this ‘climate change’ is the ‘end of the century’.

If you believe that this 1.5 degree increase is achievable or even viable for sustaining life on Earth and that the ‘end of the century’ is our time-frame then you are the victim of your own fear, which is suppressing your capacity to seek out, analyze and comprehend the evidence that is readily available and to then behave powerfully in response to it.

Therefore, your fear, rather than the climate catastrophe and other critical assaults on Earth’s biosphere, is the real problem.

The most casual perusal of the evidence in relation to what is happening to Earth’s biosphere – as distinct from the propaganda that is endlessly promulgated in the global elite’s corporate media – clearly indicates that the cataclysmic assault on our biosphere in a wide range of synergistic ways is now driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and that, as a direct result of our relentless and rampaging destruction of habitat, it will take down humanity with it.  Well within 10 years.

Now if your fear hasn’t already been triggered so that you ceased reading this article, let me offer the barest outline of the nature and extent of the assault on Earth’s biosphere and why the climate catastrophe is only one part of it which nonetheless needs to be seriously, rather than tokenistically, addressed, as is usually suggested whether by most climate lobby groups or, of course, elite-controlled governments and the IPCC.

But before ranging beyond the climate to highlight other threats to the biosphere, did you know that governments and corporations around the world are currently planning or have under construction 1,380 new coal plants? That’s right. 1,380 new coal plants. In 59 countries.

For just a taste of the detail on this rapid coal expansion, try the report ‘Tsunami Warning: Can China’s Central Authorities S?’top a Massive Surge in New Coal Plants Caused by Provincial Overpermitting?’ and ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’

So if we are deluding ourselves about coal, what about oil? Can we expect a dramatic reduction in oil use to compensate for the substantial increase in coal use? Well, according to the just-released report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), while there is some projected improvement in fuel economy for cars and a projected increase in the number of electric vehicles, cars only account for about one-quarter of the world’s oil consumption and there is no projected reduction in the oil used to fuel freight trucks, ships and airplanes; for heating; and to make plastics and other petrochemicals. As a result, the agency expects global oil demand to keep rising through 2040.

To summarize: the IEA report notes that global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.6% in 2017 and are on track to climb again in 2018 and, on the current trajectory, emissions will keep rising until 2040.

So, given that we are led to believe that there is supposed to be some sort of international consensus to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 (which is far too high in any case) above the preindustrial level. Why is this happening? Well, in relation to coal: ‘Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it.’

And just to illustrate what those of us who are genuinely concerned are up against, if you want to read the latest breathtakingly delusional account of the state of the world’s climate which prodigiously underestimates the nature of the climate catastrophe and utterly fails to consider the synergistic impact of other critical environmental destruction, you can do so in the US government’s just-released report ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States‘ which is summarized here.

This report is presented in one of the global elite’s primary propaganda outlets as follows:

A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on [23 November 2018] presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.

At this point I must confess that despite my substantial knowledge of human psychology and widespread human insanity (and the fear that drives it), certainly afflicting the global elite, sometimes even I am impressed with the level of delusion that elites can propagate and have so many believe.

Still, as Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment under Adolf Hitler once noted:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such ime as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

What Goebbels didn’t know is that someone must be terrified – as we terrorize our children – so that they can be so victimized by propaganda as adults.

Anyway, apart from our destruction of Earth’s climate by burning coal and oil, not to mention gas, elites use geoengineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately us. For the latest update on the geoengineering assault on Earth’s biosphere, listen to Dane Wigington’s latest superb ‘Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, #172‘ and read, watch and listen to the vast documentary record available on the Geoengineering Watch website which reminds us how climate engineering is annihilating plants, toxifying soils and water, and destroying the ozone layer among many other outcomes. For a video explaining the role of geoengineering in the latest wildfires in California, see ‘Climate Engineering Total Desperation, Engineering Catastrophic Wildfires To Temporarily Cool Earth‘.

All of the above is happening despite the existing temperature increase (about one degree) triggering the now-endless succession of deadly wildfires, droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and catastrophic hurricanes (often in parts of the world where the corporate media can ignore them), as well as the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that are occurring.

Moreover, these methane releases coupled with other ongoing climate impacts such as sea ice melt and permafrost thawing in the Arctic which has led to the ‘Arctic’s strongest sea ice break[ing] up for first time on record’ and the dramatic weakening of the Gulf Stream threaten imminent human extinction.

So do you think we are even trying? Or are we tinkering around the edges of this accelerating catastrophe and deluding ourselves that we are doing enough?

But this is far from the end of it. There are other critical threats to Earth’s biosphere that horribly complicate the nature and extent of this catastrophe. What are these threats?

Well, to leave aside a series of threats only marginally less drastic, here are some of the key ones, all of which seriously degrade (or destroy outright) vital components of the interrelated ecosystems (‘the web of life’) that make life on Earth possible.

Rainforests

We are currently destroying the world’s rainforests, mainly by logging them for timber and burning them down to make way for cattle ranches or palm oil plantations. In an extensive academic study, more than 150 joint authors of a report advised that most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened.’

Why are more than 40,000 tropical tree species threatened with extinction? Because ‘Upwards of 80,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed across the world each day, taking with them over 130 species of plants, animals and insects.’  If you missed that, it was 80,000 acres of rainforest destroyed each day.

Oceans

We are destroying the Earth’s oceans by dumping into them everything ranging from excess carbon dioxide and vast amounts of synthetic poisons to plastic and the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide as one manifestation of the climate catastrophe and, among other outcomes, this accelerates ocean acidification, adversely impacting coral reefs and the species that depend on these reefs.

In addition, a vast runoff of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes is discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms.

Since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, and despite the ongoing official coverup, vast quantities of radioactive materials are being ongoingly discharged into the Pacific Ocean, irradiating everything in its path.

Finally, you may not be aware that there are up to 70still functional’ nuclear weapons as well as nine nuclear reactors lying on the ocean floor as a result of accidents involving nuclear warships and submarines.

Soil

But not all of our destruction is as visible as our vanishing rainforests and contaminated oceans. Have you considered the Earth’s soil recently? Apart from depleting it, for example, by washing it away (sometimes in dramatic mudslides but usually unobtrusively) because we have logged the rainforest that held it in place, we also dump vast quantities of both inorganic and organic pollutants into it as well. Some of the main toxic substances in waste are inorganic constituents such as heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Mining and smelting activities and the spreading of metal-laden sewage sludge are the two main culprits responsible for the pollution of soils with heavy metals.

Far more common, however, is our destruction of the soil with organic based pollutants associated with industrial chemicals. Thousands of synthetic chemicals reach the soil by direct or indirect means, often in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other poisons that destroy the soil, by reducing the nutrients and killing the microbes, in which we grow our food (which many people actually eat, at great cost to their health).

Using genetically modified organisms, and the chemical poisons on which they rely, exacerbate this problem terribly. But two other outcomes of the use of such poisons are that the depleted soil can no longer sequester carbon and the poisons also kill many of the beneficial insects, such as bees, that play a part in plant pollination and growth.

And, of course, military contamination and destruction of soil is prodigious ranging from the radioactive contamination of vast areas to the extensive and multifaceted chemical contamination that occurs at military bases.

Partly related to military violence but also a product of using nuclear power, humans generate vast amounts of waste from exploitation of the nuclear fuel cycle. This ranges from the pollution generated by mining uranium to the radioactive waste generated by producing nuclear power or firing a nuclear weapon. But it also includes the nuclear waste generated by accidents such as that at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Again, for just a taste of the monumental nature of this problem, see ‘Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State‘, ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity‘ and ‘Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.’

Like destroying the rainforests and oceans, destroying the soil is an ongoing investment in future extinctions. And so is our overconsumption and contamination of the Earth’s finite fresh water supply.

Fresh Water

Whether wetland, river, creek, lake or acquifer, Earth’s fresh water is under siege. Given corporate negligence, this includes all of the chemical poisons and heavy metals used in corporate farming and mining operations, as well as, in many cases around the world where rubbish removal is poorly organized, the sewage and all other forms of ‘domestic’ waste discharged from households. Contamination of the world’s creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands is now so advanced that many are no longer able to fully support marine life.

Beyond this, however, Earth’s groundwater supplies (located in many underground acquifers such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States) are also being progressively contaminated by gasoline, oil and chemicals from leaking storage tanks; bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; and the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens.

Moreover, while notably absent from the list above, these contaminants also include radioactive waste from nuclear tests and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used.

By the way, if you didn’t know it, our purchase and use of all of those hitech products – cars, computers, mobile phones, televisions… – coupled with our consumption of intensively-farmed animal products, all of which are produced using huge quantities of fresh, clean water, is rapidly depleting and degrading the remaining fresh water on Earth, as well as savagely exploiting the people from whose countries we take the strategic minerals and water necessary for such production.

War

In addition to the above (and many other biosphere-destroying activities not mentioned), relying on our ignorance and fearful complicity, elites have a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars annually to kill huge numbers of our fellow human beings but also to destroy vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence.

Unfortunately, too few activists have the awareness and courage to acknowledge the role that war plays in destroying the climate and environment, and include anti-war efforts in their campaigns. Campaigns that will fail dismally, and spectacularly, if the threatened nuclear war should eventuate.

Extinction beckons

In summary, our multifaceted, monumental and unrelenting assault on Earth’s biosphere is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each day with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ with some prominent scholars explaining how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species.

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

So severe is this assault on the biosphere that recent research warns that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses.

So what can we do?

If you are genuinely powerful, you can stop lobbying governments to tinker with their policies, for example, in the direction of renewable energy (which, alone, cannot solve the multiplicity of ecological crises).

Governments are not the problem. And they simply do as elites direct them in any case. (If you believe that voters decide governments and their policies, and that lobbying them is effective, then your fear is deluding you again.)

The real problem is you and me. We have swallowed one of the ‘big lies’ that Joseph Goebbels talked about: we have believed and acted on the capitalist imperative to endlessly overconsume so that economic growth can rise perpetually in our finite world: a planet that has ecological limits.

But, as I noted above, the big lie only works because our fear makes us believe delusion. Why? Because we were terrorized as a child into accepting material goods as a substitute for our capacity to be our unique and powerful Self.

The monstrous assault on Earth’s biosphere, that goes far beyond the climate catastrophe, is the outcome of each of us consuming more than we need and then fearfully deluding ourselves that it is necessary (or that the harm it caused was too little to matter or justified by some other consideration). Well, you can delude yourself as much as you like but it is still just that: a fearful delusion.

And the point is simply that you can choose differently and powerfully, if you have the courage. For a start, you can forego all air travel. You can travel without owning your own car. You can eat well without consuming meat or fish (and eating biodynamically/organically grown vegetarian/vegan food instead). In essence: If the demand for planet-destroying products is reduced, corporations will not produce them (and destroy the Earth in doing so). This is how the law of supply and demand works under capitalism.

Beyond these simple but vital measures, you can consider many other powerful options, particularly including (accelerated) participation in the fifteen-year strategy outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘ which provides a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed.

The Flame Tree Project was inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi who identified the environmental crisis decades before it became an issue in the West, and who lived his own life in extraordinary simplicity and self-reliance, symbolized by his daily spinning of khadi. ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need but not for every person’s greed.’ He also invited us to powerfully follow our conscience, reminding us that ‘Hesitating to act because others do not yet see the way only hinders progress.’

But, critically important though he believed personal action to be, Gandhi was also an extraordinary political strategist and he knew that we needed to do more than transform our own personal lives. We need to provide opportunities that compel others to consider doing the same.

So if your passion is campaigning for change, consider doing it strategically as outlined in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For example, see the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel and the list of strategic goals necessary to halt the climate catastrophe and end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.

Sound strategy is vital given the insanity driving elite behaviour (such as planning/building 1,380 new coal plants). As mentioned above, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited‘.

If your fear makes it difficult to do things such as those suggested above, consider healing as explained in ‘Putting Feelings First‘.

If you want your children to be able to respond powerfully in the face of the biosphere’s progressive collapse, consider making ‘My Promise to Children‘.

And if you want to join the worldwide movement to end all violence against humans and the biosphere, you can do so by signing the online pledge of ‘The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

The bottom line is this. You can systematically and rapidly reduce your personal consumption and, one way or another, mobilize others or nonviolently compel them to do the same. Or you can let your fear delude you that the ongoing destruction of Earth’s biosphere is somehow unrelated to your personal choices about consumption and the choices of those around you.

Extinction beckons. The choice is yours.

In Defense of the Human Individual

While it is very late in the life cycle of homo sapiens, with extinction now due to consign us to Earth’s fossil record I would like to make a belated pitch for the importance of the human individual and why nurturing each individual’s uniqueness is so important even if it is now probably too late.

‘Why are you writing about this?’ you might ask, adding that many people accept that each one of us is unique, important and deserves the opportunities and support necessary to live a fulfilling life according to our own culture and choices. It is just the sexists, racists, bigots (religious and otherwise), upper class, governments, corporations, members of the global elite, and some other categories of people, as well as many organizations, particularly those that are violent, that do not.

Well, I wish that this were true, but I am troubled by the overwhelming evidence that suggests it is not. In fact, from my own observations and investigations, I see virtually no evidence that anyone really works to actively nurture the uniqueness of individual human beings. The whole purpose of socialization is to terrorize the child into surrendering their unique individuality so that they become like everyone else.

Of course, you might counter my claim by noting that socialization is necessary to make the child fit into their society but once they have done so, they can make certain choices of their own. This particularly applies once the individual is an adolescent or an adult when, for example, they can choose their own school subjects (from the range offered), their work (from the employment options available), decide for whom they will vote to govern them (from a narrow selection of individuals and political parties) if they live in a ‘democracy’ and, if they work hard enough at socially-approved employment and thereby accumulate enough wealth while living in a relatively wealthy industrial society, they can also choose the foods, clothing, housing, entertainment and travel options they will consume.

Needless to say, to children we do not even offer this parody of ‘freedom’ whether they live in an impoverished country where many of these opportunities are not available or even if they live in a wealthy industrialized one. Under the unending threat of violence (usually labeled ‘punishment’ to obscure from ourselves that we are using violence) by parents, teachers, religious figures and adults generally, children are coerced into doing what we believe is in their ‘best interests’ as we define them. We do not listen to children so that they can tell us what they need in order to travel their own unique life journey.

You might argue that children do not have this capacity to tell us what they need. But this is not my experience and I wonder if it is really yours. Most parents are ready to complain about the enormous effort (that is, violence) it takes ‘to train a child to do as they are told’; that is, to obey the orders of all adults in all contexts.

But because each adult, when they were a child, was terrorized into unconsciously accepting the importance of obedience, only the rarest individual ever reaches a point in life where they are able to consciously reflect on their own childhood and ask fundamental questions about it. Questions such as these: ‘Why do I believe that obedience is so important? And is it?’, ‘Is terrorizing a child into obedience really the best way to raise a child?’ and ‘What would happen if I listened to a child and let them guide me on the support they need to become their own unique Self?’

Tragically, it is that most hallowed of institutions – school – which I call ‘prison for children’ where much of the damage is done. Designed to terrorize children into obedience and conformity on the basis that ‘one size fits all’, school destroys the physical, sensory, intellectual and emotional capacities of children churning out individuals with near-zero capacity to feel anything profound, think creatively and behave powerfully with integrity.

That is, we take the uniquely gifted baby at the moment of birth and turn them into an individual who has multiple lifetime disabilities, physically, sensorily, intellectually and emotionally.

Of course, this suits governments and those corporations who want vast quantities of cheap labor to work as soldiers, in a factory or at one of the other dangerous and/or meaningless jobs that qualify as ‘employment’ in the modern economy. But before you conclude that it is only working class employment that is in this category, only the rarest of professionals, in any industry, has the capacity to feel deeply, think genuinely creatively (as distinct from within the narrow parameters of their profession) and to act powerfully with integrity. In short, those who work 8-5, five days (or more) a week, doing what others trained them to do at University or elsewhere, are simply being better rewarded for surrendering their soul as a child.

But, unfortunately, it is not school that does the most damage. All children within the childhood home experience extensive ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, and many experience ‘visible’ violence as well.

The inevitable outcome of this violence is that the child suppresses their awareness of the feelings that would have guided them to behave most functionally in each and every circumstance of their life (including about whether or not to attend school). Moreover, a consequence of suppressing their awareness of these feelings is that the child is left with an (unconscious) legacy of fear, self hatred and powerlessness, precisely because they have been terrorized into suppressing their own Self-will and obeying the will of another.

But because these feelings of fear, self hatred and powerlessness are very unpleasant to feel, and the child has never been given the opportunity and support to focus on feeling them, the child will unconsciously learn to project their fear, self hatred and powerlessness as fear of, hatred for and a desire to exercise control over individuals within ‘legitimized victim groups’. For brief explanations of these phenomena in particular contexts see, for example, ‘Islamophobia: Why are So Many People So Frightened?’, ‘Why are all those Racists so Terrified?‘, ‘Understanding Self-Hatred in World Affairs‘ and ‘Why Are Most Human Beings So Powerless?’

So by the time the child is forced to attend school – no free choices about this, you may have noted, with homeschooling (to an externally-imposed syllabus) only marginally less violent – they have already been terrorized into submission, doing what they have learned is least terrifying and, hopefully, also gains them approval by adults.

Thus, virtually all children are utterly powerless to perceive the world clearly, analyze it, make intelligent and moral choices about how to respond, and to then behave powerfully in doing so. And a decade, more or less, of school makes sure that only the rarest of individuals survives to achieve some version of their evolutionary potential, which required a nurturing, not terrifying, social environment.

In short, this person is not an individual with an unshakable sense of their own self-worth who, as a result, inherently values the worth of all others. They are simply a person who has been terrorized into conformity with a set of localized norms by the significant adults in their life.

At its worst, the outcome is an adult who is so devoid of a Self that they identify with other similarly and equally damaged individuals and then violently attack people in ‘legitimized victim groups’. This individual might be a prominent political leader who wages war against other national groups that are ‘different’; it might be a corporate executive who exploits people in other parts of the world who are ‘different’; or it might be an ‘ordinary’ person who hurls abuse at someone in their neighborhood who is ‘different’.

But the most common outcome is those who are simply too scared and powerless to respond meaningfully to the violence in our world and particularly the extinction-threatening assault on Earth’s biosphere.

And so, at this point in human history, it is extraordinarily difficult to get the typical human being to focus their attention on reality (including military, economic and ecological reality), astutely observe the phenomena presented, analyze the evidence in relation to it, devise (or seek out) a thoughtful strategy to resolve any problem or conflict that has arisen without resorting to violence, and to then behave appropriately, powerfully and with integrity in response.

Hence, instead of nurturing emotionally and intellectually resourceful and resilient individuals who are engaged with the world and capable of identifying and grappling powerfully with problems and conflicts early so that they do not spiral out of control, we are now faced with a last-ditch fight to avert our own extinction with most people still living in the delusion that we have an ‘end of century’ time frame. How intelligent is that?

So can we get out of this mess?

I don’t know and, frankly, I doubt it. But if you want to be part of the effort to try, consider making ‘My Promise to Children‘, which particularly requires the capacity to listen deeply to children so that we start to nurture each child to become the extraordinarily powerful individual that is built into their genetic potential.

And we don’t have to settle for just improving how we relate to children. We can improve our own functionality and access our conscience and courage too. How? See ‘Putting Feelings First‘.

If you are following the evidence in relation to the imminent extinction of human beings – see articles above – rather than the garbage published in the corporate media, and want to respond powerfully, consider joining those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

You might also like to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘ and/or participate in a strategically-focused nonviolent campaign on a crucial issue related to conserving the biosphere.

So how important is the human individual? In the context of life on Earth at the current time, I simply respond with ‘What is more important?’

We can do nothing about our fate if we do not value, above all else, the human individual and their potential. Including our own. This potential is difficult to nurture; it is easily destroyed.

But, as Mohandas K. Gandhi once observed in one of his many memorable lines: ‘The individual is the one supreme consideration.’

And remember, if the challenge to honour the human individual and to act powerfully yourself (as vital parts of our strategy to avert human extinction) sounds daunting, Gandhi also noted that: ‘Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.’

In essence, the foundation of any strategy for human survival must be the powerful individual. It is this individual who will mobilize some of those around them simply by making their own life-enhancing behavioural choices consciously and courageously.

The War to End War 100 Years On

British author and social commentator H.G. Wells may have coined the expression that originally popularized World War I as The War that Will End War, as his book, based on articles written during that vast military conflict, was titled. In any case, in one version or another, the expression was one of the most common catchphrases of the Great War of 1914-1918 and has survived as an expression, often used with a grimace of sarcasm, ever since.

As we commemorate the passing of the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending ‘the war to end war’, one can only marvel at how wrong humans can be sometimes. Not content with the violence inflicted during World War I, humans used the twentieth century to systematically decimate human and other life as violence and war raged across the planet with an increasingly massive and sophisticated armory. In fact, by mid-century, in a tribute to their technological ingenuity and psychological dysfunctionality, humans had invented a weapon that could destroy life on Earth.

And by the beginning of the 21st century, humans were living in the era of perpetual war against life with war also the largest contributor to the climate catastrophe: Not only is the Pentagon the single largest industrial consumer of fossil fuels, but fighter jets, destroyers, tanks and other weapons systems emit highly toxic, carbon-intensive emissions, not to mention the greenhouse gases that are released from the detonation of bombs. How quickly the world forgot the toxic legacy of Saddam Hussein’s oil fires!’

So advanced is our war against life that human extinction is now imminent.

Resisting war historically

Of course, the failure to end war has not been the outcome of lack of effort. And while there have been many efforts focused on ending a particular war, efforts directed at ending a particular aspect of war (such as the use of a type of weapon), and efforts aimed at preventing a type of war (such as ‘aggressive war’ or nuclear war), there have also been ongoing efforts to achieve ‘the holy grail’: to end war itself.

These attempts have included ongoing grassroots mobilization by anti-war organizations spawned by World War I (such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom founded in 1915 and War Resisters’ International founded in 1921) and many equivalents since that time, official attempts to outlaw war such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact that outlawed war in 1928 but has been ignored ever since and institutional efforts to prevent it, particularly by establishment of the League of Nations in 1920 and its successor the United Nations in 1945, both also readily ignored or manipulated.

Separately from the above, however, there has been a long history of nonviolent activism to end wars and this has been conducted by individuals and groups all over the world. Undoubtedly the most effective anti-war movement in history was that undertaken in response to the US war against Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Inspired and supported by the nonviolent resistance of the civilian population, and building on the long history of resistance to war within the military (see, for example, The Soldiers’ Strikes of 1919),  there was widespread nonviolent resistance undertaken by US troops and conscripts to end the US war against Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 1968 until it ended in 1975.

If you like, you can read detailed descriptions of the systematic and ongoing resistance (nonviolent and otherwise) within the US military in many forms, which progressively incapacitated the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force during the last years of the war, forcing the US out of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. See Soldiers in Revolt: GI Resistance During the Vietnam War and Self-Destruction: The Disintegration and Decay of the United States Army during the Vietnam Era with a summary of the first book in ‘Antiwar Resistance Within the Military During the Vietnam War‘ and a review of it in ‘The soldiers’ revolt in Vietnam: Rebellion in the ranks.’

For a documentary account of the conscientious objection by more than half a million US conscripts to military service in South East Asia during this period, which overwhelmed the legal system making prosecutions beyond a token few impossible and, combined with soldier resistance and civilian efforts, forced Presidents Johnson and Nixon to curtail plans to escalate the war and make plans to end it, see the forthcoming film The Boys Who Said NO!

Reanalysing the Cause of War to Reorient our Resistance

So, if we are to use this 100th anniversary to renew our struggle to end war and to work effectively to achieve that purpose, then clearly we need to reassess our analysis of the cause(s) of war so that we understand the problem more precisely, and then use this revised analysis to guide the development and implementation of a strategy that addresses the cause(s). Of course, I am not suggesting that ending war will be easy, even with a sound analysis and a comprehensive strategy. But at least it will be feasible.

Before proceeding, I would like to record my own passion for this subject. I lost two great uncles to World War I: Tom Farrell was killed in action at Gallipoli and Les Burrowes was a victim of ‘shell shock’ – later labeled post-traumatic stress disorder – after being wounded in action three times at Gallipoli and then dying prematurely some years after the war.

My father served in World War II as a coastwatcher and both of his brothers, including his twin, were killed. I am named after my father’s older brother. Bob died when the Japanese POW ship Montevideo Maru was torpedoed by the USS Sturgeon on 1 July 1942. 1,053 Australian POWs died that night. And my father’s twin, Tom, died when his Beaufort Bomber was shot down on 14 December 1943 killing the entire crew.

So my childhood is dotted with memories of occasional commemorations of war which, for me, always ended with the same question: Why? But not just ‘why war?’ Given other manifestations of violence I observed around the world during my childhood, including exploitation of peoples in Africa, Asia and Central/South America as well as destruction of the environment, the deeper question was always my focus: ‘Why violence?’

Well, despite considerable research over three decades, I was never content with any version of the answer to this question that I found. Consequently, 14 years in seclusion with Anita McKone ‘taking our own minds apart’ finally gave me the answer I wanted. In ugly detail. If you would like to read this answer, which explains the unrelenting ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that adults inflict on children and the enormous lifetime damage (including the legacy of unconscious fear, self hatred and powerlessness) that this causes, you can do so in ‘Why Violence?‘ with our process described in ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

Needless to say, understanding a problem makes developing a strategy to address it far easier (which does not mean that the problem is easy to resolve). However, it is also the case that violence has many manifestations – notably including war, violence against huge sectors of the human population in various contexts (ranging from violence against women and indigenous peoples to military occupations and dictatorships), economic exploitation and destruction of the biosphere – and tackling each of these effectively requires its own sophisticated nonviolent strategy.

This is partly because certain manifestations of violence are structural or cultural as Professor Johan Galtung describes these terms, and they originated long ago and have been recreated and ‘built-in’ over successive centuries.

However, it is important to understand that the nature of any given structure or cultural symbol/process reflects the psychology of those who create and/or maintain it. That is, it is dysfunctionalized human beings who create and maintain dysfunctional (that is, violent and/or exploitative) structures and cultures.

So, for example, while the origin of capitalism can be explained in terms of the development of economic structures and processes that took place over preceding centuries (in a particular socio-political-legal setting), fundamentally the exploitative nature of capitalism is a direct outcome of the badly damaged psychology of those men who progressively created it and now those men (and some women) who maintain it, expand it and primarily benefit from the manner in which it exploits most others.

And if those men and women were not psychologically damaged by the violence they suffered during childhood, then they would devote their efforts to creating egalitarian economic structures and processes that benefited everyone equally and nurtured the biosphere. In short, a human being who is psychologically whole regards the idea of killing or exploiting a fellow human being as deplorable. This is not a moral stance. It is a psychological outcome for the child who is parented lovingly: such parenting produces compassionate identification with others (and, in fact, everything that lives and the biosphere as a whole).

The same reasoning applies to the institution of war particularly as it has evolved and is now conducted by western nations, led by the US, and their allies such as Israel. War is a method of conducting conflict. It has a great many components including elites who promote war-for-profit by using various channels such as ‘think tanks’, the corporate media, government propaganda and education systems to call for and ‘justify’ it, political processes to order it, legal processes to defend it (including against those who take nonviolent action against it), military command, control and communication structures to plan and implement it, corporations employing a labor force to manufacture weapons and other hardware to be used in it, military personnel to deploy and fire the weapons, and citizens willing to pay taxes (or too scared to resist doing so) to finance it.

But at every level of the institution of war, and despite vast advances in peace, conflict and nonviolence theory and practice during the past 60 years, it requires individuals who were terrorized during their childhood into believing that killing fellow human beings is an appropriate way to deal with conflict (or, a variation, that killing human beings is a reasonable way to earn a wage or make a profit). And because they are so psychologically damaged and now deeply embedded within the institution of war, consideration of alternatives to violence is only tokenistically contemplated, if at all (with occasional exceptions by those whose conscience survived the childhood violence they suffered). If you like, you can read a little more about how childhood violence creates insane individuals who perpetuate violence and war in articles such as ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited‘ but there is plenty more on that website.

In essence, if most human beings were not so psychologically damaged by the violence inflicted on them during childhood (leaving them unconsciously terrified, self-hating and powerless), there would be a mass uprising against the barbarity of war: the large-scale industrial slaughter of people like you.

So what are we to do?

Well, if we consider war as an outcome not of political and economic differences manifesting as military violence but, fundamentally, as an outcome of psychological dysfunctionality preventing intelligent resolution of conflict, then our strategy for ending war can acquire a sophistication it must otherwise lack. Put simply, by understanding the psychological roots of violence we can develop and implement a strategy that intelligently addresses these, both in the short and medium terms.

So how do we tackle, strategically, the interrelated set of problems that constitute the institution of war?

If your primary interest is focusing on war itself, check out the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel which simply illustrates the 12-point strategic framework necessary to conduct an effective nonviolent campaign and then consider the basic list of 35 strategic goals necessary to end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.

If you are concerned that you need some form of military defense against those who might attack your country, it is actually strategically superior to use a strategy of nonviolent defense, which is explained in detail in The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach and presented more simply in Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. In fact, this strategic framework can be used to plan and implement a nonviolent strategy to defend against a foreign invading power or a political/military coup, to liberate your country from a dictatorship or a foreign occupation, or to defeat a genocidal assault.

As an aside, if your preferred focus is the climate catastrophe, some other assault on the biosphere or a social justice campaign of any kind, the Nonviolent Strategy website will assist you to develop a comprehensive and focused strategy.

When conducting any campaign, keep in mind a clear understanding of ‘Nonviolent Action: Why and How it Works’ and remember the distinction between ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions’. By keeping these points in mind, your campaign (including each of your tactics) will be focused for strategic impact.

If your interest in ending war is more focused on undermining it at its source, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’ and nisteling, whenever appropriate, to children too. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

This will mean that any children in your life are supported, at least by you, to become self-loving and powerful individuals who are immune to the seductions and indoctrination of those who advocate and make war while developing the capacity to pursue life-enhancing behavioral options when dealing with conflict.

If parenting children in this manner feels beyond you, consider allowing yourself the time to heal from the violence that you have suffered throughout your life. See ‘Putting Feelings First.’  And don’t forget: while depending on our psychological dysfunctionality to accept, finance and conduct war as a means of dealing with conflict, at its most mundane level, war is a conflict over resources, particularly fossil fuels, strategic minerals and fresh water, and it is our consumption of these, in all of those products (such as meat and cars) and services (like airline flights) that we buy, that fuels the wars conducted in our name while also destroying the biosphere in various other ways. (If you want to understand the psychological origin of this obsession with material goods, see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War‘.) In short, there is no point deluding ourselves that we can subvert this violent world order without substantially reducing our consumption on all fronts.

So another way you can have strategic impact in undermining the institution of war (and capitalism), while slowing destruction of the biosphere, is to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth.’ The Flame Tree Project outlines a simple plan for people to progressively reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas.

You might also be interested in signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ where the names of many people who are working to end war (and other violence) are already listed.

Ending war is not impossible. Far from it, in fact. But it is going to take a phenomenal amount of intelligent strategic effort, courage and commitment.

The Psychology of Fascism

The continuing rise of fascism around the world is drawing increasing attention particularly as it takes firmer grip within national societies long seen to have rejected it.

Some recent studies have reminded us of the characteristics of fascist movements and individuals, particularly as they manifest among politically active fascists. For example, in his recent book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us And Them Professor Jason Stanley has identified ten characteristics shared by fascists which have been simply presented in the article ‘Prof Sees Fascism Creeping In U.S.’

These characteristics, readily evident in the USA, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere today, include belief in a mythic (false) past, propaganda to divert attention and blame from the true source of corruption, anti-intellectualism and a belief in the ‘common man’ while deriding ‘women and racial and sexual minorities who seek basic equality as, in fact, seeking political and cultural domination’, promotion of elite dogma at the expense of any competing ideas (such as those in relation to freedom and equality), portrayal of the elite and its agents as victims, reliance on delusion rather than fact to justify their pursuit of power, the use of law and order ‘not to punish actual criminals, but to criminalize “out groups” like racial, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities’ which is why we are now ‘seeing criminality being written into immigration status’, and identification of “out groups” as lazy while attacking welfare systems and labor organizers, and promoting the idea that elites and their agents are hard working while exploited groups are lazy and a drain on the state.

In an earlier article ‘Fascism Anyone?’, published in the Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry Magazine, Professor Laurence W. Britt identified fourteen shared threads that link fascists. These include powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism, disdain for the importance of human rights, identification of enemies/scapegoats (such as communists, socialists, liberals, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals and ‘terrorists’) as a unifying cause, obsession with national security and avid identification with the military, sexism, a controlled/compliant mass media that promotes the elite agenda, a manufactured perception that opposing the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion, corporate power protected by the political elite while the power of labor is suppressed or eliminated, disdain for intellectuals and the arts, expanded police power and prison populations in response to an obsession with the crime and punishment of ordinary citizens (while elite crimes are protected by a compliant judiciary), rampant cronyism and corruption, and fraudulent elections defended by a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Offering a more straightforward characterization of fascism in the US context, which also highlights its violence more explicitly than the characterizations above, the eminent Norwegian peace research scholar Professor Johan Galtung explains it thus:

US Fascism? Yes, indeed; if by fascism we mean use of massive violence for political goals. US fascism takes three forms: global with bombing, droning and sniping all over; domestic with military weapons used across race and class faultlines; and then NSA-National Security Agency spying on everybody.

Among other recent commentaries, one draws attention to a recent fascist gathering in the USA, another to the ways in which fascism, under various names, is being effectively spread and another warns of focusing too narrowly on one issue and missing the wider threat that fascism poses.

In any case, for those paying attention to what is happening in places like the United States, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and elsewhere, it is easy to see that the rush to embrace fascism is accelerating.

But why? Surely, in this ‘enlightened’ age, notions such as freedom, democracy, human rights and equality are deeply embedded in our collective psyche, particularly in the West. We believe that elections should be, and are, ‘free and fair’ and not determined by corporate donations; we believe that the judiciary is independent of political and corporate influence. But are they?

Well, in fact, the evidence offered by the casual observation of events in the places mentioned above, as well as elsewhere around the world, tells us that none of this is any longer, if it ever was, the case. Let me explain why.

Fascism is a political label but, like any such label, it has a psychological foundation. That is, the political behavior of those who are fascists can be explained by understanding their psychology. Of course, all behavior can be explained by psychology but I will focus on the psychology of fascist behavior here.

There have been attempts to understand and explain the psychology of fascism, starting with the early work of Wilhelm Reich in The Mass Psychology of Fascism. So what is the psychology of individuals who are fascists?

You might not be surprised to read that the psychology of fascists is complex and is a direct outcome of the nature of the extraordinary violence to which they were subjected as children.

The Psychology of Fascists

Let me briefly identify the psychological profile of fascists and the specific violence (‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) that generates a person with this psychology. For a thorough explanation and elaboration of this profile, and explanations of the terms ‘visible’, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

First, fascists are terrified and they are particularly terrified of those individuals who perpetrated violence against them when they were a child although this terror remains unconscious to them. Second, this terror is so extreme that fascists are too terrified to consciously identify to themselves their own perpetrator (one or both parents and/or other significant adults who were supposed to love them) and to say that it is this individual or individuals who are violent and wrong.

Third, because they are terrified, they are unable to defend themselves against the original perpetrator(s) but also, as a result, they are unable to defend themselves against other perpetrators who attack them later in life. This lack of capacity to defend themselves leads to the fourth and fifth attributes – a deep sense of powerlessness and a deep sense of self-hatred. However, it is too terrifying and painful for the individual to be consciously aware of any of these feelings/attributes.

Sixth, because they are terrified of identifying that they are the victim of the violence of their own parents (and/or other significant adults from their childhood) and that this violence terrified them, fascists unconsciously delude themselves about the identity of their own perpetrator. They will unconsciously identify their ‘perpetrator’ as one or more individuals of whom they are not actually afraid from an existing ‘legitimized victim’ group such as children or people from a different gender, race, religion or class. This is also because their unconscious terror and self-hatred compels them to project onto people who are ‘controllable’ (because their original perpetrators never were). For this reason, their victims are (unconsciously) carefully chosen and are always relatively powerless by comparison.

This is easy to do because, seventh, children who become fascists have been terrorized into accepting a very narrow-minded and dogmatic belief set that excludes consideration of those in other social (including gender, racial, religious or class) groups. The idea that they might open-mindedly consider other beliefs, or the rights of those not in the ‘in-group’, is (unconsciously) terrifying to them. Moreover, because they have been terrorized into adopting their rigid belief set, fascists develop an intense fear of the truth; hence, fascists are both bigoted and self-righteous. In addition, the belief set of fascists includes a powerful and violently reinforced ‘lesson’: ‘good’ means obedient; it does not mean intrinsically good, loving and caring.

Eighth, and as a result of all of the above, fascists learn to unconsciously project their self-hatred, one outcome of their own victimhood, as hatred for those in the ‘out-groups’. This ‘justifies’ their (violent) behavior and obscures their unconscious motivation: to remain unaware of their own suppressed terror and self-hatred.

Ninth, fascists have a compulsion to be violent; that is, they are addicted to it. Why? Because the act of violence allows them to explosively release the suppressed feelings (usually some combination of fear, terror, pain, anger and powerlessness) so that they experience a brief sensation of delusional ‘relief’. Because the ‘relief’ is both brief and delusional, they are condemned to repeat their violence endlessly.

But the compulsion to be violent is reinforced by another element in their belief set, the tenth characteristic: fascists have a delusional belief in the effectiveness and morality of violence; they have no capacity to perceive its dysfunctionality and immorality.

And eleventh, the extreme social terrorization experience to which fascists have been subjected means that the feelings of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy, as well as the mental function of conscience, are prevented from developing. Devoid of conscience and these feelings, fascists can inflict violence on others, including their own children, without experiencing the feedback that conscience and these feelings would provide.

What Can We Do?

There is no simple formula for healing the badly damaged psychology of a fascist (or those who occupy a proximate ‘political space’ such as conservatives who advocate violence): it takes years of violent parental and adult treatment to create a fascist and so the path to heal one is long and painful, assuming the support for the individual to do so is available. Nevertheless, fascists can heal from the terror and self-hatred that underpin their psychology.  And they can be assisted to heal by someone who is skilled in the art of deep listening.

Unfortunately, given their cowardice, fascists are unlikely to have the courage to seek the appropriate emotional support to heal. In the meantime, those of us so inclined must resist their violence and, ideally, this should be done strategically, particularly if we want impact against fascist national leaders.

The good news is that we can avoid creating fascists. If you want to nurture a child so that they become compassionate and caring, live by their conscience and act with morality and courage in all circumstances, including when resisting fascists, then consider making My Promise to Children.

You might also consider joining the worldwide movement to end all violence, fascist or otherwise, by signing the online pledge of  ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘.

In essence: Fascists are terrified, full of self-hatred and powerless. But, too scared to feel their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness, they unconsciously project this as fear of, and hatred for, the people in one or more ‘legitimized victim’ groups, including their own children (thus creating the next generation of fascists). They then try to ‘feel powerful’ by seeking violent control over these people themselves or by seeking to have violent control exercised over these people by various ‘authorities’, ranging from school teachers and religious figures to the police, military and various corporate and government agencies.

No matter how much control they have over others, however, it is impossible to control their own terror, self-hatred and powerlessness. So they are unconsciously and endlessly driven to seek (delusional) ‘relief’ by violently controlling those in legitimized victim groups. It is because their own children are the most immediately available ‘uncontrollable’ target that fascism is readily perpetuated.

500 years is long enough! Human Depravity in the Congo

I would like to tell you something about human depravity and illustrate just how widespread it is among those we often regard as ‘responsible’. I am going to use the Democratic Republic of the Congo as my example.

As I illustrate and explain what has happened to the Congo and its people during the past 500 years, I invite you to consider my essential point: Human depravity has no limit unless people like you (hopefully) and me take some responsibility for ending it. Depravity, barbarity and violent exploitation will not end otherwise because major international organizations (such as the UN), national governments and corporations all benefit from it and are almost invariably led by individuals too cowardly to act on the truth.

The Congo

Prior to 1482, the area of central Africa now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was part of the Kingdom of the Kongo. It was populated by some of the greatest civilizations in human history.

Slavery

However, in that fateful year of 1482, the mouth of the Congo River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, became known to Europeans when the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cao claimed he ‘discovered’ it. By the 1530s, more than five thousand slaves a year (many from inland regions of the Kongo) were being transported to distant lands, mostly in the Americas. Hence, as documented by Adam Hochschild in King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, the Congo was first exploited by Europeans during the Atlantic slave trade.

Despite the horrific depredations of the militarized slave trade and all of its ancillary activities, including Christian priests spreading ‘Christianity’ while raping their captive slave girls, the Kingdoms of the Kongo were able to defend and maintain themselves to a large degree for another 400 years by virtue of their long-standing systems of effective governance. As noted by Chancellor Williams’ in his epic study The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4500 B.C. to 2000 A.D. the Kingdoms of the Congo prior to 1885 – including Kuba under Shyaam the Great and the Matamba Kingdom under Ngola Kambolo – were a cradle of culture, democracy and exceptional achievement with none more effective than the remarkable Queen (of Ndongo and Matamba), warrior and diplomat Nzinga in the 17th century.

But the ruthless military onslaught of the Europeans never abated. In fact, it continually expanded with ever-greater military firepower applied to the task of conquering Africa. In 1884 European powers met in Germany to finally divide ‘this magnificent African cake’, precipitating what is sometimes called ‘the scramble for Africa’ but is more accurately described as ‘the scramble to finally control and exploit Africa and Africans completely’.

Colonization

One outcome of the Berlin Conference was that the great perpetrator of genocide – King Leopold II of Belgium – with the active and critical support of the United States, seized violent control of a vast swathe of central Africa in the Congo Basin and turned it into a Belgian colony. In Leopold’s rapacious pursuit of rubber, gold, diamonds, mahogany and ivory, 10 million African men, women and children had been slaughtered and many Africans mutilated (by limb amputation, for example) by the time he died in 1909. His brutality and savagery have been documented by Adam Hochschild in the book King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa which reveals the magnitude of human suffering that this one man, unopposed in any significant way by his fellow Belgians or anyone else, was responsible for inflicting on Africa.

If you want to spend a few moments in touch with the horror of what some human beings do to other human beings, then I invite you to look at the sample photos of what Leopold did in ‘his’ colony in the Congo. See A Nightmare In Heaven – Why Nobody Is Talking About The Holocaust in Congo.

Now if you were hoping that the situation in the Congo improved with the death of the monster Leopold, your hope is in vain.

The shocking reality is that the unmitigated horror inflicted on the Congolese people has barely improved since Leopold’s time. The Congo remained under Belgian control during World War I during which more than 300,000 Congolese were forced to fight against other Africans from the neighboring German colony of Ruanda-Urundi. During World War II when Nazi Germany captured Belgium, the Congo financed the Belgian government in exile.

Throughout these decades, the Belgian government forced millions of Congolese into mines and fields using a system of ‘mandatory cultivation’ that forced people to grow cash crops for export, even as they starved on their own land.

It was also during the colonial period that the United States acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo without, of course, any benefit to the Congolese people. This included its use of uranium from a Congolese mine (subsequently closed in 1960) to manufacture the first nuclear weapons: those used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Independence then Dictatorship

By 1960, the Congolese people had risen up to overthrow nearly a century of slavery and Belgian rule. Patrice Lumumba became the first Prime Minister of the new nation and he quickly set about breaking the yoke of Belgian influence and allied the Congo with Russia at the height of the Cold War.

But the victory of the Congolese people over their European and US overlords was shortlived: Patrice Lumumba was assassinated in a United States-sponsored coup in 1961 with the US and other western imperial powers (and a compliant United Nations) repeating a long-standing and ongoing historical pattern of preventing an incredibly wealthy country from determining its own future and using its resources for the benefit of its own people.

So, following a well-worn modus operandi, an agent in the form of (Army Chief of Staff, Colonel) Mobutu Sese Seko was used to overthrow Lumumba’s government. Lumumba himself was captured and tortured for three weeks before being assassinated by firing squad. The new dictator Mobutu, compliant to western interests, then waged all-out war in the country, publicly executing members of the pro-Lumumba revolution in spectacles witnessed by tens of thousands of people. By 1970 nearly all potential threats to his authority had been smashed.

Mobutu would rape the Congo (renamed Zaire for some time) with the blessing of the west  – robbing the nation of around $2billion – from 1965 to 1997. During this period, the Congo got more than $1.5 billion in US economic and military aid in return for which US multinational corporations increased their share of the Congo’s abundant minerals.  Washington justified its hold on the Congo with the pretext of anti-Communism but its real interests were strategic and economic.

Invasion

Eventually, however, Mobutu’s increasingly hostile rhetoric toward his white overlords caused the west to seek another proxy. So, ostensibly in retaliation against Hutu rebels from the Rwandan genocide of 1994 – who fled into eastern Congo after Paul Kagame’s (Tutsi) Rwanda Patriotic Army invaded Rwanda from Uganda to end the genocide – in October 1996 Rwanda’s now-dictator Kagame, ‘who was trained in intelligence at Fort Leavenworth in the United States, invaded the Congo with the help of the Clinton Administration and Uganda. By May 1997 the invading forces had removed Mobutu and installed the new (more compliant) choice for dictator, Laurent Kabila.

Relations between Kabila and Kagame quickly soured, however, and Kabila expelled the Rwandans and Ugandans from the Congo in July 1998. However, the Rwandans and Ugandans reinvaded in August establishing an occupation force in eastern Congo. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent their armies to support Kabila and Burundi joined the Rwandans and Ugandans. Thus began ‘Africa’s First World War‘ involving seven armies and lasting until 2003. It eventually killed six million people – most of them civilians – and further devastated a country crushed by more than a century of Western domination, with Rwanda and Uganda establishing themselves as conduits for illegally taking strategic minerals out of the Congo.

During the periods under Mobutu and Kabila, the Congo became the concentration camp capital of the world and the rape capital as well. ‘No woman in the path of the violence was spared. 7 year olds were raped by government troops in public. Pregnant women were disemboweled. Genital mutilation was commonplace, as was forced incest and cannibalism. The crimes were never punished, and never will be.’

Laurent Kabila maintained the status quo until he was killed by his bodyguard in 2001. Since then, his son and the current dictator Joseph Kabila has held power in violation of the Constitution. ‘He has murdered protesters and opposition party members, and has continued to obey the will of the west while his people endure unspeakable hells.’

Corporate and State Exploitation

While countries such as Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland and the UK are heavily involved one way or another (with other countries, such as Australia, somewhat less so), US corporations make a vast range of hitech products including microchips, cell phones and semiconductors using conflict minerals taken from the Congo . This makes companies like Intel, Apple, HP, and IBM culpable for funding the militias that control the mines.

But many companies are benefitting. For example,a 2002 report by the United Nations listed a ‘sample’ of 34 companies based in Europe and Asia that are importing minerals from the Congo via, in this case, Rwanda. The UN Report commented: ‘Illegal exploitation of the mineral and forest resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is taking place at an alarming rate. Two phases can be distinguished: mass-scale looting and the systematic and systemic exploitation of resources’. The mass-scale looting occurred during the initial phase of the invasion of the Congo by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi when stockpiles of minerals, coffee, wood, livestock and money in the conquered territory were either taken to the invading countries or exported to international markets by their military forces or nationals. The subsequent systematic and systemic exploitation required planning and organization involving key military commanders, businessmen and government structures; it was clearly illegal.

For some insight into other issues making exploitation of the Congo possible but which are usually paid less attention – such as the roles of mercenaries, weapons dealers, US military training of particular rebel groups and the secret airline flights among key locations in the smuggling operations of conflict minerals – see the research of Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski.

Has there been any official attempt to rein in this corporate exploitation?

A little. For example, the Obama-era US Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act of 2010 shone a spotlight on supply chains, pressuring companies to determine the origin of minerals used in their products and invest in removing conflict minerals from their supply chain. This resulted in some US corporations, conscious of the public relations implications of being linked to murderous warlords and child labor, complying with the Act. So, a small step in the right direction it seemed.

In 2011, given that legally-binding human rights provisions, if applied, should have offered adequate protections already, the United Nations rather powerlessly formulated the non-bindingGuiding Principles on Business and Human Rights‘.

And in 2015, the European Union also made a half-hearted attempt when it decided that smelters and refiners based in the 28-nation bloc be asked to certify that their imports were conflict-free on a voluntary basis!

However, following the election of Donald Trump as US President, in April 2017 ‘the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suspended key provisions of its “conflict minerals” rule’. Trump is also seeking to undo the Obama-era financial regulations, once again opening the door to the unimpeded trade in blood minerals by US corporations.

Today

Despite its corrupt exploitation for more than 500 years, the Congo still has vast natural resources (including rainforests) and mineral wealth. Its untapped deposits of minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of $US24 trillion. Yes, that’s right: $US24trillion. With a host of rare strategic minerals – including cobalt, coltan, gold and diamonds – as well as copper, zinc, tin and tungsten critical to the manufacture of hi-tech electronic products ranging from aircraft and vehicles to computers and mobile phones, violent and morally destitute western governments and corporations are not about to let the Congo decide its own future and devote its resources to the people of this African country. This, of course, despite the international community paying lip service to a plethora of ‘human rights’ treaties.

Hence, violent conflict, including ongoing war, over the exploitation of these resources, including the smuggling of ‘conflict minerals’ – such as gold, coltan and cassiterite (the latter two ores of tantalum and tin, respectively), and diamonds – will ensure that the people of the Congo continue to be denied what many of those in western countries take for granted: the right to life benefiting from the exploitation of ‘their’ natural resources.

In essence then, since 1885 European and US governments, together with their corporations and African collaborators, have inflicted phenomenal ongoing atrocities on the peoples of the Congo as they exploit the vast resources of the country for the benefit of non-Congolese people.

But, you might wonder, European colonizers inflicted phenomenal violence on the indigenous peoples in all of their colonies – whether in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean or Oceania – so is their legacy in the Congo any worse?

Well, according to the The Pan-African Alliance, just since colonization in 1885, at least 25 million Congolese men, women and children have been slaughtered by white slave traders, missionaries, colonists, corporations and governments (both the governments of foreign-installed Congolese dictators and imperial powers). ‘Yet barely a mention is made of the holocaust that rages in the heart of Africa.’ Why? Because the economy of the entire world rests on the back of the Congo.

So what is happening now?

In a sentence: The latest manifestation of the violence and exploitation that has been happening since 1482 when that Portuguese explorer ‘discovered’ the mouth of the Congo River. The latest generation of European and American genocidal exploiters, and their latter-day cronies, is busy stealing what they can from the Congo. Of course, as illustrated above, having installed the ruthless dictator of their choosing to ensure that foreign interests are protected, the weapon of choice is the corporation and non-existent legal or other effective controls in the era of ‘free trade’.

The provinces of North and South Kivu in the eastern Congo are filled with mines of cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold. Much mining is done by locals eking out a living using Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM); that is, mining by hand, sometimes with rudimentary tools. Some of these miners sell their product via local agents to Congolese military commanders who smuggle it out of the country, usually via Rwanda, Uganda or Burundi, and use the proceeds to enrich themselves.

Another report on South Kivu by Global Witness in 2016 documented evidence of the corrupt links between government authorities, foreign corporations (in this case, Kun Hou Mining of China) and the military, which results in the gold dredged from the Ulindi River in South Kivu being illegally smuggled out of the country, with much of it ending up with Alfa Gold Corp in Dubai. The unconcealed nature of this corruption and the obvious lack of enforcement of weak Congolese law is a powerful disincentive for corporations to engage in ‘due diligence’ when conducting their own mining operations in the Congo.

In contrast, in the south of the Congo in the former province of Katanga, Amnesty International and Afrewatch researchers tracked sacks of cobalt ore that had been mined by artisanal miners in Kolwezi to the local market where the mineral ore is sold. From this point, the material was smelted by one of the large companies in Kolwezi, such as Congo Dongfang Mining International SARL (CDM), which is a smelter and fully-owned subsidiary of Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company Ltd (Huayou Cobalt) in China, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cobalt products. Once smelted, the material is typically exported from the Congo to China via a port in South Africa.

In its 2009 report ‘“Faced with a gun, what can you do?” War and the Militarisation of Mining in Eastern Congo’ examining the link between foreign corporate activity in the Congo and the military violence, Global Witness raised questions about the involvement of nearly 240 companies spanning the mineral, metal and technology industries. It specifically identified four main European companies as open buyers in this illegal trade: Thailand Smelting and Refining Corp. (owned by British Amalgamated Metal Corp.), British Afrimex, Belgian Trademet and Traxys. It also questioned the role of other companies further down the manufacturing chain, including prominent electronics companies Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Dell and Motorola (a list to which Microsoft and Samsung should have been added as well). Even though they may be acting ‘legally’, Global Witness criticized their lack of due diligence and transparency standards at every level of their supply chain.

Of course, as you no doubt expect, some of the world’s largest corporate miners are in the Congo. These include Glencore (Switzerland) and Freeport-McMoRan (USA). But there are another 20 or more mining corporations in the Congo too, including Mawson West Limited (Australia), Forrest Group International (Belgium),  Anvil Mining (Canada), Randgold Resources (UK) and AngloGold Ashanti (South Africa).

Needless to say, despite beautifully worded ‘corporate responsibility statements’ by whatever name, the record rarely goes even remotely close to resembling the rhetoric. Take Glencore’s lovely statement on ‘safety’ in the Congo: ‘Ask Glencore: Democratic Republic of the Congo’. Unfortunately, this didn’t prevent the 2016 accident at a Congolese mine that one newspaper reported in the following terms: ‘Glencore’s efforts to reduce fatalities among its staff have suffered a setback with the announcement that the death toll from an accident at a Congolese mine has risen to seven.’

Or consider the Belgian Forrest Group International’s wonderful ‘Community Services’  program, supposedly developing projects ‘in the areas of education, health, early childhood care, culture, sport, infrastructure and the environment. The Forrest Group has been investing on the African continent since 1922. Its longevity is the fruit of a vision of the role a company should have, namely the duty to be a positive player in the society in which it operates. The investments of the Group share a common core of values which include, as a priority, objectives of stability and long-term prospects.’

Regrettably, the Forrest Group website and public relations documents make no mention of the company’s illegal demolition, without notice, of hundreds of homes of people who lived in the long-standing village of Kawama, inconveniently close to the Forrest Group’s Luiswishi Mine, on 24 and 25 November 2009. People were left homeless and many lost their livelihoods as a direct consequence. Of course, the demolitions constitute forced evictions, which are illegal under international human rights law.

Fortunately, given the obvious oversight of the Forrest Group in failing to mention it, the demolitions have been thoroughly documented by Amnesty International in its report ‘Bulldozed – How a Mining Company Buried the Truth about Forced Evictions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’  and the satellite photographs acquired by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science have been published as well.

Needless to say, it is difficult for Congolese villagers to feel they have any ‘stability and long-term prospects’, as the Forrest Group’s ‘Community Services’ statement puts it, when their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. Are company chairman George A. Forrest and its CEO Malta David Forrest and their family delusional? Or just so familiar with being violently ruthless in their exploitation of the Congo and its people, that it doesn’t even occur to them that there might be less violent ways of resolving any local conflicts?

Tragically, of course, fatal industrial accidents and housing demolition are only two of the many abuses inflicted on mining labourers, including (illegal) child labourers, and families in the Congo where workers are not even provided with the most basic ‘safety equipment’ – work clothes, helmets, gloves, boots and face masks – let alone a safe working environment (including guidance on the safe handling of toxic substances) or a fair wage, reasonable working hours, holidays, sick leave or superannuation.

Even where laws exist, such as the Congo’s Child Protection Code (2009) which provides for ‘free and compulsory primary education for all children’, laws are often simply ignored (without legal consequence). Although, it should also be noted, in the Congo there is no such thing as ‘free education’ despite the law. Consequently, plenty of children do not attend school and work full time, others attend school but work out of school hours. There is no effective system to remove children from child labour (which is well documented). Even for adults, there is no effective labour inspection system. Most artisanal mining takes places in unauthorized mining areas where the government is doing next to nothing to regulate the safety and labour conditions in which the miners work.

In addition, as noted above, given its need for minerals to manufacture the hi-tech products it makes, including those for western corporations, China is deeply engaged in mining strategic minerals in the Congo too.

Based on the Chinese notion of ‘respect’ – which includes the ‘principle’ of noninterference in each other’s internal affairs – the Chinese dictatorship is content to ignore the dictatorship of the Congo and its many corrupt and violent practices, even if its investment often has more beneficial outcomes for ordinary Congolese than does western ‘investment’. Moreover, China is not going to disrupt and destabilize the Congo in the way that the United States and European countries have done for so long.

Having noted the above, however, there is plenty of evidence of corrupt Chinese business practice in the extraction and sale of strategic minerals in the Congo, including that documented in the above-mentioned Global Witness report.

Moreover, Chinese involvement is not limited to its direct engagement in mining such as gold dredging of the Ulindi River. A vital source of the mineral cobalt is that which is mined by artisanal miners. As part of a recent detailed investigation, Amnesty International had researchers follow cobalt mined by artisanal miners from where it was mined to a market at Musompo, where minerals are traded. The report summarised what happens:

Independent traders at Musompo – most of them Chinese – buy the ore, regardless of where it has come from or how it has been mined. In turn, these traders sell the ore on to larger companies in the DRC which process and export it. One of the largest companies at the centre of this trade is Congo Dongfang Mining International (CDM). CDM is a 100% owned subsidiary of China-based Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Company Ltd (Huayou Cobalt), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of cobalt products. Operating in the DRC since 2006, CDM buys cobalt from traders, who buy directly from the miners. CDM then smelts the ore at its plant in the DRC before exporting it to China. There, Huayou Cobalt further smelts and sells the processed cobalt to battery component manufacturers in China and South Korea. In turn, these companies sell to battery manufacturers, which then sell on to well-known consumer brands.

Using public records, including investor documents and statements published on company websites, researchers identified battery component manufacturers who were listed as sourcing processed ore from Huayou Cobalt. They then went on to trace companies who were listed as customers of the battery component manufacturers, in order to establish how the cobalt ends up in consumer products. In seeking to understand how this international supply chain works, as well as to ask questions about each company’s due diligence policy, Amnesty International wrote to Huayou Cobalt and 25 other companies in China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, UK, and the USA. These companies include some of the world’s largest and best known consumer electronics companies, including Apple Inc., Dell, HP Inc. (formerly Hewlett-Packard Company), Huawei, Lenovo (Motorola), LG, Microsoft Corporation, Samsung, Sony and Vodafone, as well as vehicle manufacturers like Daimler AG, Volkswagen and Chinese firm BYD. Their replies are detailed in the report’s Annex.

As backdrop to the problems mentioned above, it is worth pointing out that keeping the country under military siege is useful to many parties, internal and foreign. Over the past 20 years of violent conflict, control of these valuable mineral resources has been a lucrative way for warring parties to finance their violence – that is, buying the products of western weapons corporations – and to promote the chaotic circumstances that make minimal accountability and maximum profit easiest. The Global Witness report ‘Faced with a gun, what can you do?’ cited above followed the supply chain of these minerals from warring parties to middlemen to international buyers: people happy to profit from the sale of ‘blood minerals’ to corporations which, in turn, are happy to buy them cheaply to manufacture their highly profitable hi-tech products.

Moreover, according to the Global Witness report, although the Congolese army and rebel groups – such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel force opposed to the Rwandan government that has taken refuge in the Congo since the 1994 Rwanda genocide – have been warring on opposite sides for years. They are collaborators in the mining effort, at times providing each other with road and airport access and even sharing their spoils. Researchers say they found evidence that the mineral trade is much more extensive and profitable than previously suspected: one Congolese government official reported that at least 90% of all gold exports from the country were undeclared. And the report charges that the failure of foreign governments to crack down on illicit mining and trade has undercut development endeavors supposedly undertaken by the international community in the war-torn region.

Social and Environmental Costs

Of course, against this background of preoccupation with the militarized exploitation of mineral resources for vast profit, ordinary Congolese people suffer extraordinary ongoing violence. Apart from the abuses mentioned above, four women are raped every five minutes in the Congo, according to a study done in May 2011. ‘These nationwide estimates of the incidence of rape are 26 times higher than the 15,000 conflict-related cases confirmed by the United Nations for the DRC in 2010’. Despite the country having the highest number of UN peacekeeping forces in the world – where the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has operated since the turn of the century – the level of sexual violence soldiers have perpetrated against women is staggering. Currently, there is still much violence in the region, as well as an overwhelming amount of highly strategic mass rape.

Unsurprisingly, given the international community’s complete indifference, despite rhetoric to the contrary, to the plight of Congolese people, it is not just Congolese soldiers who are responsible for the rapes. UN ‘peacekeepers’ are perpetrators too.

And the Congo is a violently dangerous place for children as well with, for example, Child Soldiers International reporting that with a variety of national and foreign armed groups and forces operating in the country for over 20 years, the majority of fighting forces have recruited and used children, and most still exploit boys and girls today with girls forced to become girl soldiers but to perform a variety of other sexual and ‘domestic’ roles too. Of course, child labour is completely out of control with many impoverished families utterly dependent on it for survival.

In addition, many Congolese also end up as refugees in neighbouring countries or as internally displaced people in their own country.

As you would expect, it is not just human beings who suffer. With rebel soldiers (such as the Rwanda-backed M23), miners and poachers endlessly plundering inadequately protected national parks and other wild places for their resources, illegal mining is rampant, over-fishing a chronic problem, illegal logging (and other destruction such as charcoal burning for cooking) of rain forests is completely out of control in some places, poaching of hippopotamuses, elephants, chimpanzees and okapi for ivory and bushmeat is unrelenting (often despite laws against hunting with guns), and wildlife trafficking of iconic species (including the increasingly rare mountain gorilla) simply beyond the concern of most people.

The Congolese natural environment – including the UNESCO World Heritage sites at Virunga National Park and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, together with their park rangers – and the indigenous peoples such as the Mbuti (‘pygmies’) who live in them, are under siege. In addition to the ongoing mining, smaller corporations that can’t compete with the majors, such as Soco, want to explore and drill for oil. For a taste of the reading on all this, see ‘Virunga National Park Ranger Killed in DRC Ambush‘, ‘The struggle to save the “Congolese unicorn“‘, ‘Meet the First Female Rangers to Guard One of World’s Deadliest Parks‘ and ‘The Battle for Africa’s Oldest National Park‘.

If you would like to watch a video about some of what is happening in the Congo, either of these videos will give you an unpleasant taste: ‘Crisis In The Congo: Uncovering The Truth‘ and ‘Conflict Minerals, Rebels and Child Soldiers in Congo‘.

Resisting the Violence

So what is happening to resist this violence and exploitation? Despite the horror, as always, some incredible people are working to end it.

Some Congolese activists resist the military dictatorship of Joseph Kabila, despite the enormous risks of doing so.

Some visionary Congolese continue devoting their efforts, in phenomenally difficult circumstances including lack of funding, to building a society where ordinary Congolese people have the chance to create a meaningful life for themselves. Two individuals and organizations who particularly inspire me are based in Goma in eastern Congo where the fighting is worst.

The Association de Jeunes Visionnaires pour le Développement du Congo, headed by Leon Simweragi, is a youth peace group that works to rehabilitate child soldiers as well as offer meaningful opportunities for the sustainable involvement of young people in matters that affect their lives and those of their community.

And Christophe Nyambatsi Mutaka is the key figure at the Groupe Martin Luther King that promotes active nonviolence, human rights and peace. Christophe’s group particularly works on reducing sexual and other violence against women.

There are also solidarity groups, based in the West, that work to draw attention to the nightmare happening in the Congo. These include Friends of the Congo that works to inform people and agitate for change and groups like Child Soldiers International mentioned above.

If you would like to better understand the depravity of those individuals in the Congo (starting with the dictator Joseph Kabila but including all those officials, bureaucrats and soldiers) who enable, participate in or ignore the violence and exploitation; the presidents and prime ministers of western governments who ignore exploitation, by their locally-based corporations, of the Congo; the heads of multinational corporations that exploit the Congo – such as Anthony Hayward (Chair of Glencore), Richard Adkerson (CEO of Freeport-McMoRan), George A. Forrest and Malta David Forrest (Chair and CEO respectively of Forrest Group International), Christopher L Coleman (Chair of Randgold Resources) and Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan (CEO of AngloGold Ashanti) – as well as those individuals in international organizations such as the UN (starting with Secretary-General António Guterres) and the EU (headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission), who ignore, provoke, support and/or profit from this violence and exploitation, you will find the document ‘Why Violence?‘ and the website ‘Feelings First‘ instructive.

Whether passively or actively complicit, each of these depraved individuals (along with other individuals within the global elite) does little or nothing to draw attention to, let alone work to profoundly change, the situation in the Congo which denies most Congolese the right to a meaningful life in any enlightened sense of these words.

If you would like to help, you can do so by supporting the efforts of the individual activists and solidarity organizations indicated above or those like them.

You might also like to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘ which references the Congo among many other examples of violence around the world.

And if you would like to support efforts to remove the dictatorship of Joseph Kabila and/or get corrupt foreign governments, corporations and organizations out of the Congo, you can do so by planning and implementing or supporting a nonviolent strategy that is designed to achieve one or more of these objectives.

If you are still reading this article and you feel the way I do about this ongoing atrocity, then I invite you to participate, one way or another, in ending it.

For more than 500 years, the Congo has been brutalized by the extraordinary violence inflicted by those who have treated the country as a resource – for slaves, rubber, timber, wildlife and minerals – to be exploited.

This will only end when enough of us commit ourselves to acting on the basis that 500 years is long enough. Liberate the Congo!

Gandhi’s Despair and the Struggle for Truth and Love

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it – always.

— M.K. Gandhi

As we remembered Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October, the Mahatma’s 149th birthday and the International Day of Nonviolence, there is plenty of room for despair.

Never before has the Earth and its many inhabitants been under siege as they are now, more than 100 years after Gandhi started warning us of the predicament in which we are embroiled and presenting his strategy for addressing it before it spiraled out of control.

Whether it is the threat of nuclear war, the ongoing wars in many parts of the world and particularly the Middle East, the multiple and synergistic threats to the global environment or the ongoing climate catastrophe, the Earth is under assault on all fronts and its precious life forms (human and otherwise) are being killed outright in vast numbers and driven to extinction at the rate of 200 species daily. And the evidence is rapidly accumulating that humans themselves will be extinct by 2026 as well.

Moreover, unlike the tyrants to which Gandhi was referring, the current ‘tyrant’ is a global elite that has acquired extraordinary power to kill and destroy as they pursue their insane compulsion to accumulate and control resources at the expense of life.

So are we to give up in despair? To quit without a fight? Or even delude ourselves that nothing needs to be done? Obviously, these were not ways that Gandhi would contemplate because, as noted in his words cited above: ‘the ways of truth and love have always won’. Although, as Gandhi did not bother to add: we must struggle, relentlessly, to ensure that truth and love prevail.

And, fortunately, there are many people around the world who agree with him.

Tackling the pervasive violence in our world requires a comprehensive strategy involving many campaigns focused on a wide range of peace, justice and environmental issues, and substantial mobilization. There is no single or simple path. Let me tell you about some of the people engaged in this effort and the nature of their commitment, together with what connects their involvement.

Remarkable activist and progressive journalist Abby Martin, based in the USA, was formerly creator and presenter of the investigative news program ‘Breaking the Set’ and is now creator and presenter of its successor program ‘The Empire Files’. With the support of her fine team, Abby researches and presents reports from ‘inside history’s biggest empire… recording a world shaped by war and inequality’ so that the truth is exposed for all to see. Abby, who is also an artist, interviews a wide range of people from ‘ordinary’ activists to progressive intellectuals to political leaders to penetrate the veil of obscurity cast by the global elite’s corporate media. You can watch Abby’s terrific programs, providing insight into how our incredibly violent world works, on her website ‘The Empire Files‘. You can also read about the latest attack on her work and how you can help in the article ‘US Sanctions Shut Down “The Empire Files” with Abby Martin’. Keep fighting, Abby! We are with you all the way.

Ina Curic in Romania writes illustrated children’s books designed to teach children a variety of lessons for living an empowered, socially and environmentally conscious life. Her book Queen Rain, King Wind: The Practice of Heart Gardening was published in May and Anagrania’s Challenge: Turning Conflict into Opportunity has just been published. Anagrania’s Challenge is a beautifully created story that offers clear and simple guidance on three subjects vital to our shared future on Earth: what we need to be ourselves, what we need to be healthy, and that acceptance of uniqueness and creatively dealing with conflict are essential if we are to live together and celebrate the benefits and advantages of our differences. If you are looking for children’s books that promote nonviolent living and conflict resolution, you will have trouble finding better books than those by Ina. You can read about Ina, as well as how to obtain her books, on her website Imagine Creatively.

Pakistani Canadian Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja is a scholar who writes searing critiques of international relations exposing the deep conflicts driving global events. Two of his recent articles are ‘World Affairs and Insanity as Entertainment: Are We at the End of Human Morality?‘  and ‘Mankind Must Know: The UNO and Global Leaders are a Menace to Peace and Problem-Solving‘.

Moreover, in support of his son Momin, a computer science graduate and IT entrepreneur, who has been unjustly imprisoned since 2004 on terrorism charges (and facing a sentence of life plus 24 years), Mahboob has created a website to raise awareness of Momin’s struggle for justice and freedom, and organized a petition for those who wish to express their support for him.

Edith Rubinstein in Belgium is definitely an ‘activist senior’. Now 86 and in a center of recuperation following a severe depression and bout of unconsciousness earlier this year, Edith still has her computer and continues her work as an activist.

Because I am an activist since a very long time, a feminist, a woman in Black, and I translated free Ecofeminism from Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva…. Since many years, I have translated alternative articles and finally it made me sick.

In fact, Edith admits:

I am completely “abnormal”. Somebody who feels bad to live in a world where hundreds of thousand people are killed or die … because they have nothing to eat anymore and nobody seems to care…. I feel very bad to live in this kind of world. Yes, terrible what is happening in the Congo! But unfortunately it is not the only case. And I am very scandalized by the behavior of the Western World!!!!

Zakia Haddouch in Morocco continues to report the extraordinarily difficult circumstances of people in that country as she and other activists continue their various struggles to bring some semblance of justice to Moroccan affairs. One prominent issue is the ongoing debate in relation to ‘the forced military service (for both young female and male subjects and I don’t say citizens). It was lately decreed by the king.’ Another struggle is taking place in the wake of the death of Mohcine Fikri on 28 October 2016, who was crushed to death in a rubbish truck trying to recover merchandise confiscated by a policeman. Following this event, Hirak (literally ‘The Movement’) was born and it quickly mobilized widespread support for its vigorous protests. While most of Hirak’s concerns are about local issues, it draws upon a national repertory of nonviolent actions fueled by the experiences of activists around the country.

Between October 2016 and May 2017, and faced with social unrest of an unprecedented vitality which increasingly challenged him personally, Mohamed VI remained silent. However, when Hirak leader Nasser Zefzazi – who has never failed to stress nonviolence and advocate self-restraint – interrupted a sermon on 26 May 2017 in which an imam claimed the social movement was tantamount to a ‘fratricidal struggle or even civil war within Islam’, the government took this pretext to clamp down on Hirak. Many activists were jailed – over 200 so far – and demonstrations are now systematically broken up. Zefzazi was among those arrested (on 29 May 2017) and, along with other members of Hirak, subsequently jailed for 20 years. The repression has nipped in the bud any hopes for resolving the crisis quickly. But this doesn’t mean that Zakia and other activists have been intimidated into silence or inaction.

Daniel Dalai reports modestly about his visionary initiative Earthgardens in Guatemala. Earthgardens provides opportunities for girls to realize and practice their inherent leadership potential, particularly as part of Eco-Teams in preserving natural biodiversity. ‘More and more 3rd world governments are proving to be a colossal waste of money as corrupt politicians get rich without addressing local needs. The Sembradores’ model of Girl Power is gaining acceptance as people realize girls are more efficient, more concerned, and less corruptible in solving the simple problems of local needs. Clean water, cheap electricity, food production, and tourist development are urgent needs in many parts of the globe. You may become a volunteer working with children or an Eco-Team assessor in Latin America or Africa.’ Please contact Kate Teggins <moc.kooltuonull@snedraghtrae> The beautiful Earthgardens website has just been updated and the stunning photos alone will tell you much about what these remarkable girls are doing.

Young Nigerian Idowu Jawando has been reflecting deeply on the shocking state of our world and his own role in fixing that.

Over here in Lagos civilization advances steadily with all its domination and exploitation, squeezing the juice out of all of us. But yet here and there, traces of a smile, the fragrance of love releases its perfume… things seem bearable for a while. The big question on my mind is this: Can civilization be deconstructed? A part of me thinks: Yes, of course, it is the actions of individuals that create this world, these same individuals also have the power to take everything down. But how about the police, the armies, the nuclear weapons and what-have you? Things are the way they are because of force. And most especially the threat of starvation too. It forces us into activities and relationships not of our choosing. Civilization uses and discards the people, over and over, squeezing them like lemons.

Will the global leaders who are driven to this insane struggle for power and profit suddenly grow a compassionate nature, one that has no doubt been lost a long time ago? You and I know they won’t. With all the disasters that go on, we still see them stripping the earth bare of its life, still forcing people into precarious situations. We find ourselves at a quandary. I personally find myself in a very stifling situation, but I try my best not to let it define, instead I study it as one would study a dangerous toy….

Indeed I have found that tenderness impacts strength and courage in others, this is something I have seen in my own existence. But can one be tender to an oppressor? I guess if there was a mass refusal of this world and all its mechanisms, there will be a lot of headway. Such a situation in my own thinking, won’t be one of making demands to any government, but collectively and individually deciding how we want to live our beautiful mortal lives and what we want the world around us to reflect: the ugliness of mindless profit-seeking or co-creative play with earthly life.

Many just go through life unquestioningly, accepting the state of things as normal; as well, the walls that prevent us from truly connecting with one another, is one major obstacle. The education, religious systems only encourage people to be followers, never masters of themselves…. I will keep thinking about this. I realize it might take my whole life and then more, to tackle the evils of the world. But it would please me if I am moving inch by inch and encouraging others to do the same. The torch of freedom must never be extinguished. But must pass from generation to generation.’

Each of the inspiring individuals mentioned above is a signatory of ‘The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘. If you feel inclined to join this worldwide movement to end violence in all of its manifestations, you are welcome to sign the Charter pledge too.

Like those individuals mentioned above, signatories of the Nonviolence Charter come from a diverse range of backgrounds. They live all over the world (in 105 countries). They represent a wide range of genders, races, religions, classes and abilities. And they work on a phenomenal variety of issues with an increasing number recognizing the need to work on ending violence against children. As Gandhi noted:

If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.

This requires us to understand the cause of violence, including violence against children – see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘ – and to consider making ‘My Promise to Children‘. In some cases, it means undertaking the personal healing necessary to nurture children powerfully.

Recognizing, as Gandhi put it, that ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every [person’s] needs, but not every [person’s] greed’, others are tackling the full range of environmental and climate challenges by participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

And given the elite insanity that drives violence in many contexts, still other signatories are engaged in nonviolent struggles or national liberation struggles to tackle violence in these contexts.

So if you are inclined to ponder the meaning of Gandhi’s life, you just need to picture a man dressed simply in khadi, walking to the sea to collect salt in defiance of the law of the British occupying power.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once noted: ‘The enemy is violence.’ But for Gandhi: ‘The enemy is fear.’

This is because it is fear that drives violence but also fear that prevents us responding strategically and nonviolently to the violence in our world. As Gandhi observed:

You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing there will be no results.

So as humans are beckoned to extinction within the next few years, Gandhi would remind us that ‘The future depends on what we do in the present.’

What will you do?